Two weeks ago, I found myself in New York City attending Rachel Zoe’s private fashion show and wondering how I got there.
Before that night, the only runways I had been on were at the airport.
But don’t worry, it might have been unfamiliar territory, but I didn’t waste the opportunity. I did what any good entrepreneur would do when surrounded by supermodels. I analyzed the marketing strategies.
And I have to say, I learned a few things. In fact, here are 7 insights about Fashion Week that you can use to more successfully market your business and yourself.
1. Rally the people who believe what you believe.
I had never heard of Rachel Zoe until that night, but almost everyone else had. They were part of her fashion community. They watch her TV show. They look at all of her designs.
In short: they believe fashion and design are important.
Most strong communities are built around a common belief system. The strange thing is that most marketers waste their time and money trying to convince people to change their beliefs.
Rachel didn’t waste her time trying to convince people like me to love her work. If you’re leading a business or a movement of any type, the goal isn’t to force people to think like you. The goal is to rally the people who don’t need to be fixed.
2. Dream big, start small.
If you wanted to be a fashion designer it would be easy to look at Rachel Zoe now and think, “Ugh, it’s so easy for her. I wish I could have that.”
First, you can, so don’t cut down your own dreams. Second, the only way to make progress is one step at a time.
Do you know the first person Rachel Zoe did fashion design for? Her next door neighbor. She laid out all of his clothes for the week.
It sounds so simple, but what you have right now is enough to get started on your dream. Start with what you have and start now.
I’m sure Rachel Zoe still has big dreams about where she wants to go with her career, but she will probably start small by designing the next piece of clothing.
3. Launches attract attention.
Fashion Week is a big production. As a result, it gets a lot of attention. Major companies like American Express and Mercedes Benz roll in to sponsor it. Thousands of people pay to attend. Major celebrities show up.
Do you know the only reason all of this happens? It’s because the people who run Fashion Week decided to make it one big product launch. It only happens once each year. Tons of blockbuster designers show up. People plan their schedules around it.
If you’re launching a business or a product of some type, then consider how you can make it something for people to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an event in the physical world (although that would be great). Just give people something to point to and say, “I want to be there for that.”
4. Market around events to drive yourself forward.
Having trouble getting things done? Feel like your business is languishing and you’re not sure what to work on next? Have five or six open projects instead of one or two completed ones?
Use events to push your business forward and get things done.
Every designer who has a show going on the runway knows that they need to be finished by the time the first model walks out onto the stage. There is a deadline for completion that can’t be adjusted.
Having deadlines that can’t be adjusted is an excellent way to improve your productivity because it forces you to get something out to the world — even if it’s smaller than you imagined.
Use events — speeches, meetings, webinars, conferences — to force yourself to complete tasks and market your product publicly.
5. Rigid thinking benefits no one.
Sure, some of the designs at Fashion Week are off–the–wall and over–the–top, but so what? If everyone stuck with what we already do, then we would all end up stuck.
Whenever you try something new there will be a lot of mistakes made. (And let’s be real: when I see someone coming down the runway dressed like Big Bird, I’d call that mistake.)
But in the end, making mistakes is the only way forward. You can either play it safe in the world someone else created, or you can push the envelope and (possibly) create a new world for everyone to enjoy.
6. Success unshared is failure.
Take a moment to imagine the thousands of people wearing Rachel Zoe designs. Now imagine if she had kept those designs to herself. Imagine if she simply drew them up in her free time and filed them away in a drawer.
That’s exactly what many would-be business owners do! They think up great ideas, but then talk themselves out of sharing them with the world.
It doesn’t matter how great your ideas are or how brilliant your plan is, it only becomes meaningful once you allow other people to take part in it. Your value doesn’t come from the achievements you enjoy, but the people you share them with.
Sidenote: The people you share your ideas with are the only ones who can make it a success. Every person at that fashion show can now be an advocate for Rachel Zoe and her work because she shared it with us.
And yet, what do new entrepreneurs do? They ask advisors to sign an NDA before they reveal the million dollar idea. They hoard their thoughts in private spreadsheets and documents for fear of getting them stolen. Stop overestimating the risk of letting other people in on your idea and start realizing that sharing your work is the only way for it to become successful.
7. Give away something nice.
Apparently, the gifts at Fashion Week weren’t very good. I didn’t even notice until the third person came up to me complaining about the “lame” gift bags.
At first, my response was, “It’s free, people. Let’s get serious here. How do you complain about something you don’t have to pay for? If you don’t like it, don’t take it.”
But there is something to be said for having a cohesive experience. Everything else at Fashion Week was so nice that the second rate gift bags seemed out of place. They didn’t meet the expectations that were set by the rest of the event.
The lesson: It’s better to do a few things very well than to force in half–baked ideas.
Speaking of giving away something nice…
How would you like $250?
American Express is a sponsor of Fashion Week and Passive Panda, which is how I ended up at the event. As a little bonus for you and courtesy of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, I’m giving away a $250 American Express gift card to a lucky Passive Panda reader.
Sidenote: While we’re talking about fashion and shopping, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card offers some of the best shopping purchase protection on the market. For example, eligible purchases made with an Amex Card are protected against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase. Additionally, cardholders enjoy 90-day Return Protection, so that you can get a refund (up to $300) on eligible items you can’t return in store.
How to Enter: Leave a Comment Below
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me what you would spend your $250 American Express gift card on. You can enter once per day until Tuesday, October 2nd.
The Fine Print: the winner will be chosen at random on October 2nd, 2012 at 3pm EST.
UPDATE: Brad Berkebile was chosen as the lucky winner of the $250 American Express gift card. Stay tuned for more giveaways.
Disclosure: Just in case you missed it earlier, American Express is an official partner with Passive Panda and they have donated a $250 gift card for Passive Panda readers to win.