When starting a fashion brand, it’s natural to think about the products; what you will design and how you will manufacture them. But a lot of new fashion labels make the mistake of only thinking of the customer as an afterthought. The customer should be the first thing that you decide on and you need to be connecting with them right from the start. Therefore, it’s important to promote your brand, before you have your product.
There’s a few reasons for this. To give an example, lets think about movies. Movie studios don’t just invest millions of dollars in a new movie on a whim. They do some research and they see what themes are popular, or perhaps which Actors or Actresses have a big following. Then, they make a script and get feedback on it. Later, they even make a mock up movie and get people to watch it and give a critique (have you ever been to one of those? I have. It’s like watching a massive production before any special effects or airbrushing – you get to see what the Actors really look like!). After all of this, when they’re confident they’re onto a winner, the cut it into an actual movie.
So, how does this relate to your fashion line? Let’s apply the same principles as the movie industry; rather than starting off with a few designs and worrying about how we’ll manufacture them (and even after we’ve manufactured, we’ll then be worrying about who is going to buy them), we start by identifying with our target audience. We can learn about them and understand their needs and can design a range to solve their problems, or one that they just have to say yes to. We can even ask them if they like our designs, before we’ve spent any money on them. If they love them, great! If not, we can make alterations until they do – all without having worked with a factory, or paying them any money.
Starting with our target audience allows us to minimise the cost and risk of production and ultimately, the cost of starting a fashion label. Pretty great, right?
We can take this principle a step further too. Again, let’s think about the movies. Do they start advertising a movie when it’s released? No, they prepare months and months in advance. The new Frozen 2 trailer was out months ago and the actual movie is still 5 months away from being released. Movies are promoted waaaay in advance. And so should your fashion collection.
Marketing in advance has a few benefits. For one, it takes time for marketing strategies to get traction. You can’t set up an Instagram account today and expect to get sales from it tomorrow. You need time to build a following. Same goes for other types of marketing too - you wouldn’t pitch to a magazine editor to be featured this month, they usually work months in advance, so thinking ahead is really important. Typically people need to see your brand multiple times before they go from the initial time they saw you and found out about you, to become a customer. So unfortunately, marketing isn't as simple as just posting a few pretty pictures to Instagram. Customers need to keep seeing your brand, which means that you need to be thinking about your marketing activity way ahead of your launch.
As a new brand, it also takes time to build trust with your customers. If someone has never heard of you, they need some time to decide if they trust you with their money, and their credit card details. For all they know, you could be a scam artist. Building a long term marketing strategy helps you to build what we call the ‘know, like and trust factor’, without this, customer’s won’t feel confident in purchasing from you and, chances are, they won’t.
Another reason to build an audience for your fashion brand as soon as you can is so that you can create meaningful connections. As a small brand especially, connections are super important. If you share your journey with your audience; your design ideas, your route to manufacture and behind the scenes of your business, it’ll help potential clients to form a connection with you. Not only does posting this kind of content mean that you can get in front of an audience regularly, without being salesy all the time, but you can also show the human side to your business and you can get potential customers on side and cheering you on. It really comes down to this; when you launch a fashion collection, would you rather tell strangers on Instagram? Or people you’ve engaged with and who are waiting for you to launch? I know which one I’d choose!
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! If you’d like to learn more about growing your business, I’d like to invite you to checkout my latest course ‘How To Attract Loyal Customers To Your Fashion Brand’. It teaches you how to get an audience before you launch, plus grow your business, find new customers and keep old ones coming back for more. You can view all of the details and register by clicking here. Alternatively, if you have any questions on the course, I’d be happy to answer those for you - you can click here to get in touch, or email contact@29andSeptember.com
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