Interview with Daymond John - Founder & CEO of FUBU and Host of ABC's 'Shark Tank'

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Jack Archer
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The only reality/competition television show I watch is ABC's Shark Tank, a show where a panel of "Sharks," entrepreneurs and business executives consider offers from less experienced entrepreneurs seeking investments for their business. One of the staples to the show is "Shark" Daymond John, the founder and CEO of FUBU who turned his clothing startup into a world wide brand amounting over $300 million in annual sales. I had the pleasure of talking menswear, hype, blogging, advertising and more with him...

Jack Archer: In any business, it seems like one of the keys to success is "hype". What's your advice on generating it without first having notoriety?

Daymond John: 1. Pick local ambassadors that will get behind you to get the word out. They will also give you feedback on how to improve the product from their experience dealing with others. College kids, Mom groups, Church Organizations and more. 2. After you have some traction, proceed with the testimonials and hype to the web. Twitter, Mobli, YouTube, Resultly and a website to get feedback from a broader audience. Local ambassadors don't always need to be A list celebrities. And hype doesn't have to be huge nationwide exposure. Trying to leverage your community to build this hype to get toward a national level. Not only will this help build your clout but your company will know how to handle press hits and incoming traffic much better.

Jack Archer: Because of the Internet, we've seen a huge gain in menswear popularity with more guys talking comfortably about clothing with enthusiasm. Yet, a handful of really well curated men's focused e-commerce shops have closed doors recently. Do you ever see guys shopping online the way women do?

Daymond John: Men will never shop online or offline the way women do. Women buy 10x on average to every 1x a man buys. Woman are often buying for the entire house hold. A mom will purchase for herself, the kids, her husband, gifts for the kid's friends, the food, household goods and even for the flea bitten dog! In a down economy, men purchase less. We will wear the same shoes another year and the same Levi's forever. If you look at the stats, e-commerce is just scratching the surface of overall sales, and you will see a growth in men's e-commerce but it will be relative to the growth of overall e-commerce. However, don't let that growth fool you into thinking that men have changed their approach to shopping. Women are still the major buyers in households.

Jack Archer: We've seen a lot of trends hit men's fashion over the last few years and we're currently seeing a big mix of highs and lows hitting the mainstream. Things like tailored sweatpants and technical sneakers mixed with more traditional garb seems to be big right now. What do you thinks coming next?

Daymond John: We'll see more technology in performance fabrics and more electronic technology in apparel. Accessories will continue to grow. As men can getaway with wearing the same basics appear to be wearing a new outfit due to the changing of their accessories such as watches, hats, belts and bright socks.

Jack Archer: What's your advice to independent bloggers and publishers on how to grow their sites brand and business? What's the best way to connect with companies for advertising opportunities and strategic promotional partnerships?

Daymond John: Product is king, show that you can build a following of original content that has a specific point of view. As for reader, they are bombarded with tons of content in the market. How will you be different and why should they care. The key to why people care is "what's in it for them"? How can you help them with your content? Not only from a information stand point, but from a call to action that supplies them with discounts for a limited time. Free test samples or a reward point system like all the big companies do.

As for advertisers, show them how you can move the needle, do beta projects that either pushes people to their products or acquires detailed feedback for their product to make their product more viable. These are just broad strokes. I could speak on this topic for days...

If you walk into a room and can instantly push a message to one million people, you have true value. Especially when those million are the exact core demo for an advertiser, you will be able to work with them. The only way to get one million people to follow you product across blogs and social media is to provide them with content that they like to consume. Brands need to become content creators more than ever before.

Jack Archer: Do you hope to see more businesses dedicating a greater amount of their advertising budget to independent sites and blogs with niche audiences rather than traditional media like radio, TV and print? We keep hearing that it's all about "new media" not "old media"---but most companies seem reluctant, even in 2013.

Daymond John: The bigger brands are always going to use traditional media to push their product, but I definitely see smaller and emerging brands using the niche opportunities because they're more cost effective. However, the real debate isn't old media vs new media, but rather how can I make sure that my message is not going to the wrong consumer? There are plenty of ways to do this through old media but the brands need to get creative.

Jack Archer: What are some of your favorite sites to check out when spending time online? Do you read any blogs or websites?

Daymond John: Definitely depends on what kind of mood I'm in and what sort of content I'm looking for. I still love music, pop culture, and lifestyle and one of the places I check out what's new is by checking out my Twitter feed. With the rise of independent and niche blogs, they are so many good ones out there that it's tough to keep track of them all of them. So I rely on reading what my followers are recommending. Doing this not only allows me to learn about new sites, but also let's me know what the people think about certain topics.

Obviously, I also read business sites such as Fast Company, Inc, and Entrepreneur. Since I've been growing into the tech space, I've been checking out Mashable and Tech Crunch more and more. One of things I love is reading blogs from personalities such as Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Jay Abraham, because you get true insight from their mind.