Weekly Column: 2017-07-21

Over the past eight years, I have raised the value of new brands through re-branding via our online clothing business. Along with this business, I also sell many products online each year. In my early days, I employed various marketing strategies to introduce products and brands to my consumers. Now I use unique marketing through social media and have been able to secure many loyal customers and followers, of which are still steadily growing. Throughout the years, I have gone through a great deal of trial and error, which is probably why I have been able to flexibly grow. That said, if I were to pinpoint the reason for our growth now, it is probably due to the fact that I approached our consumers in different ways than others have.

Although this is true for any business, start-up businesses, in particular, have a difficult time securing investments early on. Many business owners believe that making a lot of sales should be their ultimate goal and if this doesn't happen quickly, they immediately believe the business was deemed to fail. The more realistic goal should have focused on the long haul. I tried to do business with the customer’s perspective in mind, however, it is nearly impossible to satisfy customers 100% online. 

The biggest problem I had during that time was that the repurchase rate was less than 10%. It was difficult, but I would appeal to consumers by providing a fresh new brand. I did succeed as they continued purchasing from us but after the first purchase, repurchasing was quite abysmal. It was obvious that the product was excellent and the price was very competitive but my expectations of fully satisfying my customers just crumbled around me.

So, I thought about it from the customer’s perspective. Even though the product was good and was at a competitive price, that was wholly my way of thinking. What if, ultimately, the customer’s expectations were much higher than this?

I decided to change the way I thought and make a small change. From then on, I started shipping products that customers bought, small accessories, and similar products of the same size. It was presented as a freebie, but it was a way for customers to try out the products themselves. Additionally, the freebies were branded with logos that were as large as possible so that when the customers used the products, others would easily see it, which was the main goal. Of course, in the beginning, I took some losses, but as our customer satisfaction increased, the most encouraging thing was that the repurchase rate doubled each year thereafter. One of my obvious goals of free marketing strategies is to change the habits of customers, but the most important goal is to use this strategy to increase brand exposure and customer loyalty. Influencing customers to voluntarily promote a branded product is called consumedia marketing.

Perhaps this is the secret that I’ve utilized to make a lasting business rather than just making sales. Although immediate sales are important, the most important thing is to increase consumer awareness on a product’s value and brand. If you increase awareness and exposure for your brand constantly, you create the opportunity for consumers to purchase from you at any time. An example of this are the Starbucks cups with the green logos that people on any street can be seen holding.

Advertising by influencing customers to voluntarily use and share their products increases customer loyalty and is a strategy that naturally leads to more potential customers. Empathizing and engaging with consumers and utilizing consumedia marketing allows customers to naturally become the medium for marketing.  This is a very attractive marketing tool to increase consumer loyalty and promote the brand at the same time.