Marketing a Business on a Little-to-No Budget
3 marketing strategies that have helped take Kortni Jeane from a hobby to a brand
I’m not saying my way is the best or only way, or even if I’m right or wrong in how I’ve marketed Kortni Jeane! I simply want to share the way I have chosen to grow my brand and in what ways I’ve found success. Hopefully it can help you to find success in your business, too.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA
This one is a given and something almost everyone, if not everyone, knows is extremely powerful-- especially if you do it right. I started marketing Kortni Jeane strictly through Instagram. I didn’t have the budget to do anything other than free. All the money I had earned and saved to start my company went into manufacturing my very first line of swimsuits, so I had no choice but to get creative everywhere else.
I didn’t know much about Instagram if I am being honest. When I first downloaded the app, I used it for editing my photos and had no idea everyone could see my one picture 10 times, each in a different filter (embarrassing!!). When I launched Kortni Jeane I used my personal account to share information with my followers, who were just close friends and family members at the time. It didn’t even cross my mind to start a separate account. This is one of my best, happy accidents. Because my account was mostly personal, I shared all kinds of things about my life and then, of course, swimsuits. As I started to gain momentum, my followers loved that they could not only see, but feel, like they knew the face behind the brand. This has helped me not only to create an impactful brand image, but has made followers very active and present.
I make it personal so my followers make it personal.
I am no longer just a company, but a lifestyle! Everyone is part of the party!
I quickly took Kortni Jeane to all other outlets of social media including Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and a blog. You need to make your product easy to find and as accessible as possible. The more people who see your company, the more they are reminded of your brand, the more they will think of you. For example, if you sell wallets and someone has seen you on several social media outlets (even if they do not follow you), you bet the next time they need a new wallet you’re one of the first places that comes to mind! Just put yourself out there and start sharing.
2. EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
Ask my family and they will say I love a good party! But even more so, I love to plan a good party. So naturally from the beginning of Kortni Jeane I started to think of ways I could promote my brand in a unique manner. Events are a great way to bring your followers/customers together to help create a relationship with them on a deeper level. I love being able to put faces to names, connect with customers and turn them into friends! Get out of the box and make it an experience that people not only want to be a part of, but they will remember. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or expensive!
For example, in October 2016, I wanted to do something surrounding Halloween. I am a lover of the holiday (to say the least) and it is the slowest month of the year in sales for us. I knew we could make our slowest month and my favorite holiday more magical! I decided to do an event called Kortni Jeane Trick-Or-Treat. My social media followers could wear their Kortni Jeane Swimmers to win a free Kortni Jeane Swimmer. A couples times randomly throughout each week of October, we would post on social media where we would be that day and give our customers a half an hour window where if they showed up in a full Kortni Jeane swimmer (top + bottoms) they would receive the swimsuit of the day. This created not only a lot of hype through our already existing customer-base, but we were able to spark curiosity and introduce our company to those who saw all of these people walking around in swimsuits in the middle of October. We gained new customers and created stronger relationships with existing customers.
Not all events we host are as crazy. We’ve hosted small intimate dinners, craft nights, hidden swag bags throughout different cities for people to find. This list goes on. The main goal is to create something fun and interactive so your followers and customers have a chance to be involved and feel a connection.
Influencers, bloggers, popular social media accounts. These are by far one of the most beneficial ways to promote your product and get it into fresh eyes. By sending your product out to people who have a following that trusts their opinion, you are able to authentically show people what your company is all about. The best part is that your influencer’s followers will then come follow or purchase from you. There are many ways you can go about this and each company will have their own method, but generally it’s really quite simple. Just make sure you are upfront with what you expect so you and your influencer are on the same page.
To this day I have not paid an influencer to work with Kortni Jeane. I originally started this way because I didn’t have a dime to give, so I didn’t have a choice really. But as I have grown and learned along the way I have continued to stick to this method. I am not saying you shouldn’t pay influencers-- we all need to get paid one way or another. I have heard great successes from some of my small business friends who go about working with influencers this way. It works BOTH ways. But for me and my brand, I feel that by not paying an influencer, their posts are more genuine and they actually love our swimmers--thus the followers and purchases I gain from that specific influencer are more trusting and committed. Doing unpaid collaborations, however, does limit who is willing to work with me and finding what works for both parties. I can definitely say I have found pros and cons to both. Maybe the best thing to do is to test both waters and find what works best for your company.
Working with influencers doesn’t always have to be just sending them product and in return they post on their social media account, tagging your company. GET CREATIVE. Have them host giveaways or do joint giveaways! Have them include you in a tutorial, make a short video, throw it up on their blog… Whatever it is make sure it fits into your brand and story, as well as the influencers. You want it to be cohesive and beneficial for both parties.
TIP: I have worked with influencers BIG and s m a l l. It’s not about how many followers they have but more so about their interaction. How many likes and comments are they getting? Who is following them and how do they react to “sponsored” postings? Are the comments talking about the post or are the completely unrelated? They may have high interaction with a small following and this can be more beneficial than someone with a large following.
All-in-all, I think the best thing to do is test the waters to find what works best for you. Feel free to take my advice (after all, it is FREE!). But remember that every company, brand and person is going to be different, so don’t be afraid to try different things and be creative. You may be surprised to see what is the most beneficial for you and your business!