Why Alternative’s “Go-To Collection” Was Made For You.

Every distributor has their list of favorite brands to use for those simple, everyday orders on a budget, and Alternative is ready to be one of them, with their new “Go-To Collection.” So, why should you be excited about this? Because, it was created specifically for YOU, the distributor.

Lower Prices? Tell Me More.

“The Go-To Collection was developed as a response to growing customer requests for lower pricing and more colors in their favorite, best-selling styles,” says Kevin Miles, Sr. Marketing Manager at Alternative Apparel. “With the buying power of our parent company, Hanes, we were able to negotiate lower prices with our vendors, without changing anything about the garments. The best part is that Alternative is giving that savings directly back to the customer, through the Go-To Collection. Everything in the collection is still the same quality and softness.

That lower pricing is key in helping to give distributors the ability to offer premium fashion basics (which are also retail-facing at Alternative’s stores in New York and California, as well as on their consumer website) to customers on even the smallest of budgets. End-users want the best bang for their buck and Alternative is helping them get just that. “In addition to the retail element of our brand, we also pride ourselves in designing our styles from the yarn up. We have 17 proprietary fabrics and will continue to add more in the Fall of this year.”

A Brand Customers Can Believe In.

The Go-To Collection offers much more to customers than just access to better fashion basics, though. It’s giving them the chance to purchase from a brand they can believe in. “We are a sustainable brand that uses low impact dyes, [along with] recycled and organic materials. Knowing that Alternative conserves 860K gallons of water and recycles 1.8 million plastic bottles per year, can make you feel good about the clothes we make,” says Miles.

This is one of the big reasons why their brand is increasing in popularity, and even has Alternative Apparel showing up in film productions, magazines and celebrities’ wardrobes. It’s not surprising though, given that studies have shown 73 percent of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, and 45 percent of Millennial women consider a brand’s sustainability practices as a top influence of purchase. It’s important, now more than ever, for people to buy from brands they can believe in, making Alternative’s Go-To Collection even more beneficial to your business and customers on a tight budget.

Looking for a style recommendation? Caroline Pitts, Marketing Assistant at Alternative, suggests the Slinky V-Neck. It “has always been a best-seller in the retail stores and on our website, and it continues to do well, especially with the new colors we have for Spring 19.”

You can find all 12 styles in the Go-To Collection at ssactivewear.com.

4 Ways To Take Your Business to New Heights w/ Hybrid Marketing

Brandon Levy first opened his storefront after moving his decorated-apparel business out of his garage. At that time, he offered his local community a one-week-only coupon for one free monogram on any item they brought to his shop. The Denver, NC-based business ended up having a great turnout, in part because Levy used Facebook’s paid ads to promote his offer. “People loved the idea of something free—who doesn’t, right—and the majority of people who came in for their monograms also purchased another product or service,” says Levy, president and owner of Digitize4u.

Levy’s strategy was a great example of what’s often called hybrid marketing. This marriage of online and offline marketing allows marketers and business owners to combine two effective concepts, into one streamlined campaign. Plus, with the power behind hybrid marketing, you’re more likely to see better ROI on your advertising dollars, via better conversion or expanded market reach. “It’s a bricks-and-clicks approach,” says Luke Webster, a digital marketing analyst with San Diego, CA-based Miva. “Your company most likely already has some type of physical location, along with a digital presence.”

Focus Is Key

In the current multichannel browsing-and-buying climate, you can’t just focus on one or two marketing channels to get your message out to prospects and customers. Instead, it’s vital that your company crafts a marketing strategy using varied platforms and mediums to connect with the appropriate audience. 

According to HubSpot’s Stat of Inbound survey, 63% of businesses cite generating traffic and leads as their top marketing challenge. Hybrid marketing can take your prospecting efforts to new heights. We’ve have some strategies on how to combine traditional and digital marketing methods to capture your prospects attention in  an ultra-effective and creative way.

Be Where the Buyers Are

Another way to think about it is, you’ll be supplementing traditional marketing(mailers, trade shows, live events, branded packaging, promo items, print ads, radio ads or signs)with digital marketing (social media, email marketing, text advertising, blogging, podcasts, SEO and inbound marketing)to help tell your brand story. To really be successful though, it’s essential to match your hybrid marketing efforts, with the ways people browse and buy. 

