How I Helped a Fashion Business Client Turn Her Business Around with a Brilliant Marketing Plan

Posted on May 9, 2016

 I want to tell you a story about a marketing plan.

 

It’s a pretty special marketing plan, because, well…..it’s not the plan I expected to write. In fact, I had a whole other plan in mind.

But marketing plans are kind of like opinion surveys. You design the survey and kind of think you know what the answers to each question will be. But then when you put it to the field, the answers surprise you and you have to adapt your way of thinking. I like that idea, actually. I like that even the best-laid marketing plans are living, breathing creatures that are not set in stone. The important thing is to test, test, and test – and then listen to what your customers are telling you.

I want to take you through the story from top to bottom so that you can see what happened and learn from my mistakes (and gain inspiration from how I turned it around).

My Client:

Sasha(name changed) is a friend of mine, and she had an absolutely brilliant idea for a business. A seamstress by trade, she was always struck at the number of women who would bring in clothes from department stores and ask to have them altered to fit their body shape.

 

She began to realize that places like Zaraand Mango, although reasonably-priced, do not take into consideration that a customer might be one size on top and another on the bottom. Of course, their economies of scale and business model do not allow for any degree of customization (they work on a pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap principle), so Sasha thought there was a clear gap in the market. Her idea for a niche was to offer dresses that could be customized to better fit the varying sizes and shapes of her customers. See a sample below of a similar service offered by eShakti at http://www.eshakti.com/default.aspx

 

Shakti custom made dresses landing page

Custom made dresses landing page

 

The Problem:

Sasha had a nice website, which showed pictures of the five models of dresses customers could choose from. She had a neat little feature installed that allowed her visitors to plug in one size for the top half of the dress and another for the bottom half (see similar example below, from eShakti). She offered a color selection panel too.

 

Fashion Business Customizing sizes, height, and color

Customizing sizes, height, and color

Using web analytics, she could see that most visitors to the site went through the process of picking their sizes, colors, and models of dresses, and even got as far as putting them in their check-out baskets. But that was as far as they would go! The conversion rate was very low – about 5%.

Defining Business Goals:

I asked Sasha to define exactly the goal of the marketing campaign. Together, we settled on the following:

 

  • Grow the lead conversion rate from 5% to 20%
  • Increase web traffic by 40%
  • Increase sales revenues by 20%

 

Know Your Customer:

The key to a great marketing plan is to know your customer. Why did they buy your product? Why did they choose you over a competitor? What are the factors they consider when moving down the sales conversion channel from interest to sale?

 

Sasha had the e-mails of her previous customers, so I decided to run a little e-mail campaign to get to know the market a bit better – together with Sasha, we sent out e-mails to 200 people, offering them a 15% off coupon code on their next purchase if they would just come to the site and give feedback on why they chose Sasha’s service.

 

MARKETING PLAN FOR FASHION BUSINESS CLIENT

MARKETING PLAN FOR FASHION BUSINESS CLIENT

Results:

Twenty-five people responded, and we grouped their responses into the following categories for choosing Sasha’s product:

 

  • It’s convenient (I don’t have to go into a store for a fitting)
  • The model is adaptable to the different body shapes and sizes
  • It costs less than having to buy a dress and then adapt it later

Marketing Strategy:

Armed with our new insights, I put together a marketing plan that consisted of the following features:

 

  • A re-designed landing page on the website that issues a call to action to visitors, reading, “Are you ready for a fast, convenient, fun dress fitting? Click here to get a free tailor-made quote!” Once the visitor signed up (giving details of sizes, fit model preferred, color, etc.), an e-mail would be automatically generated to the lead, complete with price quote.

 

  • An active blog on the site, a newly-installed comments section, and launch of new social media presence for the business on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all with time-specific discount coupons.

 

  • Targeted PPC ads that would show up in the social media feed of anyone who had visited the site, with discounts and a photo image of the exact model and color dress the lead had been looking at – and entice-to-buy strategy!

 

What Happened?

Very little. The conversion rate did go up 2% in the first month of the campaign, but that was far from the explosive growth I expected to see. I knew that the basic ‘bones’ of the marketing plan were good. So why weren’t more leads converting? The answer actually came to us through the blog!

