In this post, we will describe the tenets of our marketing strategy at Signature, as well as the resource which you can apply to your own men’s fashion brand. I am a firm believer that marketing a men’s brand is drastically different from marketing a brand aimed primarily at women. I have stated this previously, but here it goes again. In general terms (necessary disclaimer for the gender police) women respond better to recommendation-based marketing i.e. word of mouth, lifestyle bloggers and fly on the wall type marketing.
Whereas men are suckers for the bells and whistles of high production quality content and tattooed muscular men who they aspire to look like. The reason being is that they are typically less comfortable in openly discussing fashion preferences so they are more susceptible to their information coming from a brand or a large influencer, rather than a real person. Now, this is certainly changing, but more slowly than we are led to believe. For example, Youtube is male-dominated channel in terms of viewer stats, which provides an insight into their psyche. They search for answers, rather than discussing them with their peers.
Hubspot Inbound Marketing
Before going any further on the topic of marketing, it would be remiss of me to not give a shout out to Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing certification, which I would recommend any of you to complete if you are even thinking of operating in the digital sphere. Hubspot is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation software provider, but more importantly, they are the knowledge leaders in all things digital marketing and inbound sales.
Assuming that you have other things going on, you can complete this in a week if you really apply yourself and by the end of it you will understand:
- Buyer Personas.
- The buyers’ journey.
- The Inbound Marketing Funnel.
- Search Engine Optimization.
- Creating blog posts and pillar pages.
- Content Marketing.
- The differences between various social media platforms.
- How to audit and plan your content in a structured, interconnected fashion.
I had been working on our marketing strategy for some time but never felt fully confident in my abilities for whenever we would actually get up and selling. I didn’t understand the hows and whys of planning content. I thought I did, but I didn’t until I took this course which I can’t recommend enough. It is free and there is the option to do follow up courses in content marketing, Facebook ads, video marketing, etc.
Even if you are not going to be a marketer for your brand, I would still strongly recommend that you do this course. You will be in a much better position to hire for and outsource marketing activities, whilst also fully the reasoning behind marketing activities. If you are the person behind the marketing for your brand, it is also worth getting other team members to take this course so that they will buy into your initiatives and you won’t have to waste unnecessary time trying to convince other people of the need to invest in your marketing.
Do Your Research
I already discussed the importance of market research previously, but this time when it comes to research I mean looking at successful brands who you would like to emulate, whether they sell to your target market, or they simply create amazing content which inspires you. What I like to do is take snippets from each. For example:
- MVMT– Do an amazing job of taking stunning photographs of picturesque landscapes around the world that associate their product with a limitless lifestyle which is so appealing to millennials.
- SISU– Originating in Cork, they did a great job of their launch campaign and creating regional hype, which they are now replicating as they scale and expand to other cities around the UK and Europe.
- Truff– Created a premium brand right off the bat, with one product, which allowed them to sell hot sauce for $15 a bottle.
- Lululemon– Created a lifestyle, community brand around yoga. It is so central to their brand, that they regularly host free yoga classes in their stores across the US.
In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled “Content is King” in which he hypothesized that the majority of money made on the internet would be in content. He certainly wasn’t wrong. Content is not only a great opportunity to tell the story of your brand but also a necessity for a fashion brand, particularly a men’s fashion brand. Men respond really well to online photos and videos depict a lifestyle that they aspire to. Men’s fitness bloggers and the influence they possess over their audience is a prime example. To really kill it with your content, I advise treating your business as if it were a digital marketing agency and that your brand is the client. Your objective is to build trust with your audience around the brand, because this secures the longevity of the brand, regardless of whatever direction it takes in the future. It definitely helps if you have at least one creative person in-house, but the ideal dream team to help get the most mileage from your content is:
- A Graphics person (Ciarán)
- A multimedia person for photos and video. (Jordan)
- Someone strong in the written word. (Yours truly)
- A numbers person who knows analytics and ads. (Paul)
When it comes to shooting content for your brand there are some elements that are ideal to have inhouse, and some which are not so essential. Nowadays with the need for endless amounts of content, it may make sense to have a photographer who owns a high-spec professional camera, but you may decide to rent a studio by the day when doing e-commerce shots for your website which requires a proper backdrop and timed lighting.
