Why your shoe brand should be emotional
Starting a shoe company doesn’t mean you have to be cold and ultra-professional in your activities. You’re not selling sticky tape or screws; you will be selling the life-changing properties of shoes to your customers. You will need to work in a structured way and deal with many challenges, but here’s why you should put emotion into your shoe brand from the start.
We buy most of our groceries on autopilot, but anything we wear on our bodies feels like a part of us. An extension of our skin. For some, an expression of our aesthetic taste; for others an extremely practical tool. Unless you are seeking to create commodity footwear for the mass-market – which is rare in a new shoe brand founder – you have the opportunity to emotionally connect with your customers. Let’s explore 5 ways to build that connection.
Established brands have had time to build a strong reputation which gives their customers confidence in purchasing from them. In order for people to trust your new shoe brand, you need to gain access to their trusted inner circle.
Although we probably don’t refer to them this way, we all have “pet brands”. These are companies that we feel an affinity with, and feel good buying from. Many of these may be enormous corporations, but we are increasingly welcoming new independents into our inner circle.
In order for people to trust your brand, you need to build an emotional connection with them. Sounding like a warm, friendly human in your social media, email, and website communications is a good start. Meeting people where they are is the next level up from this. That means creating content your customers can relate to.
Sharing your own personal stories, experiences and emotions can be a helpful shortcut to being relatable to your potential customers. Don’t worry if you have good reasons for wanting to stay out of the spotlight e.g. you don’t want your boss to discover your shoe brand side-hustle. Other people’s stories – shared with their permission – can be just as powerful. That’s why consumer generated content (CGC in marketing speak) is used by many high profile shoe brands. Encouraging your customers to share photos and feedback when they have received your shoes will help build trust and make your brand more relatable.
Whether you are building your audience prior to launch or already have shoes to sell, make sure that the stories you share make your customers say “yes, that feels like me” or “I can definitely relate to that”. When you or your brand feels relatable, customers will feel they are buying from a friend. This makes the decision to purchase easier for them.
Most shoes available to buy feel like boring, homogenous commodities we have seen a thousand times before. When we spot something different that is just our taste, it can make us catch our breath. It may be the overall look that will make your customers’ hearts skip a beat, or they may “ooh” and “ahhh” at the details.
If your products can cause that kind of emotional reaction, your customers will feel a magnetism to them. Who wouldn’t feel a strong desire to acquire the shoe that made their heart stop?
Heart-stopping shoes can give you the confidence to strut your stuff somewhere new, but they are not the only type of footwear that can be transformational.
A good rule of thumb when deciding which shoes to put in your range is to ask “Are they life-changing?” This sounds like a big ask from a pair of shoes, but you are simply asking “Will my shoes improve my customers’ lives even just a little?”
While you are making these range planning decisions, try writing a list of the features and benefits of each style you want to include. If you’re struggling to come up with any, think again about ranging that shoe.
TIP: Keep the lists for the products you range, as a starting point for the product pages on your website.
Whether you are selling running shoes, rain boots, or something entirely different, if you can improve your customers’ lives, they will feel grateful and more connected to your brand. They may even feel a sense of reciprocity and want to write you a glowing review.
When you buy from certain physical or online stores, the experience makes you feel pampered. From the lovely customer service and communications, to the small packaging touches. You feel you are being treated to something special even if you are only buying socks.
Making your customers feel valued in this way is an emotional experience for them. They will think of your brand fondly, be tempted to purchase from you again, and may even consider treating a friend to the same experience.
Building the emotional connection you have formed using these 5 elements is one thing. Sustaining it takes work. Ensure you consistently communicate with your customers and potential customers in a warm and friendly manner. Whatever you do, don’t forget about them or they will forget about you.
To connect with other shoe brand founders and watch masterclasses on topics such as “How to build an audience before you have shoes to sell”, join The Shoe Community.