Hey guys. As some of you may know, I’m currently doing a bit of travelling so I’m happy to say this article is coming to you from my hotel’s cocktail lounge in Singapore. I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about what it is that makes one online business stand out from the next, or more specifically, what makes an online clothing brand more appealing than another. Aside from the designs and quality of the product, the one thing I think that sees certain brands soar to the top is the way their owners personalise their brand. They engage their customers, treat them like family and grow their brand with that customers loyal support and input along the way. I’ve looked at some of my favourite online business’ as well as clothing brands and put together a list of things you could and should be doing to push your brand in this same direction:
1. Be your real self. This is one thing that will make all the difference to your online business as it really is the core of becoming a more personable brand. First things first, let people know your real name and give out your contact information, on the condition you’re committed to responding (more on this in the next section). Try getting a little creative in the way that your customers can contact you – let’s switch a standard info@ email address for something a little spicier, and provide a phone number that’ll be answered by a member of your staff (or better yet, you) and not an answering service. Put your photo up on your social pages so people can put a face to the brand and sprinkle personal information about your likes, opinions and experiences on your sites too. These things sound simple, but they can go a hell of a long way to improving the sense of familiarity your customers have with you and your brand.
2. When they come calling, you better answer. I have a friend that never answers their phone. And I mean, she doesn’t answer anyones calls (no, it isn’t just that she doesn’t like me) so now I don’t call her mobile phone and know to text or email her. But imagine if I was a customer trying to contact her and she wouldn’t answer me. How many times do you think I would keep trying to call? The bottom line is you have to be available to your customers, and in a genuine way. If you don’t want to speak on the phone to clients, that’s cool..but don’t publish your phone number. For example, I get a few emails daily from people who have gotten my email address off this site asking me advice on different things and I love responding, but notice I have no phone number listed? That’s because most of my readers are in the US and that would mean I’d be getting calls at all kinds of crazy hours. What I’m saying here is offer your customers a way to reach you that is going to ensure they are responded too, whether it be phone, email or through your social media. When you do respond, make sure you do it quickly, politely and try your hardest to help them out.
4. Flex your strengths. If you’ve done something, and you’re proud of it then show it off. The key here is honesty because in this day and age people can easily check up on you (do a google search of your own name and you’ll be interested, if not sometimes shocked at what comes up) so it’s increasingly easy to pick a phoney out of the crowd. If people don’t trust you, there’s no way they are going to do business with you so let’s build up that trust. Having a complete and updated LinkedIn profile is a great way to do this, as well as the obvious Facebook. A word on Facebook – it may be a good idea to set up a separate “business” personal Facebook page as you should be aware of your own privacy.
5. Offer an insiders view. I love clicking on a business’ site and seeing behind the scenes photos, videos and stories. It screams confidence, ability and longevity to me. This is way I say starting a blog for your label is a great idea, because it easily allows you to share this stuff. Although it might seem like you’re writing for an audience of one, and that one being you, eventually people will start reading, and caring about this stuff. Overall, this is the best way to make your brand more personable as you are basically inviting your customers to step inside the mechanics of your business and see how it all works – a great way to build a loyal fan base.
6. Be the bigger person. Try as you may, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. Despite your best efforts, there is always going to be someone who has a negative experience with you or your label and decides to share that experience online to hundreds of people (thank you very much social media). The important thing is to handle your criticism with class and dignity and try and learn from it. Never get defensive or fight back (even if you really want to) as it’s one of the fastest ways to lose your credibility. When handled well, you can turn a public criticism into a way to gain new customers if you can impress them with how you handle the complaint.
7. Be everywhere. It’s hard for people not to take notice of you when you’re everywhere they go. Get to really know your target market, and be where they are. If they use Myspace a lot, set up a page and update it daily. If they’re hanging on Mintees, T-ShirtForums, IAMTHETREND or Facebook then get yourself there and participate as much as you can. Building a presence in the social media is a slow process but if you commit to the process, it’s an amazing way to spread the word of your brand and make some great long term contacts that could really benefit both you and your business.
Thanks for taking the time out to read this article. The next one will be coming to you from Paris, but until then please share this article and show some love for the site @threadbusiness and facebook.com/threadbusiness.