In her previous post, Janie Bartlett CEO of My Best Friend is a Bag spoke about starting up an online business in the fashion industry. This second post focuses on using social media to make your brand BIG and more practical start-up tips.
Leaders in Heels: What are your the most important learnings from using social media as a marketing tool?
Janie Bartlett: For an online business it’s all about Social Media Marketing. I use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. I have been spreading my efforts across all touchpoints but have also discovered the following for a new online business.
- The importance of SEO – My wonderful sister Lindsay Lewis is an SEO consultant based in Sydney. She optimised my website and has been my SEO advisor.
- Facebook – I have realised the importance of Facebook and have just hired a Facebook Specialist company to really get this happening for me. My plan is to not only get my Business page ‘Like” numbers up but to really improve my engagement levels. Once both of these numbers have improved, I will explore Facebook as a shopping channel as well as my website store.
- Bloggers – I had a plan to start my own blog and down the track I might, however in the meantime, there are some fabulous business and fashion bloggers out there. Because my marketing budget is almost non-existent I have been doing promotions with them where I give them a bag to use and critique and another bag to giveaway through their blog as a promotion. This has proved to be a great way to get the brand out there.
- Business women’s networking groups. Another great way to reach my target of working women.
It all takes time however and when you’re small and doing everything yourself, you soon realise that you need to spend money hiring experts in order to make money in sales and give you time to run all the other aspects of your business.
LiH: Do you think someone young and inexperienced could be successful in launching their own brand? What would be your tips for start-ups in your area?
JB: My history in advertising has taught me the necessity of having a clearly defined brand and a clearly defined target audience.
The name My Best Friend is a Bag came straight out of the brand DNA. We initially started with the obvious need in Australia for stylish, practical and affordable business bags and accessories. We knew from personal experience that when women find a great bag they love and treasure it. Women carry their lives in their handbags; they therefore know all its secrets. You keep your handbag close by your side. It’s a true reflection of who you are. And just like a best friend, it’s not just how it looks, it’s what’s inside that counts. We also appreciate that you can’t take yourself too seriously. Your best friends and the ones that make you laugh so we like to keep a sense of humour in our designs (our gorgeous unexpected bag linings for example) and our communications.
Once we had the name, the positioning statement “beautiful, practical bags and accessories for busy working women” and the tone of voice, everything that we say and do must be a reflection of that.
We know we can’t be all things to all women.We are business bags and accessories. That’s what we do and what we will continue to do.
We know we can’t be all things to all women. We don’t want to compete in the fashion handbag category – there are enough people doing that really well. We are business bags and accessories. That’s what we do and what we will continue to do.
Tips for starting a new business
My tips for starting a new business are no different to any that you will read on any good business site.
- You need a business plan and a great, user friendly accountant. I’ve also hired a wonderful bookkeeper who comes once a month and keeps me up to date with all the Government and Taxation requirements.
- The paper work that both the Government and your bank require will drive you crazy. But filling out the endless forms and answering the endless questions make you really examine your plans.
- If you don’t have a marketing background then you need to get some good basic marketing advice to establish your brand and set your brand parameters in place. It keeps you disciplined as you develop your product and your communications.
- Get relevant experience in the area you want your business to exist in. Work in the area, identify what that business’s strengths and weaknesses are. What you can offer that no one else is doing. If you aren’t passionate about it, don’t do it. You have to live and breath it 24 hours a day.
- Be prepared to work hard. When you own your own business you don’t get to go home at night without a backward glance!
- My best piece of advice if you are interested in starting a fashion business. Join the TFIA. The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia. It’s the best money I’ve spent. Their workshops and mentoring opportunities have been invaluable to me. Unfortunately I only discovered them after our first disasters in India. If I had been a member from the beginning I would never have made the mistakes I did.
- Finally, I just want to give credit to my family members. My husband’s second job is now the production manager of My Best Friend is a Bag. I don’t think he ever saw himself working in the handbag business, he’s a documentary cameraman, but his attention to detail and extraordinary patience make him the ideal person to stand on the factory floor and check every bag! My sister has done all her SEO work for me as a love job! She does have a bag in every colour but nothing beats being paid! My first husband Mike Bollen, who happens to be a Creative Director and owner of Helsinki Communications has done all my creative work – brochures, postcards, photography. My son Angus Bollen who has inherited his father’s creative abilities has also helped me creatively with design and creative advice. This has really kept my marketing expenses to a minimum.
Giveaway – Closed
Janie Bartlett has kindly offered A Truffle Leather Laptop Sleeve valued at $130 to giveaway from the latest My Best Friend is a Bag collection.
To enter simply complete the entry form below. Giveaway is open only for residents of Australia 18 years old or over. Entries close on 12th July 2013 12:00 am -Sydney time.
– Closed –