Pure Public Relations hosted the first Pure Academy in London. The panel talk entitled “A Brand New Future” involved some of the brightest and best in PR, retail, beauty, and interior design. A full house of brand owners and marketeers joined the Pure Public Relations team to find out how to future-proof their businesses.
The expert panel included Tracey Woodward, CEO Aromatherapy Associates, Candice Fragis, Buying + Merchandising Director Far Fetch, Marcus Hartwell, UK Managing Director Houzz, Kelly Marks, Co-Founder Pure Public Relations, and Emma Sinclair MBE.
There were some real stand-out learnings from the conversation, including how to manage failure, making a brand stand out from the crowd, when you know you’re ready to expand, and the importance of working with rather than against your competitors.
Kelly Marks cited a recent interview with Jay-Z where he explained that he had learned most of his lessons from failure, and was still waiting to find out what he has learned from success. Emma Sinclair agreed: “My decisions have been shaped by the mistakes I’ve made in the first 20 years of working. I have various businesses, and one of them is based in the US. America faces failure very, very well. In the UK we are a bit more reticent and people remind others of when they have messed up. If you fail, it doesn’t mean you should keep failing. It’s extremely important to know when you’re doing something wrong, have a rethink and a reshape. She added, “If we all fail like Jay-Z, then there you go!”
Conversation moved on to the importance of knowing who your customer is and making sure you are visible to them. Tracey Woodward explained, “Identify yourself and know who you are pitching at. Male, female, or both, look at age, demographic, and look at the white space in the market space. We got an A4 piece of paper and wrote down where we wanted to be, where the competition was, and where the white space was, and we went after that. I heard a pearl of wisdom that the harder you work the luckier you get.”
Candice Fragis expanded on this, with her insight “Timing is luck, really. Timing also expands into passion and having authenticity and belief in what you’re doing. And staying true to that. It’s the brands that are slow and steady with growth that sustain the crunches over time, the ones that stay true to their values.”
Kelly went on to ask, “In terms of timing, when should a brand start to think about expanding their stockists?” Candice explained the importance of a brand being real about what they can deliver on. “Making the wrong choice can make or break the brand. People always think that securing the big stockists is the holy grail, but they can also be your early grave if you’re not ready for it. Be ready to support your exposure. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m not ready for this right now.'”
Emma expanded on this: “A lot of people dream of big business and big stockists, but you need to think about your scale and size and know what you want from your business. Be clear on your finances and financials.”
Conversation moved on to tips, with Emma talking about the importance of having a strong tribe: “I’ve got a ‘girl gang’ of 15 female founders and we contact each other when we need anything—from advice on a a legal document to the best place to get a blow dry.”
When talking about other brands in the marketplace, Marcus Hartwell moved the conversation on to community. “One of the key success factors is very much a professional community—everything starts with them and listening to your customers.”
When it comes to knowing if something is right, Kelly explained that with over 20 years’ experience, “Most of the time, when you know its right, it’s right. Trust your gut—a lot of that comes down to gut feeling. Sometimes, there’s no scientific evidence.”
Kelly asked, “How should people choose what markets to go into, to grow on a global scale?”
Marcus advised to look at your audience and where the enquiries are coming from. “We noticed a high percentage was coming into Houzz from countries other than the US. Professionals were signing up organically. They realized there was an opportunity. The community was built organically.” He added, “To be successful internationally, you need to keep the same mission statement.”
Kelly continued, “So, if we are thinking about future-proofing your business, how far into the future should we be planning?”
Candice explained, “Blue-sky thinking is important and generally that’s the rule for founders of the brand. They need space for dreaming and you need a team around you anchoring you down to differentiate between the two.”
The conversation opened to the floor with lots of questions as well as requests for future panel talks from The Pure Academy. So watch this space.
- Whatever your weaknesses are, surround yourself with a team that can strengthen them. – Emma Sinclair MBE
- Hire slowly and fire fast. – Tracey Woodward
- Know your audience, understand what they want, and stay true to your core brand values in every market. – Marcus Hartwell
- Never take your finger off the pulse of young people. Ask what they are buying, and where they are buying it—these are your customers of tomorrow. – Candice Fragis
Photo: Andrew Haimerl via Unsplash