Shannon Lohr, the founder of Factory 45, knows a little something about funding fashion lines. Shannon and Factory 45 work hard every day to help new and established designers launch and market their line. She has been kind enough to share what it takes to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign to funding your clothing line.
In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the importance of creating a realistic plan for your line before you start your crowdsourcing campaign. Now we want to talk about the most important part of any campaign, the target market. These are the people you are asking about funding your clothing line. You need to not only know them but cater to them in your communication.
Funding Your Clothing Line Part 2: Your Target Market
Find Your Target Market
Look at the line you are designing. Who is it for? Who do you see buying and wearing your collection? Be specific.
If you are trying to appeal to everyone you aren’t appealing to anyone. Your communications and promotions need to be tailored to appeal to the single person you envision as your target market. Let’s say your ideal customer is a woman in her mid to late 20s who is an avid traveler and aspiring minimalist.
Your messages need to get her excited to back and purchase your collection. If you are getting more feedback from stay-at-home-moms in their mid 30’s, work on shifting your message to better suit your new target.
Reaching Your Target Market
You should start communicating with potential backers at least a year in advance. Before you launch your campaign, you need to get people excited. The method of communicating and reaching out to your target market is completely up to you. There are plenty of options, but ultimately your decision should be based on the people you are trying to reach.
Not only do you need to start communicating early, but you also need to communicate consistently. Don’t just get your backers excited, keep them excited. Whether you choose a grassroots approach or go all in on social media, you need to stay in constant touch with your future customers.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable constantly promoting their brand. Don’t. Remember that you are not promoting yourself, you are promoting your brand. Talk it up and be proud of your work. After all, you could have the greatest product ever made, but if nobody knows about it you won’t make it very far.
Website and Blog
This is where all of your communication and promotions should begin. Use a blog to document your journey from the original concept to the launch of your crowdsourcing campaign and beyond. Document everything. Successes, milestones, and even failures work to engage your audience and allow them to feel connected to your process. Did your pattern maker let you down? Blog it. Did you get a shipment of your dream fabric? Blog it.
Use your blog for feedback on your designs to really find out what your potential backers want. Test out design ideas, talk about your design inspirations, do anything that will get them engaged.
Email remains the best way to get the word out about your brand and future crowdsourcing campaign. Use your email list as a road map for the people who want you to engage with them. In addition to regular emails, comment on their blogs and follow them on social media. Email campaigns may seem overdone and spammy, but they are the best way to keep potential backers connected to you.
These days, people expect two-way communication with brands and organizations. Use social media to your advantage, but remember to tailor your pages to your audience. It is not enough to just set up a page and post occasionally, you have to engage your followers. Post photos of your progress, showcase your designs and set up hashtags to encourage a conversation with your backers.
With all social outlets, consistent communication is key. You should be posting a minimum of three times a week, and more is better. Moderate comments and messages regularly. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, make sure your posts show your brand in the best light.
Promoting a brand is an art form. Not every method works for every organization. Just like you are documenting your design and manufacturing process, remember to document everything you do to promote your brand. What is working? What is failing? Is there something you can you change to make it better? Track the success of each marketing outreach so you can learn what works and what doesn’t. By the time you launch your brand, you’ll discover you’re a star marketer.