When eyeglasses company Warby Parker launched in 2010, its founders had no real traditional marketing plan, but had invested their life savings in three main areas: their product, their website and a public relations program.
According to co-founder and CEO Neil Blumenthal, they knew that you only have one shot to launch a fashion brand, and set their sights on Vogue and GQ magazines where they wanted the company’s name to debut. The PR team placed Warby Parker in the February issues that year, and the result was better than anyone could have expected. Since then, their press-triggered sales spikes have turned into sustained growth, with more than 50 percent of Warby Parker’s sales driven by word-of-mouth and peer recommendations.
“Everybody’s looking for that tidbit to talk about at the dinner table,” he explains. “For us it was our $95 price point, innovative home try-on model, and our buy a pair, give a pair program.”
For every pair sold, Warby Parker donates a new pair to VisionSpring (visionspring.org), a nonprofit that trains low-income women in developing countries to sell affordable glasses in their communities.
Today, consumers want their brands to matter more; they’ll support the brands that align to their values and are meaningful to them. This give-back mentality really resonates with people, particularly women.
In an interview included in 99U’s new book, Make Your Mark, Blumenthal also revealed three branding tips that have helped make Warby Parker an authentic lifestyle brand that treats customers the way they want to be treated. As you’ve read in previous blog posts, these tips are especially important when marketing to women, and well worth remembering:
1. Don’t Fake It
“People have extremely sensitive BS detectors these days,” Blumenthal says. “They sense a brand’s authenticity — or fakeness — immediately.” To gain the consumer’s trust, Warby Parker has made transparency and honesty key components of its customer relations, especially when it comes to owning up to a mistake before it becomes a bigger issue.
2. Don’t Forget the Little Things
Being honest and accepting responsibility is just the beginning in starting an authentic relationship with customers. Brands should also be proactive about making customers feel their needs are being met. “For us, that might be offering a discount, it might be offering free glasses, it might be doing whatever it takes to get that person a pair of glasses before they go on vacation,” Blumenthal says. “It’s the little things that make a brand great.”
3. Don’t Be a Control Freak
According to Blumenthal, a brand is no longer a strict messaging hierarchy. With the social Web, a brand’s messaging is constantly changing and consumers are helping shape it every day. “Your brand is part of conversations that are being held in the streets, on Twitter, and on Instagram,” he says. “And the best that you can do is help influence that dialogue by giving people reasons to talk positively about it. These days, community managers are your brand managers.”
Does your brand have a well thought-out strategy for reaching your target consumer that addresses what is most important to them?