Jason Wu – Designer of Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Ballgown

Reading in the Times today about the designer of Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown made me want to pose this question to my entrepreneurial colleagues and clients:

But dressing a first lady for the inauguration is a momentous occasion, and many designers have not been able to handle its weight. For every de la Renta, there has been a Michael Faircloth (Laura Bush’s first), and for every Scaasi a Sarah Phillips (Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first).

Not even Mrs. Obama’s support guarantees success, as illustrated by Maria Pinto of Chicago, a hometown favorite who went out of business in 2010 despite the first lady’s patronage.

Though Mr. Wu was just 26 when he was selected the first time, he already had an established relationship with retailers, a production infrastructure and the good sense to get himself on all of the morning talk shows the next day (as he did again Tuesday, now a seasoned pro at age 30).

When I give a talk on creating a million dollar presence, I administer a quick media readiness quiz. It’s an opportunity to check in with my audience to see if, in fact, they are prepared to handle the onslaught of attention and sales they’ve been dreaming about. Are their ducks in a row?

Of course, you want to do everything you can to get the attention of the press. Designing the inaugural ball gown is a hands down winning formula, but for the rest of us, there are tried and true elements: having great marketing materials including a logo and web presence, networking, speaking and creating a platform would be top among them.

Of equal importance is having the goods to deliver once the press opportunities and resulting demands begin to flow your way.

How successful do you really want to be, and are you positioning yourself now for that recognition and traffic?

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