It should come as no surprise that because of the internet, the entire landscape of selling a physical product has changed and will continue to change. The subtle ways that a business communicates with a potential customer will ultimately result in them clicking the purchase button. So, how do you start communicating and making those connections with your target market? For a startup fashion brand, this is most easily done through blogging. In today’s episode, we’re talking about how to use blogging to grow your audience.
Today we’re talking about how to use blogging to grow your audience as a fashion brand. And when I say blogging, I really mean the content that you create for your own platform, not for social media – which is a platform that you don’t own.
It should come as no surprise that because of the internet, the entire landscape of selling a physical product has changed, continues to change, and will continue to change.
Think of yourself as a consumer.
What makes you buy something?
Are you turned off by the marketers who aggressively push products in your face?
What makes you feel drawn to a potential purchase?
The smartest marketers know… and that’s what you are! I know everything wants to think of themselves as a designer and a creative. But if you are starting a business, you also need to be a marketer! The smartest marketers know that connection is king. Connection is king.
It’s the subtle ways that a company communicates with a potential customer that ultimately results in them clicking the purchase button. So how do you start communicating and making those connections with your target market?
For a startup fashion brand, presumably on a bootstrapped budget (you don’t have tens of thousand dollars in funding to back your business), this is most easily done through blogging.
Let me just clarify: if writing isn’t your favorite medium or method, you just don’t consider yourself a strong writer, then instead of creating a blog you can create a podcast or a youtube channel. The reason I prefer a blog is because it’s a platform that you actually own. We don’t own Facebook, Instagram, Apple, Spotify or Youtube.
The main gist here is using a piece of owned media to create and share content that your ideal target customer will connect with and love as you are building up an audience and getting ready to launch. Remember this is all happening before you even have a product to sell. The evolution looks a little bit like this: you have your blog post, or again it could be a podcast episode, it could be a youtube video that goes out to your email list.
It’s then posted on social media which creates an audience of early adopters who eventually become customers.
All of this content that you’re creating and putting out into the various platforms: your blog, podcast, Youtube channel, your email list, your social media. All of that is creating an audience in advance of early adopters who when you eventually have something to sell will become your customers, or at least that’s the goal.
So before we get into the details, I first want to tell you why blogging and content marketing are so very important to your overall strategy and how to use them effectively.
Why do you need a blog?
Quite simply, for storytelling.
Your company and products must tell a narrative that is compelling to your customer. It’s no longer enough to simply put your product out into the world and tell people to buy it. There’s a lot of noise as you’ve probably seen. There’s a lot of competition. You may have even noticed that huge corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are trying to implement and use the storytelling angle in their own marketing campaigns.
Lucky for us this narrative is something that will become natural to you. You don’t have to create a story for your product, you already have one just by being you, by being an interesting entrepreneur who has enough guts to start a business. That can be your story. The big companies are struggling to come up with an authentic face behind their brand while you already have one without even trying! Your potential customer needs to connect with your product through you and through the story of your company.
So how do you tell this story?
You tell this story through a strategic sequence of stories on your blog. In the weeks leading up to the launch of your product you’re going to tease out the story of your company. Each week you’re going to share anecdotes, lessons learned, any compelling content behind the scenes that your target market will be interested in reading about or listening to or watching a video about.
If that sounds terrifying don’t worry, it may not come easy at first. The more you practice and the more you work at it the easier it will get. The more you plan it out, the easier it will be to sit down and get that content written, recorded, whatever it is you’re doing. The best part is that in the beginning you won’t have many readers or many listeners or many viewers so it’s okay to mess up or not write the perfect blog post. The important thing is to stay consistent, to stick with it and not to give up.
So once your blog is up and running, the next thing you need to think about is… how do you leverage it?
One of the biggest drivers of traffic to your landing page or your website and your blog is through building relationships with influencers.
With people within your niche, blogging is a great way to get other people talking about you online and when I say talking about you, I mean sharing your blog post or your podcast episode or your youtube video via their own social media channels.
Remember you’re not just talking about yourself or your product in these pieces of content. You are really sharing a compelling message that connects with your target customer, and if it connects with your target customer then it’s going to be further spread by people who want to share it with their own audiences.
