Clothing and graphic designer Allie Falcon has built her brand through smart social marketing. She let us in on her secrets on being well-rounded for online success in sales and community.
Tell us about your art – what do you specialize in?
I almost hesitate to use the word specialize, as you know I’m kind of a jack of all trades and master of none! Ha! But if I had to categorize it, I would say my graphic design style falls somewhere between southwestern & eclectic Western styles. It started with graphic tees and continues to evolve as I dabble with new textile design and in new markets, like home decor.
Tell us about your marketing experience - How you set up your business for success on social media?
My success on social media is certainly a never ending journey and learning process. As soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, a new curve ball is thrown at you. My main 3 marketing tools are Instagram, Pinterest & email marketing.
Instagram is a huge platform for growing business online. What have you learned from your experience?
In the beginning, growth on Instagram is where I put all my focus. Do I recommend dumping all your eggs into one basket? Probably not, but it was a start. In my experience, the key to success on Instagram is, having good, original, and new content all the time.
Trust me, during my pregnancy I became a little burnt out and I’ve reposted the same photos 10 times thinking it would be just as brilliantly received as the first time I posted it. As long as your posting, you won’t fall off the map. Right? That was a big fat NOPE! The old followers stopped engaging, the growth stopped and so did the cash monies. Lesson learned. I’ve also learned being authentic and finding your voice helps a lot. Are you funny? Are you educational? Are you inspirational? Yes, you can be everything, but I’ve seen the most growth when I sat down and had a come to Jesus meeting about what I wanted my brand to look like, sounds like and how my customers feel when they are on my page or site. I want them to feel cool, inspired and like one of my homies.
I try to deliver the cool vibes/inspiration with my photos, clothing, and designs, then I try to deliver a humorous, inviting tone into everything I write or say. Sounds like a big ole DUH, but once I dedicated that time to figuring out who or what my brand is about, I stopped Googling what song quote to pair with my photo and related to a bigger audience that is loyal to my brand.
What has been the benefit of getting your brand visible on Pinterest?
I always wanted to dedicate more time to other social channels, but mastering one is all consuming and the thought of jumping into a second made my mind explode, but I decided to dedicate 2 hours a week to learning about how to further my sales and growth on Pinterest. During this little adventure, one of my readings pointed out that when you post on Instagram, people engage that day/week or even month, but then it kind of dies and has done its little job and disappears into the depths of your newsfeed.
Unless you keep generating the new content, your Instagram would just flop. Pinterest, however, has the potential to keep your pin alive forever. If people keep re-pinning your pin, Pinterest wants the best content to be front and center, so it could potentially generate new eyeballs and money for years! I listened to a free seminar about it and what it boils down to is these few things:
Posting one pin a night (or whenever you think your ideal customer is pinning), a few nights a week.
Being methodical about what words people would use to search to find your pin and using those keywords in your pin titles, descriptions and even your board names.
It’s not about followers, it’s about engagement. 1000 people may go buy one of my shower curtains that someone re-pinned and 10 of them may follow me on Pinterest. The end game is them clicking through to your site, engaging/purchasing.
How has a service like Society 6 changed the game for branded product?
The risk isn’t there. You don’t have to pour a bunch of money into inventory at the risk of it not selling. They handle the manufacturing and fulfillment. Your only job is to provide the art and send people to it. You also have the benefit of their established customer base that doesn’t go to Society6 for one specific artist, they just like the variety of unique options and products they offer. I was one of those people. I shopped there for years! It just never occurred to me (until a year ago) that I should try and be a part of it from the artist side of things.
Overall, I’ve been satisfied with the quality and the selection of the products & price point. That is a huge selling point for the consumer. You get to decorate your space with a unique piece of art without spending an absolute fortune and the artist gets a portion of the profit without having to deal with manufacturing and fulfillment.
Print on demand sites like Society6 are fantastic, but I still like to handle the manufacturing, inventory and fulfillment on my clothing products for profit and quality reasons that I haven’t been able to find with other print on demand services.
What advice do you have for small businesses looking into branded product for their stores? For marketing purposes?
Artist or not, DO IT! I think it’s important to have a few things that are exclusive to your brand that people can wear, share & promote. I would recommend Society6 to other artists looking for a new outlet to promote branded product, but I wouldn’t recommend it to a boutique owner as a way to sell branded product. I believe they do offer a wholesale program, but it’s not your standard wholesale discount situation, because that’s not what the site is really about. They are about promoting artists.
If you’re not an artist, I would recommend hiring one to create some fabulous designs for you and seeking out companies that print/make promotional items, so you can enjoy the perks of promotion AND a little profit. Consider that artists typically aren’t cheap (and they shouldn’t be) and whatever design they create will largely be a promotional tool for your business and less of a cash cow for that specific product.
What products would you recommend for a business getting started in branded items?
If you’re not using a print on demand service like Society6 and you are going to be paying for and managing the inventory, I recommend starting with something small or starting out with smaller minimums. Yes, this will make the price/product higher, but you can get a good idea of what sells and what doesn’t out of the gate without a ton of risk/money. For example I’ve done things as small as keychains, bandanas and tees. Now that I know I’m able to move branded product and what designs my consumer likes, I’m working towards adding things like sleepwear, purses and shoes and ordering a larger quantity of each product to lower costs and improve profit margins.
Also, I recommend utilizing your social media audiences. For example, have people vote in your Instagram stories on the design or color you are choosing for a product. It gets your consumer involved in the process AND sometimes it may save you from choosing a design or product that wouldn’t sell even though you would have bet your last dime it would.
For artists trying Society6, I would recommend adding new art as much as you can, since the risk is not there on trying out new things! Buy several pieces of your own work and use it in your home/life and photograph it so people can see it in action!