Well heeled eCommerce – How to launch your online retail brand.
Ahhh who was it that said “Get out of my room, they’re mine and your feet won’t fit them?”
Trick question – It was my sister and the year was 1985. My mother’s shoe collection rivaled Imelda Marcos and, with it, a love affair with shoes was deeply ingrained from a young age in my older sister and me.
There was no internet so we relied heavily on glossy magazines, Countdown, and later, Rage film clips for inspiration. Still – At the heart of my fashion world was my sister, my mum and my fashion plate designer.
Maybe that’s why, when I first read about Shoes of Prey and their design-your-own-shoe concept a few years back I was, once again, inspired creatively and simultaneously gripped by shoe-fever.
I still own that copy of Nett Magazine from October 2010 and still refer to it as one of the best brand launch stories from the online retail scene.
And whilst this isn’t the ONLY WAY to launch a brand into the brutally competitive world of online retail – It does celebrate how you can harness technology in different ways to get your message in front of your audience. In other words – Don’t stick to the beaten path!
Unfamiliar with Shoes of Prey’s story? Here’s the abridged version
It’s 2009 and an Aussie trio (2 Mike’s and a Jodie) come up with an online shoe business allowing visitors to design their own bespoke pair of lovely shoes.
Making the shoes was one thing but knowing how to market them and gain brand awareness without a physical store was another.
They needed to find a way to reach their target market of 25-60 year old women, gain brand awareness, and get some sales on the board.
The trio knew referral word-of-mouth marketing was a popular avenue. It still is – Particularly when the referral comes from a reliable source as this tends to make people more open-minded to:
- a product,
- an idea, or
- a single friend for that matter!
With a plan to create an online viral message about their brand, one of the Mike’s searched for a popular youtube blogger they could use to get their name out. He found Juicystar07 – Back then she was a 16 year old American beauty blogger who had accrued more that 80 million views and a Hollywood agent – With stats like that she qualified as a strong referral marketer.
Mike negotiated a paid review of Shoes of Prey with the agent and they were off.
At this point you might be thinking – A 16 year old blogger from the US with an audience target of 13-16 year old girls isn’t exactly the target market. And you’d be right. Read on…
At the same time as they engaged the blogger, Shoes of Prey launched a contest to help with brand engagement. Initially the contest involved visitors designing a pair of shoes, posting the video and then going back to the video post to write a comment about it and the winner would win the glorious pair of shoes.
Whilst the results of the initial competition were great:
- 200,000 clicks on the first day;
- 500,000 by the end of the week with nearly 100,000 competition entries!;
the 2 Mikes and Jodie soon realised they needed to fine-tune the comp to leverage from the traffic. They redesigned the competition so entrants could easily share their shoe creations instantly through their social media feeds and this is where it gets really clever.
Juicystar07’s audience wasn’t their target market per se, but, because her fans were creating and sharing their designs on social media it meant their post feeds were getting in front of their older siblings and mums who WERE in their target market range – Genius! AND it worked!
It doesn’t end there. One of the Mike’s blogged about the process and it was picked up by loads of journos and tech writers and before long, everyone was talking about Shoes of Prey and their brand-launch… everyone including me!
Seven years down the track and Shoes of Prey is a successful international brand with a new HQ in Los Angeles – In fact you can read about them in this recent article from BRW
I stumbled on a linkedin post this afternoon talking about Jodie Foxs’ new mentoring gig on channel 10’s Shark tank programme.
It made me think about their awesome story which is why I’m blogging about it now. Their story is one of vision, disruption, hard work and most definitely innovation. One day I’d like to sit down with all 3 of them Jodie Fox, Michael Fox & Mike Knapp – Or at least Jodie as I think we have the same shoe size and I bet I can run faster…