The 3 C’s For Organic Online Growth – Content, Community & Collaborations
If people don’t know about your fashion brand or understand why they should buy your products, it doesn’t matter that you might be having the best product in the world.
The pandemic has accelerated online shopping and the brand’s digital growth.
Consumers have been forced into new behaviors and lifestyle habits and have had to shift their
spendings on e-commerce sites to acquire new products and entertain themselves.
This past year has been heavy on many apparel brands and will continue to be unsure next year as well. Even with the shaky economic landscape, some fashion brands have thrived organically, by being agile. They have focused heavily on everything digital, doubled down on their content, and went deep, honest, and authentic with their communities.
In this article, we’re going to dive into the 3 C’s of organic online growth.
These 3 are the strongest pillars in growing your fashion business, owning your communication with your customers, and leveraging other brands’ customer groups to grow your own, without spending a ton of money on marketing.
The demand for all things digital will most probably be irreversible. We see that customers will continue to spend their time and money online. The brands that embrace this new fact, make the necessary changes to their organizations, and deliver great experiences and products to their customers, will see even more growth.
First: Why those 3? Why Content, Community, and Collaborations? What’s in the mix?
The content on your website, blog, and all your outlets like social media, Youtube, etc., attracts the customers to you and has them constantly come back to your brand.
The community with loyal customers is what keeps people to be longtime customers and buy from your brand over and over again. Another important thing about a strong community is that the most powerful marketing tool is word of mouth. Fans of a brand spread the word to all their peers, bringing more customers to you.
Collaborations are an extremely effective way to leverage other brands’ customers and bring them into your world.
Now let’s look a bit closer at each C, what it means for your business and why your brand should use it to its maximum to grow online.
One sure way to build and strengthen your brand is by consistently creating valuable content, in whatever form that suits your brand – written content, video, vlog, podcast, etc.
The content will attract the right customers to your brand, build trust, plus entertain and educate your customers about your brand and its products.
There are endless topics to talk about – document your business operations and show people behind the scenes. This increases your authenticity, they know what’s going on, how your products are made, and where they are made.
Conduct interviews, talk about your products and how they solve your customers’ problems.
According to recent studies, video is extremely important and should be a big part of your content. 50% of customers want to see videos from the brands they interact with. It doesn’t have to be ultra-fancy, you can shoot content with a phone. People prefer to see authentic videos instead of expensive, directed, and acted content.
Brands need to become their own media houses, get really good at storytelling and documenting the brand’s journey. Move towards stories from your customers and team members and share those authentically.
The content should also be interactive and co-created with your customers. Stay in the conversations, engage, and interact. The customers will feel part of your brand instead of feeling like outsiders.
Provide original and unique content. When you talk about things – YOUR way (brand’s way), it will be hard to have competitors. Your unique values, vision, and mission, the things that your brand stands for, are a specific mix, that nobody else has. This is what differentiates your brand from the competition. This is why it’s essential to find and know your tone of voice.
If the content you put out is like everybody else’s, then what’s the point for people to come to YOU? What does your brand stand for? What’s its opinion? Is it entertaining or boring? Are you talking in a boring, stiff corporate jargon, or can your customers feel that it’s a person, real people behind the brand?
The content is your brand’s and your customers’ shared values. This is the reason they come to you, and they consume it, because you have one common ground. They can engage with it, share their opinions and thoughts, and find a place where they “belong”.
Content helps you expand your reach and help new potential customers find you online. A person needs 7 or more touchpoints with a brand before they trust it and buy from it. That’s why diverse content is key. Write blog posts, be on several social media platforms consistently, be on YouTube, etc.
Today’s customers are, thanks to all the information access, extremely knowledgeable, and want to be well informed before they make a purchase. Your content is a perfect way of educating people about your brand and its products.
SEO is what helps your brand to be seen in online searches. When someone searches for a particular product or topic, you want to appear on the first page in Google. Content is THE way to do this. That’s why all your content, text, and pictures should be SEO optimized to get you in front of as many people as possible. On-brand content boosts conversions and search engine rankings.
Brands are more than just the products they make. Content creates a relationship between you and your customers. The relationship is what makes customers into loyal fans. They trust you!
The trust then is what builds a strong community.
Getting your content right will take practice and time. Finding your voice is also something that will require trial and error. The most important thing is that you stay consistent, that you continuously put out content. And no it doesn’t have to be completely new. You can and should repurpose your content all the time.
We all have our favorite brands. If we were to ask you to name your favorite brand in a specific product category, you would most probably be able to do that in an instant. Why? Because you might own a product from that brand, or admire them, or share the same values.
Most of the time, when we buy products, it’s because we like the brand and what it stands for. It’s because of how they and their products make us feel, not because they constantly send us promotional emails.
What strong brands have, whether it was done with purpose or not, are strong communities. Groups of people that share the brand’s values, that totally supports the vision and mission and that adore its products.
Today brand-building is not a monologue. It’s not one-way communication. It’s done together with the customers in a co-created way. The customers help build the brands together. One could say that brand communities are like employees, but they pay you instead:)
It’s impossible to grow a brand without highly dedicated customers that spread the word, engage with everything the brands are doing, buy the products, and continuously return for more.
Brand communities can be online and offline. It’s a place where customers and brand fans gather based on common interests to discuss, get information, build relationships, and engage with the brand they love. This “place” can be a forum, or the comments section on social media platforms, email subscription, blog sections on the website, vlogs, or a membership platform.