The best thing you can do when you’re starting a new business is to develop relationships with the people who are already established in your niche. I don’t mean the entrepreneurs who have very similar products or collections and would be a competitor. I’m referring to the people who offer complementary products, services, or content that speaks to your target market but doesn’t directly compete. I’ll give you an example, let’s say you’re starting a lingerie company. The influencers you’re looking to connect with online aren’t other lingerie companies – those would be direct competitors. But they could be… e-commerce boutiques who sell lingerie and could eventually be a third-party seller for you, brick and mortar boutiques who sell lingerie, fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, boudoir photographers, wedding blogs, burlesque dancers, anyone else who speaks to your target market and would be interested in talking about your brand.
The great thing about blogging, guest posting and creating great shareable content is that you’re not explicitly asking anyone to market your product for you. Instead of paying for product placement – which a lot of these bloggers with big followings often expect – you’re simply putting relevant content out into the world that may be interested in sharing with their audiences.
Don’t let me fool you. This doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly going to have an A-list fashion blogger repost your first blog post on their Instagram stories. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to cultivate the relationship and start by sharing and supporting their work before you can expect anything in return. As you build up relationships within your niche, you will eventually find that you’re able to leverage the power of network marketing. So as you work on developing relations online, you can also start networking with other people within your niche online. One of the best things about being online in a niche is that it’s narrow, so it’s easier to find your people and you can leverage their audience to grow your own.
So the bottom line is this: your chances of success grow with each additional person who starts talking about you online. You have to decide how you’re going to make that happen. When you start writing blog posts or recording youtube videos, or podcast interviews, whichever medium you decide on that is most comfortable and easiest to stay consistent with, then the magic of a blog post is in the headline or the title.
Your goal in writing a headline is to trigger two action points. This is really important because you can write the best piece of content, record the best podcast interview and if you don’t have an enticing headline or title, then it’s just going to be really hard to get people to click over. The two things you want to trigger: 1) entice someone to click to read, listen or watch and 2) entice someone to click to share it.
When writing headlines there needs to be an element of curiosity, intrigue and surprise to stand out above the noise, to make someone stop what they’re doing and to actually absorb your content. The same goes for subject lines when it comes time to send that piece of content in an email out to your list, you really need to think long and hard about what would prompt someone to open your email rather than trash it with the 20 other emails that they’re probably sending to the trash. When I write my weekly blog post and email it out to my list, I often write 10 different headlines and subject lines before I choose one. Sometimes I’ll even write all of them and have my assistant choose the best one because I know that sometimes you’re a little bit too in it so you need an objective party to choose that.
If no one feels enticed to open your email or read your blog post or listen to your podcast then what’s the point? You’ve done all of this work, you’ve created all of this content and then at the final moment you’re not putting in that extra effort to really create a compelling great headline or title or subject line, then it all just kind of is a waste. Think of yourself right as you scroll through Facebook or your favorite websites, notice how the headlines are crafted, which ones stand out to you and why, which ones prompt you to click. Those are the headlines you want to try to emulate.
My final tip for using blogging to build an audience is this: don’t forget a call to action. At the end of every blog post you should have a CTA – a call to action – that tells your reader what they should do next.
Should they opt into your list? Should they go to your online store? Should they learn more about you on your about page? Should they check out your free shipping offer or your discount code? You can experiment with these, so try not to use the same one at the end of every blog post. You want to see which ones are getting clicked on. The goal is to keep the reader on your website for as long as possible and hopefully to capture a sale or an email address so they’ll eventually come back.
So in review:
- Connection is king.
- Tell a narrative about your company that will connect with your target market niche.
- Your potential customer must connect with you to be able to connect with your product.
- Create a blog or a podcast or a youtube channel to tell your narrative over time and share compelling content.
- Develop relationships with industry influencers who will share your content
- The magic is in writing a compelling click-worthy headline or subject line
- Don’t forget a CTA
If you’re interested in learning more about how to make these strategies work for your fashion business goals, book a call to speak with Hannah, our director of enrollment. You can figure out together if we’re the right fit for each other and see if our goals align. Just go to factory45.co/apply – I’ll also put the link in the description below this episode.