Before social media and blogs, breaking into the Fashion Industry looked a lot like a scene from Devil Wears Prada. You had to do a lot of stuff for free, day in and day out. You had to pay your dues build relationships from the ground up. But things are different now.
But with change comes more competition, and the competition when marketing your fashion business is fiercer than ever.
It’s impossible not to notice the bloggers, influencers, and new brands popping up daily. And boy do they have the industry shook! Remember when Vogue got their panties in a wad over the influx of influencers?
More amazingly, these are people we’ve never heard of, with hundreds of thousands of followers, being invited to fashion week and replacing editors on the front rows.
These fashion influencers are getting sponsorships with major household brands.
They are launching fashion lines that are selling out digitally faster than traditional department stores. For example, fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni leveraged her blog, The Blonde Salad, to launch a wildly successful shoe line with collaborators like Christian Dior, Chanel, Superga and Louis Vuitton.
Some of these people don’t even have blogs or websites. Their entire businesses exist on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
But how? How are they doing this?
Because they understand one key concept. Fashion IS NOT about clothing, it’s a multi-trillion dollar lifestyle industry.
According to FashionUnited Business Intelligence:
- The womenswear industry is valued at 621 billion dollars
- The menswear industry is valued at 402 billion dollars
- The retail value of the luxury goods market is 339.4 billion dollars
- Childrenswear had a global retail value of 186 billion dollars
- Sports footwear is valued at 90.4 billion dollars
- The bridalwear industry is valued at 57 billion dollars
And thanks to social media, that once unachievable access to a trillion dollar lifestyle industry, that was only run by an elite group of the fashion greats, is now accessible to everyone.
That’s the beauty of my generation. Us millennials, we demand access and sharing of everything. Gotta love us.
So that means that marketing your fashion business is no longer about paying dues, it’s all about digital strategy.
The good news is that you don’t have to work your way up through magazines and style houses to create a fashion business and a name for yourself in this industry. Today, all you need is an amazing product or service and great digital marketing strategy and the consistency to implement it effectively.
The bad news is that without the right strategy you’ll be spinning your wheels forever trying to figure out how to reach your customers and grow a successful fashion business.
Bottom line? You need to understand the fundamentals of how digitally connected consumers work in today’s landscape, and you need to learn how to reach them.
Now, listen up, it’s important that you really hear this next part. You ready?
To beat the competition, and to stand out in the crowd, your business CANNOT approach this industry like a business. You need to approach it like an influencer by consistently developing and distributing on trend content that your targeted audience is interested in.
Now, let’s put this all together in a strategy that you can use right now!
Here are 7 strategies you can implement right now to market your fashion business
Strategy#1 – Always Be Learning
Before you start marketing in this industry, you need to learn as much as possible. It’s unlike any other industry in the world, and that uniqueness means the learning curve is stricter than usual. Here are some books to help (#5 is my favorite):
- Fashion Brands: Branding Style from Armani to Zara
- Rethinking Prestige Branding: Secrets of the Ueber-Brands
- Brand/Story: Ralph, Vera, Johnny, Billy, and Other Adventures in Fashion Branding
- By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop
- The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever
Strategy #2 – Know your customer as intimately as possible and know what they want
Remember how we chatted about fashion being a lifestyle industry, not a clothing and accessories industry?
How can you sell a lifestyle if you don’t know the consumer’s journey to that way of life?
You need to intimately get to know your customers from the inside out so that you can provide them with products, services, and content that provides solutions to their passion points.
You can do that by conducting market research. Head to my freebies page for a free market research workbook. The workbook is broken into a few sections. The most important ones include:
Customer Demographics: This section covers all the demographic and lifestyle information about your customers including age, income, location, needs and wants.
Influencers: This section researches the people who have influence over your potential buyers as well as the marketing activities and campaigns they are creating around your niche.
Competitors: Pretty self-explanatory. Research the major competitors in your niche. In the “key brand differentiator” section, I want you to ask yourself a question. What are the messaging, product/service offerings, etc., that set the competitors apart from their competition?
Industry Trends: Fashion’s emerging trends could change the way you do business and the products/services you offer. This research is valuable because it could help you uncover profitable opportunities not known before. My favorite tools to discover trends include Google Trends and Google Insights. You can also utilize Pinterest, fashion magazines, and trending hashtags.
