Ideahaus helped the CEO of a pop culture apparel company establish a social media following and increase traffic to his online store.
In 1995, with a loan from his grandfather, James founded Stylin Online, a pop culture apparel company, and turned his childhood love of comics into having his own business. He turned his favorite high school doodle into a logo, launched his website, and business boomed. Online sales grew, and James began to sell licensed products directly to comic fans at local events and conventions across the country. Customers flocked, profits increased, and James was happy.
Then the market changed, and sales faltered. Big retailers started carrying parody merchandise, and more vendors attended events. The economy dropped and took discretionary spending with it, a bad sign for a CEO that depended on the sale of superhero t-shirts and horror movie hoodies for his livelihood. Discount promotions kept Stylin Online alive, but the discounts cut into his profit margin. The red crept closer and closer, and James feared that the dream life he had built with his grandfather’s help would slip away.
At conferences and online, James kept hearing that social media could change his business. He could connect with his fans, create brand loyalists and revive company sales, but he has no idea where to start. He was an expert in apparel and in pop comic culture, not in social media. Admittedly, he needed help. A friend recommended Ideahaus, so James, at the wheel of a 40 foot long RV and leading a three truck caravan, called me and spent the next three hours discussing his business, his goals, and his challenges.
’We’ve built a good company with e-commerce, email and events, but we don’t know anything about social media. I don’t have time to learn another skill set, and I don’t have people in-house that can handle this. I want someone to stay on top of everything I need to know, help me make an informed decision, then take care of it.” – James Cucchiara, CEO, Stylin Enterprises, Inc.
James liked what he heard. With a simple, “Sounds like a plan,” he authorized our working relationship and told me to get started right away.
Ideahaus built a Facebook presence for Stylin Online: a fan page for the company, a personal profile for James, and a unique Facebook event for each convention appearance. With a simple email marketing to his customer list we quickly grew to 1,000, then 2,000 and then up to 5,000!
Then we hit a wall. For every 100 Stylin gained, they lost another 100. 5,000 fluctuating fans wasn’t going to change his sales. In a candid conversation with me, James said, “If you guys can’t move the needle any farther then I can’t justify the investment.” Ideahaus was going to lose this account, and James would be no better off than when he had first called.
I went back to my team and asked the hard question: “What are we doing wrong?” With a customer list of 125,000 emails and 500 million people on Facebook (at the time) we had to do better than 5,000 fans. We’re the experts, how could we fix this?
The it hit me! We had made a classic marketing mistake: we set the wrong goal! James didn’t need “likes” on his Facebook page. He needed to find Facebook users that were interested in buying his products.
We stopped the emails and invested $100 to test a Facebook ad campaign that targeted two of the largest niche customers: Marvel and DC Comics. The ads were basic, using the title from the fan page name as its headline (Stylin Online). The opportunity for creativity was limited to the 100-or-so characters of text including a simple offer: “Like our page to connect with other fans, just like you.” The 200,000 SKU product inventory provided an endless library of licensed imagery. Although the thumbnails were small, the images of superhero emblems and character sketches greatly resonated with fans that clicks started coming faster than we could track them. New fans came with every browser refresh, peaking one day at 10,000 new fans!
More clicks increased our investment, and our investments kept showing a return. 10,000 fans. 50,000 fans. 100,000 fans! Ideahaus continued to monitor the ads performance throughout the campaign until finally the budget was exhausted. After investing just over $6,000, Stylin Online had more than 200,000 Facebook fans from all over the world!
Today, Stylin Online’s Facebook page has grown to 215,000 fans and remains their third largest source of traffic after Google and his direct URL. With ongoing fan support, James’ business is successful, and his grandfather’s investment continues to blossom.
Category: Client Stories