Tag Archives: TV

Ways to Grow Your Business

Much like a plant, a business requires care, attention and the proper conditions in order to grow and flourish. You might think you have your growth formula all figured out, but if you’ve tried it and aren’t achieving the results you want, it might be time to take a different approach.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their experiences with some overlooked, unconventional methods for growth, and offered advice for taking your business to the next level.

It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to make a sale is by not actually selling anything. Playing the long game — that is, offering no-strings-attached help and advice for the sake of building up a relationship — earns a potential client’s trust and makes that person more likely to come to you in the future, said Bart Mroz, founder and CEO of digital commerce consultancy.

“Become a trusted resource within your industry and community,” Mroz said. “A great way to do this is by actively engaging on relevant social media groups, blogs, forums, etc. During my free time, I like to participate in any conversation where I can provide insight and tips for the curious, but I make sure not to directly promote and sell my services. These aren’t your traditional customer acquisition channels, so they shouldn’t be approached as such.”

Mroz also noted that this approach lets you position yourself as an expert, and keeps you up-to-date with the latest industry trends, so you’ll know what your customers are looking for.

Most startups dream of huge growth in their early days. But taking it from 0 to 100 right away isn’t always the best way to grow. John Shapiro, director of product management in the small business group at Intuit, advised you to limit your growth at first, and hone in on a very small segment of your target market.

“Focus on a small microcosm, whether that’s a geography, industry vertical or something else,” Shapiro said. “You want to get to critical density, which is a lot easier to do if you reduce the ground you’re trying to cover. Think of Facebook’s growth strategy — they focused on one, then two, then four college campuses. They added campus by campus over time, and it was years before they opened up to all consumers.”

Highly focused and personalized service to your early customers will generate positive word-of-mouth branding very quickly, Shapiro said. This will help you build that solid base you need for greater growth in the future.

Retail today is all about omnichannel customer service and marketing: You have to be where your customers are and reach them through their preferred channels. The omnichannel mentality can even be applied to the locations in which you sell your products.

Many retailers who operate out of a physical store have expanded their operations to the web and sell products both online and in the store. Online-only businesses can benefit from this approach by expanding to a brick-and-mortar location, if they have the resources for it.

For example, online mattress retailer Leesa recently opened up a flagship store in New York City to showcase its products in a new and different way than they had been doing.

“It may seem unconventional and even counterintuitive, but often for e-commerce businesses, establishing a physical brick-and-mortar presence is one of the most cost-efficient ways to drive online leads and generate brand awareness,” said Matt Hayes, Leesa’s director of marketing. “Opening our Leesa Dream Gallery retail concept … allowed customers to try the Leesa mattress for themselves in a pressure-free environment.”

Similarly, Rahul Mewawalla, CEO of social and mobile referral platform Everfave, advised brick-and-mortar businesses to borrow tech-savvy digital methods from their e-commerce counterparts to increase growth.

“Businesses have to look ahead of the curve,” Mewawalla said. “We went from traditional advertising like TV [and] radio to internet-based marketing in the last 15 years, and the next 15 years will be focused on mobile and social-based approaches. To stand out and be more effective, businesses have to continuously look at new and novel ways to grow.”

Entrepreneurship is all about stepping outside your comfort zone, so the act of taking a risk may not seem all that unconventional. But the specific risk you take — whatever it is that seems like it’s too wild and “out there” for your business — could prove to be the spark that serves as a catalyst for growth.

Kerrie Hileman, owner of The White Magnolia bridal boutiques, said a reality TV star recently shopped in one of their stores for an upcoming segment of her show, complete with a camera crew. Hileman admitted that she was wary of being filmed and nervous about how the business might be portrayed on the show, but ended up having a very positive experience. As a result, the reality star featured The White Magnolia on her Instagram page and gave a huge boost for Hileman’s business.

“The group was absolutely amazing to work with,” she told Business News Daily. “We have noticed a huge jump in our Instagram following and have even had brides who came in to shop because they knew the reality star found her gown here. We are so happy we took the risk, and it’s paid off tenfold already.”

“Don’t be afraid,” Intuit’s Shapiro added. “If you want to grow your company unconventionally and successfully, you need to be comfortable taking the appropriate risks.”


