I launched FringeSport in 2010. It’s taken almost all of that time to find a voice for the brand and a primary channel to communicate that voice. I struggled with this in Fringe’s early days. I spent too little time thinking about it, or too much time, depending on the moment.
The dilemma started to crystallize for me when I had a discussion with Eric Bandholz of Beardbrand in Bangkok over glasses of wine a few years ago. One of the things that Eric has done well with Beardbrand is establish a brand and continue to speak in the voice of that brand. In Bangkok, Eric urged me to do much more on YouTube, which was good advice, but I haven’t taken it.
I then attended a virtual conference by Digital Marketer. A topic in the conference was how to expand a personal brand into the brand for a company. That was very helpful. The customer avatar worksheet from Digital Marketer helped, too. (A customer avatar is a representation of an ideal prospect.)
In this post, I’ll offer a few thoughts on how to establish a brand for your ecommerce company.
Finding the right channel
First, focus on one channel. How will you communicate your brand to customers and prospects? For Eric and Beardbrand, it was YouTube. For FringeSport, we found success in our email list. Rather than spread yourself thin in posting on many channels — Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, email, Twitter, others — focus on nailing one channel. It will differ among brands.
The channel that will likely work best for your brand is one that you, as a consumer, enjoy. The problem in using YouTube for FringeSport is that, as a consumer, I don’t really enjoy it. It’s not that I hate it. I just don’t spend my spare time looking at YouTube videos. But I’ve always enjoyed the written word. And I enjoy reading well-written copy.
For example, I sign up for many email newsletters from other brands. Sometimes I’m interested in their products, but oftentimes I’m not. I simply want to receive their email newsletters, to see what they are up to. Newsletters that I love include those from Chubbies, which sells apparel; Ramit Sethi, a financial and psychological advisor; and Survival Life, a retailer of survival products and guides. I’ve signed up for those emails. I read and enjoy them.
When you find a channel that you love, become a consumer of that channel. Follow what others are doing. See what resonates with their followers (or subscribers), and identify what resonates with you. Become a serious participant of that channel.
For example, I am an avid Redditor. Reddit is definitely not a primary channel for reaching FringeSport’s customers. In fact, a lot of my digital marketing friends say that Reddit can drive a ton of traffic, but the traffic doesn’t convert.
They’re partially right. Reddit can drive a ton traffic and that traffic, in many cases, may not convert. However, they are using Reddit as marketers rather than members of the community. They are trying to take from that channel. That’s why, in many cases, it doesn’t meet their expectations.
Great content vs. good content
Content is king. I cannot stress this enough. The more that I learn, the more that turns out to be a true. Moreover, if content is king, great content is the emperor. When you find your brand’s voice, produce great content around it.
It’s better to produce one piece of great content than 20 pieces of merely good content. And one piece of great content is definitely better than a 100 crappy pieces. “Content” could be a YouTube video, an email newsletter, or a clever tweet. But it’s essential to hone, work, study, and otherwise figure out how to produce content that really resonates with your audience or community.
How do you know if your content is great? Test it. Before you publish, have an idea for measuring the content’s performance. Use traditional and non-traditional metrics. For example, I’ve heard marketers say that they can’t measure the ROI from Instagram. Perhaps that is true — they cannot measure direct ROI from Instagram. But they can measure something, even a vanity metric, such as comments, or downloads, or page views.
Vanity metrics have value. (But far less value than many people, including employees of Facebook and Instagram, assert.) For example, a comment is good, but a share is even better. Regardless, look for these non-traditional metrics to help determine if you’re resonating with your consumers.
I look for vanity metrics from our emails. Whenever I send emails that are emotional or personal, I track how many replies I receive, personally. I also track what the subscribers have to say. Do they say good things? Bad things? Their emails are indicators that I’ve touched a nerve.
How to produce
So, once you find your ideal channel, how do you scale it? How will you produce all of that great content? At FringeSport, we use employees who enjoy email and are passionate about our company’s mission.
In other words, if an employee shares your passion and really cares about the channel (email, for example) and has the skills (writing, video production, photography), the great content will follow.
How did you find your brand’s voice? What channels are working?