Making your point

serenaWhen times are tough, a strong message is your strongest ally. Shoe Fair Online talks downturn marketing strategies with Serena Beirne, director of Sydney based consultancy Australian Fashion Partners.

Serena Beirne

Armed with Masters degrees in Business Administration and Management, along with expertise in brand marketing, product development and PR, Serena works with a range of clients in the fashion and footwear retail sector to help them grow their business.

What are the top marketing priorities for shoe retailers at the moment?

Become a “Category of One” – in other words work on developing a tight value proposition that distinguishes you from the rest of the footwear herd. Find a compelling reason why people with feet would buy your product over your competition. If you can’t think of any then you may need to fine-tune your product to offer one. It can be service based, product based, or price based, but the first two are by far the best.

What’s the key mistake marketers tend to make during tough times?
Dropping marketing spend. You need to find ways to let those same people with feet we mentioned above know about your product and what makes it a great footwear choice. And don’t just advertise or promote your product in media or locations where you spend time. Work with an experienced market strategist who can save you money by targeting your advertising and promotional spend.

How important is an online presence?
Increasingly important; Australia’s footwear success stories including PeepToe Shoes and Harolds Boots have slick, clever e-stores that make online shoe shopping a breeze. Make your online presence easy to use including sizing info, access to ordering help and a no fuss returns policy.

peep-toe-shoesWhat other low cost strategies are effective in attracting customers?
Find ambassadors for your brand – target end users that suit your product’s image and court them to wear your stuff. Include images and stories about where they wore them on your site and in marketing collateral.

What branding strategies work best during tough times?
Develop a great brand identity that fits your value proposition. Even if you are comfortable with your brand name, make sure the way it is presented reflects what you want people to know about your shoes and helps them connect with your product. This is a fairly scientific process but a good brand strategist can help you achieve it in a meaningful and cost effective way. Don’t skimp on your brand identity and get your creative aunt to put it together. This is your label’s front door – the investment is worth it! Also focus on quality more than ever. Consumers may be buying less but they are after products that last. Keep your eye on the ball with respect to well made product and if you are proud of your label’s quality, let everyone know.


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