Dear Brands, You’re Doing It Wrong

Let’s talk about content (a buzz word I’m personally sick of but works for all intents and purposes here) and commerce.

Net-A-Porter gets it.

They do an amazing job of marrying content and commerce. Each story or feature has a relevant point that ties in to selling a product(s). There’s nothing wrong with that. They’re still offering rich, readable and relevant content.

The problem is, single retail-apparel brands don’t have the luxury of being the experts on everything because they aren’t selling hundreds of brands. They’re selling one. You are one brand, and you should focus on being you. You aren’t peddling multiple brands like Net-A-Porter, nor should you be linking to external sites or products.

You simply need to be who you are

Steer clear of attempting to give advice on things you know nothing about as a brand. Sure you found a cool flea market in Paris, but is your customer coming to you when she starts planning her trip to France? No, but she’ll come to you when she falls in love with a quirky belt and has no idea what to wear it with. She’s not going to read your editorial about bird watching in Costa Rica, but she will need ideas on what to wear to her niece’s wedding in October. You have to connect on an emotional level that’s also relevant to your brand.

Embrace the opportunity

This is an opportunity for brands to make their editorial content whatever they want it to be, and what they should be are experts on what they know. This is your platform, your chance to sell her on the lifestyle you imagine for her, to inspire her and to earn her loyalty through like-mindedness. It’s relevant and genuine at the same time. You’re not shoving product down her throat, you’re telling her why you love your product, how to wear it and above all how it will make her feel. There is nothing wrong with that.

She is looking to you for more than just fresh new ways to dress. She’s looking to fulfill a need. Confidence. Sex appeal. Standing out. She needs your permission to do things she may be unsure of – like white after Labor Day or horizontal stripes or Boho after 50. And while you’re giving her all this rich, helpful content, there’s no harm in recommending something you sell.

You can merge editorial content with commerce, they do not have to be mutually exclusive – they DO however, have to be relevant to each other and created with clarity of intent. There is so much content out there about everything. What makes your editorial credible or even interesting? Is it funny, is it shocking, is it useful, does it evoke any kind of emotion? If not, why bother?

There should be a clear purpose for every point of contact, otherwise it’s just noise. If the secondary purpose in this case is to drive sales, then what is the primary purpose? Making a connection to your brand. Creating a personality that she wants to know, be friends with, certainly emulate and possibly even bring home to meet the folks…the point is, it’s okay to market yourself in your editorial, but keep it relevant, keep it genuine and aim for the long run.

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