Small business: Exporting - Liz Eglinton

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Liz Eglinton, founder of Snapper Rock swimwear on her recent experiences telling the story of her business on some of the top US TV shows

Liz Eglinton of Snapper Rock.
Liz Eglinton of Snapper Rock.

Snapper Rock kids swimwear claims to block 98 per cent of all harmful rays.

How have you told your story to your main markets so far?

We've been in trade shows throughout the US and Europe for the past eight years and it's been a focal point in terms of getting trade behind us and telling our story. In the US a lot of our marketing and PR has included blogs, celebrity spottings and print with a focus on "must have beach essentials" which works well this market. For us we we've found we get a much better return on investment from PR than advertising,because there is a strong story behind Snapper Rock. The States is really just catching up to New Zealand in terms of sun safety awareness so it's becoming much more of a talking point for them and they are still probably ten years behind New Zealand. It provides us with a real opportunity to lead the conversation and to help educate American parents on the importance of sun safety.

You have been on US TV recently. How did that come about?

Now Snapper Rock is in 500 stores in most states of the U.S the timing felt right to focus on TV. The US has a 315 million audience and we really wanted to tap into that.

Snapper Rock on ABC.
Snapper Rock on ABC.

Like all marketing you have to tailor it to the country and TV is critical in the US, especially talk shows. We've found time and time again that the New Zealand heritage and sun safety story really works but you need to have local agencies, shipping and a sales director in the States. We're now working with a local PR agency which has helped facilitate these TV opportunities.

In the past month, Snapper Rock has been on Good Morning America (steals and deals), The Today Show, Good Morning Connecticut and Good Morning Colorado. On August 17, Snapper Rock is on The Talk (Sharon Osbourne's show) as they have a pediatrician on talking about sun safety which is a fantastic opportunity for us.

What advice would you give other NZ businesses offered a big platform like this to tell their story?

Focus on your main selling point and just plug this point - you need to get your message out clearly and concisely.

Make sure you have the items featured in stock and that you are ready to ship immediately.

Snapper Rock on FOX.
Snapper Rock on FOX.

Use a US PR company who have the contacts with the TV networks.

For us, PR has been a much better spend of our marketing dollars than advertising which is so expensive in the US.

Has the exposure increased your sales?

We've seen a direct increase in sales following all our TV exposure.

The Good Morning America exposure was on July 4 - it was part of their Steals and Deals segment - we had to set up a new high traffic spike website to cope with the increased traffic. The show aired at midnight NZ time and within one minute of airing, the orders started coming in. In the 24 hours following the exposure, internet sales spiked to over 100 times the usual level of internet traffic.

Going into our trade show season, this exposure has increased the number of stores visiting us at the booths. We've had customers who have placed orders for next summer based on seeing us on TV.

For The Talk, we provided the studio audience with a voucher for Snapper Rock, and for Better Connecticut the studio audience all got a Snapper Rock swim bag to take home - the people that go to these shows as studio audiences seem to be good "influencers" and are happy to promote your brand.


Next week, we are taking a look at the changing workplace health and safety landscape in corporate New Zealand triggered by the Pike River tragedy. With a new Crown agency, Worksafe NZ, being set up to regulate workplace health and safety by the end of 2013, and much more stringent enforcement measures including heavy fines and corporate manslaughter, it's time all businesses checke that their house is in order.

- NZ Herald

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