Western & English Today

FALL 2015

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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FALL 2015 Western & English Today 35 their loyalty to your brand. Regardless if companies pay atten- tion or not, they will loudly proclaim their passion for certain brands. Many advocates can outweigh one influencer." Know your advocates vs. detractors, it advises. "Don't dis- miss your critics. You can't control everything people say about your brand online, but by cultivating strong relationships with your brand advocates, you can help steer the conversation in a favorable direction. When seeking out influencers, don't over- look those who are influential and are brand detractors; they need to be incorporated into your influencer strategy." "If I didn't have a business, I wouldn't use social media," says Debi Lynn Mattingly of Debi Lynn Designs. But she does use it and gets excellent help from Shopify.com, the commerce plat- form for entrepreneurs—online stores, social commerce and point of sale—that aims to manage every aspect of business. Mattingly also uses the mobile app Instagram and picks up several followers a day. "A lot of Miranda Lambert's fans fol- low me and give me feedback," Matttingly says. She employs Google analytics to measure her website activity and identify where she can improve. An artist since age 4, Mattingly became a jewelry artist in 1994 and as she says, "I have never looked back." Even with a marketing degree and years in the school-of-life trenches, she knows constant learning is part of the job, and that keeping up with design and fashion is a must-do. She's forged strong relationships with stylists to both celebrities and from magazines, connections that she nurtures to keep her name in front of them. "I'm different from most designers because I don't give it away," Mattingly says. "People pay to wear my stuff." Celebrities continue to be a major component of her business, with stars like Lambert and Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Demi Lovato and Katherine Heigl sporting her resplendent creations. Both stylists and celebs themselves flock to her showroom, pick out their favorites and head home with them. "What's Debi got new?" they ask with one foot in her door. Mattingly is never sure if a jewelry piece will appear on a celeb—that is until someone sees the influencer on TV and calls her to say, "So-and-so' is wearing your jewelry!" But just because someone wears it doesn't set the piece on fire, she says. "The piece must sell itself." Still, when a famous name wears a "DLD," that validates her as a designer, she says. "My customers think it's the coolest thing in the world that they have a piece of Debi Lynn Designs just like Miranda has." SUBTLE SOCIAL SUCCESS "We're using social media very heavily and effectively," says Larry Mitton, owner of Intrepid International in New Holland, Pennsylvania. The company manufactures and distributes "anything for the horse or rider to tack shops throughout North and South America." Mitton works with a select number of Olympic and FEI rid- ers who support his marketing efforts. "We promote the riders and their stables and give them a hearty discount on products to buy, as well as coupons to give students," Mitton says. His roster of affiliated riders includes dressage names Tina Conyot, Chrissa Hoffmann and Lauren Sprieser, along with event riders Rachel Laufer, Christa Gandolfo and Sharon White. They blog and post on the company's Facebook page, as well as on their own, about Intrepid products or equipment they use and love. "We don't ask them to push product at cus- tomers," Mitton says. "We do like for them to post when they've been at an event—and share how they did—and they also post a couple of videos on YouTube each year." His rider associates join Intrepid representatives who visit tack shops, perhaps on a sale day or for a similar in-store event. There the riders can sign autographs and make new Intrepid friends. "We value our work with retailers and the symbiotic relationships that result," Mitton says. Intrepid International recently unveiled a new website for 2kGrey's expanded stylish equestrian apparel. With Meryl Ranzer on board as the line's original designer, and the con- sumers' vocal appreciation for the quality and beauty of the product, Mitton is rarin' to go with promotion. You can't control everything people say about your brand online, but by cultivating strong relationships with your brand advocates, you can help steer the conversation in a favorable direction.

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