Drumming Up Sales by Combining Marketing Efforts

Recently style watchers have been preoccupied with Coachella, the music and art festival that wrapped up last weekend. These days the event is almost as well known for its see-and-be-seen street style snaps as it is for mashing up different genres from hip hop to electronica. But while everyone was preoccupied with what starlets like Kate Bosworth were wearing, I took note of the cross-promotional opportunities these events afford artists. For instance, I’m sure no one scored a ticket to see little-known acts such as Wolf Gang or Wu Lyf between sets by headliners Radiohead and Dr. Dre, but it’s likely attendees took note of these emerging musicians.

Now this kind of all-under-one-roof expo is not new to our industry; we have a record number of trade events each season, which accomplish the same thing. Plus, a great multiline showroom operates in the same way, melding collections with similar appeal. But the question is, why stop there? If setting up shop at a trade show where you are mixed in with complementary and competitive brands is a sound sales and marketing strategy, why not strike a similarly harmonious chord throughout the year?

Trumpeting Like Businesses

Too often in this industry, businesses are isolated, and their marketing and sales efforts become one note. Whether you’re humming along nicely or hopelessly out of tune with new ways to attract customers, your company could probably benefit from a few strategic alliances. Just think, the same kid who rocks your swimwear is probably in need of a monogrammed beach towel, a protective hat, some chemical-free sunscreen and fashionable flip-flops. If these aren’t product categories you offer, working in concert with the purveyors of those goods could help you expand your fan base.

Music producers do this all the time. They often pair artists on tracks for the sole purpose of introducing each to the other’s fans. Sometimes it works and sometimes it tarnishes both parties. The successes come from duets that make sense or at least make people take notice (Think Run DMC and Aerosmith). Similarly for you, just any flip-flop line won’t do, but if you look at their collection and distribution model and can imagine it appealing to your core customers, an alliance between the two of you might get the registers ringing.

By leveraging these relationships, you could really amp up your visibility to the trade community, consumers or both. While the members of your ensemble shouldn’t be expected to give your products the hard sell, there are a myriad of subtle but effective measures you each can take on the other’s behalf. Maybe you can mention one another in your blog posts about summer fun and beach trends; use each other’s products consistently in your photo shoots and credit each brand in your catalogs; or host social media giveaways and contests together. It’s up to you to find a rhythm that works for your businesses.

Finding a New Refrain

Another benefit of efforts like these is they give you new topics and reasons for communicating with your current customers. We all know that newsletters and blogs can be a great way of keeping your brand top of mind, but if you’re simply reciting the same product information over and over, eventually you’ll find yourself preaching to the choir. Within a few posts or eblasts, they’ll get the message that you watch the runways for the latest trends, make your line from the best Italian fabrics and offer brother/sister looks throughout the collection.

After that, you might find it difficult to come up with topics without sounding like a broken record. Plus, your target customer might tune you out if all you ever do is blow your own horn. But by jazzing up your communications with sound bites about likeminded products and services, suddenly your newsletters become a resource instead of a rehash.

Banding Together

These same strategies could work for retailers too. Band together with the kiddie haircutter next door and the shoe store around the corner. Even the neighborhood ice cream shop could be instrumental in drumming up new business. Maybe you already work together during the holidays or for the annual summer sidewalk sale, but could you pick up the tempo by offering events throughout the year?

Plus, working together will encourage residents of your town to support area mom and pops without the need to constantly beat the “shop local” drum. For instance, some towns have gone as far as offering local currency. Orchestrating something on that level is probably more than you want to take on, but you could have a loyal shopper card where customers could accrue points every time they patronize any of the designated businesses.

One word of advice: While aligning with other companies at the wholesale or retail level can help you snare new business, it can also be a delicate dance that takes some coordination. With several busy brand managers working together, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to improvise on the fly. Better to put together a calendar of yearly events or campaigns so no one ends up crying the blues when some companies do more to promote the group than others. With a clear focus and the right partners, alliances like these could be just the remix your marketing efforts need.

Join me on Wednesday, May 2nd at 9 p.m. EST for an industry chat on Twitter where we can share creative marketing ideas. Follow me @caletha_style or search for #kidsbiz.

About Caletha Crawford

Caletha Crawford is a children’s apparel consultant who has spent more than eight years covering the industry, most recently as editor in chief of Earnshaw’s magazine. Caletha has a unique perspective on the concepts, designs and companies that resonate with retailers and consumers. Her services include marketing, branding and social media. In an effort to usher in the next generation of design talent, she also teaches and produces special events at Parsons The New School for Design.

Visit www.calethacrawford.com or email