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I’m a super, super big fan of Facebook marketing funnels. I think as a small business, you can’t go wrong by starting to look at these. Please, please, please, if you’ve been spending $5 a day on just crappy marketing, meaning like, “I’m going to try this, and I’m going to try that, and maybe we’ll see what happens over here.” Please stop. When it comes to Facebook marketing, no matter how little your budget is, you’ve got to come into it with the strategy and looking at funnels is really going to be the best place to start.

We’re going to go over three main strategies that you can use to start to unpack and understand Facebook marketing funnels.

1. Acquiring New Audiences

If you’re a small business, chances are you may not have had an extensive newsletter, or you may not have a ton of e-commerce purchases. But it’s really important to start to ask yourself, “What are the lifestyles and the profiles and the demographics of an ideal new audience for me to acquire?” I’m a huge fan of the Facebook audience insights tool. It’s a fantastic tool that allows you to play with so many different components of developing a new audience. You can save those audiences. You can use them for campaigns, and you can really start to play with how deep and how wide those potential target markets are.

What is so fascinating about audience insights and that tool is, again, you’ll be able to look at competitive brands if they have a large enough following. You’ll also be able to start to index for lifestyle interests. Someone who has a particular net worth and they’re making a certain amount of money, they are single, in a marriage, newly pregnant, newly engaged… you can start to get really intricate with all of your targeting. Audience insights is going to be the primary way once you start to develop your new audience groups.

2. Retarget Marketing

Imagine this… you do a great ad, you target new audience groups and now, all of a sudden, they visit your site. What happens when they come to your site? Well, obviously, you guys have installed a Facebook Pixel and that Facebook Pixel is really designed to chase them all over the internet. We all know these ads, right? You go over to one website, you’re like, “Hey, I was just on that other website. How am I getting an app for that?” You go back onto Facebook or Instagram, and oh my gosh, you are being retargeted. That’s exactly what we want to be doing.

Once you’ve acquired the new audience, imagine they come to your site, maybe they browse there for a few minutes, go to a couple of pages, and then what happens? Well, you want to then have a Facebook advertisement that is specifically geared towards retargeting. These are going to be the exact ads that chase them all over the internet, specifically, I would say to focus on the Instagram Feed and Stories as well as Facebook’s mobile newsfeed. Those are really the three main channels that I would say it would be the best to start with.

Once you’ve retargeted them, let’s say they come back to your site again. Isn’t that amazing? They come back to your site and maybe now, again, this is their third touchpoint. By the time they get back to your site, maybe they purchase something. Amazing. Now all of a sudden, they’re in your bucket from a newsletter standpoint and from an e-commerce standpoint. Now you have all their shipping information, you know they’ve purchased from you, and they are officially subscribed to your brand, and they now have the potential to become brand loyal.

3. Lookalike Audiences

Next, this is where it becomes really fun and exciting. You can start to do a variety of different kinds of targeting in order to capture that customer again. Remember, we’re not just interested in first-time buyers. We’re interested in building longer-lasting customer relationships. Now, all of a sudden, you can create a lookalike audience. What is a lookalike audience? Once you get enough people on your newsletter list, enough people that have been purchasing, maybe lists of people from participating in markets or events, you can then go back into Facebook and say, “Hey, I want you to analyze all of these people on this list, and I want to start to create targets and groups that are based on the same characteristics of these particular lists.”

It’s fantastic because it allows you to really cross-reference and mine people’s profiles as to their characteristics. Those of you who are worried about privacy issues and who are worried about us going all Russia on advertising, don’t worry. This is not going to happen to you. This is the most basic way of engaging in advertising. Trust me, your customers really do want to be hearing from you because they’ve already given you their information. Don’t worry about that from a privacy standpoint. I’m sure some of you are thinking about that.

Once you get them into a lookalike audience, you can start to do these programs that really allow you to target them again on Facebook, on Instagram. You can say, “Hey, I actually want to be targeting 1% of people in California that fit these characteristics,” and then create a California-specific ad to go along with it. Or, “I want to create an advertisement that targets 2% of people on this audience list that are like this group in Germany, or in Sweden, or in London, or in Paris.” You can actually take your audience profiles and start to apply them not only on a hyper-targeted local scale, but on a global scale.

One more piece of advice to start this retargeting process. Don’t just look at retargeting audiences and do advertisements only on the larger scale, (people who have visited your site). Even though that’s the most basic way of looking at it, get a little bit more specific about how you’re looking at these retargeting groups.

These days, you can retarget people who have been engaged with your Instagram profile. You can retarget people who’ve been on your site, let’s say 180 days ago, 30 days ago, 14 days ago, 24 hours ago…. You want to get specific about the messaging that you’re delivering within certain timeframes. It’s important because you definitely don’t want to just send blanketed messages across to everyone all the time. The amount of frequency, the delivery of the ads that you have to be sending out in order to really gain the benefits of retargeting has to be frequent, and it also has to be time sensitive.

If any of this was confusing to you, and you need help launching and executing your Facebook marketing strategies, please shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail.com. We’ve run some amazing campaigns and seen some fantastic results. In fact, just last month, one of our clients, had an investment of only $398 into AdWords, a totally separate topic, and we ended up seeing an ROI in sales for that month upwards of $6,000. The results are there, it’s up to you to take the time and initiative to be able to really want to execute on that.

If you want to read some more in-depth analyses, please check out our blog post, “7 Key Things to Know About Retarget Marketing on Facebook” (coming soon), and make sure you check out our free 2019-20 marketing calendar download. There is nothing worse than asking someone, “Hey, would you follow yourself on Instagram?” Please don’t fall into that trap. Make sure you check out our download so you can avoid a lot of the missteps preventing you from having an amazing, strong and really grounded social media presence.

The post Simple Facebook Marketing Funnels for Fashion Businesses appeared first on Two Seasons.

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Approximately 4 out of 5 American consumers are online shoppers and 51% have made a purchase with a mobile device, according to Pew Research Center. What’s more, 55% of shoppers have purchased items after discovering them via social media, platforms most often accessed via mobile devices (Source: Shopify). If you don’t have a mobile-first website, you’re missing out.

