Fashion is a unique industry in that it’s influenced almost entirely by the perception of what’s “in style,” and that perception is continually evolving. What’s in one month may be out the next, and it’s the job of your fashion brand to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate upcoming trends.
At the same time, your fashion brand should be working toward influencing customer perception in order to stimulate said trends rather than simply following suit. In doing so, you create demand for your products.
Today you’re just as responsible as every big name in the business for creating a buzz around your brand and promoting your line.
So do you focus your efforts on marketing or just on PR campaigns?
The short answer is, well, neither.
In fact, that’s what we want to clear up today. So many fashion brands are under the impression that they should be focusing on one or the other. What they fail to realize is that (especially in the fashion industry) marketing and public relations work best when used in conjunction with one another.
Count yourself lucky to be a part of an industry that can seamlessly employ multiple powerful growth strategies at the same time.
As consumer expectation and education levels have changed, fashion brands have become (and continue to be) much more educated on marketing efforts using social media, blogs, search engine optimization, and fashion content marketing. The rise of mobile and ecommerce have made the digital landscape a must.
In this article I’ll explain the differences between a digital marketing agency and a public relations agency and, more importantly, how each can support your business.
Moreover, I’ll explain why you should be utilizing both types of agencies to exploit the full potential of your brand.
It’s time to make to make the most of how you reach your customers. Are you ready?
What Does a Digital Marketing Agency Do for Your Fashion Brand?
While both marketing and PR support sales, marketing is what most people think of when they want to build their business. For better or worse, marketing is a more direct way to engage your customers.
For years, traditional marketing has influenced customers buying decisions through TV, radio, magazines, and more traditional media.
Today, however, the landscape of marketing has changed dramatically. Traditional methods are becoming less and less effective due to poor public perception. In the place of “traditional” marketing comes digital marketing and digital marketing agencies.
What do Digital Marketing Agencies do?
A digital marketing agency is different from your traditional marketing agency in that they are focused on results-based marketing in the digital world. Measurable marketing and ROI is the name of the game.
The way you begin a relationship with your digital marketing agency would depend on their expert recommendations. These range from brand identity (design, slogan, etc.) to building a highly effective website. Once your brand is established, an expert digital marketing agency focuses on the most effective forms of marketing for your particular business and driving online or in-store sales.
Inbound marketing campaigns are providing excellent returns for fashion brands, especially when paired with highly targeted paid advertising on platforms like Facebook.
So what’s in it for YOU?
Effectively, digital marketing agencies optimize your brand’s ability to bring your products to market in an effective and engaging way. They work toward establishing your brand as a trusted industry influencer and continually work toward generating new leads and sales, as well as boosting your repeat customer base.
Expert digital marketing agencies track your results and continually refine your strategy in order to achieve the highest ROI possible. Digital marketing agencies with an expertise in marketing fashion brands should be able to show you results they’ve achieved for their Fashion Clients during an initial consultation or strategy session.
What Does a Public Relations Agency Do for Your Fashion Brand
A public relations agency focuses on media attention to increase brand awareness and improve public perception. While traditional outlets tend to work better for PR than marketing, today much of PR has gone digital too.
Additionally, digital marketing and public relations seem to be inching closer and closer together, which may be a good thing.
PR is all about generating interest and awareness in the public eye. This, the human element, is what PR does best.
What do Public Relation Agencies do?
A good PR agency will use their expertise to develop a strategy to generate or expand brand awareness through the media. This used to be limited to pitching traditional media for article placement, but things have changed.
While traditional tactics are still in play, press releases are being submitted to digital platforms as well. Many fashion blogs and magazines maintain readerships as high as the biggest names in print. Not to mention, these resources are able to spread brand awareness in real time on a global scale.
Your PR agency may also be in charge of creating special events designed to engage the public and the media. They should be conducting market research on your brand and continually developing new tactics to optimize your brand’s PR strategy.
In the event of a crisis, your PR agency will be responsible for countering any negative awareness generated and work to restore positive brand/product image. This may include countering negative feedback on social media, a form of social media customer service.
So what’s in it for YOU?
PR is all about public perception of your brand. In fashion, brand perception can mean the difference between stellar success and closing up shop.
A great PR agency strengthens your image and how your brand/products are perceived. The work they do can even lead to increased search engine visibility and improved organic search ranking.
Their ability to increase brand awareness provides a valuable resource that can establish a strong foundation, especially when launching new products or entire lines.
The Difference Between Marketing and Public Relations
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
While the Public Relations Society of America describes PR like this: “[Public Relations] helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. Public Relations broadly applies to organizations as a collective group, not just a business; and publics encompass the variety of different stakeholders.”
Marketing is about bringing a product to market while public relations is about the way said product is perceived by the public. The same can be said for an entire brand.
Marketing engages a brand’s customers to generate conversions. PR engages a field of potential customers to generate a positive brand image.
Why Fashion Brands Need Both Agencies
Now that you understand what each type of agency does, you may already be able to determine why fashion brands need to include both in the promotion of their business. Due to their differences, each lacks the ability to complete certain tasks and achieve the goals associated with them.
Digital agencies, for one, focus on sales. They track everything, providing hard data and conversion rates. Traditional digital marketing agencies don’t focus on getting in magazines or featured in TV segments. If that’s something you’re interested in participating in, a PR firm will be able to help you do that.
In the same way that a digital marketing agency usually won’t help obtain media segments, PR generally doesn’t focus on the obtaining the quantifiable results that digital marketing provides. They still need to be able to provide you with which metrics they use to track the brand awareness they create. It’s just more difficult to provide real-time results like those of digital marketing.
When you pair a digital marketing agency with a public relations agency, you’re able to fill in any gaps and enhance one another’s strengths. For example, where your digital marketing agency may help you create excellent content, your PR firm may be able to take that content’s exposure to the next level with their contacts and resources.
All in all, the fashion world requires you to promote your brand in a way that your customers find exciting and engaging. Employing both a digital marketing agency and a PR firm just makes sense. Together marketing and public relations are able to engage would-be customers on all parts of the spectrum in their own unique ways.
The combination of improved brand perception and awareness via PR channels and the increased customer interaction and conversions digital marketing provides may be just what you need to take your fashion brand to a new level of success.