Making the Appointment That Sells

So you are ready to start marketing a fashion line but you just don’t know where to start? While getting a business off the ground can seem like a daunting task, it only takes some practice and research. Apparel marketing shouldn’t be a stressful process, but it’s definitely a systematic process that requires a bit of legwork. Here are a few hot tips for everything from preparing for appointments with store buyers all the way to what it takes to make the sale.

1. Know your Target Audience

I cannot stress this point enough. Think about what you are marketing — really think. If you’ve been hard at work designing a colorful, retro stiletto, ask yourself, “Who is more likely to buy this product — a modern woman in her 30s, a stylish teen or a working mother”?  While we are all tempted to say, “Everyone will want my product,” avoid the urge to do so. While it may be true and you may have created the best thing since outlet stores — try to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, literally. A funky stiletto might not be the best choice for a busy toddler-toting mom but it might be just the thing for young twenty-somethings who thrive on fashion. The more specific you can be about your buying demographic the better. Be prepared for other related questions so you can answer at the drop of a hat. Write all of your answers down for easy reference.

2. Design and Create Samples

Now comes the fun part! Design, design, design, but end up with a complete collection. If you present a buyer with a series of different pieces that have no theme that links them together, your seriousness as a designer will be compromised. When you’ve perfected your line, create samples, but don’t worry about having a sample made in every colorway or style possible. It’s okay to have one good sample per style and to bring along swatches for the rest. In fact, a good selling point might actually be to offer your item in an exclusive colorway. A completed collection speaks more about you and your business than any words you could ever possibly find.

3. Making Appointments

Finding the right person to contact within a store is the most difficult part of the process. There aren’t many online resources to choose from, and this is the main reason for the popularity of shows like Magic and others. Infomat.com and TheSalesmansGuide.com are really the only two compiled sources of mailing lists for retail buyers with relatively current information. However, purchasing their lists can be very expensive.

Rather than make such an investment, it might be in your best interest to contact retail outlets yourself. If you aren’t sure where to start, try calling the chain or boutique where you wish to sell. Call the store’s main office, which should be listed on their website, and ask for the head buyer for the type of merchandise you’re selling (for example, women’s apparel, better handbags, etc.) Go from there and make appointments. Be sure that you have everything in line before setting the date. This will help you avoid any mishaps and can give you the edge because you’re showing respect for the buyer’s time. Remember the first impression is the lasting impression.

4. Pricing

Take time to study your product’s closest competition. What else is out there that is similar to your idea? Write down and compare the prices of similar items. This will help you create an accurate price that won’t be so low it cuts your profits nor so high it prevents you from making a sale. Write these prices down and have them handy for quoting.

5. Know the Store’s Business

This is very important in apparel marketing. Visit the store you are trying to target, either in person or even just online. Scope what is on display. What’s not on display is equally important. Knowing this can help you fill a hole in the store’s inventory and make creating a winning line easier. If your idea is already in stores, either put your own spin on the look or ditch the idea. A store isn’t likely to stock up on designs that are so similar in style. Besides, you want to be unique, right?

So there you have it: everything you need to start making those appointments and making them count. Good luck!