There are distinct differences in developing a mobile-first website, rather than a desktop-first site. With desktop sites, the homepage is set up to provide plenty of information. However, the homepage of a mobile-first site is a lot cleaner, a lot more linear and features minimal information to prevent scrolling fatigue. Customers don’t want the endless scroll- it’s only a widespread myth. Customers want paths to find what they want as easily as possible.

Some businesses have one website for desktop and one for mobile, but this isn’t the norm. It’s even more rare among smaller businesses due to the substantial financial investment. However, when you do see sites like these, they cherry-pick what is featured on their mobile sites and the user-experience tends to be very different.

Since the advent of Shopify, every website is capable of being a mobile-first site.

Use these tips to develop a mobile-first website of your own…

1. Offer a Simple Checkout Process.

Checkout should be easy to access and user-friendly. It should also be immediately clear how much items cost, how must shipping costs on the checkout page. In fact, before shoppers ever reach checkout, they should have quickly been able to access your shipping and returns information with your website.

What’s more, credit cards, debit cards and PayPal are no longer enough. Integrate your mobile-first website with the latest payment gateways so shoppers can shop with more convenience and ease. Integrate options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay so shoppers can feel free to complete checkout at the touch of a thumb.

2. Design Mobile-First for Mobile and Desktop Design for Desktop Devices.

Remember that mobile-first design is for mobile devices only. It always fails when companies try to implement mobile-first design into their desktop sites. For example, one brand’s website made visitors click a hamburger button in the top left corner of their homepage. The hamburger button is the menu icon made of three horizontal lines that expands with a click. It’s a very useful feature for a mobile layout, but it’s not a good idea to click to expand while using a desktop computer or laptop. For those devices, all the menu options should be clearly spelled out on the homepage.

For mobile-first design, focus on:

  • A select curation of strong editorial-focused images (homepage)
  • Product thumbnails (product pages)
  • The ability to scroll through product thumbnails
  • Clickthrough
  • A clearly visible phone and number (not just on the contact page)
  • A clearly visible email button (not just on the contact page)

The homepage of your mobile site is meant to introduce visitors to your brand. Don’t overshare and remember to keep it easy for the mobile scroll.

For email marketing pop-ups, start looking at email and text messaging acquisition. If you know a shopper is mobile-first, text message marketing can be a great way to market to them. Ask shoppers for their contact information in a way that gets them to convert.

3. Remain Consistent with Social Media.

Depending on your brand, most of your website traffic may be coming from your Instagram. It could be due to the popularity of your Instagram account or due to your call-to-action (CTA) button in ongoing mobile ad campaigns. Whatever the reason, it’s important to maintain a certain level of consistency between Instagram and your website. The aesthetic, products and brand voice that initially drew attention on social, should be reflected on your brand website as well.

Don’t confuse your customers- make sure everything is streamlined and simple. Make it easy for website visitors to visit your Instagram account, and vice versa. Also be sure to drive an organic, content-first strategy to promote all of the content you produce.

Next Steps: Learn Savvy Mobile E-Commerce Strategies

Looking for expert advice on how to boost your online traffic and grow sales? Get in touch. We work with startups, growth stage businesses and enterprise companies. Call 310-957-5264 or send us an email at hello@scalingretail.com.

The post How to Develop a Mobile-First Website appeared first on Two Seasons.

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5 Reasons No One Shops Your Fashion E-Commerce Site - YouTube

Is your fashion e-commerce site optimized for success?

It’s so easy to want to give up on your fashion e-commerce site, especially if you’ve been in the game for a little while or you’re just getting started and are wondering, “What on Earth is going on?” You might think, “Jeez, should I just give up or stop doing this business altogether?” but no, you shouldn’t. In fact, you should be testing to see if you’re implementing these five strategies to build an amazing website that’s going to get conversion, build brand loyalty and really help to establish your brand and online fashion boutique in the marketplace.

Let’s look at…

  1. Product Images
  2. Copywriting
  3. UX/UI Experience
  4. Mobile Optimization
  5. Shipping Policies
1. Poor Product Photography

We all know the importance of high-quality images. Every time you flip through Vogue magazine or you’re on a digital publication you see high-quality images. They exude your brand’s voice and a certain sense of emotional communication.

When you skip out on photography, the primary mode of communication to your customer, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Bad images from what’s easily seen as a low-budget photoshoot is not on brand. It’s going to tell your customers that you don’t care about your photography, you don’t care about the experience they have when they see the images and you don’t care if they buy something or not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen poor photography on price points that are quite high. How on Earth would you spend $500-$1500 on an item if you don’t actually see all the bells and whistles, you’re not seeing the product in context, you can’t see great lifestyle images and it doesn’t look on-brand? Photography is super important- especially for fashion e-commerce.

Please don’t skip out on this important visual channel. Think of it as the equivalent to the ever-important visual merchandising in any given department store of fashion boutique.

2. Lackluster or Insufficient Copywriting

Those great fashion e-commerce images need great copy. They go hand-in-hand. While you’re focusing on developing great photography, do not skip out on great copywriting- even if that means you’re not the one writing the copy yourself. Sometimes, as a business owner, it can be really difficult to be able to speak objectively to your customer from a perspective that doesn’t feel so personal. Some brands work well with a personal tone and their customers love that personal interaction and engagement. Determine your brand voice. What is your copywriting strategy? How do you talk about products? How do you talk about products in a way that your customer wants to relate to them?

At Scaling Retail, we come up with communication strategies, full, in-depth guides that really help our clients understand how to speak to their customers. How does it look visually, and how does it flow where syntax is concerned? Communication and copywriting are extremely important.

It’s very simple. It’s almost the difference between using words like “made in the USA,” where you capitalize U, S, and A vs. saying things like “made in the U.S.” or “made in America.” We might think these are very generalized or we can kind of use any of them but it’s important to stick to very specific ways that you talk about your business so you can reinforce your message with the consumer.

Don’t forget that copywriting also takes place not just on product pages but also on your homepage, on your blog, on your about page…. Copywriting is a thread that carries throughout all your different sales channels.

3. An Outdated or Confusing UX/UI Experience

10, 15 years ago, it was very, very expensive to build a website. Lots of companies invested tens of thousands of dollars into building platforms that you can purchase these days for a small fraction of those costs. You can buy a template and create one for a few hundred dollars. When you think about being attached to a website or being attached to something from the past, do plan to say, “Hey, maybe it’s time to let it go.” Just because you spent tens of thousands of dollars doesn’t mean it’s necessarily relevant in today’s market. You have to be looking at refreshing your site, introducing new UX/UI experiences and really starting to craft a website that’s going to be user-friendly for your consumer today- including on mobile.

