After COVID 19 practically killed the air-transport industry, Dan Demsky's Unbound Merino clothing line, providing high quality fashion for style conscious travelers, nearly died as well. Dan spoke to Lucas and Pitstop about how clear thinking and quick action saved his company.
When international and domestic travel ground to a halt a year ago, Toronto entrepreneur Dan Demsky's Unbound Merino found themselves facing a unique situation; the lifestyle they sold had ceased to exist; there's no need for high quality wool clothes for travel when there no one is traveling, be it for business or pleasure. His brand was, in normal times, on point, his product high quality, and his supply line strong, but Demsky faced disaster if Unbound Merino couldn't effectively pivot away from its core message, and reinvent themselves for a COVID 19 world. While sales tanked for March and April, by May 2020 Unbound Merino was back on track, thanks to a fearless top-to-bottom reorganization of their brand that any struggling company can reproduce.
- Know what your business is, not your sales pitch. "comfortable travel" may be out, but Unbound Merino's products are still high quality, and supply has not been disrupted, so the only thing that needed change was the message the customer received
- Trust and rely on the customers who got you where you are. They haven't gone away, the consumer information you gathered from them is still valid, so tailor your efforts towards making their relationship with your brand even stronger, and they will continue to support you, financially with sales and dynamically with feedback
- Recognize that you're not the only company facing difficulties, and capitalize on the disruption to others. Suppliers may now find themselves with inventory that otherwise would be sold to a competitor, but you may be able to pick up at a discount. See where you can expand your business, purely based on unanticipated availability and sudden absences in the market
- Embrace the excitement of scarcity. While a reliable stock is your backbone, unexpected inventory can allow you to surprise your customers with limited special offers and exclusive products. With everyone stuck at home, craving some excitement, even an unexpected, "while quantities last" t-shirt can become an event that gets your consumer base talking, and buying
- Don't abuse your customer's trust with panic-messaging. If you have a normal pace for seasonal sales, don't disrupt that, you customers look forward to them and rely on them for solid deals. Sending them a barrage of messages about sudden, unannounced sales only weakens that relationship, annoys your customer, and makes your company seem unsure and unstable. Keep a steady hand on the promotional wheel.
Trust in your product, have faith in your customers, and your brand can weather than storm and survive any global disaster
Limited Time Offers And The Last-Chance Buyer
While luxury wool-wear is his business, Dan Demsky of Unbound Merino understands that modern consumers often seek a level of involvement beyond simply clothing themselves. They want to be part of dynamic brands and exciting communities, and nothing drives that sensation of inclusion and exclusion like the fear of missing out (FOMO).
If a company finds themselves in the possession of a limited-quantity product, or at the end-of-life of a popular item, then they have an incredible opportunity to crank their customer relationship up to 11, ever so briefly, in a fit of popular-scarcity that could sustain them through word of mouth into the next season. Here's how:
- Be open, clear and honest with your customers about new, unexpected stock as well as retiring stock. A new item is exciting, but many customers become comfortable and reliant on mainstays, and if given fair warning that an item may soon disappear, will rush to grab as many as they can
- If the item is a limited time offer, make it very clear to the consumer how many are left, and how much time is left on the clock for them to make a decision. Often the very idea that someone else may have something special or unique is enough to drive others to desire it
- Let your customers in on the trade secrets and internal knowledge of your product line for any limited time offers, such as where the mystery item came from or why you're phasing a product out. Allowing your customers to share a sense of identity and pride in your flash sale will lead to them promoting you, free of charge
- Trust that customers who took advantage of one special buy-now-before-its-too-late event will eagerly hang around and wait for the next, confident that they have some secret knowledge of how to score the really good deals from their favourite brand
Investing And Trusting In Your SEO Strategy
Building an effective SEO strategy to promote your brand and online retail space can often be a frustrating uphill task. According to Unbound Merino co-founder Dan Demsky, it‘s a game of patient investment, faith in your long term strategy and trusting the right people to get the job done. Rather than rushing for some quick come-and-go clicks, follow these simple but effective steps to get your company, product and brand out to be seen.
- Don’t try to handle it yourself. SEO optimization is incredibly complex and requires a commitment of time that you simply don’t have while managing your brand and team. Hire experts who are up to date with the latest strategies.
- Shop around until you find an SEO expert who understands your brand, gets your company mission and shares your vision for its future. The better the relationship between you and your hire, the better the optimization outcome.
- Spend the money and take the time. A proper SEO campaign isn’t a battle, it’s a war, and can take years to fully come to fruition. Make the investment, and be patient while it grows.
- Trust your experts. It may seem at first that you’re getting very little bang for your buck, but don’t let frustration lead to an early cancellation of the optimization campaign. Believe in the process, trust in the expertise and you will see results.
If done properly, a successful longterm SEO campaign will not only improve your sales and visibility, but will compound the reach of every following campaign, whether related or not, ever expanding the scope of brand awareness.
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