Online you have Facebook groups, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok – these are free and only require that you have an account on that platform.
Some brands have private membership programs where you need to be a member and pay a member’s fee.
Then there’s offline, physical clubs. Now, during the pandemic, it’s been of course a bit harder for these types of groups to meet, and therefore many of them have gone online.
Why is a strong community vital for you as a brand?
First of all, when you have a strong brand community, these people are eager to buy every product you drop. It is an organic ecosystem where sales aren’t forced, but welcomed.
Because of a brand’s relationship with its community, they know the brand cares about them. A brand with a strong community dominates its competitors.
Advertisements are not working as effectively as they used to. Bands need to spend way more money today to reach more customers. Plus, consumers, especially Gen Z, are losing faith in paid influencers and paid ads in general. They get trusted information from their peers, groups, and reviews. 92 percent of customers trust more reviews than ads.
These customers are used to hanging out on Youtube and other social media platforms and can smell fraud and online scams from miles away.
When you have a strong community that you are in constant communication with, you have endless insight and feedback. This can save your brand tremendous amounts of money. No need for paid focus groups or marketing research.
76% of global internet users hang out on blogs, forums, or vlogs every month. People discuss their needs, problems, interests, behaviors, and this information is priceless for brands. When you as a brand pay close attention to the information, you can use it to improve your products and operations. And there’s always room for improvements!
It’s also a perfect way to get to know your customer and their needs on a deeper level. With all the information, innovation can soar, and when the products hit the market, you know there’s a demand for it.
A strong community also happens to be a perfect support system for your brand. People answer questions, and this can potentially lower customer service support costs.
When people feel valued and listened to, and they know that their voice matters, they are loyal and supportive of the brand.
You see where we are going – all that’s been mentioned above can generate more sales.
In the past couple of years, collaborations have proven to be great marketing and sales opportunities.
We are definitely living in the age of collaborations. It’s extremely exciting for us as fashion consultants to see so many interesting, diverse, and unexpected collabs. It’s also a lot of FUN!
And in 2020, despite the chaos, we’ve seen some pretty incredible partnerships. Collaborations are a fantastic way of reaching new customers and increasing brand awareness.
The right collaborations, done in a creative and smart way can really boost a business’s growth.
Cross brand collaborations are not only happening in the fashion industry. We see this in all industries, like travel, furniture, the food and drink industries, and others as well.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary 2018 – Collaborate means “work jointly”. A collaboration should be a win-win partnership, 2 parties working together with mutual benefits.
A collaboration can be done by 2 or several brands together to create one or several products. They bring something new and innovative to the market. Sometimes they can also carve out an entirely new niche for the brands involved.
Now let’s take a look at why collabs are great for business in the fashion industry:
The main intention is, of course, to sell more products and grow both brands’ customer bases. When a brand is exposed to the other brand’s customers, it can quickly gain new ones in a legit way.
It can also be a fantastic way for you as a brand to enter entirely new markets and carve out a unique niche. If a brand wants to enter new international territories, collabs can boost brand awareness.
We’ve also seen collaborations where one of the brands has knowledge gaps, such as an apparel brand cooperating with a footwear brand. By doing a collab, it forces the brand to quickly and effectively gain knowledge in the specific area. If you are a brand that wants to implement more sustainability work in your business, then partnering up with a brand that has more knowledge than you in that area would give you a tremendous boost.
When working on design and product development, there are so many new things to be learned. New materials and technologies are constantly popping up, and it can be hard to keep up. If you partner with a highly innovative and skilled brand in this area, this can, of course, help you learn new things quicker.
2 very powerful positive effects of collaborations are the growth of social media followers and the email list. Attracting more followers and list subscribers can eventually mean huge business and sales for the brand.
The biggest advantage is of course the extra brand exposure.
So what types of collaborations are there? Actually, there are no rules, or right or wrongs, it’s all up to the brands to agree on mutual terms. Then it’s up to the brands to be creative, share knowledge and utilize each other’s skills to the max for the best possible outcome.
- Brand x Brand
- Brand x Creator, Artist, Designer etc
- Brand x Influencer
- Brand x Event
And which one setup is best for your brand? To help you figure that out, here is a set of questions:
- What brand aligns with your business values, mission, and vision?
- What brand aligns with your business goals?
- What brand would add the most value to your customers?
- What brand can you learn from the most?
- What brand has the customers that you want to attract?
Remember that a truly successful collaboration rests on trust and authenticity. Both brands must have a common ground with a genuine connection.
And as in all partnerships, make sure that you work on a detailed contract with exact deliverables, timelines, etc. A contract that states what is required of both parties and that outlines the exact steps involved.
We have outlined the 3 C’s and how powerful these can be for your brands’ growth.
All 3 strategies are long term strategies, even collaborations. Take your time, don’t rush anything or do it half-assed. You have to plan for all 3 C’s and create a solid strategy because they will take time to accomplish. The community and content part, for example, are never really finished. It’s daily, ongoing work that will require trial and error and tweaking.
Especially now, in Covid times, brands are forced to think outside the box, to utilize their teams and budgets in creative, resourceful ways.
The 3 C’s are a great way of organically growing your fashion business without spending a ton of money on marketing. This should be on every fashion business management’s to-do list.
If you find this is something you would like to implement in your brand asap, our design agency KrissCo can help you strategize and make a plan for how to do this effectively and efficiently. Our design consultants and we can help you look at what brands to partner with.
Our fashion agency can help you create a content strategy to attract more customers and grow a community of loyal fans.