 

Sasha’s blog has really taken off, leaping from 200 subscribers in the first week to 800 by the month’s end. She had a knack for writing funny, engaging posts that women really liked, and there was a lively conversation that was happening in the comments section – about the dresses, about body shapes, about women’s self-confidence, and so on. As Sasha kept adding blog posts with content that these women really wanted to see, the conversation between her and the clients grew. And you know what? She listened more than she talked. This is what she found out about what her clients value:

 

  • Although online shopping is convenient, the risk was that without trying it on, there was no way to tell if it would suit them
  • Although price was important, the overall fit, sizing, quality of materials, and look was more important
  • The design of the site and the dresses were very homey, almost retro – but these women were working moms and therefore valued a clean, professional look to everything

 

Bingo!

I had made a set of (incorrect) assumptions based on the written evaluations by a handful of clients who were either being polite or overly flattering in order to get the coupon. It turned out that we didn’t know our customers as well as we thought. The active blog conversation was instrumental to us in terms of building a more accurate demographic and psychological profile of the client we were targeting. The marketing campaign tools were fine – but when joined to a set of false assumptions about our customer’s decision-making criteria, it had meant that our efforts just didn’t produce results.

 

Also, I am a man, and I obviously don’t understand women as much as I’d like to think I do! The truth is that women have a different thought process to men when making a purchase decision – and I didn’t fully understand it.

 

 Nevermind! The mark of a great marketing campaign director is knowing when something is not working and changing the plan to make it work.  

Course Correction Tactics:

An effective market plan takes into account the exact nature of the problem a business solves for a customer. The problems that Sasha’s business needed to solve for her clients were:

 

  • Working women have no time to shop or to get garments adjusted
  • Women need to have online dress shopping risks reduced as much as possible
  • Women feel they deserve higher quality, more professional clothes than they are currently being offered

 

Taking these factors into account, our new marketing strategy included the following:

 

  • Re-word the landing page typography, titles, and calls to action to stress the following keywords important to the customer base, specifically in this case, custom-made, tailor-made, convenience built in, busy women, professional, well-cut, design your own dress, total control, and so on. The whole site was optimized for search engine keywords and LSIs.

 

  • Introduce a free plug-in that allows the client to build her own dress and see it on a 3D computer model on the screen, with animation features that allow the client to turn the model around and view the dress from a 360 angle. The plug-in even allows the client to upload a photo of her face onto the 3D model’s face. Visualization is a powerful tool to reduce a customer’s sense of risk (associated with online shopping) and to entice them into pressing the buy button.

 

  • Re-design the website away from the cutesy, retro, 50’s mom images, design layout, typography, and even the cute patterns of some dress materials, since this clearly wasn’t appealing to professional women. The site was re-designed to look uncluttered, clean, professional, with black font on white backgrounds, and very clear steps on how to build your product. (Like in the example below, from http://www.indochino.com/).

 

 

Clean Fashion web design

Clean Fashion web design

 

Final Results:

Grafted onto the existing marketing campaign tools we were using (the PPC ads in social media feed, active brand promotion and conversation with clients on social media and the blog, e-mail campaigns, discount coupons, etc.), the campaign now really took off. Three months on, here were the final results:

 

  • A 40% lead conversation rate!
  • A website that ranked consistently at number 3 or 4 consistently in search engines when searching for ‘women’s fashions in {Country X}’, ‘bespoke women’s dresses’, and ‘professional clothes for women’ (previously the website was not ranked at all).
  • A 45% increase in sales revenue
  • A massive jump in social media presence, brand awareness, customer engagement, and brand loyalty.
  • A 34% increase in click-through rate on PPC ads placed in social media streams of visitors to the website.

 

Conclusion:

No marketing plan on earth is going to turn your business around if you don’t have a product or service that customers want to buy. You need to offer a product that solves a problem for your customer. So make sure you know exactly who your customer is, what their needs, problems, and values are, and what it takes to move them down the conversion tunnel to a firm sale. But really find out – don’t assume!

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