I’ve been chatting with Andreea Ayers from Launch Grow Joy a lot lately and she is one smart cookie. So I asked her if she’d be up for an interview and she agreed. We covered a lot in just a handful of questions. So lets jump right in.
Here’s our Q and A session…
1. I read through your backstory and found it really interesting. There are many artists and makers out there hoping to find themselves in a similar situation to you one day – leaving a corporate job to pursue what they love. So can you tell readers a little bit more about your journey to how you got where you are today?
I studied marketing in college, so I knew that I wanted to do something marketing-related when I graduated. I got a few jobs doing different things (consulting, market research, direct marketing, publishing), but none of them felt quite right. My husband and I moved from NYC to Boulder, CO when I was pregnant with our first baby and I decided to start an inspirational t-shirt company when I couldn’t get yet another job in Boulder (at that time I was five months pregnant). While it didn’t seem like a blessing at the time, it was! Not getting a job allowed me to start my own company, which was an eco-friendly inspirational t-shirt company. I didn’t know anything about manufacturing, fashion, online sales or publicity, but I learned a lot along the way. Other aspiring t-shirt entrepreneurs started to email me for advice and asking me how I was getting my t-shirts in stores and in magazines, so I decided to write an ebook, T-shirt Profits, detailing step by step how to launch and grow a t-shirt brand. After I sold my t-shirt company in 2011, I started coaching other t-shirt entrepreneurs one-on-one, which I really enjoyed. I now work with all types of entrepreneurs, not just those with t-shirts: jewelry, apparel, eco-products, home decor, stationery, baby & kids products and more.
2. The month of January is flying by and entrepreneurs are busy working toward growing their businesses in 2013 – troubleshooting problem areas and continuing to foster what is already working for them. But of course, there is a lot more to it than that. Right? So when it comes to running a product based business what are some of the most common mistakes you see people making with a new or stalling business?
Some of the mistakes that I see are that entrepreneurs spend all their time and money in the manufacturing stage and they think that putting a website and taking nice photos is enough. But that’s when the work actually starts! You have to constantly get your products in front of your target market. The next mistake that they make is that they don’t have a clear picture of who their target market is: they think that the broader their market, the easier it is to reach them and the more sales they will have. But the more specific you can get about who your target market is, the more successful your business will be. And it’s ok to have more than one target market (but not more than 2-3 when you are first starting out). And the third mistake that I see entrepreneurs make is that they don’t follow up and they are not consistent. Most of the wholesale accounts and press that I got was from following up, not from my initial contact.
And what have you found the solution to be for those mistakes / problem areas?
The solution is to have a clear picture of your target market: how old are they, where do they spend their time, where do they live, what magazines do they like to read and what websites do they like to visit? The more clear you can get, the more successful you will be. And as far as consistency, you have to get out your e-newsletter regularly, for example every first Wednesday of each month, blog consistently (write a blog post every Saturday, for example) and reach out to press and potential wholesale partners on a regular basis.
3. Your expertise is in marketing, of course, and that is a tough piece of the success puzzle for many creatives and small business owners. So I’d love for you to share a tip with anyone reading this today. What is the #1 one thing someone reading this can do right now to improve his/her current marketing strategy?
The #1 one thing you can do right now to improve your marketing strategy is to shift your thinking about your brand and products. If you think that you are “bothering” your customers when you send them an email or “annoying” store owners when you pitch your products, then your thinking has to shift. You should be viewing your products as something that will enhance your customers’ lives or make your retail partners’ job easier and more profitable. If you view your company that way, when you reach out to others you’ll reach out from a standpoint of “this is helping them” as opposed to “this is bothering them.” Once I shifted my thinking, my sales took off!
4. What is one of the biggest lessons that you have learned along the way with your t-shirt business, and now with Launch Grow Joy, that other entrepreneurs can learn from?
One of the biggest lessons that I learned is that most people (whether it’s press, or store owners, or marketing partners) will not answer the first time you contact them, so you need to follow up. I can’t tell you how many things I got just from following up! It’s not that people are not interested – they can be super busy or forget or accidentally delete your message. Following up is KEY to success.
5. You have a free video series designed to help entrepreneurs with product based business and a full blown course that just launched as well, called Product Marketing Breakthrough. Can you share a little more info about this with readers?
Product Marketing Breakthrough covers everything marketing-related for entrepreneurs with a product line: everything from writing product descriptions, blogging, SEO and building your list to publicity, wholesale and online and offline marketing strategies, including social media. It’s the only course of its kind and entrepreneurs who take it and do the work get results: one entrepreneur has over 20,000 Facebook fans and she’s had her company less than a year and many have gotten national press coverage as a result of implementing the strategies.
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