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Macala Wright-Lee of FashionablyMarketing.Me
Friday, Nov 26, 2010, 3:22 PM / United States
Macala Wright-Lee is the founder of FashionablyMarketing.Me, a Digital Marketing Intelligence resource. Also a columnist for Mashable, Macala is a real self-made expert, having created a trusted online database of advice from sheer passion. Today, we introduce you to the woman behind, quite possibly, your new favorite blog.
TribaSpace: Tell us about your career background. How did FashionablyMarketing.Me come to be and where does your interest in the fashion industry stem from?
Macala Wright-Lee: I’ve worked in lifestyle and technology related industries for 10 years. My interest in the fashion industry comes from loving pretty things. Jewelry, lingerie, shoes – I love to market pretty things.
Several years ago, I started to see that technology was going to have a large impact on Fashion. I don’t just mean that more brands and retailers would have e-commerce; I saw that technology would drastically impact the business models that are the foundation of the Fashion Industry. I wanted to be in the middle of it and I wanted to help lead it.
FashionablyMarketing.Me came from two things 1) Wanting to explore the industry’s uses of digital media. The blog has evolved as my knowledge and interests have evolved. If you read back, you’ll see the evolution of the site coincides with my brand. 2) I needed something to maintain sanity. Working in house is challenge for anyone at a brand. I wrote FMM to maintain mental calmness. Guess it worked – it became my passion and I built my business out of it.
How has the importance of market intelligence shifted since the rise of the Internet as a marketing tool?
Well – brands no longer rely so heavily on trending services or on long lead print. What used to take one to three years can be done in half that time by using the Internet as marketing tool. Brands can go direct to consumers to generate demand. Designers can use microblogging platforms to build direct relationships with editors to start their own PR. While there is a place for most fashion business professionals, our roles have drastically changed. The internet did democratize fashion, as so many people say. We don’t need middlemen as much, we can do more ourselves. That’s empowering.
What makes a successful online marketing strategy? What components do members of the fashion industry need to consider?
This is a very big question. I think I’d like to shamelessly plug one of my favorite articles on FashionablyMarketing.Me, called “Marketing Isn’t A Drive By Shooting”. Don’t think just because we have the Internet, Social Media and Mobile Marketing that traditional marketing and business strategy are dead. They’re not, they roles have shifted but they’re still as importance as they once were.
Any marketing strategy needs to use traditional mediums (trade shows, runway shows, showrooms) in conjunction with their online marketing initiatives (SEO, social media, e-commerce). I look at marketing in terms of distribution and ROI. If we have a distribution channel like a showroom or a website, I want to know how those sales channels are performing. Any brand or retailer should have a positive impact on brand awareness, customer acquisition and sales after it’s been implemented for a period of X months.
You partnered with the 140 Conference in 2009, which highlights Twitter as a communication tool. What role do you play in the event and what’s your personal take on real-time micro-blogging?
Ah, the 140 Conference. Yuli Ziv (a fashion entrepreneur much like myself) and I were the two women in fashion and technology to talk about how brands and retailers were using Twitter. Back then, it was atrocious. They were using their Twitter feeds to blast sales and discounts, not engaging customers or using the tool as an extension of customer service. People were still laughing at Twitter at that point. Now, it’s become commonplace as a necessary marketing tool. It’s astounding how something evolves in only a year.
The campaign you developed with Cynthia Rowley and Foursquare got a considerable amount of media attention. How do you measure the actual success of location-based marketing campaigns?
Some of the measurement for Cynthia Rowley Bridesmaids was measured through Attensity 360, a social media monitoring service that works for amazingly well for lifestyle oriented social metrics. When it came to offline measurement, we had to manually monitor the use of the Foursquare check-in at the retailer, Lovely Bride, that carries the Cynthia Rowley line in their store in New York.
The owner, Lanie List, met with me two weeks after the campaign to go over the number of uses, three, and the number of bridesmaids in each party, usually about 3-6. The best part about that campaign was that fact that we not only accomplished the goal of online buzz about the line and raised attendance for the event, but we also made money from those efforts. That meant our online marketing translated into offline interaction and sales. That’s the basis of Foursquare for retailers, we did it for all the parties (The Dessy Group, Cynthia Rowley and Lovely Bride) involved. Everyone won!
What’s next for you? What projects in particular are you excited to be working on?
Well, we’re expanding FashionablyMarketing.Me in the next few months to cover more beauty and lifestyle content. That huge for us, we’re growing rapidly. I am also working with two amazing fashion start-ups that I love – SenseOFashion.com and StylishAndCool.com.
Stylish + Cool are mobile apps that help users organize their closets, shop their closets while on location at a store and then take what they’re looking at in-store and shop online. We have an app for men and women, which were both featured in Apple’s Fashion Week commercials in February of this year. The apps integrate to Facebook, Twitter and soon, Foursquare (I insisted on this). The thing that tickles me is that stylists in L.A. are using the apps to catalog their clients’ closets and dress them via email or cell! A consumer app turned business tool.
Sense of Fashion is an amazing new site. I’d lovingly say that we’re “curating social commerce”. The site is one part social network for fashion bloggers, stylists, designers and photographers, and one part e-commerce platform. The site allows emerging designers and retailers who carry emerging designers to sell their lines directly to consumers. I’ve started testing how some of the designers that we represent would do with their lines on the site. I was really surprised, within the first week, they started getting sales. Not large volume, but larger dollar. Love that!
How will marketing evolve considering the introduction of new advertising mediums like Foursquare or Mobile iAds?
If you’re talking about mobile and location-based marketing, I’m simply in love. Technology is thrilling all over again. I am excited about what we’re going to do with geo-location services like Foursquare and Gowalla. For retailers geo-location services are links, sort of like stepping stones or bridges between online and offline marketing strategies. These services add one more component to the mix that has kind of been missing. That’s why so many retailers are experimenting and creating mobile marketing and mobile commerce initiatives. Things like linking in-store loyalty programs to geo services is relatively inexpensive and takes them a step further. Instinctively, brands just seem to get it with mobile. (A word of caution, if mobile doesn’t fit your target demographic, don’t use it. You won’t see the results you want.)
Overall, people have started to “get” social media in general. It’s why I started writing for Mashable. Now, Mashable and Women’s Wear Daily have started to regularly cover social media and fashion. They never did that before. I guess my passion moved the Internet and influenced behaviors of large corporations. All that from one woman with a passion for fashion and tech! I amazed myself.
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