Strategy #3 – Give away free content that is relevant and on trend at all times.
Using the market research you conducted, it’s time to create content.
Step #1: Pull out your completed market research and review your industry trends, see what influencers are posting to social media, and check out any promotions and sales offered by your competitors. Use that info to come up with content themes and ideas. Follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your content should be non-promotional and 20%promotional.
Step #2: Schedule your themes and ideas. Place the ideas, themes, and promotions you came up with inside the “Editorial Calendar” section of your worksheet. My favorite tools are Planoly and Coschedule.
Planoly, shown below, allows you to visually plan your Instagram feed using a flexible grid. And we all know that looking good in the gram is a must for fashion businesses. Coschedule allows you to organize and automate important parts of your Editorial process.
Step #3: Design and layout your marketing like a fashion magazine.
As a fashion brand, your content should exude the lifestyle you are trying to represent. You’ll want to take your time and develop beautiful and well-designed marketing images and layouts.
To do this you’ll need to create a style guide.
A style guide is a set of standards that your business can follow when developing branded design, copy, and marketing materials to be used across the web. This enforces your brand message and improves communication between your business and your customers.
Your style guide would include your logo, colors, fonts, blog layouts, social media templates, and stock photography guidelines.
Once created and approved, stick to it to consistently develop brand awareness with your customers. A great example is Sincerely Jules, a fashion influencer, blogger, and designer.
Strategy#4 – Have a personality and thrive for authenticity.
I encourage you to find your voice and the tone of your copy. Figure out what it is that makes your fashion business’ voice stand out from the rest.
Ever met a person that was beautiful on the outside, but when you guys got together, they bored you to death?
That’s the same as a beautiful brand with bad copy.
Discovering your brand voice fixes this issue. Brand voice your brand’s personality. It should be consistent across your marketing. Ask yourself, if your brand was a person, who would it be? Is it someone your ideal audience would want to become best friends with?
Here’s a great example from DVF:
“Busting a move in Look 6 from the Spring 17 collection.” See how the copy has a little touch of personality, perfect for the playful yet distinguished brand? They could have just said. “See our Look 6 from the Spring 2017 collection.”
Moral? Before you press send, re-read and ask yourself does this represent my business and would my customers respond to this?
Strategy#5 – Network and engage with your social customers online and offline.
Unless you are Beyonce or a Kardashian, you probably shouldn’t ignore any comments from your audience. It’s your job to respond back to comments, comment on their posts, like their updates, etc. You’ll need to put together a strategy that works for your schedule.
Whatever you decide, DO NOT AUTOMATE engagement. Automatic messages and comments will just get you into a lot of trouble. There is no want to really know who you are talking to, who you are messaging, what you are commenting on.
Also, today’s customers can sniff out fake messages and interactions Once that relationship is ruined, you’ll never get another chance to authentically connect with that customer.
Strategy#6 – Develop strategies to promote you and your content.
Because of today’s digital landscape, fashion businesses spend a lot of time creating content. This energy to stay up to date and develop consistency means that just as much energy should go into the promoting of that content.
Here’s are a few content promotion ideas:
- Ask influencers for quotes for your content to increase reach.
- Use expert sources in your blogs and tag them when sharing on social.
- Create multiple snippets and blurbs for each piece of content and add to automation software like Coschedule to intelligently promote the content consistently.
- Turn popular content into videos to reach a larger audience and show up in search.
Strategy#7 – Sell the lifestyle, not the product
Your strategy as a small business is to inspire, guide, and motivate your consumers, reminding them that your business could change their way of life.
This is a way to connect with your audience on a more personal level and bust through the competition.
Understanding and implementing this effectively can attract a strong customer base that view your business as the embodiment of interests, attitudes, and the opinions of the fashion industry.
You can do this by:
- Produce content that caters to your audience’s current and wished lifestyles
- Discuss important trends that affect their day to day lives
- Take a stand on issues and concerns they care about
- Engage with your audience and encourage their engagement add well.
You gotta a lot of work to do! So stop reading and get to it. Need help? Comment and let me know what your biggest challenge is when marketing your fashion business and I’ll jump in to help.