Having a current website design and structure is particularly important for such a creative field as fashion. Fashion boutique shoppers are savvy and will hesitate to use their credit cards on sites that don’t appear to have been updated in some time.

4. Mobile Optimization

Businesses these days are looking at building mobile first, meaning they’re looking at mobile-first marketing, Instagram, News Feed on Facebook…. They’re also looking at building specific websites that are going to be easy to engage, easy to purchase and use – specifically for mobile – and then thinking about the desktop version later.

According to one Brandzooka report we saw, they said 68% of consumers were going to mobile first. When you’re looking at the hierarchy of brand development, the redesign of your website, et al., make sure you’re using one of the more modern and refreshing templates. Also look to hire an outside agency, such as Scaling Retail, to build your website, and please approach the project from a mobile-first standpoint. It’s very important to be building for future marketing- not just for today’s marketing and strategies.

5. Shipping Policies

Lastly, when it comes to looking at shipping and thinking about how you actually deliver the goods, one of the reasons why someone may not buy is that they see your product and know they like it, but may not be sure about the following:

  • Exactly how long it’s going to take to get to them
  • How much they’re paying for shipping
  • Is there a flat rate for shipping
  • Is shipping going to be based on weight variables for different products or
  • Can returns be made in person at your fashion boutique.

You need to get really clear on your shipping guidelines and post them up in your banners. If the deal is to spend $250 to get free shipping, make it loud and clear. If it’s free shipping and free returns on everything, make it clear. If it’s free shipping on goods over $50, again, whatever it is, make it super clear. If you don’t offer free shipping at all, think about incorporating free shipping as a marketing tactic. For example,  you can offer free shipping on all orders this week. If it’s something new and special, you can use this as one of your marketing strategies

I hope you found this really interesting and important. There are so many strategies and tactics we can be implementing to really get your existing fashion e-commerce site and business model optimized online. There are lots of conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies, including strategies like heat mapping and landing page testing (via testing your copy, your images or both). There are lots of ways we can start taking incoming traffic to highly convert and churn out sales

For those of you interested in developing mobile-first platforms, please check out our blog post on how to develop a mobile-first brand. Also, if you want a great e-commerce checklist, click over to this download. I think you’ll find it to be really interesting and easy-to-follow. You’ll discover important do’s, don’ts and tasks for your website. Sit down and take the test. How do you rank when it comes to what a website that converts should look and feel and be like?

The post 5 Reasons No One Shops Your Fashion E-Commerce Site appeared first on Two Seasons.

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Startup Shortcuts: How to Test Your Fashion Business Before Launching - YouTube

We know you’re eager to rush to market to get everything out there and launch your fashion brand startup. However, you may want to do a little product market fit testing with your original samples before you take the leap.

  1. Test through focus groups.
  2. Test through peers, mentors and experts in the field.
  3. Be your own brand ambassador.

Your samples can actually help you launch your business without having to invest in a full collection.

Use Focus Groups.

Focusing on focus groups can be a great way to see exactly how different cohorts of people will respond to your branding, your product, and your messaging. I always suggest that when you think about getting samples made and you’re not necessarily really gung-ho or firm on the exact brand positioning or the pricing or the strategy, but you have two or three different sets of samples, do a little bit of branding for each of them so they are distinctly different. You can actually test your focus groups to see who lands with what product. You’ll get a better idea of what kind of logo development works well and the pricing people are expecting from the product. This will help you craft a solid foundation for your fashion brand startup.

Ultimately, you’ll get first-hand feedback on the fit, the function, the styling, the fabric… all of it. Focus groups are a great way to make that initial investment into your fashion business before going full throttle into a complete launch.

Speak to Experts in the Field.

Talk to experts, professors at Parsons, FIT, FIDM…. Look for mentors in the community. These are great people to speak to when you have your first set of samples. And the reason why is people like myself have had so much market response. We understand exactly what consumers are looking for. We know the responsiveness to the market and we have our hands in so many different businesses that when we do line reviews and collection reviews, we can say, “Okay, these are the different ways in which you should tweak your samples in order to be able to launch effectively. Think about cutting costs in this way. Think about creating these kinds of headlines. Think about assorting differently.”

All of that is only possible once we actually see the samples. Sometimes people will send sketches to colleagues of mine who are professors at Parsons and FIT and FIDM. They’ll come up to them and their students for that matter and just show sketches and say they plan to launch a fashion brand startup. While sketches are a great way of being able to show a general overall direction, it’s very difficult to get feedback and very difficult to give better information as an expert or a mentor, unless you can actually see, touch, and feel the entire collection. Investing in those samples- even just to get feedback is extremely important.

Be the Brand Ambassador for Your Fashion Brand Startup.

Being your own best brand ambassador can be one of the best investments for using your samples. Simply get them made in your size and wear them all the time. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have actually been approached by specific buyers and retailers because they’ve seen that person wearing those garments. In fact, I was wearing this dress the other day when I walked into the shop Bird. The people who were working at the store asked me, “What is that product? Who makes it?” I said, “Oh, it’s our client’s, Rhode.”

Do wear your products and make sure your friends and family have your products. Even if it’s just your samples, make sure you have a set of samples in your size and that you’re wearing it out and about because, ultimately, you’re going to be an amazing mouthpiece to be able to talk and represent your brand. Who knows? You walk into a store or have brunch and someone asks where you got your product from, then you can start to open up and engage and create business for yourself.

I hope you understand the importance of samples. Even if you end up investing in two to three sample sets, it’s a great way to test the market to get customer feedback before you go full monty into hiring for marketing, into hiring for operations, into executing big sales strategy plans…. You can always start small, test, and pivot your fashion business whenever necessary.

If you’re wondering where you can find mentorship or where you can find key experts on the ground, check out our blog post on keeping up with market trends- why you need reverse mentorship. It’s a really interesting framework to put ourselves in. We often look to people who are above us in a hierarchy to give us feedback and information, but we should be looking at people who are also on the ground.