Make sure to treat shoots like a project in themselves and not just something you wing on the day, especially if models are involved, whether they be professional or not. Your models will be potential champions of your brand having worked with you and feeling some sense of ownership over your success. Don’t take that likely and make sure to write up a plan like this as well as having a member of your team on hand to entertain them for want of a better term. Chatting to models who are not currently posing, and running around making sure everyone is appropriately fed and watered.
I strongly advocate for shooting large volumes of content over a short period of time with the view of it lasting you at least a business quarter. This helps you to plan out your content appropriately and you can work your shoots into times where you are not as busy with the day to day of sales and logistics. You can also line up your photo and video content with relevant themes that come from a well-planned out content compass which is described in more detail in the Hubspot Inbound Marketing certification.
Document, Don’t Publish Until You’re Ready
We made the mistake at the beginning of trying to document and publish everything in the beginning. The problem with this is that you will struggle with consistency, you will run out of things to say and your content will look disjointed and not all that put together. You are better placed to document your journey at the beginning and save the content for a time where you are running something like a crowdfunding campaign or are absolutely sure that you are launching your range. This content is invaluable in creating a human experience and building trust with your customer. You just need to be sure that you don’t squander it.
Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck with Content Marketing
In the beginning, we thought that shooting shit hot content was enough and that social media would simply take care of itself so long as we were consistent with posting. Boy, were we wrong. The way to ensure that you get the best return on the time and money invested in shooting your content is to become well-versed or outsource to someone who is well-versed in social media and digital advertising.
Through the wonder that is FB ads, you can run campaigns through Instagram and Facebook which target the exact audience you have identified through creating your buyer personas. Fortunately, advertising works better when you spend smaller with a targeted audience, focusing on a specific location, meaning that you now have the ability to reuse your precious content an infinite number of times without the same people seeing it. You can even run ads that don’t appear permanently on your Facebook profile or Instagram wall. If the content is your currency (which it is) then think of ads as setting up a well-diversified investment portfolio on the stock market where you have multiple, separate shots at making a solid return.
Facebook Blueprint is Facebook’s free learning center, which also allows you to take exams and become certified at a cost of approx. $150 per exam.
At this stage, we all know how they work and why it is that they are singing the praises of such and such a brand. However, just because someone profits off something, does not inherently make them disingenuous. We also knew how radio and TV advertising work for several decades, yet it didn’t stop these tactics from working to build brand awareness at the time.
To suss out if an influencer is worth your time, or money, here are some ways you might evaluate their worth to your brand:
- SocialBladeis an analytics site where you can check the historical following of anyone on any social platform. If your 50,000 follower shows a 5,000 follower spike over one day back in July 2017, then you know some external forces have been at play. SocialBlade will also give their account a score based on multiple factors, the most important of which is engagement. For Instagram for example, anything over 6% is considered a very respectful engagement level.
- You could agree to an influencer's rate on the basis of certain key metrics to be met. For example, a swipe-up link where if they bring you €600 in sales, it justifies the €200 you paid them for example. You could pay them €50 upfront and the remainder upon showing their worth. Once the value and relationship have been established, you may not need to do this for every time you work with them.
It is easy to get starstruck by someone who is “instafamous” but make sure to see this as a business transaction in which you do your due diligence. Not all accounts were built organically so it pays to do your homework. Getting in touch with an influencer is as simple as hitting the email button which most of them will have on their Instagram account. There are agencies but I’d rather cut out the middleman and build a direct relationship.
I could honestly go on for days about marketing and the many things I have researched and considered for Signature, but at the end of the day, you are best off to keep things simple, plan accordingly but not to the point where it hinders your execution. Much of your lessons will come through trial and error.