Let Your Users Market For You

It’s like a miniature WASP-style oasis: on a street in Washington D.C.’s tony Georgetown neighborhood is a small brick store filled with clothes in pastel hues, nautical stripes, and boat shoes. Tuckernuck is a clothing brand for women (and men), who wish to select pieces that fit around a lifestyle that fits the ever-changing demands of work, family, and friends. The company was founded in 2012 as an eCommerce brand, and they decided early on to be a small company that sought out new users through user generated content, or UGC.

On the phone with me, Kayla Robinson, Marketing Associate at Tuckernuck, told me that starting out in an eCommerce space and pivoting to brick-and-mortar is easier than starting out with the sometimes exorbitant overhead costs a physical store requires. To keep this community-style feel going, user generated content and influencers are certainly ideal, but keeping tabs on all these moving parts can be a challenge. Not everyone understands the nuances of using customers to grab more customers, because it’s usually an all-seeing marketer controlling the strings of the potential customer’s journey.

Curalate, a vendor that specializes in optimizing was able to get on board with Tuckernuck’s vision for being an inspirational brand relatively quickly. Curalate’s CEO Apu Gupta pointed out that shoppers are not just looking to make a value judgment on particular items, or even a tailored experience. He’s noticed that over the years, people are looking to be inspired. “Fundamentally what we want to do at Curalate, the heart of everything we do [here], is about bringing inspiration to eCommerce…and we think that visual content is the best way to do that.”

Naturally, this is an opening for influencers to lead the way. It’s like word-of-mouth, but in pictures: if a person from an account that you love shares what they use, you’re likelier to purchase that product because it feels like a recommendation from a close friend.

Online shopping is certainly very convenient, but without direction you can easily fall into an internet rabbit hole of watching hours of hamster videos, having long forgotten what you wanted to purchase in the first place. (I’m an ideal target for this, but fortunately for me most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are domesticated animals that don’t sell anything.)

Curalate seems to have unlocked something important. With more and more people spending time on screens, the key is how something looks online. Visual advertisement is important, and videos can motivate. But to get a customer over a hump, a customer may need to see someone they relate to online at the end of a buying journey before they check out. Call it mirror neurons, call it monkey see, monkey do. But it works. And if you can harness that potential in a platform, with all your influencers in one place, it can be very effective.

“Curalate allowed us to…pull together all of our user generated content into one platform,” said Robinson. She explained that the company’s hashtag, #tuckernucking was essential for both influencers and users to spread brand awareness and be ambassadors for spreading the concept of #findthefun, another hashtag. Corralling that content, however was a bit more challenging. “We knew that there was content out there, but we weren’t necessarily sure how to push that out, how to see it all in one place. And that’s where Curalate opened the door for us.”

It’s not enough to have a presence, either online or in store. Sometimes even a social presence can feel inauthentic and strike the wrong note. Once you’ve identified your mission and who you are marketing to, the trick is to find the best way to reach them without seeming insincere and with messaging that’s not contrived. Influencer marketing serves a dual purpose: it’s an (allegedly) happy customer (who has already bought the product) and stimulates the customer’s imagination.

This can be a classic problem for many people wishing to buy clothes. Yes, that shirt may look good on a model, who is in shape and has the benefit of golden-hour lighting, but what about me. Not that Instagram influencers  aren’t very pretty to look at, but they can be closer to real life than a glossy model on a page.

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