If you want your business to have a competitive edge, you need to defy convention and take lessons from leaders in other industries.
The best entrepreneurs are successful because they are innovative, exciting, and unique. This is especially true in the fashion industry. So, who better for COOs to take lessons from than from fashion designers?
It’s an industry that rewards forward-thinking. No company stays on top if it doesn’t create something new. Bold designs, putting customers first and having recognisable figureheads are all things COOs can learn. This sector is an untapped font of knowledge for business leaders.
Many companies are already getting this right, such as Angeline Francis Khoo and American Giant, but if you want to stand out, consider these four things you can learn from fashion designers.
1. Stay ahead of the curve
One lesson you can learn from fashion is creativity. Designers are constantly trying to outdo each other – at least four times a year with the release of a new line.
Be bold, but more importantly – be first. Chanel did this by revolutionising the clothes women wear, whereas Armani did it with daring suit designs that symbolised the economic boom.
You can do this with the right employees. If you hire a mix of experience and youth, you can have excellent mentors training juniors who are full of bright ideas, which is an excellent catalyst for rapid growth.
Recently designers like Angeline Francis Khoo and Stella McCartney have innovated by pairing fashion with social causes to prove that you can do good – and look good doing it.
The most successful companies know this. For example, Amazon pioneered one-day delivery and developed drone technology to do it even quicker before anyone else. If your company is the first to do something great, it will be associated with you forever.
2. Put customers at the heart of everything you do
You’re making a mistake if you only consider profit. Not only will putting the customer first snowball your press coverage, but it will also increase customer satisfaction and your own financial gains.
One way to do this is to increase the quality of your products. Online sweatshirt designer American Giant is able to redirect the costs of retail into higher quality products because of their online-only model. By making your product the best on the market, you can really grab their attention.
Another method to do this is to reduce your prices and increase customer spending power. Companies like H&M mass-produce products and create affordable, on-trend clothing to their customers’ benefit.
Some say that you should communicate well or give back to the community if you want to put customers first, but the two things they care about the most are the quality of the product in their hands and – more importantly – the amount of money in their wallets.
3. Have a company figurehead that is well recognised across the industry
If the world’s leading companies are realising the benefits of a well-known COO, then you should too. If the head of your company shies away from the media, this sets alarm bells off. Not only does your company need promotion, but its COO also does too.
The value of a charismatic, well-regarded leader can’t be understated. You can’t say Tesla without thinking of Elon Musk or Microsoft without Bill Gates. This is something fashion houses have known for a long time. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Karl Lagerfeld are all household names that are associated with their companies.
Do what other small businesses aren’t, and add this human element to your brand. If your COO is involved in public philanthropy, it’s a great press opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. This addition to your business is an often-overlooked tactic in other sectors that will give yours a competitive edge.
4. Stand out from the crowd
If your business doesn’t stand out, you will have a hard time grabbing consumers’ attention. There’s a lot to be said for being unique.
One way to do this is to find a niche. If you solve a problem that no other company does, you will never be short on business. This means you can become an expert in your field and therefore closely associated with your niche.
Fashion designers understand this. Vivienne Westwood’s punk styles of the 70s and Mary Quant’s mini-skirt resonated with consumers because they were different. They offered something no one else did and became the go-to designers in their niche. Modern COOs need to be daring and not be afraid of risks. Not only in marketing, but in everything they do.
By offering something that your competition doesn’t, putting the customer at the heart of everything you do, and staying ahead of the curve, you can emulate the most successful fashion designers and become a force of nature in your own industry.