With the amazing Accra Fashion Week 2016 on it’s way, AFWk in conjunction with FashionGHANA.com will bring you designer tips from time to time. The Accra Fashion Week which is scheduled to take place at the Trade Fair Center is said to feature a host of international designers from around the globe in and outside of Africa.
The main purpose is to create a business hub that can satisfy the creative and employment desires of the fashion industry and fashionistas of Ghana. With the growth of fashion in Ghana we have decided to bring forth weekly tips for those who wish to get involved in the industry.
This week we look at five pointers designers can adopt to create an amazing presence online to advance their clientele.
1) ALWAYS MAINTAIN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
After you are a 100 percent sure about your chosen name for your brand, one of the first things you would want to do is to register it on all your social media so there is no confusion or cyber squatting. Target the most essential ones. For now that would be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. But creating a social media page is not even 5% of the work, keeping it updated consistently essentially is.
There are legendary designers right now in Ghana who no one knows about because they missed the social media boat. There are designers who make mediocre designs but are amongst the top Ghanaian brands because of their social media presence. Social media does make a difference! Entertain your following, not only necessarily with your work, but also with your personality. This doesn’t mean flooding your page with pictures of yourself, family members or aspects none relative to work, in fact try to avoid that as much as possible. But you can decorate it with supporting clients, your inspirations, your creative process, you newly opened shop, your employees, etc. You get the gist. This brings your following closer to you. Even if you need to hire someone to maintain your social media pages for a small fee, it really is worth it.
The ability to source clients from the internet is much more than you can imagine. Remember, you can be a junkie living in your mums house in a very messy room, but considering your social media presence is strong, well organized, entertaining and chic, you have the likes of being seen amongst the greatest.
2) BOOST YOUR PRESENTATION WITH A WEBSITE
These days with the rise of social media, having a website may seem a little less relevant than my younger days. However, having a website will always set you upon a certain threshold of seriousness. Not just any website but a decent looking one. And by decent looking, we don’t necessarily mean one with all the latest functions, but just a nice neat uniformed site that gives people all the necessary information needed. Avoid amateur websites with messy designs and a collage of images all over the place from all various activities. In such cases you are better off without a website.
Another core advantage is that you are able to have your own custom email address, eg. firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no business organization that will undermine your content in such scenarios. However, don’t be too quick to get a website, there are numerous web designer scammers, or people who use other peoples work as their portfolio. Or infact people who will waste your time after collecting your money. Be very careful when hiring a webdesigner.
If you can not get access to a great designer, sometimes it also works to have a beautiful static page (1 page website) where people can find links to all your social media platforms and contact. Websites are not easy to create/register and demand a level of identification through payments, clients are more trusting of businesses with websites than those that are only social media based.
3) BUILD A MAILING LIST
Put together a mailing list. Place all your former clients, your press contacts, businesses you think are relevant to yours, and anyone who you think might have a slight interest in your presence or whatsoever. And always send a message regularly. This could be monthly, weekly, daily, or just when you have an update. Don’t worry about if you are disturbing them. The ones who feel disturbed weren’t going to support you anyways and will message you to remove them, but be quick to remove them from your mailing list if they suggest so.
People change many forms of contacts from time to time, numbers, facebook pages, etc. But a lot of people still hold on to emails they set up years ago. There are lots of potential clients who might be waiting for that reminder that your business exist, or might not ever be a potential client but oneday may be asked to recommend a service or a product and they will recall yours first. So mailing lists are essential
4) RESPECT YOUR WEBSITE MEDIA & BLOGGERS
If there is one point you should take very well from us, there couldn’t be a better one than this. In fact we have stressed this point in many situations. Keep the blogs and websites updated with your progress. As said before, there is an egotistical mindset amongst some Ghanaian creatives who feel they are above the Ghanaian press, and avoid making contact with local press hoping that the press will continue to chase them for all their updates.
Hopefully this behavior will cease when they see new designers take the opportunity of local media to gain leverage. People will need to be constructive with which blogs they should chase. There are websites like www.websiteoutlook.com that can give you an indication of how popular a website is and how many hits they receive daily. You will be surprised how many award winning blogs actually have little to no views. At the same time, you will also be surprised how many websites/blogs are doing better than the international ones you know of.
So compile a list of blog/website emails, and when you have great news and updates here is some advice to follow. Do not post it allover your social media right away. Your objective is to get the news out and grow as a designer, the objective of bloggers is to get the news and maximize views. If you publish the information before the press gets it, then it makes very little impact for them to publish it, at time even insulting. In fact, sometimes they may catch on your news late and refuse to publish it on the basis that it’s old news. Instead, send your updates or news to the press, wait for the first few that publish it, and then share it on your social media. Here is the advantage, 1/ You build a better relationship with the press by giving them exclusive content, 2/ Your following see your as an esteemed business for your content to appear on blogs and not simply cropped pictures on instagram.
5) ONLINE BOUTIQUES
Okay, so let’s say you listened to everything above, now the world knows you are a great designer, people like your clothes, they have read your interviews, they live in Egypt and you are right here in Ghana. Now they want to get your dress….Oops, sorry you do not have any online sales platform. So you know have to have this awkward conversation about how she/he can send money to you and if she/he should send you a deposit, or if you should make it first or she/he pays you first.
That’s Waste of time! Affiliate yourself with a trusted online boutique. There are many, some in Ghana, some outside Ghana. FashionGHANA.com in itself is an online shopping boutique at www.fashionghana.com/shop. There are some boutiques that will buy stock in advance, there are some that will hold onto stock and pay you after sales or after a period depending on their sales, and then ones like ours that customize clothes after orders. There are also self managed boutique on social media platforms such as etsy.com. The bottom line is to make your product accessible to your clients not living where you are. And if you do work with a boutique, just like the press, try to give them exclusive products, not washed up products you couldn’t sell and so you are now throwing it their way. That feels insulting to boutique managers.
Thank you for reading. Once again if you are seeking to launch your career in the best way possible or establish yourself from a known brand to a mass selling brand showcasing at Accra Fashion Week might just be what you need to elevate your status. Visit Accra Fashion Week.org and register right away.