Welcome to the first Women On Business Roundtable where we tackle a problem or question for a Women On Business community member. This month’s roundtable features Hairzing. Following is the submission from Holden McCallie Penley of Hairzing.
In the last few months Hairzing.com has been attacked by a large competitor who also sells double comb hair accessories. You’ve probably seen them on tv – EZcombs.
Our company is founded on the belief that business and education are two great equalizers. When used correctly, they increase the quality of life for everyone they touch. We created woman’s collectives in Africa and Rural China that allow women to work with enhanced wages around their family’s and local cultures. On this, we have NEVER wavered.
One of our goals is to bring business opportunities to women, especially in areas that have limited resources and support. The second goal is as to ensure that girls in these regions receive education.
You change the world one girl at a time….
Our product reputation is outstanding. Please consider researching our company. After draining both partner’s life savings to get this company up and running, we are seeing a small amount of success. However, we feel the word needs to be spread that ethical companies do exist to help others and simultaneously running a sustainable business.
After reading the submission, it appears that the ladies from Hairzing are facing two problems:
- How to fight back against a competitor’s similar but inferior product.
- How to spread the word that Hairzing is an ethical company that runs a sustainable business while helping women.
So let’s go! What advice, tips, suggestions, experience, resources, etc. can you give to Hairzing to help them tackle their problems? Leave a comment and share your thoughts! The Women On Business Roundtable is open to anyone and everyone who has an idea to share to help the featured business!
Echo Garrett says
More information would be helpful. Sometimes it is just a simple adjustment in current strategy that will open up the market. Education is the key. When potential customers are unaware of your companies value added, you have to make a conscious effort to educate them. What forms of constant communication are you using to transmit your message?
Bonnie Marcus says
I believe very strongly that you need to consistently tell your own story and not attack the competition. That negative buzz can more often hurt a company’s reputation and often backfires.
I think that Hairzing has a wonderful story to tell and they should get the message out to women everywhere. Not only do they have a great product but the company is educating and supporting women around the world with their product development efforts.
I would suggest doing press releases around this story. Get the word out to all womens political and business organizations.Promote your company as aligned with the mission to foster education and financial independence for women in global communities. Tell the story about how you do not exploit women and what efforts you have made to stay true to your mission. Your product is important as it is the vehicle to support this mission and anyone can support your mission by buying the product…which they will love for a variety of reasons.
I am not sure what your promotional efforts have been in the past, but I would suggest that your story is extremely marketable and your product sales should follow suit.
Casey Dawes says
Use social networking — in particular Twitter. Find someone within the company who likes to Twitter and have them be the “face” of the company. Create a company page on Facebook and develop fans. Create a video for You Tube and promote it on Twitter and Facebook. Add a blog to your website. Put links to your Twitter and Facebook IDs on your web page. Your target audience for your product sounds like young women — they are online. Give them the tools they need to become your evangelists.
Scarlett de Courcier says
I agree with Casey; social networking is an excellent way to spread the word. Perhaps giving out free samples to the first 50 people who reply to your Twitter update, then asking them to review the product on their site, or something similar. Word of mouth is a wonderful way of promoting a brand, be it in the initial stages of setting up a company or after a problem like the one you’ve described.
Facebook fan pages are also good things to have – perhaps people could link to this from a review post to draw more potential customers.
Allison ONeill says
I agree with what Bonnie said, just tell your stories as many places as you can. Can you add some kind of ‘fairtrade’ or similar sticker to your packaging. Perhaps you could add something like “the original hairzing” to show people there are imitators of your product. Once people know there are imitators they do try and avoid them.
Barbara Weaver Smith says
Great suggestions so far.
Can you align or partner with one or more nonprofit organizations that are nurturing women entrepreneurs around the world? You are a “social venture” organization–blend of profit/social value motives. Nonprofit versions include kiva.org, idealist.org, ahoka.org, Social Venture Network–svn.org — they should know what you are doing and be able to help you promote your business.
Also you might consider establishing a foundation to support your efforts to empower women in developing countries or to direct some resources to an existing organization that supports social ventures.
Susan Gunelius says
So many great ideas already. I’m going to try to add some different ideas along with some online resources.
Search for blogs that your target audience of consumers is likely to read and approach the bloggers with free samples for them to review or offer in giveaway contests on their blogs. Resources: To learn how to connect with bloggers – http://bizsuccess.kudzu.com/?p=292 and to learn how to find blogs of interest to your audience – http://weblogs.about.com/od/blogreferenceguide/tp/Blog-Search-Engines.htm; http://weblogs.about.com/od/readingblogs/ss/TechnoratiTutor.htm and http://weblogs.about.com/od/readingblogs/qt/BlogHerBlogDir.htm.
Participate in relevant social networks where you key customer and distributor audiences hang out – start by searching for groups in Facebook and LinkedIn. Become active on Blogher.com, Start a MySpace page and a Facebook Fan Page.
Write articles – eHow.com, guest blog posts, Wikipedia, Squidoo, comment on blogs. For all of these free PR efforts that will bury your competition in searches – make sure you do some keyword research (e.g., wordtracker.com) and always use that keyword in your content. Also, always identify yourself online using the same word (e.g., your name, your keyword, Hairzing, or whatever is best for you).
Twitter – a lot!
Trademark your tagline (I like the one mentioned in the comments above – “The Original Hairzing”) which can help position your brand as the industry leader and pioneer. Then use it EVERYWHERE.
Distribute press releases using PRNewswire (hang tight for a discount program for PRNewswire coming up on Women On Business in the coming weeks).
Contact experts and journalists though Profnet.com or HARO (http://www.helpareporter.com/) who might be looking for stories like yours to feature in their work.
Start a YouTube channel – online video traffic is skyrocketing.
Try a virtual blog tour – authors use this successfully and so can you!
Get on a home shopping channel. Resource: https://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/entrepreneur/2008/may/192754.html
Get people to write reviews of your product on sites like epinions.com and yelp.com, and get on product comparison sites. Resource: http://www.entrepreneur.com/ebusiness/ebusinesscolumnist/article199172.html
Get a celebrity endorsement. Less popular celebrities may not cost much. You can also send free samples to celebrities – you never know what might happen. A good way to get contact information for celebrities is: http://www.contactanycelebrity.com/
Get on Oprah – this is the big one. The following link tells you what show topics are coming up. If your story would fit in one of the upcoming topics, send a pitch. Resource: http://www.oprah.com/pluglist.jsp?teamTypeName=TOWS
The key is to flood the market with news, information, stories, and so on about your brand, your business and your product in order to bury the other brand. Don’t attack your competition through negative buzz. Instead, flood the market with the great messages about you. In time, word will spread. Find out where your competitor is hanging out and spreading their news, and make sure you’re there, too with your own messages. Consumers will catch on to the difference.