Ways to Turn Your Pop Culture Obsession Into a Business

If there’s one thing you can learn from the media industry, it’s that people will always pay money to be entertained. Blockbuster films, binge-worthy TV series, captivating novels, addictive video games and acclaimed Broadway shows all rake in tons of cash for the creative minds behind them. But you don’t need to be a member of the Hollywood elite to profit from popular media. These six types of pop culture-based businesses, many of which are started by fans themselves, make their money outside the spotlight.

How many people might want Dr. Who’s Tardis in their home? Or how about a statue of Han Solo frozen in carbonite? Creating and selling themed decor and furniture to fans is something that will never go out of style. While it might take some significant startup capital to make high quality replicas of some of our favorite pop culture icons, there will always be sentimental demand for a piece of decor inspired by cult favorites. Just think of all those people out there just clamoring for a chance to bring the Iron Throne from “Game of Thrones” into their living room. There’s nothing like having a morning cup of coffee like the King (or Queen) of the Andals and the First Men, after all. For some inspiration, check out this list of pop culture inspired furniture.

Wherever there’s a beloved book, TV show or film, there are artists and crafters ready to create and sell their own interpretations of its characters and universe. A quick search on Etsy for popular titles like “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” or “Big Bang Theory” turns up countless apparel items, phone cases, keychains, wall art and other handmade knick-knacks for fans to enjoy. Some truly talented entrepreneurs are even able to build a steady business from their pop culture art, like comic book artist and illustrator Chad Sell, who produces postcards and large prints of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants.

For die-hard members of a pop culture fandom, the best way to immerse themselves in their favorite fictional universe is to dress up as the characters themselves. Whether it’s just for Halloween or to attend one of the above-mentioned fan conventions, people are willing to pay top dollar for authentic, tailor-made replicas of character outfits. California-based Cosplay House, for instance, offers made-to-order cosplay costumes, wigs and accessories based on everything from Disney films and comic books to anime and video games. Many of these items sell for upward of $100, or more if the item is a special commission request.

Live-action film and television is often shot on-location for a more authentic feel than sound stage and backlot sets. Individuals and organizations frequently rent out their land and buildings to directors looking for the perfect place to film. England’s Highclere Castle, more commonly recognized as Downton Abbey, is a well-known example, but there are some stateside properties that generate revenue through film shoots as well. Sands Point Preserve, home of the historic Guggenheim Estate buildings on Long Island, New York’s North Shore, has provided locations for numerous projects, such as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” FX’s “The Americans,” NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Showtime’s “The Affair,” USA Network’s “Royal Pains” and Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Jean-Marie Posner, executive director of the Friends of the Sands Point Preserve, told Business News Daily that in addition to funding the nonprofit organization, film shoots also help to showcase some of the features and buildings of the Preserve and encourage visitors to tour the property and its museums.

Production companies have long capitalized on the popularity of their media products with big-budget theme parks, studio tours and short-term exhibits for fans who want to go behind the scenes of the movies and shows they love. But some fans want to truly live the experience, and companies are willing to give them that. In the fall of 2014, New York City’s Eight O’Clock Coffee Co. and Warner Bros. Studios temporarily set up a functioning replica of the famed “Friends” coffee shop, Central Perk, to commemorate the show’s 20th anniversary. The New York Times reported that fans lined up around the block, waiting for an hour or more for a chance to drink free coffee, sit on the real Central Perk couch and purchase “Friends” gift shop items.

Another example is the College of Wizardry, a collaborative live-action role-playing festival based on the Harry Potter series to give fans the experience of attending a Hogwarts-like school. The multi-day events, which cost more than $300 to attend, are held at Czocha castle in Poland and include classes, social activities and other magical happenings run by fan volunteers.

You might not be able to make a living, but if you’ve got a knack for words and a unique perspective on a particular series or genre, you might be able to make some spare cash in advertising revenues through a pop culture-based blog. For example, FemPop, which began as journalist Alex Cranz’s blog about feminism and mainstream media, has grown into a full-fledged Web magazine with weekly podcasts, TV recaps and film reviews by a well-rounded staff of contributors. To elevate your publication above “side hobby” status, you’ll need to post frequent, compelling content and know how to market it to build up a solid following, especially on social media. BND’s guide to turning your blog into a business has some advice for doing just that.

It is important to note that any aspiring entrepreneur in this space should thoroughly research any potential intellectual property-related legal issues before starting up. While the Fair Use Doctrine can sometimes protect artists who want to use copyrighted materials in their work, do your homework to make sure the commercial sale of your products is legal. You can learn more about fan art and Fair Use in this Etsy blog post, or on the U.S. Copyright Office website.