A few weeks ago I received an email from someone on our mailing list. She’s prepping to launch a new business and wrote,
"I'm launching [a new business] in July and would like to know how soon in advance do I start a marketing campaign and what is the most effective ways to get people engaged even with no site or product for them yet to purchase."
Rather than just sending a quick email back I decided to make my response and little lengthy and to share it with all of you. Between working with clients and emails, I’ve gotten this question at least three or four times in the past couple weeks and I figured, if so many people are asking, maybe some of you might be wondering the same thing. So, let’s dig in.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD YOU START MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS.
I recommend starting to market your business one to two months in advance. The reason being is that you want enough time to build an audience and to get people excited about the launch of your business. At the same time, you don't want the timeline for your launch date to be so long that your audience starts to lose interest.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE BEFORE YOU LAUNCH
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
The number one thing that’s going to help you build an engaged audience is to know who your target customer is. Whether you’re finalizing the details of your lookbook, designing your website or picking fabrics, it’s important that you always create with a specific target customer in mind and that you know, “who’s buying this?” You want to make sure that you’re reaching the people who are most likely going to be interested in your product and most likely to buy.
By knowing who your target customer is and how your product benefits their lives, you can then effectively market your business in a way that will get the attention of your customers and result in sales.
GET THEIR EMAIL
Your website and e-commerce site may not be completely ready when you begin marketing your launch, and that’s okay. I highly recommend that you create a "coming soon" landing page for your website along with an email opt-in. The purpose of a landing page is to give visitors a sense of what your brand is about and encourage people to return once the site launches. Capturing the email addresses of your audiences allows you to stay in communication with them and to keep them informed of what's going on, continue to generate excitement about your launch and to remind them when the site is live and your product is ready.
If you don’t capture email addresses, you’re leaving it up to them to remember your launch date and to remember to come back and visit your site once it’s gone live.
GET ON SOCIAL
Having a strong visually branded online presence is a really important element to a successful launch. Your social media platforms (and website) are the first place media and potential customers will look when they hear about you and are the first introduced to your business (especially since your full website and collection will not yet be ready.) Creating strong social platforms will help get people engaged and excited about your business even before your launch.
Rather than being on every platform, I recommend starting with two platforms and focusing on posting consistent content and generating excitement about your brand.
BE VISUALLY APPEALING
How your business looks visually matters, especially in the fashion industry that's driven by aesthetics. Whether you're posting behind-the-scenes pictures from a photoshoot or your garment on a dress form, make sure every photo you post is great quality and represents your brand well. Great photos will get the attention of your customers on their feeds, will make people want to share your images and will make editors want to feature you.
FOCUS ON BUILDING COMMUNITY
Community is what builds brands and creates buzz and hype around a brand. Followers tend to watch from afar and don’t necessarily interact with you by liking, commenting or engaging. And many times, they don’t buy from you. There’s nothing wrong with having an audience. People get busy and don’t check their social media feeds. Or, they follow so many people that it’s impossible to see everything or have the time to comment on each picture on their feed. Totally understandable. The goal, however, is to create platforms where people want to engage. When they log on to Instagram they deliberately go to your page to see your latest posts.
A community engages. When you post something they comment, they like, they share it with their friends and they buy. Creating a sense of community within your brand is important because it creates a sense of belonging and an emotional connection between your customers and your business. Many social platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram now reward your engagement rate (the percent of interactions compared to a number of followers you have). The more engagement your posts get, the more these social platforms share your content with your followers and new people.
Focus on building community and creating authentic relationships with your target customers on your social platforms rather than building your numbers. Their engagement is what will help you build your brand awareness.
PITCH THE MEDIA.
Getting press and media attention can be amazing for your fashion brand. Whether it's in print or online, good press has the ability to really grow your business by improving brand visibility and can help give your new business credibility.
Something to remember when it comes to getting press is that editors and journalists want to cover your brand. They're always looking for new stories and new businesses to talk about that their readers will be interested in. The launch of a new fashion business is a great opportunity to gain media coverage. Share your story and pitch the media what makes your business different and interesting, and why their readers will want to know about you.