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Expanding Your Brand when you’re on HGTV. A Case Study on Fixer Upper, Magnolia Market and Chip and Joanna Gaines

Expanding Your Brand when you’re on HGTV. A Case Study on Fixer Upper, Magnolia Market and Chip and Joanna Gaines

I am in the process of scaling back my consumption of Reality TV while I ramp up my intake of news stories I’m researching for this project. I have to tell you that whenever I find myself taking in too much negativity I must find balance somewhere.

Enter HGTV – my largely positive and favorite special interest channel.

One of my favorite shows – Fixer Upper revolves around Chip and Joanna Gaines. They are a super-cute and very talented couple that create wonderful new spaces in older homes for families in the Waco TX area. They are awesome at the transformation process.

Brand Insights:

Chip and Joanna are engaging, funny and have very good energy. Their out-takes are everything. Their expertise, along with Chip’s really funny (and sometimes really gross) antics, will pull you in. Even if you’re not a fan of her specific design style I’m going to predict that before long you will Google them and… you will discover that they have their own website featuring their work with local real estate, a silo project, and an online retail component Magnolia Market.

They are in demand. Social media shows that they people want them to be cloned because they don’t want to move to Waco, but instead come to them to build and design their personal projects.


Geek Notes:

Here’s a quick peek at what their website is doing as of today:

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My Quick Insights and Analysis:

  • They are ranking pretty high in comparison to their local competition, no doubt due to HGTV’s influence.
  • I’m not surprised to see that people are searching for Joanna, but I am surprised to see that Chip isn’t ranking on that keyword list. Chip has an opportunity to strengthen his part of the brand.
  • Perhaps their e-commerce component is the weakest link? Recently, their shop was temporarily lagging behind in delivery times which suggests (though I can’t be certain) that with their current team they can’t keep up with the amount of traffic that HGTV is pushing their way.
  • It’s a pretty intense undertaking to scale e-commerce when you consider all the details like buying, customer service, technical support, shipping and logistics, returns, etc. And that’s without all the other ongoing business ventures. This is why DIY e-tailing is not my first choice especially when you have a large media following or smaller budget. But, if they wanted to stick with product sales, I would choose to license their brand, and negotiate the outsourcing of the whole retail enterprise to someone who has the infrastructure to handle everything really well.
  • Given all this – they might want to explore other less personally resource-intensive revenue streams. My long-term choices for Chip and Joanna would probably be paid licensing, public speaking gigs, classes and/or workshops and a series of lifestyle books that incorporate the energy they bring to their show each episode. Specifically for Chip, I would suggest doing his books on transforming old homes and building new ones, with his insights on how to be a great husband to a great wife.
  • There are a few takeaway’s on Sarah Susanka’s brand expansion in this building/design area.

I hope they capture and hold onto their raving fans and consider their long range plans while they dance with a medium that is always changing (I remember Susie Coelho, do you?)

Wishing them much joy, great adventures, ever expanding circles and time to do more of what they really love.





Launching Luxe Using the Married to Medicine Platform

Launching Luxe Using the Married to Medicine Platform

I am a dog person. And though dogs will never rank up there with my kids, I can definitely relate to having a well-groomed pooch. But Quad Webb-Lunceford of Married to Medicine fame, is taking this concept to an altogether different level. She’s launching a new line of couture clothing for dogs called Picture Perfect Pup. And of course I’m fascinated by her brand concept and how reality TV will impact her launch.

First let me just tap into Twitter demographic mode for a moment… This morning I read a tweet from her design partner Reco Chapple….
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I adore this man’s energy! And industry numbers have even better news.  Overall US sales in 2014 for all pet supplies (within which doggy clothes fall) are forecasted at $13.72 billion dollars. That’s billion with a big ol’ B. So while not all of this segment is about puppy clothes – it is a pretty sizable market.

At the same time, the pet industry is contracting a bit. This market now includes fewer dog owners overall; and even fewer who will ever make the investment in a luxe doggy brand – no matter how adorable or well promoted. Luxury brands are always exclusionary. My thought is that they should take a look at the well-executed examples of “Affordable Luxe.”  You do remember the collaboration between Target and Neiman Marcus for the myriad of designers that they’ve launched at Target stores? I bet this would be a very viable angle for Quad’s team to consider because it can convert more of the viewing audience delivered by BravoTV into customers. For Married to Medicine the average number of weekly viewers for their new episodes is about 1.8 million people.

So Quad can thank both Bravo and Mariah for making her relevant. (I’m completely kidding about the Mariah factor – but Mariah has a great brand concept brewing too if she’ll take note. I’ll discuss that in my next post.)

I digress…

So here’s what I love about Quad’s new venture. First, it’s an extension of who she is. She personally comes off as likable, charismatic, driven and original and that bodes well for her emerging brand.

