The Brand Builder: Season 1 – Episode 1 – Transcribed
What’s up fellow brand builders. My name is Ben Taylor, and welcome to episode 1 of the brand builder podcast, a series where we focus on the struggles lifestyle brands run into, and talk about ways to overcome them. Over the course of this series, we will cover everything from product design, product sourcing, manufacturing, audience engagement, e-commerce strategy, social media strategy, influencer engagement, audience analysis, and ethical manufacturing, amongst many other topics. Most episodes will be like the one you will hear today, where it is just me, talking through questions I receive from my clients on a day to day basis as well as questions you all send in via social media or over the phone.
As we get moving through this podcast series you all are encouraged to ask questions. There are two easy ways to ask, you can call and leave a message for me at (571) 732-2475, once again that’s 571-732-2475 or you can tweet me at @bentaylortalks and I’ll address them in an upcoming episode. When you leave a message be sure to tell us your name, where you’re calling from and the name of your brand or your client’s brand.
I also want to emphasize that this podcast is for everyone. Whether you’re brand new to the game, you’ve sold countless amounts of merchandise, or haven’t been paid, we want to provide the guidance you need to make your brand more valuable. Our focus is on lifestyle brands, but there are great pieces of information in here for any brand. We want to give you the support, tools, and inspiration to help build and grow your brand into the one we all know it can become.
Also, if you visit us at bentaylortalks.com you will find a checklist titled Building a More Valuable Lifestyle Brand. It’s a 4 section checklist that will ask you the right questions and guide you down the path to building a more valuable lifestyle brand. It’s a completely free checklist. It doesn’t matter if your brand is doing $3M in sales annually or you haven’t done a dime yet because it’s just a concept. It’s definitely worth checking out. Again, it’s called Building a More Valuable Lifestyle Brand and you can find it over at www.bentaylortalks.com
Before we get into today’s topic, I want to share my thoughts on what a lifestyle brand is. According to Wikipedia and I agree with them, a lifestyle brand is a brand that truly embodies the values, aspirations, interests, attitudes, or opinions of a group or a culture for marketing purposes. Lifestyle brands seek to inspire, guide, and motivate people, with the goal of their products being to contribute to the definition of the consumer’s way of life. Whether that product is apparel, climbing gear, golf balls, backpacks, or hats, a lifestyle brand is there to support its community and help them live that lifestyle in any way possible.
Alright, let’s get into today’s topics. We’re going to be covering two of the most common questions I get asked on a weekly basis when I am talking to Lifestyle brand owners and managers. They are, How do we source higher quality products with a price point that works for us, and how do expand our market share when we’re the little guy in a very competitive market?
If you’re a lifestyle brand, at one or often many more than one point in the life of your brand you’ll run into supply chain issues. Whether those issues are sourcing products, paying the right price so you can make a healthy margin when you resell those products to your audience, fulfillment, or developing higher quality products without minimizing your margins and exposure, it doesn’t matter. You’ll face them. But, let’s address the question at hand, and we can get into those other areas in coming weeks. How do you source higher quality products with a price point that works for you?
When it comes to sourcing retail quality products that don’t take away from your brand equity, affect your brand identity and allow you to purchase these goods at a price where you can still make a healthy margin, your supply chain is all that matters. It’s the backbone of your business. If you don’t have a strong, stable and transparent supply chain you won’t get the results you need to grow your brand.
I always recommend a few channels to start your product sourcing. The first and easiest way, especially if you’re a newer brand, is to find the best promotional products agency in your area. And I cannot stress that enough. If you need one, you can always reach out to me at bentaylortalks.com and I’ll tell you who they are. We’ve been working with them since 2003 and I would be more than happy to point you in the right direction. The reason they’re a strong choice is that they don’t just have access to the swag that you get at a conference. Many of the manufacturers that support them, myself included, specialize in private label, retail quality merchandise, and then we also have products that support the promotional products industry. These promotional products agencies have spent their entire career sourcing thousands of different products for their clients. They know which factories are the best to work with, they have built sound relationships and they have worked their way into buying terms that are going to be beneficial for your brand. They also offer fulfillment services, allowing you to focus on running your business while they get your product to your customers or your retailers. One of the biggest benefits of working with a great promotional products agency is their design services. You can save money on hiring designers, because its more often than not built into what they do for you, and they also do it very well. They understand the design from a manufacturing perspective so they can deliver you the highest quality design possible for the product you’re trying to manufacture.