Lastly, make sure to download our creating customer profiles document. It’s an amazing worksheet. It’s going to help you understand exactly who your customers are and provide a really great framework if you decide to go into focus grouping. After all, when you decide to do a test market and do focus groups, you have to figure out who the multiple audiences you’re looking for are. Your free download will help you take that first step. Best of luck with your future fashion brand startup!

The post Startup Shortcuts: How to Test Your Fashion Business Before Launching appeared first on Two Seasons.

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Do you know how a reverse-mentorship can help your business innovate and stay relevant in the eyes of your target audience?

The reverse-mentorship is one of the most brilliant new cohort-researching strategies on the block. At a time when brands of all sizes want to understand more and more about Millennials and Gen Z, critical groups of shoppers to gain, one excellent solution has been found.

It’s just as it sounds. Rather than the traditional setup of a professional seeking the mentorship of a more senior or more experienced professional, it’s the most senior professional (often executives and business owners) seeking the mentorship of their junior colleagues. These relationships educate senior executives and brand owners in a way that no research report on these demographics ever could. Not only are they spending time with actual Millennials and Gen Zs, but they’re more likely to be in their target market. For example, this is the case with many of the Millennials working for the Estee Lauder Companies. These young professionals are paired with top-level executives for the beauty brand’s in-house reverse-mentorship program, what is so far the most inspiring program to be found.

The Estee Lauder Approach

Estee Lauder’s reverse-mentorship program is a smart model that has truly allowed them to be agile in adapting to market trends. The beauty giant has been around for more than 70 years, and yet it’s consistently mentioned among top industry innovators in the Information Age.

They’re supporting tech incubators and encouraging innovation. They’ve acquired and/or invested into a diverse selection of beauty brands, including Deciem, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone, Aerin Beauty, RODIN olio lusso, Becca, MAC, La Mer and many more.

According to an Estee Lauder Companies interview in Glossy, ELC Online is 80% female and 65% Millennials or Gen Z. The company pairs employees in the two cohorts with senior executives in which the junior employees advise on new concepts, trends and the zeitgeist. They’re also able to chime in with their assessments and opinions of new projects and initiatives.

Estee Lauder uses a special “matchmaking” system to pair executives with mentees based on their greatest needs or company goals for their departments. They also take care to match pairs from two different departments to offer the opportunity for even more diverse insights. The teams then meet face-to-face once each quarter and are able to communicate via email in the times between for any relevant matters that may arise. Very savvy.

While you’re inspired by Estee Lauder, here are three reasons why you need a reverse mentor for the success of your fashion brand.

Reason #1: You Have an Untapped Wealth of Resources on Your Team.

You have to keep up with market trends and what consumers are looking for if you want to maintain long-term success in the fashion and beauty industries, in nearly any industry for that matter.

Your in-house reverse-mentorship program is a unique opportunity to secure valuable primary research from sources who live and breathe your brand. Reverse mentors are also motivated and inspired employees. It’s an excellent way to empower younger staff while cultivating an open, innovative and creative company culture in the workplace.

Reason #2: Agility Is the Name of the Game.

In 2019, the only constant in retail is change. Your reverse mentor is your resource to quickly pick up on new and important market trends before your competitors have time to respond.

You only need to reference the success of unicorn beauty brand Glossier, Estee Lauder, apparel subscription company Stitch Fix and others to realize the top players have their ears to the ground and they’re using the data they receive. Most companies have data and analytics programs in place and yet so many are still lost on exactly what their customers need.

Take advantage of these golden insights.

Reason #3: You Can’t Be a Long-Established Company and a Startup at Once.

From decades-old enterprise companies to young digitally native brands are all equipped with their own sets of unique challenges and strengths. Reverse-mentorships allow larger companies to be more nimble and think and act more like startups. Executives who are normally in touch with approaching aspects of the business from the macro level can gain the personal perspective. Yes, focus groups help, however, the combination of speaking to a member of either of these cohorts who also happens to be a knowledgeable company employee is invaluable.

Conversely, startups are wise to look to pair not just more senior individuals with the Millennial and Gen Z set, but senior team members who are well-experienced on the merchandising and retailing sides of the business. This is because the majority of startups are founded and operated by individuals in the same target market and cohorts as their audiences.

Best Practices for Reverse-Mentorship Success

Unlike focus groups, it can be difficult for brand owners and executives to ask colleagues who are 10-20 years younger what is cool, new and happening in the space.

Tips for Success…

  • Create an official program with clearly-defined structure. For a smaller brand, this can simply mean getting it in writing and presenting it as a new addition to how the business is run.
  • Establish respect on both sides. Younger employees need to respect older employees with more experience and knowledge of how things work. Older employees need to respect younger employees and establish an environment of comfort, trust and non-judgment, an environment encouraging Millennials and Gen Zs to speak freely about their ideas and the lifestyle.
  • Older executives should arrive prepared, with the right questions:
    • What is cool? What is new IRL (in real life)?
    • What are the top trends online right now? The best websites? Who is hot on social media and why? What is no longer cool and why did it go out of favor?
    • What is happening that I should know about if I were hanging out with people your age?
    • What are the trends I should be looking out for?
  • The questions should come from a place of genuine connection, interest and respect.
  • Remember that everyone has something to learn from anyone they encounter. For example, in business, older marketers tend to undervalue younger marketers. However, though the senior marketers hold invaluable experience, it’s the younger marketers that are the most culturally relevant today.

The beauty (no pun intended) of reverse-mentorships is that they pair senior executive-level expertise with the culturally-nuanced zeitgeist of someone who is on the ground, surrounded by this reality in everyday life. It’s difficult to compete with the savvy combination of early adopters and experienced industry professionals. Running a business from just one side of the coin will never be enough.

Next Steps: Dive Deeper into Millennials, Gen Z & Mentorships

Looking for market research support or executive leadership coaching? Get in touch. We work with startups, growth stage businesses and enterprise companies. Call 310-957-5264 or send us an email at hello@scalingretail.com.

The post Keeping Up with Market Trends: 3 Reasons Why You Need a Reverse Mentor appeared first on Two Seasons.

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Address Stress: Being a CEO in 2019 - YouTube

Stress is a normal part of running or starting a fashion company, but what’s even more important about acknowledging and recognizing stress is to really start to talk about how we manage it and what to do with it.

