Yesterday when the Business Of Fashion newsletter landed in my inbox, the story of British mega-brand Aquascutum's recent decline in sales and credibility caught my eye. BoF reported that the luxury brand — one that dressed military during both world wars and held a prestigious place amidst UK labels — fell into administration (that’s a polite way to say went bankrupt), and shortly after, was sold for a fraction of its previous worth.
The following question surfaced: Why, while Burberry enjoys exponential success possessing a similar aesthetic and legacy, does Aquascutum get passed off to a subsidiary of Hong Kong's YGM Trading?
The hypothesis cascaded below, one infraction after another, and as I browsed the brand's mistakes I couldn't help but think a larger lesson could be learned from each, and most definitely applied to blogging.
How To Avoid Losing Your Following/Customers/Believers
Mistake # 1: “Data ignored.” Aquascutum failed to follow up with retailers and track which of their products were selling well, and which were a total flop. As a result, they re-shipped stale product and didn't supply enough of the hot potatoes to retailers that could have sold them.
The lesson: Track your product! In this case, the product are your blog posts, newsletters, tweets, and other social media updates. Check your stats and find out which key words and themes get the most traffic, which images and ideas get the most re-pins, and so on. Test an increase here, a decrease there, and give your readers a steady flow of what they respond to.
Of course, tastes change and progression is crucial. This testing period is never-ending if you want to keep up with the flock (and keep them happy).
Mistake #2: “Chaotic pricing”. Aquascutum over-priced, under-priced, and erratically priced even signature items. Their classic trench coat debuted last season at £600 before dropping down to £300, and then shooting back up to £600, then discounted to £475… then £600… £450, then £400, then up o £650, before plummeting to £350. This is not a joke.
The lesson: If you charge for guest posts, sponsored content, e-books, appearances at events, and so on, you’ll want to keep your prices realistic and reasonable — as well as consistent! Keep a clear and concise list of your blogging services, with pricing for each. While you may adapt your prices slightly when you feel an adapted price jives with the project, don’t use the random number generator to figure out what you’re going to charge.
Mistake #3: “Where are the dresses?” Everyone knows the dress is a sales staple when it comes to bottom line in women’s retail. BoF puts it simply: dresses sell. So why didn’t Aquascutum amp up the dress count to match their competitors?
The lesson: Some post genres boast universal appeal in the fashion blogging world, season be damned. For instance, collaged outfits with click-and-buy links and awesome outfit posts that readers can save on their desktop for tomorrow’s ensemble inspiration are two great examples. A passionately written post about a current issue your audience is facing is another example. This will change from blog-to-blog, so be sure to review Mistake #1’s lesson.
Mistake #4: “The wrong trends.” Aquascutum is known, like Burberry, for their heritage brand DNA. The heritage trend is alive and well each season, and at worst, turns consistent sales. Instead of banking on this, the brand sent modern, sleek, sporty looks down the runway last season, leaving their “trump card” unplayed.
The lesson: This ties in with mistake #3, but it’s more specific. When mint green jeans were spring’s hot ticket item, writing a blog post about mint green jeans afforded me a nice spike in traffic, a few new subscribers, and some click-throughs on product links. But what if I had written about how brown corduroy jeans were totally happening instead? Find out what’s buzzing in the trend pool, what people are pinning, tweeting, and sharing. Then, seize the opportunity.
Traffic spikes do not guarantee new loyal readers and subscribers, but it does give you a chance to have new potential readers pass by to window shop your home page for 3-5 seconds. It’s your job to hook them.
Mistake #5: “Poor customer engagement.”
The lesson: You’ve heard this one before, right? Respond to your comments. Email people who subscribe to you to thank them. See what your readers are doing on their own blogs. Engage with them! Ask questions, create polls, allow your readers to decide the topic of your next video or blog post. While we consider the act of blogging somewhat isolating, it doesn’t have to be. When you reach out to your readers, you nurture potential relationships and you’ll gradually be able to create content catered to them without thinking too hard on it.
While Aquascutum might be a bit too far in the deep end to save, you can learn from their mistakes.
Do you have any tips to add?
What blogging practices do you employ to maintain your audience?
By: Michelle Christina of HeyMishka.com
[Image credit: Grazia]