We’re talking about one of my favorite things...
Getting new garment buyers
So if you’re struggling to get new buyers right about now.
You might be thinking: "Heike why do you love this topic so much?"
Or you might be saying: "Ah! Approaching new garment buyers? It totally stresses me out!"
And I get it.
Because when I didn’t have a strategy for approaching - it stresses me out, too.
However, I love the topic now, because when I finally put in effort, of seeing it as a project and not as a copy-and-paste kind of thing – that’s where my business really took off. And allowed me to build the multimillion € business.
Just for the records, yes, I couldn’t make it there without this initial mindset shift.
So, when I share strategies to get new fashion retailers and brands it’s because I want you to avoid my mistakes. So that you can build up your business a whole lot faster than I did.
When did you put up your LinkedIn account? Do you remember?
I put mine up in 2007.
Almost everybody had an account already. I was using Xing before (the German equivalent).
In the early days I didn't do much with LinkedIn. Except sending and receiving random connection requests. Scrolling through people's bios.
There are people out there shouting: "LinkedIn is the only way to get new leads! You can't do business without a LinkedIn account, no really, it's great!"
It took some time before I started to explore it deeper and made my first mistakes...
Speaking of missteps: one of them was on LinkedIn
Oh, let me get clear:
Using LinkedIn to approach new buyers as a FIRST INTRODUCTION for business.
You have probably heard that too and tried to get new customers with it. And then, you see yourself spending hours there. Without much to show for this amount of time. “
“I‘m trying to connect with buyers through LinkedIn but it doesn’t work out at all.”
said Mohan yesterday.
“I know. Ouch. It’s not you - it’s the platform”, I said
"LinkedIn is not working for that purpose.”
(For some strange reason, our conversation happened on LinkedIn.)
You might feel the same way about approaching new garment buyers on LinkedIn.
It's not because you wrote something wrong. It's because nobody is taking it seriously on this platform.
Right away, you might be saying, but, Heike that’s what LinkedIn is for!
Yes, exactly, that’s what I also thought.
So I tried it.
Questions that come up in my mind: "Shall I approach a personal buyer profile like a personal private person?"
That sound strange but you get what I’m trying to say. … pretending like as if I don’t want to do business? An approach in disguise? No, that doesn’t feel right.
To pitch like as if I’d write an email? Didn’t stick to me as well.
So I experimented at lot.
The one and the other and a ton in between.
You know what? I wish I had saved all this time.
Why are garment Buyers on LinkedIn?
As a first step... let's take a sec to think about why are garment buyers even on LinkedIn?
#1 reason: for jobs.
So that head-hunter can find them. They can post their profile and can be found that way easily.
What's going on in the industry...
To get updated in their news-feed about business related stuff.
No-brainer: keep connected with peers, business partner, ex colleagues. Plus, join in LinkedIn groups of common interest.
Think about it: Yes, entertained. To some extend.
LinkedIn is not different than any social media.
>>> They are not there to get pitched.
It is really quite simple.
Yes, garment buyers are spending time on LinkedIn, but not for this purpose.
In the end, you have to think what kind of approach you'd want to get from someone like you. And go with that.
Attention spans on LinkedIn and any social media have changed, and not in your favor.
(Ding! Ah, wait, ... a 3. grad contact celebrating his 1 year company anniversary)
Here's how you can visualize it...
Like a fashion fair
Think about LinkedIn like a big overly crowded garment exhibition.
You have people stopping by and maybe they'll pick a random sample, asking prices. While you're grabbing your calculator their eyes explore the fancy sweater displayed on the mannequin at the next stall. Thinking: Ah, here the Pakistan area begins.
They drop their business card and wander off.
That's what you do in a fair.
It's not the place for seriously getting down to business.
Why LinkedIn doesn't work for that purpose
Heeeello! Are you here?
Yes. That's right. Shocking truth: Not every buyer is on LinkedIn. Some buyers don't even have an account.
The idea is a personal account. So that buyers usually put their private email address in their profile.