Today I want to talk a little bit about some tools and techniques that could be useful for you coming straight from what I use and how I’ve been applying these techniques into my life to reframe it. These days we hear so much about work-life balance. As an entrepreneur, there really is no such thing – whether you’re starting a fashion company or a tech startup. You can’t have a balance when everything is everything. There is no delineation between downtime and work time because really, ultimately, it’s a pleasure to have a business. And while it can be stressful and there’s so much going on, it is really a gift. Those of you who are running your businesses, it’s very important that you start to reframe your psychology around what it means to be a business owner.

Let’s unpack and dive into a few key areas…

Question Stress

One of the things I like to do when something stresses me out is to ask myself, “Is there an easy way out of this?” Meaning can I take the road that is going to be the one of least resistance, that’s going to be the easiest, and where I’m still going to get great results? Sometimes I think that when I get emails or I get posed with problems and it can really spiral out into something uncontrollable, I have to pause and say, “How can I make this easy for myself? Do I really need to be the one to do it? Can someone else do it? What exactly is going on here?” And I start to separate myself from that thing that caused me stress in the first place.

In conjunction with that, you also want to ask yourself, “Is this stress that I’m imposing on myself or is this something that’s coming from someone else?” Chances are most of the time it is stress coming from you. When I started running the company, I remember saying to myself, “Everything is on my back. I need to make sure everyone gets paid. I need to make sure we’re doing all this marketing. I need to get out there. I need to be speaking.” Everything rested on me. So I certainly then would take so much stress on knowing that I had to be the workhorse in order to drive everything. That can be a really comfortable place and you may find yourself in the same spot after your first year of starting a fashion company.

In fact, the hell you know is sometimes better than the one you don’t know. And if you’re used to doing all the work and taking everything on, it can be difficult to know what it feels like to not be doing all those things. That’s exactly what I want you to start to think about. What is the stress that you are taking on yourself that you can actually minimize, that you can schedule, that you can parcel out in a way that still allows you to be effective while still getting it done?

If it’s stress coming from someone else or someone else has issues, remember it’s all a projection. It’s everyone else’s BS that comes to you and that is something that I have to remember on a daily basis. I have chosen to put myself in a very high-sensitive and high-touch space where I’m constantly dealing with people’s emotions and feelings around money, around hiring, around strategy, around really the live-and-die moment of their businesses. Because I’ve chosen to put myself there, I have to be willing to weather the storm of everyone’s emotions, all of their freak outs, and all of their successes. Trust me, if I went along with the ride with all of my different clients, I would not be rock solid, I would not be objective, and I wouldn’t be able to be the strength that they need. So what does that take? That takes me reminding myself, “Hey, this is their stress”. This is not my stress. So those are some things that are very important to keep in mind.

Reinterpret Procrastination

Next, it’s time to reinterpret procrastination. Sometimes it might just be the way you work. There are certainly golden rules and tried-and-true strategies for running or starting a fashion company, but we all work in unique ways. For me, I know there are certain projects that I need to give myself a ton of time on to do, and then there are other projects that I can actually bop out overnight. So for me, I’ve had to learn to understand that, hey, just because I don’t do things the way other people think I should do things, doesn’t mean that I’m not optimizing and doing them in the best way for me. It doesn’t mean that my output isn’t strong. It doesn’t mean that I can’t produce great work. And if I understand what projects I can hold off on or what projects I need more time with, I can better manage my time. Which means that I will feel less stressed because I will have more confidence in my approach. Just take procrastination out of your vocabulary. To be honest, you know how you work the best. Whatever that is, that’s what it is. Don’t worry about how other people choose to define it and interpret it.

Banish Expectations

Expectations include how other people think you should be performing, expectations on what it is you think (i.e. I need to be performing like this person or I need to be like that person). You need to start to understand that expectations from other people are simply just opportunities for mental limitations. You need to be judging and looking at yourself from the perspective of what you truly want. You need to be making decisions and managing your stress in ways that allow you to reach your highest peak performance regardless of how other people choose to express their own ways of performing.

One of the things that I find to be really frustrating sometimes – and boy, can I be a victim of this – is reading a whole lot of books on how to do things. How do I spend more time doing acts? Or how do I shortcut this thing? Or how do I manage my time better? I’m sure all of you read The 4-Hour Workweek. I was like, “This is amazing.” However, as you know, if you’re running a fashion company, there’s no such thing as a four-hour work week. It just doesn’t exist. Stop trying to do things the easy way and try things on for size and see how it applies. You’re never going to find just one book that has all the answers. There’s never going to be one guru or one mentor that’s going to be able to teach you everything. You’re going to pick and choose things that work for you. Try them on for size. See how it mentally feels to accept the way you work, to do things the way you need to, and to manage your time in the best way you can for yourself.

These are just a little bit of the things that help me and things I do on a regular basis to stay on top of stress. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and underpaid as an entrepreneur at the end of the day… to ultimately ask yourself, “What am I doing this for?” But you love it, it’s a passion. This is your moment. If you can take the stress out of it, you can enjoy it and be so much more productive in your day to day.

As you start to build your business and corporate culture, make sure you check out our blog post on building company culture. It’s really important that you start to distill all of these different things into things you can enact within your company and small corporation. Personally, internally at the Scaling Retail family, we believe nothing should be stressful so that when things that are stressful come up, we can actually jump to it. It allows us to have a more relaxed and light mental framework during the day to day, knowing that because we haven’t been taxing ourselves daily when things do come to us, boom, we can hop to it. So think about what the mental frameworks are and the ways in which you can start to instill your company culture.

Lastly, check out our download: “The Scaling Retail CEO Toolkit”. These are favorite tools of mine that I have amassed over the years, and techniques and mindset strategies that can really help you optimize your performance – whether you’re scaling up or you’re just embarking on your journey of starting a fashion company. Remember, there’s not one resource that’s a one-size-fits-all approach. So I imagine you’ll take, hopefully, a few of these things after you’ve tried them on for size and take it forward, and hopefully repay it forward to some other CEO that needs this advice just as much as you do and just as much as I did once upon a time ago.

The post Address Stress: Being a CEO in 2019 appeared first on Two Seasons.

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Do you understand the connection between great leadership and high-performing employees?

