Building your Brand:
How to Increase Your Online Exposure
The world of online marketing is a fast-moving, often complicated, ever-changing one that requires a great deal of adaptability. If you are running your own online shop and have relied on traditional marketing methods such as trade shows, you may be thinking about (or have been advised to) expand your business by increasing your online exposure. The retail industry has changed drastically over the past few years and as such, many retailers can no longer sustain (let alone expand) their businesses due to the costs of rent and insurance, labour, processing fees, marketing, and numerous other factors.
These changes in the retail landscape have caused many retailers to explore online options. The difficulty is, however, that once one enters the online world, it does not guarantee that things will take off for your business overnight. In fact, you may have found it difficult to drive sales solely with your own website and social media activities alone, causing you to seek collaborations and affiliations with others more established in this medium. For this reason, many brands have been working with bloggers and digital publications such as This Is Glamorous for years, whether for promotional services through Sponsored Editorials or through social media promotion, such as Sponsored Instagram Posts.
By collaborating with others more established in online marketing, you are diversifying your online presence, a practice that is not only intelligent, but necessary in the changing retail industry. Some of you may have tried to diversify your presence by running parallel shops on other shopping platforms such as Etsy, only to find these avenues have become so large and unruly that your products have become lost in the sheer number of items on these platforms.
It comes as no surprise then, that many savvy retailers have opted to align themselves with other websites, digital publications, or online shops. Having your products stocked virtually in another online shop (such as ours) is great way to promote your brand. Always remember When searching for another online shop to collaborate with, to think about the size of the site, and how many other vendors are included; if it’s too large, your work may get lost in the mix. Most importantly, you should choose a brand that is closely aligned with your interests and values, one that has discerning taste, and will elevate your status as a designer. If you’re one of only a few other designers and the site has good traffic and/or is read by the right people (such as editors and influencers) like TIG, then there’s a good chance you will be doing your business a great deal of good merely by association.
When and if you do decide it’s time to work with another site or online shop, if you’re thinking the collaboration will result in many or immediate sales, you’re thinking about it wrong. Like buying a glossy advertising page at the front of an issue of Vogue, the point of this joint venture is to bring you brand awareness and increase your online exposure. As Benjamin Guttery of Third Coast Gems said of attending trade shows, “Your first 3 years (if it’s an annual show) of exhibiting should be written off as a marketing expense.” Why? Because, he goes on to explain, “… Jewelry buying takes time. Think about it this way.. [sic] do you typically make large investments without performing your due diligence or thinking through your options? Probably not, and the same rule applies to buyers. Not only do they want to make sure that you will be around for the ‘Long Haul’, they also want to confirm that your work is consistent and aligns with your perceived branding.” [from @metalandsmith] These same principles apply to online marketing.
Online sales of fine jewellery are difficult at best, so when you join another website, you should do so not with the idea that it will lead to direct sales on that site, but that the venture will increase your online exposure and overall brand awareness. While it is highly unlikely for first time shopper to purchase an expensive engagement ring online, it is highly likely that this same shopper will have heard about you and discovered your work for the very first time, and at some point, perhaps contact you directly to discuss a large purchase or even custom work. It can take years to build a lasting relationship with new clients, and building your brand by increasing your online exposure is the first step.
Top image via Kara Thoms