How to Make Strategic Pivots and Partnerships

My guest today is Ashlee Margolis, the founder of The A List, one of the most renowned marketing agencies in the entertainment and fashion industries today. Ashlee creates long-lasting and meaningful strategic partnerships by pairing top brands with leading talent, causes and charities. Her company has worked with some of the biggest names and brands in the business including Jessica Alba, Freida Pinto, Under Armour and Beautycounter. Our chat revolves around building relationships that can help you pivot your business.

Here’s the breakdown of my chat with Ashlee:

[01:05] Ashlee was working at a PR agency and began building relationships that she wanted to leverage to create her own TV show hosting gig. She left her job and started freelancing by getting celebrities to various events.

[04:25] Ashlee’s first event was a Coach charity event that was very successful. It was back before you needed to pay celebrities to attend events. She realized that she could be successful working with brands and celebrities. 

[05:56] Ashlee’s client helped create The A List. They paid for her first office space for her to create a showroom. She was given a push in the direction of this new career because a client believed in her. She knew it was working because it grew organically.

[07:47] Sometimes you have a dream and it isn’t working. It may make sense to pivot your dream into what is flowing for you. Ashlee gave up her dream of hosting a TV show, but doesn't regret it because she loves what she does. There’s no shame in pivoting to a new career. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes we're pulled in a new direction.

[08:45] Ashlee is still able to use her interest in producing, because what she does now is a production. She is still able to interview celebrities on IGTV and get creative about how the celebrities engage with the various brands. Ashlee is able to use her voice to help the brand penetrate the areas that they are looking to get into, help them get creative and think outside the box.

[11:55] There is still a big niche for in-person events. The A List has an in-person showroom filled with different brands, so the influencers can see what products speak to them. Then The A List can see what drew them to the brand and how they can help build a campaign around that.

[13:25] You need relationships to build a business. The key to those relationships is being transparent and communicating well. Ashlee does not “fake it until you make it” and instead she focuses on what she is great at. She doesn’t take on projects that she doesn’t think she can deliver on. It’s better to under promise and then over deliver. It’s setting up clear expectations for people which leads to repeat clients.

[16:08] It’s about being honest, and not taking on any project that makes you uncomfortable. Go with your gut, and step away from a project if needed. It’s okay to slow down and scale back; It's important to listen to yourself and your team. Allow for downtime. Know when to push the limits, and know when you need to give yourself and your team a break.

[17:40] Every business is different, but knowing when you need to scale back or slow down is important to a successful business. Take time to make sure your team feels appreciated. Ashlee will hire a masseuse and set work boundaries. For example, if it's not timely, she doesn't expect her team to respond all hours of the day. It’s about working smarter, not harder all the time.

[20:38] The definition of a “celebrity” is now much wider. Yes, there are traditional celebrities, but with large social channels, there are also influencers, Youtubers and tastemakers. Ashlee is interested in anyone who has an engaged and active online community that is relevant for the brands they work with. Brands are supplementing their traditional PR approach from magazines and TV to going where the consumer is: social media. Many sales come from millennials shopping on Instagram, based on what people are wearing.


How to Make Strategic Pivots and Partnerships

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