If you’re looking for a way to boost productivity at your business, look no further than company culture. The culture of your company trickles down from its leaders. Your role as CEO or brand owner is how you set the tone for your brand. Your words, actions and ideas serve as the examples that will either motivate and excite employees into action or send them running for the hills.

A lot of good people are bad managers and poor leaders. Being a leader is a very particular type of relationship made even more specific by your industry and the nature of your business. Do what you say and be mindful of your workplace environment.

Your company culture has a direct impact on:

  • Stress Levels
  • Employee Performance and Retention
  • Hiring and Scaling Up
  • Public Perception of Your Company
  • The Success of Your Business
  • …and More
1. Forward-Thinking Solutions

A healthy company culture encourages conversation, problem-solving and innovation. Employees need to know they can come to each to inquire about aspects of the business or to ask for support on projects. They need to know they can rely on each other and that they’re in a safe environment where their questions and comments are always welcome.

When employees don’t feel they’re free to address their needs, talent become silent and the learning process and growth are stunted.

It’s difficult to solve a problem with a bad attitude. You’re in the business of solving problems – problems for your business, problems for your customers and problems for your employees. It’s impossible to perform at the highest levels of creativity without a good attitude and positive outlook.

Finally, if you’re not excited, your employees won’t perform to the best of their abilities. Embody what you’d like to see throughout your company and your team will show up for you.

2. Employee Retention

Poor company cultures drive away employees. If you want to retain your talent, treat them well and foster an environment of learning and growth. High turnover rates are expensive, requiring significant money and time to find replacements to pick up where former employees left off. What’s more, high turnover rates at your business will indicate a lack of organization and a potentially problematic culture. This can lead you to miss out on desirable potential hires.

People who have a good time at work and feel supported and valued are people who stay. They’re also more efficient. Most people don’t want to jump from job to job. They want stability and they want to contribute to a greater goal and want to feel good about it.

3. Stress Management and Wellness

Startup culture lean towards an over-inflated sense of urgency that leads to bad leadership, bad CEOs and burned out employees. Maintain a calm and cool perspective to be a good leader. It’s also important to value your team and treat them with fairness. Don’t treat your staff like cogs in a wheel- assign projects responsibly and appreciate their contributions.

A lot of entrepreneurs get into business to do what they do best. They begin as practitioners and eventually segue into CEOs. Some people will always want to be practitioners. They’re good at smaller projects or specializations and they hire others for executive leadership. Others want to lead and grow. Understand your strengths, weaknesses and goals and choose the most apt role whenever possible. If you’re not the best leader, you don’t have to be CEO.

Next Steps: Fine-Tune Your Leadership Skills

Looking for executive leadership coaching? Get in touch. We work with startups, growth stage businesses and enterprise companies alike. Book your 30 minute consultation session online, call us at 310-957-5264 or email hello@scalingretail.com.

The post 3 Reasons Why You Need a Healthy Company Culture to Boost Productivity appeared first on Two Seasons.

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This is a really important topic because we make promises all the time. When you think about yourself as a brand owner, it can be easy to blur the lines between clever and effective marketing and fancy copywriting. Then, ultimately, what does your customer truly experience? What do they get at the end of the day?

Back in 2017, Everlane launched a new pant and it was claimed to be the most flattering pant for everyone. Being a huge fan of Everlane for a long time, I thought – “this is amazing,” I want to buy these pants. When I bought the pants, let me tell you they were not the most flattering pants in the world. In fact, I felt horrible in them.

Of course I wrote them an email telling them how awful I thought the pants were, and I sent them back. Now, I get it, everyone wants to make sure they’re touting they’re the best, they’re the softest… and it’s the most luxurious, it’s the most incredible…. And I get it, it’s important to be able to have creative, flowery, emotional language that really gets the point across. However, when you’re dealing in a market as sensitive as women pants, and men, we know you understand the feeling out there too. It can be really difficult to find a great pair of pants.

In any case, I was extremely dissatisfied. I really wished they had said what style of body type this would go well with, meaning the perfect pant for the blah blah blah body type, or the perfect fabric for the blah blah blah who’s sensitive to whatever. Going niche in this case and making it more specific would have largely gotten a lot of people purchasing the product who really identified with belonging to that core customer demographic.

In this particular case, these pants went to everybody, including people like myself, cases where it wasn’t exactly a flattering fit. Now fast forward to 2018, companies like Estée Lauder and other businesses are starting to take a closer look to see if their product claims really actually live up to the things they say and do. For example, in 2018, Estée Lauder went back and looked at a lot of the brands they sell and said, “how can we make sure that this research and development is actually making the real claims that it says it’s going to? How do we make sure that we’re making true to our brand promise?” However, this doesn’t just apply to wildly popular digitally native brands and legacy giants – successful clothing startups take care to live up to their promises too.

Copywriting

You do need to make sure you’re highlighting the best aspects and features of your brand. It’s especially important that you do not overly embellish around fit and function. Why is that? Successful clothing startups and established businesses alike know it can lead to severe backlash. Well, as in the example of Everlane, and I’m sure you have tons of your own personal examples, when you overly glamorize or speak too flowery or really try to make claims about fit and function and you live up to those claims, all of a sudden you lose trustworthiness. It’s very important that you maintain a sense of trustworthiness with your customers who are willing to take a risk on you.

Packaging

Packaging is important. If you tout yourself as being a high design luxury brand and the packaging you use for your products are lackluster – or they don’t have the fine attention to details and don’t exude that luxury experience, again, you’re missing the connection between what you’re saying that you stand for as a brand and then ultimately what you’re actually delivering. It’s so very important that your packaging truly matches your brand value. Think of all of the successful clothing startups and beauty brands you know. They had to take care from day one to prove they lived up to their brands. The new $1.2 billion unicorn, Glossier, just a startup 7 years ago, comes to mind.

One thing that I think is so great, MATCHESFASHION.COM and a few other businesses out there have opted to have more of a two packaging format. One is the luxury packaging – signature, high quality, beautiful, attention to detail – and the other is the eco packaging. Eco packaging is great. It’s simple, understated and more eco-friendly. This gives the customer an option to say, “yes, I want to ascribe to this luxury packaging that’s going to come in with my purchase or I already know the packaging is amazing, or the packaging doesn’t matter to me, so I’m going to go with the eco-friendly option”. However, they have two options. They’re not taking a $5,000 dress and stuffing it into a plain cardboard box. There are different ways in which we need to deliver the product in order to be able to get that resonance with our consumers.