For example, a company can have a storefront or participate in pop-up shops as their offline or in-person marketing strategy. “Online, a business can create an ecommerce store with the option for omnichannel marketing, including social media platforms for shopping, and online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay,” Webster says.

“Much like there are different styles of learning, where one person may be more visual and another more auditory, and yet a third wants a hands-on experience, the same can be said for the kinds of marketing that will grab a prospect’s attention,” says Erich Campbell, program manager of Albuquerque, NM-based BriTon Leap’s Commercial Division. “For one it’s an ad read in their favorite podcast, for another, it’s a quick-hit video in their social feed, for another, it’s a lifestyle product photo. And yet for another, it’s a hand-delivered sample in a printed package. It’s worth experimenting and thinking about, both, where and how your customers focus their attention.”

Levy notes that most customers, regardless of their generation, can be reached via digital marketing. “There’s a very simple method we use to engage in hybrid marketing,” he says. “Offer your clients an in-store-only discount for engaging with a social media post. That could be simply, ‘Like and share our page for 10% OFF in our store.’”

Getting Started

As you begin with hybrid marketing, start thinking about your goals and audience: What’s your core message? (example: “We provide the most innovative screen printed apparel out there”) Who’s your target audience? Where do they spend time, online and in real life? What action do you want them to take as a result of your campaign? (example: Place your first order for 100 screen-printed T-shirts and you’ll get “X.”) 

“A small business owner can start by thinking strategically about their goals,” says Blanka Supe, co-founder of San Francisco-based Prazely. “For example, perhaps a business needs to keep its brand “top-of-mind” to encourage repeat customers. One way to do that is by tying physical incentives, such as personalized gifts, to digital communications, in order to keep customers from being swayed by the competition.”

Once you’ve worked out your initial answers, map out the journey and touchpoints your prospects will take from, first, learning about your products to, then, placing an order. For example, if you email a special offer to a client with a redeemable online code, display that same offer for walk-ins at your physical location, so it makes it easier for everyone to benefit from the campaign. 

A Case Study

Howard Potter, CEO and partner at Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, never produced sales flyers or digital specials until a year ago. “Make sure you price your products based on what your costs are,” Potter says. “Then, promote an offer on social media, email it to your clients and show it to walk-ins with flyers when they come into your store. Our sales last year alone increased by 15%—and a huge part was due to promoting specials and having them where people could view them.”

Your strategy should be about creating and building brand awareness that hits a certain number of touchpoints—say between five and 10—with a prospect. For example, Potter promotes his shop’s work across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, in addition to using online ads, which are targeted to specific audiences. He even invests in local radio, TV and print ads, depending on where his prospects spend their time. “We make short videos to introduce our company and show what we do,” Potter says. “We also give our customers flyers and promo products with our logo, along with each order. We get them using our products, so they really see the value in them.”

Be Consistent

Potter suggests that whatever hybrid strategy you use, be sure to do so consistently and effectively. When you’re thinking about the types of information you want to put out there, besides brand messaging, always think in terms of offering value: whether it’s educational information, a discount or special offer, or even something entertaining that relates to your products and services.

For example, say you’ll be selling t-shirts to players’ families and fans at a local soccer tournament. Beforehand, you’d probably set up paid social media ads to promote your “pop-up shop.” During the tournament, you’d share photos and live videos so prospects could be part of the action. You might even hold a limited-time contest where people, who bought the shirts, post photos of themselves wearing the tees on social media, and also tagging your business for a chance to win a free logoed item.

Embrace These Best Practices

Keep these best practices in mind as you develop and test your hybrid marketing campaigns:

1. Keep branding consistent. No matter where someone encounters your brand or promotional offers, they should feel like they’re all coming from the same company. Whether you use similar branding elements, colors, fonts or messaging, keep it the same so people always recognize you.

Connie Chi, founder and CEO of New York City-based The Chi Group, says that creating an often repeated and easily remembered message is key, both online and offline. “When your message is easily relatable, that’s number one,” she says. “When it’s easily shareable too, that allows customers to easily tell their family, friends and colleagues about your product or service.”

2. Make experiences consistent. Whether your client’s chatting with you face-to-face in your physical showroom, checking out the racks at your trade show booth or browsing your ecommerce store, the experiences should feel cohesive and connected. For example, the messaging you’re sharing with customers at a trade show should be the same as what they read on your website.

