Getting your products to stand out online can be a huge challenge – particularly in saturated markets, or if you are a reseller of bigger brands that loads of your competitors stock.
Apparel is a very competitive sector where bloggers, glossy mags and nationals are all inundated with products, so it’s unlikely that you’ll find someone to write a massive article on how great you are if you are not offering them something in return. And even if you do, by sending samples or responding to a journorequest, for example, there is still no guarantee that they will feature your product anyway.
With these challenges in mind, how can online fashion retailers maximise their chances of building relationships and acquiring links to promote their brand?
The simple answer is through collaboration, and there are a number of ways you can achieve this. Be warned, it can be time-consuming and it does require a great deal of planning, but with huge brands and marketplace sellers such as eBay and Amazon dominating search results, a great idea with a PR-led approach will help you to stand out.
Bloggers are the ‘go to’ contacts for many brands looking to promote their products. Giving an influential blogger with 1,000s of Instagram followers a dress from your latest collection may generate you a bit of referral traffic, but most likely, if all they do is post a photo of them wearing it on Instagram and tag you, the likelihood is that most of the comments will be directed towards the blogger, and few will investigate further than your Instagram profile.
If you offer an incentive to their followers and ask the blogger to mention this in the post in exchange for sending them product, you’re likely to have a higher success rate, as shown in the example below.
Bloggers that write a post, style your product in a ‘look’ or review your product rather than just posting on social media alone will at least generate a link back to your site, and it has a better chance of being rediscovered if the product featured is something that users would search for – for example, ‘How to Wear Doc Marten Boots’.
These are both common ways of promoting your products, but what else could you offer bloggers to make your product stand out?
Ask the blogger to run a competition in conjunction with your brand to win gift vouchers or giveaway a hard-to-find or popular product
Offer a blogger a desirable item and ask them to film the unboxing. This works especially well for high-end products and footwear
Invite them to be an expert
Ask them to style or design a product, or get them to select their top picks from your range, and set up landing pages dedicated to blogger styles on your site to add credibility to their endorsement.
Loads of brands collaborate to add new dimensions to their collections. Choosing who to collaborate with can be tricky – it’s important to thoroughly research the brand before contacting them and explaining why it would be great to work on a project together.
A great example of this is from ballet shoe designer Cocorose, who partnered with the Royal London Ballet to create the Cocorose x Royal London Ballet collection. The ‘10% of every sale from Cocorose London’s Royal Ballet collection going back to The Royal Opera House’ is a nice touch too.
Influencers and major publications
Influencers and major publications can be a tricky one. Loads of brands will be vying for their attention, so unless you have something remarkable to offer them (like a UK only exclusive or a very hyped product), expect to pay to be featured. If you are lucky, you may spot a journorequest that you can respond to from a freelance journalist for a major publication who is looking for specific products, and that can be a foot in the door. Keep a close eye on this type of columnist!
If you have a Buyer, Head Stylist, or Designer, make sure they are media friendly, and get them to connect with influencers, attend launches, events, and press days where they may be able to network and speak about your brand.
Whoever it is that will be representing your brand, make sure that they are also comfortable in promoting themselves as an influencer. Be prepared to give interviews and insight on the industry – or ask for influencers to be interviewed by your brand – just like Attitude Inc. did with Crepe City founder Morgan Weekes. The two companies have now worked together on a number of projects.
Other than promotions (again likely to be paid) entering into collaborations with influencers and major publications is difficult, but not impossible if you are willing to put in the hours.
Don’t always focus on the hard sell
Fred Perry is a clothing brand primarily, but has built a whole community around music – introducing the brand to a whole new audience without any hard sell of products. A massive, thriving community has grown over the years, connecting Fred Perry with a wide range of music genres.
Sponsoring a band, or asking them to collaborate with you is also a cracking way to reach a wider community.
If bloggers, brands, influencers and major publications are all out of reach, consider targeting ‘up and coming’ personalities. Artists, musicians and designers will often be happy for free promotion and you can gain a following of their fans if you choose to partner with someone closely aligned with your niche.
If you can afford to, think about running competitions or giveaways that will appeal to non-bloggers with an interest in subcultures associated with your brand’s demographic – for example, target universities with fashion design students and run a competition for them to design a t-shirt or capsule collection.
Do your research before you contact anyone. You will look a right wally if you contact someone saying how much you love their feed/blog/brand/mag/band/art if you don’t even bother to follow them on social media!