Follow Up and Customer Care

Follow up with customers to find out…

  • Why they made the return
  • What was it about the product that worked and did not
  • How you can improve on the actual product

This information can be incredibly valuable for implementing changes and pivots within your business. Definitely take the time to find out more about your returns. For brands that sell online, it can be the difference between struggling and successful clothing startups.

Even ask customers who didn’t return their items if they were happy with their purchases. They may not have returned their purchases, but still may never buy from you again. Never assume a customer who purchases the first time is going to become a repeat customer. Make sure that you’re surveying and talking to your customers and even sometimes getting on the phone with them to make sure they’re happy and satisfied. These are really amazing things you can do as a business owner. They ensure you’re developing great products, that your brand communication really delivers on your brand promise and that you’re actually building trust and loyalty with that consumer.

You must be excited about starting to align your messaging, starting to get everything all tied up in a bow. Packaging is certainly a big deal in this instance. I highly suggest you read our blog post on how the best brands produce their packaging. We go in depth into the latest great places where you can start to produce your packaging. It’s really fantastic because packaging these days has become easier than ever- and yet there are so many options. It’s important to go to the experts where we suggest you start to do your sourcing for packaging.

Lastly, make sure your social strategy and content strategy truly reflect your brand and brand promise. Check out our free download on the five ways you can analyze your social media to make sure you’re delivering the right content that speaks the right language to your consumer. From successful clothing startups to long-established beauty brands, brand owners and executives know the power of consistent messages and the importance of even the smallest details.

The post How to Deliver on Your Customer Promise appeared first on Two Seasons.

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First impressions are lasting impressions- and shipping can be a major expense. Do you know how the best retail brands source their packaging?

You need to source high quality, on-brand packaging to deliver on your customer promise. What’s more, you have to understand the best packaging options for your brand, the right shipping costs, returns operations and more.

How can you convince consumers your brand lives up to its story with lackluster packaging or poor customer service? These details provide shoppers with all-important cues about the credibility, authenticity and desirability of your brand.

The best retail brands take packaging seriously with good reason. Use our tips to make your first experience with packaging a success..

Your Packaging Checklist

Here’s what to know and how to prepare before contacting a design studio or packaging production company.

  • Become Familiar with Packaging Companies: Some companies only focus on the design aspect of packaging, others specialize in production. Still other businesses offer a full suite of services, like the boutique firm Creative Retail Packaging (CRP).
  • Know Your Minimums: Minimums are important. Every company isn’t accessible to every brand. Pro tip: the higher the order, the cheaper the price per unit.
  • Choose Your Elements:
    • invoices/packing slips
    • thank you cards
    • marketing collateral
    • ribbons
    • tissue paper
  • What Defines Great Packaging:
    • On-brand
    • Gets the message across
    • Tailored to the right price point
    • Available at the right cost
How to Work on Packaging Design with an Agency

The decisions you make before speaking with your design team will either get you exactly what you want or cost you lots of extra money. Arrive prepared, ask questions and make sure your requests are aligned with your needs..

Choose Your Packaging

Do you want boxes, thin paper mailers, plastic mailers or something else? Have an idea of how you want to deliver your goods so you may best direct your design team and then go directly to the printer. Offering abstract descriptions and leaving out key specs results in costly production.

It’s often a great idea to work with the same creative studio that worked on your brand identity (typography, logo…). Compare it to fashion production and design. If the design team knows what you’re planning, it can design based on your specs. If the design team doesn’t know, they’ll create solely based on your brand and creativity. Do give specific ideas of the dimensions and product packaging you want. If not, the ideas will likely be more customized and expensive to print (i.e. highly saturated in color, multiple colorways, printed on foil…).

Have it built into your contract or work with your team to explain you’d like a custom, very unique version as well as a basic version in a specified set of dimensions, featuring two colorways. You’ll be able to cost out the differences when you go to the production company, such as choosing more basic options for particular elements of the design. Remember, the most creative options aren’t always the most efficient.

Allocate Time for Production Sampling

Packaging production isn’t an overnight task. Create a timeline at a minimum of 4-6 weeks for the entire process or a maximum of 12 weeks’ time. Approach packaging like producing a garment. Get samples, choose your top three, finalize your selection, then move onto the production process.

Popular Packaging Styles & Strategies

Companies like Glossier are using branded boxes for shipping that serve as both the delivery box and the package. It’s a great way to reduce waste and keep things streamlined. Brands are placing items such as ribbons, tissue paper, thank you cards, invoices/packing slips and marketing collateral inside (stickers, postcards…). Sometimes these items are placed loose in the box, sometimes they’re placed in envelopes or they’re secured with branded tape or stickers.

Other retail brands place their products in branded polybag mailers with thank you notes and invoices inside (with or without tissue paper).

Savvy companies like MATCHESFASHION.COM offer shoppers two packaging options: eco and luxury. New customers may order the premium option the first few times to get a feel for your brand. They may then switch to the plain packaging option once they’ve decided they’ve ordered enough boxes. Still, it’s impossible to guess which packaging consumers will prefer. Maybe most of your shoppers will want the eco option, most will want the luxury option, or it will be a closer split down the middle. It could go in any direction.

Choose a production company that offers easy reorders- have consistent packaging ready for customers at all times. Finally, make sure you can afford every package style you offer. Luxury packaging comes with luxury prices- especially for companies with smaller minimums.

Please Note: Eco-friendly packaging is a must if sustainability is the pillar of your brand.

Packaging Production Companies We Love
  1. Lumi (for startup and growth stage businesses)
  2. Box Up (for startup and growth stage businesses)
  3. Retail Pak (for larger companies and enterprise businesses)
Shipping Rates and Customer Service

How did you choose your delivery service? Did you look up standard e-commerce shipping rates online? If so, you’ve been leaving a lot of money on the table.

If you’re on Shopify, you probably ship with UPS. Shopify has a deal with the shipping company to offer their e-commerce customers discounted bulk shipping rates. It helps, but you can actually save even more money on shipping – if you’re willing to put in the work. FedEx recently unveiled great small business shipping rates. Companies like FedEx require a lot more legwork, but their competitive rates are on par with those of USPS (but you get package tracking and Saturday delivery).