I also love how she’s added a non-profit to the mix to raise money and awareness for Canine Companions for Independence. This was a really good move. Her argument that she’d purchased school supplies just didn’t lend enough credibility to counterbalance the “superficial factor” raised by her husband on the last episode.

I think her brand will also scale really well. She can extend her line beyond clothes and offer accessories and other products.

There is definitely a market for her brand if it remains a pure luxury offering.  I can envision this in boutiques frequented by the pet-pampering, disposable income set. However, I think “Afforable Luxe” branding concepts are the way to go for bigger profits.

I’ll be watching to see how Picture Perfect Pup is ultimately rolled out to retailers. I can’t wait to see the particulars.

Stay very busy Ms. Quad.



Secrets to Better Productivity

The ability to maximize the productivity of your day is one of the greatest abilities of the successful business owner.  While some who find themselves challenged in this area may think that there must be some great secret to being able to accomplish this, there are many simple concepts that can be implemented that will allow you to make the very most of every day.

1.)     Make a to-do list.  Even if you think you have a terrific memory, you will forget something.  WRITE IT DOWN.  Plus, there is something cathartic about being able to cross an accomplished item off of a list.  This will help to keep you motivated.

2.)    Schedule your time and do your utmost to keep to the schedule.  This includes responding to phone calls, answering emails, even breaks.

3.)    Sleep.  Without a good night’s sleep your ability to focus will be severely affected.  Lack of sleep is one of productivity’s greatest enemies.

4.)    Organize.  Know where everything is.  Take the time to find a place for everything and then put everything in its place.  It is a simple concept, but it is an important one.

5.)    Delegate.  If you are fortunate to have a capable assistant, ask yourself if this is something that MUST be done by you or if you can hand it off.  Even if you delegate them personal items—such as scheduling doctors’ appointments and keeping your calendar you will find that it frees up valuable time in your day to do your most important tasks.

6.)    Minimize distractions.  This includes background noise such as televisions and radios.  If possible, shut your door.  Anything that competes for your attention can be detrimental to your productivity.

7.)    Break complicated tasks into steps.  It will provide you with a better way to measure your progress toward its completion and will make it seem less overwhelming.

There are only so many hours in a day.  In order to have your business grow and thrive you have to make the most out of each day.  Taking the time to put a few good practices into place will ensure that every day is as productive as possible and that you have the ability to get to the most important tasks—thereby ensuring the continued success of your business.

A Modern-Day Micropreneur Considers Her Startup Costs…

Traditionally, one of the most common questions a potential business owner had when contemplating the founding of their business was “How do I estimate the startup costs for my business?”  But how has this process changed for a modern-day micropreneur? Well, actually, a lot.

Let’s say I wanted to open a dress store in 1989. I would have estimated my startup costs based on things like insurance, rent, product inventory, marketing expenses, print advertising, wages, printing, utilities, shipping, office supplies, business cards and other items. At the end of this estimation process, if I needed financial assistance from a bank or an investor their involvement may have meant that my little boutique may have never made it off the ground.

Fast forward to today. For a modern-day micropreneur and virtual company owner many of the considerations have either been displaced or the costs greatly lowered by technology. For example, my new online dress boutique requires an investment in design of the platform, online PR strategies, social media outreach and such. But I no longer have to consider things like:

  • ·         exorbitant costs for printing that has been largely replaced by low cost email
  • ·         rent that is replaced by drastically lower site hosting fees
  • ·         utilities for anything other than my living space, and
  • ·         office supplies for yourself – not a staff of five.

Today, a virtual business owner starts their company while still employed. Her paycheck funds much of her startup costs. A 2 – 5 year transition plan is very common for many micropreneurs who never have to rely on their business to be the sole source of income to pay living expenses for any matter of time. After a few years, many business owners replace their existing salary and some surpass it.

And if they start more than one company the financial barriers to entry for micropreneurs shrink even further. Once a true micropreneur understands the power of process automation – starting another company is as easy as registering a new domain name and employing the same skills and freelancers to get things done. Costs are saved by reusing equipment, software, freelancers etc.

I am not suggesting that virtual company ownership is a $5 venture by any means. The costs are real, and need to be calculated. But the modern day micropreneur costs are happily much lower.

When you want to estimate your micropreneur venture costs create a list or a spreadsheet and itemize the equipment, other items that you will need to open for business and list the cost of these items as well as any startup capital that you will require for each line item.  A few such items would include computers, tablets, phones, virtual assistants, strategic consulting, software, hosting, design and development, telecommunications, business cards and others.

Price these items and be realistic about it.  The more detailed and complete your list and prices, the more accurate your estimate will be.  Once you believe you have everything listed, then it is just a matter of totaling the prices and costs of everything you need to acquire and pay for to launch your new virtual business.