Business stuff in a personal inbox? Does it trigger the feeling to love to reply? Not so much, right? I think ignoring is a normal behaviour.
SO GOOD. They can't ignore you.
Yes, of course! That' the goal, however, how to do that on LinkedIn? You can’t really add anything with "kick" like a profile attachment, embed images, smart structure. The formatting you can do is limited.
That leads me to LinkedIn messages need to be browse-friendly, means super short.
So without images, without stories, without formatting that stop those skimming eyes and make things fun to read ...
Here’s my question for you: Can you convince in a three-liner to start working with you?
If you’re like: “Yes, Heike I can do that!” Then great, keep on crushing it and add the coming strategy I’m giving you next week. But if you can’t - keep on reading.
Some real numbers from my Garment Buyers Survey
Want to know some real-life data? (Yeah, you do. The replies were spectacular.)
Before I created Easy Enter Academy, I conducted a survey with 150+ garment buyers.
After all, an average fashion product manager | sourcing manager | buyer ... (whatever name you use) is getting 10-20+ company introductions every week. That's the results from the garment buyers I surveyed. And that was before Corona hits the ceiling.
NOTE: Think about that. 20+ offers to start the business in a week.
You bet I was asking in my survey about what they think and feel about being approached on LinkedIn.
76% of buyers said: "Yes, on LinkedIn I get every week several exporters approaching me." (Remember some buyers don’t even have an account there.)
And when I asked them through which channel they'd LIKE and ENJOY to get contacted only 9% having a checkbox ticked for LinkedIn.
See the disconnect?
Just know – if you're not too successful on LinkedIn with approaching new buyers for business - it’s not you.
It’s the platform you’re choosing.
1. What has a higher priority for you? A) If you get a message over email or B) over LinkedIn?
2. How often do you check your A) email versus B) LinkedIn messages?
3. Do you check A) your emails on your mobile first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep or B) your LinkedIn account?
If you say neither A or B, keep reading anyway.
Because the rest of us is saying:
Clear A. Email.
Here you go.
Where the LinkedIn approach might work in garment export
Yes, it might work with retailers or brands who are just starting with imports.
When they’re desperately looking to place their orders of 3 T-shirts.
100 pcs in 5 colourways, from XS to XXXL, with 7 different chest prints. And one of them is yarndyed.
Yes, for those buyers it might work.
But I know that these are not buyers you’re after.
You're going for the reliable bright players who place orders that have the impact to transform your whole business and life.
Isn't it what every garment exporter really wants, underneath it all?
To get orders with a margin that pays off all the efforts you put into from fiber to container at the harbor. Ship. Earn money. Not waste time.
I’m taking you back to the start.
Treat the approach like a strategic project and APPROACH BUYERS DIRECTLY.
Bingo. Get these long lasting, loyal and profitable customer relationships.
P.S. Don't get me wrong: I love LinkedIn. I do. I’m there every day and you should, too.
NOTE: Buyers-research.... - for that it's a goldmine.
Regarding connecting: best thing you do is to mingle with your buyers there once you established your initial contact.
Like you talked, met, had a conversation of some kind. Then, go for it and connect – they will have liked you already, know you a little bit and will be a gladly accept your connection request.
And you can take it smoothly from there.
That way LinkedIn is worth every minute of your time.
Remember that: not to introduce your company to start the business.
A direct personalized approach is the way that brings you results fast.
Direct and personal is everything.
Get in touch with buyers when and where they are open and ready to buy.
In Easy Enter Academy, I teach garment exporter like you how to attract garment buyers like hair to a balloon. And, better yet, it takes less than a weekend to get through.
- What could you do better on LinkedIn with your potential buyers?
- Which of the tweaks I listed above are you going to try first?
- Connect with me on LinkedIn. Write "It's me" (and a bit more if you feel like it) in the text and I'll know it's you and accept the connection.
NEW! Save your spot for the free live masterclass.
There's an art to cold outreach to RMG buyers. And a science. And we're going to cover both. Let's get you some new buyers, shall we?
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