Never assume a company’s published rates are their best. Get a field rep and reach out to DHL or FedEx for competitive pricing. It takes some time and effort to negotiate, but it’s the only way to get the best shipping deals possible.

Retail brands that aren’t prioritizing rates or aren’t aware they can negotiate, spend 10-35% more on shipping.

Customer Service for Returns

  • Make shipping and returns simple.
  • Include your customer service email address on every invoice.
  • Integrate your returns process with a company like Returnly or Happy Returns (for startup and growth stage businesses), or Narvar (for larger companies).
  • Take advantage of SMS communications with personalized text messaging services offered by companies like Narvar and others.
Next Steps: Fine-Tune Your Branding

Need a brand identity and/or packaging design? Get in touch. We work with startup retail brands, growth stage businesses and enterprise companies alike. Book your 30 minute consultation session online, call us at 310-957-5264 or email hello@scalingretail.com.

The post How the Best Retail Brands Produce Their Packaging appeared first on Two Seasons.

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5 Ways to Increase Your Sales at Craft Markets - YouTube

Today you’ll learn five strategies to help you increase your sales at craft markets.

Here in LA, when we think about craft markets, Unique LA, Echo Park Craft Fair and Renegade Craft Fair are just a few of the different local markets that come to mind. These markets and others really support a very thriving community for established brands and emerging clothing startups alike. However, there are lots of different markets like this that take place on a national and global scale. How you start to use them can be very, very important to your business. In fact, some of the brands I’ve worked with have developed such a great strategy for markets that they actually continue to do them as a huge revenue stream.

1. Price Competitively.

People tend to walk around to see all the different accessory brands and clothing startups at any given craft market or fair before going back to make their purchases. It’s important to know what other brands are being shown so you’re not the most expensive brand on the block. In fact, you want to make sure that within your pricing categories that maybe you have something that’s for sale, at a discount, or maybe you have only new, full-price stock. However, people tend to visit markets to find little deals- even 10% off, or maybe getting a discount by engaging with you on Instagram and following you. Think about the different ways in which you can price yourself to be competitive.

2. Get Involved with Special VIP Events.

I know Echo Park Craft Fair has a VIP event the night before. Lots of people, like myself, like to check out these VIP events, not just to shop in an environment that’s a little less crowded, but to be able to get some special deals and get to meet some of the artisans that may not be available over the course of the weekend. Having more personalized, one-on-one shopping experiences can be very beneficial for brand-building. It’s very important to build the communication with your customers and really put a face to the brand name. So, find out all about the special VIP events and find out ways in which you can get involved in the evening before or even the weekend before, depending on what that particular event is.

3. Offer the Right Discounts.

Different kinds of special discounts can really run the gamut:

  • two-for-one deals
  • sample sales
  • buy two items, get 15% off…

Founders of clothing startups, get creative. Also, think about having specialty gift packaging available on site, an amazing thing to add as a new delivery item to the customer, especially if it’s around holiday time. And if you’re smart to think a little bit more outside the box, you may want to think about ways of shipping that product to that customer’s home, or even sending a courier to ship it over the next day if it’s local so that they don’t have to walk around carrying all the product.

Not all markets have to be cash and carry, though. Certainly, it’s a great idea to have lots of products. You can definitely do a lot of other selling and shipping mechanisms to get someone to buy without having to walk around with all those bags.

4. Create an Interactive Experience Through Personalization.

One of my favorite stands that I went to at the Echo Park Craft Fair was a woman who was selling gemstones. She was selling all these specialty crystals and part of the offering was that she was going to help tell you what were the crystals that are right for you. She made it into a really amazing interactive experience for people who were able to buy and not buy the product. They walked away with a very strong and positive feeling towards that particular brand and that brand owner.
Think about that in terms of any of the other products that you’re possibly selling.

How can you turn that shopping experience into something that’s more personalized? Are you able to tell them based on, you know, let’s say some Reiki or some Feng Shui in the house, what it is that you think they should be prescribing? Is it that you’re able to offer some kind of tailoring or be able to help take in a garment? Really think about not just closing the sale, but also think about the ways in which you’ll be able to offer and add more value to that customer while they have a chance to get to know your business. There will be several accessory and clothing startups at the market- how will yours stand out?

5. Use Aftercare Sales Strategies.

Make sure you implement a very strong social media and newsletter strategy while you’re selling at these events, because not all of the sales happen on site and on that day.

Have a great follow up practice in mind if…

  • You’re able to get people to follow you on Instagram (and if they follow you they get a special discount)
  • If shoppers sign up for your newsletter today they get a special discount
  • If you host trunk shows and special events and want people to be able to come and attend

Otherwise, all these amazing people who are at your disposal in terms of their information and engagement, will fall to the wayside.

Also think about these markets as one branded touchpoint in a multitude of touchpoints for the particular season or quarter. Markets can be an amazing channel for you. Markets can bring you to that customer. They can also help you understand customer feedback and how they feel about your product. Being able to increase revenue at a market is a simple mechanism, being able to have the right price point, being able to deliver on that product.… Be creative about how you’re servicing customers, and make sure you’re constantly thinking outside the box.

Don’t skimp on how your table is being presented. Pay attention to all of the fixtures, all of the things that you’re able to use for display. All of those are very critical for someone being able to say, “Yes, this person cares about the delivery. They care about their craft. They care about their product,” or they don’t and they’re just putting it up on the tables and stacking them all up. Presentation is going to be a very big way to help convert more of those who are just browsing into potentially long-term customers.

I hope you see all of the amazing ways in which markets can be of immense value to you. Make sure you check out our blog post for more in-depth coverage on how to build a thriving local community for your business in order to really help increase your sales. Make sure you check out our download on how to plan the ROI for your marketing activities. Participating in markets is just one particular sales and marketing channel. We want to make sure you’re planning a return on investment (ROI) for all of the different areas of business that you are focusing on. Clothing startups, growth stage accessory brands… wherever you are in your business’ journey, it’s important that every business move is tied back to a particular return on your investment.

Thank you so much for watching. Check us out on Instagram over @scalingretail – and when you’re ready to launch and scale your business, shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail.com and we’ll come up with a customized solution to help you grow your sales revenue.

The post 5 Ways to Increase Your Sales at Craft Markets appeared first on Two Seasons.

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