While fashion week (or weeks, since from the kick-off in New York to the wrap-up in Paris, there are almost five long weeks in-between) is traditionally viewed as somewhat of a press-centric event, behind the theatrics of the runway shows lay the commercial heart of the business. From in-house or agent showrooms, private suites, to the typical and not so-typical tradeshows formats, the industry is predicated on brands managing to achieve commercial results in the space of a few densely packed weeks. The pressure, of course, is enormous, but so are the rewards. One successful season can be the catalyst needed for an emerging brand to successfully get a small foothold in the fray, or that first metaphorical foot in the door.
For brands, the choice of the right channel is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for success, much in the same way that the end-distribution choices will indelibly shape the positioning of a brand. While evaluating the appropriate channel, brand owners will want to carefully consider the agent’s or tradeshow’s overall brand identity, showroom location, territory coverage and brand mix. What other brands does this agent’s showroom represent? Does this tradeshow receive many buyers from overseas? Ultimately the aim of the game is to use these levers to choose a channel that correctly matches the type of end-distribution that is desired.
Finding a perfect match is easier said than done. Interestingly, the online presence of agents, distributors and tradeshows becomes extremely important, as a means to re-enforce the channel identity and positioning. Moreover, with the rise of generation C – über-connected and constantly communicating – any business will find its audience to be increasingly and exclusively reliant on internet searches to search and ignite brand trust. While brands remain the focus of the digital marketing conversation, the opportunity to capitalize on online ought to be viewed as a useful tool within the trade also, in order to promote market awareness and lead generation.
A couple of players stand out among the crowd as innovators, having developed and curated an online brand presence that shows heart and vision. One tradeshow organizer in particular – Milan’s White – proves that B2B online marketing need not be stale, boring or unimaginative. Its transparent approach clearly disproves the view that trade information ought to be portioned off, lest it lift the veil to end-consumers. Instead, by providing a strong branded experience and intelligently playing with the range of tools available to the digital marketer, White conveys its very unique identity and vision in an inclusive way. What is the end result? An engaging experience that leaves trade visitors and end-consumers alike yearning for more.
However, too few B2B players have fully exploited the possibilities of the social web to imprint their brand as competent. Too often, tradeshow or agent websites are hard to find and little attention is paid to SEO techniques that improve visibility and direct traffic. The online brand experience is limited, with a disappointingly basic approach to creating a memorable, lasting impression that engages visitors. Finally, social media presence – which could be relied on to communicate with immediacy and incorporate the agency or tradeshow vision and philosophy – is frequently lacking all together.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it is up to the individual company to find that comparative advantage which will enable it to stand out. But why limit this to fashion brands? Within high-end fashion, the brand identity is crucial in determining the commercial success of the company, and ultimately, a well-executed brand vision will deliver strong bottom-line results – equally for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Photo Credits: White Tradeshow, Milan “Six Talents for White”