Small business: Your business online - Murray Bevan

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Murray Bevan, owner, Showroom 22, fashion showroom and PR

Murray Bevan, owner of Showroom 22. Photo / Supplied
Murray Bevan, owner of Showroom 22. Photo / Supplied

What do you do when a tiny brand comes to you wanting help with exposure and profile raising?

We assess all new clients on their merits as designers or purveyors of good taste, regardless of their size. If we like what they are doing, we will back them. From there, it's all about managing expecations, both theirs and the media's. We are careful not to push clients out there too fast, too soon and similarly we are careful not to promise too much to the media. Seting false expecations for either party will normally backfire on us first.

Why is it that some small brands in New Zealand have more profile than others?

It's down to sheer persistence and having a solid product to market. Both of those things together work. If one is missing, the profile won't be created. The most important element is to have a good product in the first place. I believe that some of the smaller fashion brands in New Zealand have grown with a culture of self-promotion and PR.

Whereas some of the older designers are not used to waving their hands around 24/7. There are far too many small players in the market now for any of them to be complacent. The fortress mentality of "I have the biggest shop, so they'll have to come to me eventually " doesn't work any more.

Brands are more nimble, more able to spread their messages to wider audiences faster than ever before and they're getting used to creating news more regularly.

Do you have any examples of SMEs with high profiles? And what are they doing right?

Kathryn Wilson is a great example. She's balancing a solid company foundation with good product at a great price. And she's making herself visible to a fashion community ann\d a business community. Juliette Hogan is another one - growing her business organically and quietly hitting the mark each season with her designs. "I Love Ugly" is a great example of this: they have a small team, a tightly focused product range and a very good marketing strategy across social media. Georgia Alice is a good example too. She's only one season old, yet she's winning the media over with solid designs that are selling out in a matter or weeks and gaining good press coverage to boot. We recently studied a few of our clients' PR values over the last 12 months and several of them are easily surpassing $1000 worth of PR coverage in print and online only not including radio or TV.

Can having a high profile backfire at times?

In New Zealand, absolutely. I don't think we've seen it yet in fashion but you see it all the time in music, sports and celebrity culture. When you're too big, everyone wants to take pot shots at you. Either that or you start to believe your own hype.

After that it's all over.

How do SMEs work at maintaining a profile? Do they have to keep coming
up with new stories, new products?

Basically yes. Within reason, you need to have new things to talk about as much as possible without becoming white noise. If you cultivate a really good brand with great product and a sound following, it becomes a matter of screening opportunities for coverage, choosing which to do or not do, which is a luxury, rather than having to rack your brain for new ideas when maybe there aren't any good ones at hand.

What does PR do for raising profile as opposed to social media and advertising?

I was once told that advertising is what you say about yourself, PR is what others say about you. In this ocntect, PR and word-of-mouth marketing is so much stronger than advertising because the opinion you're digesting are coming from people or media who you trust. You might buy them, subscribe to them, or have somoene recommend them to you. This is far more believable than advertising. I'd put social media into the same pot as PR due to it being very much fuelled by viral ideas, random visibility and endorsement by people or companies that the user has chosen to follow. Most of it can still seem quite organic, almost as if the user has stumbled onto it, instead of having it forced on them.

How do well established small businesses keep updating their offer without losing current customers? Tell us your stories.

- NZ Herald

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