The second way to source your merchandise is to find a product sourcing agency. These agencies are often divisions of promotional products companies, importers, or manufacturing companies. They have strong relationships with other manufacturers, excellent shipping rates, and a massive database of products they can deliver for you, along with the most efficient way to deliver it. The benefit you get using services like this is cost savings all while having someone who truly understands supply chain management, manufacturing, and shipping. They can often save you 15-30% off of what you’re already paying for your product while still offering a higher quality product. The downfall with this is often the lack of fulfillment and design services. If you already have those in place, this is an excellent route to take. If you want to learn more about working with a product sourcing agency you can reach out to me at bentaylortalks.com and I’ll get you connected.
Of course, you can always do what we did in the very beginning, and get on a plane, fly to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Turkey, and quite a few other countries and go set up your own shop and operation, or develop relationships with factories there on the spot. That’s an entirely different beast, so, I’ll get into that in a later episode when we talk about our journey into the business.
The next major question I always get asked is, how do expand our market share when we’re the little guy in a very competitive market? In my opinion, this is asked because in our current day, with the ease of social media and technology, starting a company is pretty easy, developing initial products is cheap and easy, even getting your first 10 customers is pretty easy. But, what everyone runs up against is what to do when you’re still the little guy competing in a very competitive market. Start by going over to bentaylortalks.com and downloading and completing the Building A More Valuable Lifestyle Brand checklist, because it walks you through why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how to target and develop your audience. Yes, I said, why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why you started your brand. If there is only 1 other company offering a similar product and message as you, or if there are 10 other companies offering a similar product and message as you it doesn’t matter. What’s the ONE thing you do that makes you special? Why should they buy your brand’s product versus someone else in your market? Do you understand your audience better and know how to position it to them so that they’re excited about it? Do you make a better product, or is your messaging better? Maybe your buying experience is easier or maybe they really like your story. With lifestyle brands, it’s the little details that matter. Like I mentioned earlier, you’re selling a brand that truly embodies the values, aspirations, interests, attitudes, or opinions of a group or a culture. The funny thing is, most of you started your brand because YOU embody the values, aspirations, interests, attitude and opinion of your brand, but you’re still missing your audience with your messaging and marketing. In order to get a better understanding of your audience you will need to do some audience analysis and planning. There are tons of audience analysis tools and analytics programs you can use to do so. I’ll put links to them on this episode’s page on bentaylortalks.com. Another great way to start on that is go on over to bentaylortalks.com and download that checklist. It will ask you the questions that you need to answer being that journey to truly understand your audience. For those of you with larger brands and marketing agencies working for you, a different approach will be needed, so I would suggest you start by evaluating their performance or hiring a digital strategist to see where you can do better. They will have the tools needed readily accessible to do the proper analysis. You should also be asking your customers these questions when they buy from you. Do follow up via email, surveys, social media, or even in person. Ask them what they’re looking for, why they buy from you and support your brand and then go back and study what they said and turn their thoughts into action items.
Was that helpful? I hope it was. This doesn’t mean that you’ll leave this podcast knowing exactly what you need to do in order to answer these questions. But hopefully it gets you asking yourself the right questions and evaluating your current processes. We can’t move forward and build if we don’t question, and reevaluate how we’re doing business. I also want to add that I am always available for open discussion on twitter @bentaylortalks and through the contact form on bentaylortalks.com. Thanks for listening today. I look forward to your feedback and learning more about your lifestyle brands.