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Personal Branding - Lessons Learned From A Super Model

Here is a great article on personal branding that I would like to share

Move Over Martha

In Forbes Magazine's February 27, 2012 issue, Dorothy Pomerantz has a very interesting article about Kathy Ireland entitled "Supermodel - Supermogul." It chronicles the amazing entrepreneurial success of Kathy Ireland.

For my younger readers, Ireland (now 48) helped spawn the term "supermodel" and appeared in 13 consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. However, her true success has come from licensing 15,000 products and other ventures. Her company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide ("KIW") sells products with a value of $2 billion at retail, compared to Martha Stewart at about $900 million at retail. This translates into about $850 million in wholesale sales for KIW, of which it receives a royalty payment of roughly 6%. That's around $50 million in revenue for a company with a staff of 42. This helps put Ireland's personal net worth at around $350-$400 million compared to an estimated $300 million for Martha Stewart. The article points out some key reasons for her success:

Know your customer
KIW's motto is "Finding solutions for families, especially busy moms." Ireland also made it clear "that I didn't want to just put my name on it." So rugs are treated to protect against spills and retain their color. Tables are designed with rounded corners so running children don't get hurt. A clear example of this focus is the fact that Ireland avoids grand openings, despite her drawing power. "What happens is the store gets cluttered with guys with 500-year-old copies of Sports Illustrated. How does that help a busy mom? These people are just in her way." She clearly knows her customer and focuses her efforts on helping serve them. Unfortunately, many businesses have lost sight of the needs of their customers. In such cases, their competition is very happy to fill the unmet needs of their (soon to be former) customers.

Delegate and focus on growing your business
Ireland happily delegates the nuts and bolts of the business to others. She spends her time traveling the globe looking for inspiration for new products. While regular business owners cannot "travel the globe," they can delegate responsibilities so they focus on what they do best - growing the business, finding new customers, adding more products, and starting new businesses. That doesn't happen if a business owner is spending a lot of time sitting behind a desk reading or preparing reports.

Understand your plans for the future
Ireland states that "we have a long way to go." She's busy penetrating categories that she doesn't already have: things like shoes, hair care and perfume. Some owners may benefit from a private equity recapitalization to grow their business. Other owners may be nearing retirement age and need to spend time preparing an exit strategy. The key is to have a clear written plan for your future.