Are things looking up for 2021? Some signs are pointing to a big yes. A new survey by GGV Capital reports that small and medium-sized business owners describe their outlook for next year as optimistic despite the significant impact of COVID-19 on businesses in 2020.
It’s a great sign that 83% of business owners believe their business will perform better in 2021 than 2020. Plus, they’re actively looking for new ways to reach customers, leverage technology to accelerate growth and adapt operations to thrive.
That’s why you should be planning on how you’re going to get customers excited about branding themselves with your business next year. Here are eight of the best ways to market your apparel shop in 2021.
Scale up your social media
Social media isn’t going anywhere, and—especially if lockdowns and quarantines continue into 2021—it’ll become even more critical in the new year. For 2021, you’re going to want to do the following:
- Increase your Instagram stories and TikTok videos. These two platforms are taking over and are even poised to surpass Twitter and Facebook as social media must-haves. Consider starting a content calendar to help you track when you post to these sites so you can optimize your social media campaigns.
- Create polls for your social media followers. Polls can give you an idea of what your ideal target demographic wants to see and hear from you on social media (including the types of stories you post) and what kind of merch or decorating techniques they want you to offer).
Form meaningful partnerships
Yes, 2021 should be your year to form partnerships with other businesses. Determine your key demographics, which will look like those customers who regularly shop with you. For example, if your shop decorates a lot of gear for school teams, such as athletic jerseys, spirit shirts, and fanwear, then you might want to partner with a local business that appeals to school-age kids, such as local restaurants or shops. You and your partners can offer promos such as “back-to-school” and “spring break” giveaways or similar contests. This way, both you and your partners can benefit. Just make sure that you can find a partnership that’s mutually beneficial for everyone.
Create a loyalty system
It’s no secret that keeping an existing, happy customer is much more cost-effective than trying to acquire new customers. With return shoppers, you have a relationship you can build on without paying for new marketing to bring them in. One easy way to keep them coming back is a loyalty rewards system.
You can offer merch discounts on specific quantities or even free sample items (let’s say cloth masks) with every $100 purchase, for instance. If you don’t want to offer discounts, you can create a loyalty system that gives customers early access to new products or sales.
Go green and talk about your earth-friendly efforts
If you sell sustainable products or use environmentally friendly work practices, promote it as a selling point to your customers. Many people put their money where their social consciences are and will support a business doing its part to protect the environment and reduce its carbon footprint. It’s a huge concern for many fashion buyers as well. If you sell eco-friendly apparel and use sustainable decorating practices, they’ll feel that their purchase actively supports the earth.
Create exclusive products and limited runs
Many companies capitalize on FOMO by creating exclusive products and limited runs of certain items. This way, you capture the excitement of your customers, and at the same time, you’re encouraging them to buy your items before they’re gone. Mondo Tees has been successful with this approach. They began with limited edition original movie posters that have now become so popular that they’re collectibles.
Play into the unboxing experience
One of the biggest trends over the past few years has been the unboxing experience. On the B2C side, customers order a specially cultivated designer “box” filled with goodies from their favorite retailer. You can create a simple box built around your brand with a T-shirt, lanyard, hat, or other items. Then, send the bundles to your customers and let them promote your shop for you. Also, if they loved the experience, you can do the same for their customers on their behalf.
Offer free, new items
Many retailers are now shifting gears to sell items they never thought they would carry a few years ago. (Seriously, did anyone think when 2020 started that logoed face masks would be a big hit as a fashion and safety item?) As a way to promote new additions, such as face masks, to your lineup, send a free decorated sample out to your regular customers with their order. This gift will promote future sales and also give you an idea if these new products can catch on with customers.
Try brand activations
Local restrictions permitting, try partnering up with local businesses and organizations to help generate buzz for you and them with brand activations. People love seeing art-in-progress, so setting up a spot at their event, shop, or venue to print special “limited edition” designs for these clients on-site, is sure to build excitement. Customers could get a T-shirt for free or for a small fee, hot off the presses, giving your shop exposure in the local community and abroad in the process. Decorators like Rowboat Creative, out of Chicago, have had a lot of success with brand activations in the past, so this could be a great way to promote your business down the road next year.
With a little ingenuity, there’s no doubt that you can turn next year into a profitable one for you and your company. With proper promotions and marketing, 2021 can be awesome.