Jerri, Chris and I work very hard every week to bring something awesome to you guys. Now that we're finally starting to see some small successes, I wanted to take the time to document what we're learning along the way. I also wanted to share it so that if anyone else out there is running their own business, or are just genuinely interested, you can learn from our mistakes and what has worked for us. Here are 5 things I learned last week:
- We weren't prepared for how the newsletter would affect our inventory.
The newsletter might have been the best decision we've made in the entire two years we've been running this business. We thought that if we just made awesome products that everyone would just automatically want to buy them, share them on social media and just generally spread the word for us. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth.
To gather a strong list of emails, we gave everyone that signed up a couple of FREE logo stickers. (If you're reading this and not signed up for our newsletter you can do that here) Once the first newsletter went out, instantly we started to see traffic to our website which eventually led to sales. The first Friday we sent out an email was actually the record for the most sales in one day we've ever had!
So, now we're getting sales. We're getting sales fast. So fast, that we're running out of stock. While this is a good problem to have, we definitely weren't prepared for how fast this was and is happening. For everyone out there waiting on a particular shirt or size, we're sorry. We're learning as we go and we're doing our best to keep up with the demand. That being said, we are definitely re-stocking some of the items that are sold out as well as bringing in some new ones that you guys should be seeing in the next week to week and a half. Long story short, we're think we've figured out a formula to stay ahead of the curve.
2. Running a contest on Social Media is hard but definitely worth it
We have had the idea to run a contest on Instagram for months now, we just didn't know how to implement it. I did a ton of research online about how other companies were running their Instagram contests and there's definitely a lot of good information out there. However, none of the ideas really seemed to fit what we wanted to try to do. Intially we wanted everyone to submit their own unique photo with the hashtag #stayclosetohome. We even posted that the contest would work that way at one point. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that it wouldn't spread the word about our brand. We needed to simplify things.
I ended up rolling out the contest with a custom flyer image that people would need to repost to their own Instagram account but still use the hashtag #stayclosetohome. This way they are actively letting all of their followers know that we exist and we are spreading the brand. The first day was slow and only a couple of people re-posted the image. Since then, the contest has gotten stronger every day and we hope that trend continues. We have seen a definite increase in engagement and followers since we started the contest. We're happy with the way things are trending.
3. MailChimp has a preview and test feature
If you're already signed up for the newsletter you probably noticed that I screwed up last week. I sent out an email that was embarassing. There were design elements that I didn't pay attention to and it was generally not a good email. Im sorry that you guys got two emails, I hate when I get multiple emails from the same company. I actually tweeted Loft about their email blast when I got 4 in one day. (I ended up on their email list when I bought my wife some Christmas gifts, I know you were starting to wonder.)
I was rough on myself after messing up the email last week. I quickly noticed that there is a preview and test feature inside MailChimp, our newsletter client. Needless to say, Ill be sending myself a test email before you guys get an email from us.
4. People will never stop asking us for free stuff
We give our fair share of free swag away. Everyone running a business should probably give some stuff away to help spread the word about what they're doing. If you're on our newsletter we already sent you some free stickers. While stickers might not seem expensive, we do pay out of pocket for those. The sticker company doesn't give them to us for free because we want to use them as promotional tools. They cost real money, our money. We get it, its part of the business. Everyone loves a freebie! That being said, if you want a free shirt, enter the contest.
5. Facebook Ads are powerful
Maybe you've seen our ad for the Home shirt on Facebook. This isn't the first time that we've ran a Facebook ad to give our products exposure. We had a pretty successful run with Facebook ads when we first launched the #LUUUUKKE shirt via teespring about a year ago. The thing about FB ads are that there are a ton of different ways to adverstise. We tested a couple of different options but it turns out that the way we were doing it from the beginning was most effective. We're going to look into some ads with retargeting in the future and we will definitely let you know how that goes.
For now, the Home ad on Facebook has been crushing it for us. Its definitely be worth the investment to spread the word about us around Charlotte. Word of mouth is still the best advertising we can get so if you guys don't mind telling everyone in the world about us, we'd appreciate it!