Pop-up shops or limited-time events, like brand activations or fairs, are great for apparel decorators, because they allow people to see your craftsmanship in person. “Pop-ups also use the consumer behavior tactic of scarcity because they’re typically for a limited time only,” Webster says.

Matt Peterson, director of marketing at InkSoft, suggests advertising to schools, companies or other organizations “where they are,” with emailed or mailed flyers, signage or even at trade shows. “Your focus, though, should be to drive them online to engage in some meaningful way,” he says. “Supplement your offline marketing efforts with targeted online landing pages that encourage engagement and collect user data. Once online, prospects can be segmented and given value according to their needs.”

Campbell has seen decorators make great strides with contests or flat giveaways that take a social message and turn it into “in-hands” samples for their customers. “It can be costly, but it buys a great deal of goodwill and makes your social marketing seem ‘real,’ all while promoting those users to further share their experiences with the world,” he says.

3. But, adjust content as needed. Your message should always be consistent and adjusted to the medium your using to spread it. For example, you shouldn’t try to cram a five-paragraph email into an Instagram post. Instagram is a place for people to be engaged visually, so in that case, you should summarize your message to be short and sweet, while accompanying it with some lively imagery.   

4. Keep your contacts up to date. At each touchpoint, collect contact information from your prospects and add them to your CRM system so you can stay in touch via email or direct mail. “Hybrid marketing definitely includes offline brand exposure with integrated digital lead capture, follow-up and tracking,” Peterson says.

Finally, Levy’s best advice to business owners looking to get started with hybrid marketing is to observe other companies’ strategies—and what’s working and what’s not. “Hybrid marketing is so wide open that your opportunities are limitless,” he says. “Take a look at your target audience and your business, identify your strongest competitive aspect and promote it. For example, spend $20 on social media advertising and see where it takes you.” 

The Trend: Crops are on Top

Madonna, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls—what do all these pop stars have in common? Besides making catchy tunes, they were all queens of the crop top in the ‘90s and early 2000s—a belly-baring, controversial fashion statement touting tan bodies and solid abs. Cue the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” music video.

While the trend took a brief hiatus, crop tops have grown to be a major sensation once again. You can hardly walk into any retail store or scroll through social media without seeing some variation of the midriff-baring item. Here’s a quick fashion flashback into one of the hottest trends on the market.

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4 Strategies to Gain Customer Reviews for Your Business

When deciding whether or not to buy a product from a brand online, do you take their boasting statements seriously? Or, do you sift through online reviews from fellow peers and ask friends about their experience before making a decision?

Chances are, you chose the latter option, and statistics agree.

Since consumers’ trust in brands is diminishing, they’re turning to family members, friends and peers to help them make purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study by Bright Local found 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with that number jumping to 95 percent for those ages 18-34. And, people read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding to trust a local business. So, what does all this mean? Consumers now have more power than ever to decide the fate of your business—and in today’s digitally savvy world, that means consumer reviews can make or break you.

To push past the competition, get in consumers’ good graces and grow your company, we’ve rounded up four strategies to help you gain some solid reviews!

1. Be Where Your Customers Are  

Before customers can leave reviews or form an opinion, they have to be able to find your business. However, we want them to find you without having to go to your actual website. You need to show up on sites, where people can recommend your services, like Yelp, Google and Facebook.

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The Marketing Strategy Your Brand Shouldn’t Ignore

As consumer trust of brands continues to plummet, shoppers look toward recommendations from friends, family and peers—leading more companies to invest in influencer marketing on social media.

More than just a marketing buzzword, the digital age has allowed businesses of all sizes to partner with trusted online leaders (or “influencers”) to drive a brand message to a dedicated audience—opening the door for smaller brands and budgets.

From fashionistas to hypebeasts to techies, there’s an influencer niche for pretty much every market. Yes, even “kidfluencers” exist.

Brands looking to partner with kidfluencers (influencers under the age of 13) must be extremely cautious. Sometimes known as “spawn con”, there are a lot of ethical debates concerning companies who partner with kids and their behind-the-scenes parents for social media marketing.

Currently, there aren’t any definitive laws protecting insta-famous children and their ad earnings like the Coogan Law does for child actors.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to start a kids’ streetwear line and want to work with kidfluencers, we recommend reading this article by Adweek for tips on how to ethically engage partnerships.

If you’re not ready to work with the complexities of child influencers, there are plenty of older influencers out there to help spread your brand’s message! Read on for how to build a brand partnership with influencers.

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