Urban Southern: A Consulting Success Story
“We had excellent momentum in our sales during the first two months of the year (2017) after gaining awareness from our holiday sales and taking part in New York Fashion Week. We were flourishing. In the month of March, we were hearing crickets. I had been pushing hard on sales and broadening our reach, but I was sensing that wasn’t the answer. Instead of searching for a way to get more sales, I began to search for a way to nurture our existing audience.” – Meg Delagrange
Urban Southern is a leather handbag company run by Founder, Regina Bauman, and Marketing Director, Meg Delagrange. These fabulous cousins grew up Amish and their unique experiences set them and their brand apart. These bags are gorgeous, full grain leather carefully and lovingly designed, produced, and marketed.
While I can’t rave enough about the bags, Urban Southern is really about community, something that other lifestyle brands can’t touch.
Creating a marketing strategy for an up and coming brand that’s already doing some amazing stuff was a serious challenge. Urban Southern’s content is on point, their social media is on point, and they already have some really effective influencer campaigns.
So what on earth could I help them with?
Meg said it best…. They were looking to push sales, but quickly realized that wasn’t the answer. We needed to nurture the US audience, and the sales would come organically. With this flip in mindset, a few things emerged.
Humans love being rewarded, right? Dropbox grew at an unprecedented rate by offering people more storage space for free when their friends signed up through their links. It’s a great concept!
So we used UpViral to set up a campaign for Urban Southern where a person could sign up, get their own personal link, and once 5 people signed up through their link they would get a $15 off coupon.
Sounds great, right? Well, it totally flopped.
The idea is that it would have a domino effect, but it didn’t. Only about 60 people signed up and then the progress completely flat lined. Less than five people actually earned the coupon.
Not that we weren’t happy to have another 60 people on the email list and a few people who wanted to make a purchase because they had a coupon, but the results from this strategy were less than stellar.
It might be one to loop back around to next year once the roster of Urban Southern brand advocates increases.
“After a few minutes of discussing ideas about how to bring more value to our audience, she asked what we were doing to nurture our email list. Besides setting up a welcome series for our welcome list and sending out occasional newsletters and sales updates, we had nothing. I felt frustrated. I knew I could be doing more with our email lists. As we were talking, the idea of doing a weekly encouragement email came up. I decided to send a plain text #WinWednesday email out to our list the following Wednesday morning.” – Meg Delagrange
Why plain text? Well, most people get bombarded with emails every day. Images don’t always show up, especially for those who check their messages on their phones. Also, no matter how pretty images are, they can make a simple email appear and feel like a sales message. (Even if it’s not.)
Stripping out the images is the first and important step to truly nurturing your prospects with your email list. The next big step is to stop selling to them and start talking to them.
“We’ve only missed one week since then. Almost every week, replies pour in. Women tell us how much they’ve begun to look forward to Wednesday morning emails. Several women have started their own weekly #WinWednesday posts or live videos to celebrate Wednesday morning wins with their friends!” -Meg Delagrange
Not only was #WinWednesday an amazing community builder for Urban Southern, but that new sense of trust and brand loyalty also helped to drive sales. Two months after starting this email campaign, the brand saw a 75% increase in revenue.
This list now has a subscribe rate of 400% and an open rate of 22.6%.
Not enough brands are harnessing the power of live video streaming. Facebook’s platform is powerful, so we decided to utilize it for Urban Southern by setting up a weekly “show”.
The show would be the same time and day every week, so the US audience knows when to show up. Consistency is key here. There’s some serious value in entertainment, but what would they do on camera? What would they talk about?
Well, at its heart, Urban Southern is a brand that builds a strong sense of community allowing its community members to empower one another. It’s for every woman. They don’t just sell bags, they sell a lifestyle. So what would they do on camera? They’d be themselves.
We named the show “Out of the Bag”, and every week Regina and Meg would take fun things out of different bags that they sell. Whatever was in there would lead to an activity or larger conversation. They made snacks. They shared travel tips. They painted. They even made a bag.
And their audience LOVED it.
The first episode on June 6 drew in around 10 live viewers. Fast forward to the last week of August and their live shows are playing in front of more than 70 live viewers. The video where they made a bag live garnered a whopping 6,800 views in two weeks time.
This is some serious brand awareness for a small company, and it’s even helped them increase their social proof. Says Meg, “Since people automatically get asked to leave a recommendation after watching a live stream, we’ve seen a large increase in reviews have been pouring in.”
Can’t stop, won’t stop!
Everyone is doing digital marketing, but not many brands are doing it well. Most of the time, it’s because they spend so much time listening to the masters, they’re convinced there’s a formula to achieve success and sales online.
The key is to know who your customers are and what they need from you. In the case of Urban Southern, their audience needed to be nurtured. I helped them come up with strategies that would do this….. and not everything worked! But that’s ok. We kept working until we found the strategies that worked for the brand AND the audience.
Sales in August 2017 were up 220% from sales in March when we started working together. What small brand wouldn’t kill for numbers like that?
Let’s be clear…. I didn’t create this success. Meg and Regina did. They wrote all those #WinWednesday emails. They planned and executed those live Facebook shows. They talked to their community and created strong relationships that led to unyielding brand advocacy.
Together we uncovered the strategies that would unleash the power of their already growing community and they executed on those strategies to make for a wildly successful year.
“Pouring our time and energy into nurturing our existing audience and looking for ways to bring them value has built a community of incredibly loyal folks who are highly engaged in what we are doing. From the beginning, we knew that neither of us would feel truly satisfied if we were only selling a product and then hanging up our hats for the day. We knew that we needed a greater purpose to come together, a purpose that would be much greater than us, a purpose to make the world a better place, a purpose to empower others.
Investing in consultations with other business professionals has helped us sharpen and refine our focus to deliver some pretty incredible results. We’re just getting started.” – Meg Delgrange