Fashion Boutique Marketing Guide

Fashion Boutique Marketing:The Ultimate Guide

Your fashion boutique marketing strategy is one of the most critical components to success. There’s big money in fashion – clothing boutiques represent a $21 billion industry, part of a total $225 billion U.S. apparel market – which means there’s also big competition. The following details what you need to know to launch a successful fashion boutique marketing campaign that grows your business and maximizes ROI.

1. How to start a fashion clothing boutique

Planning is integral to the success of your fashion boutique startup. Begin by learning as much as you can about the retail clothing industry; then, answer critical questions such as:

  • What kind of fashion boutique will you operate? What will you sell?
  • Who is your target customer? What are your buyer personas?
  • What are your unique selling points and key benefits?
  • Will you have a physical location, online ecommerce store, or both?
  • What is your mission statement?

Knowing your goals is critical to developing a strong marketing plan, but first you need to know what type of clothing boutique you want to start. Fashion boutique niches include:

  • Women’s

  • Men’s

  • Children’s

  • Baby

  • Athletics

  • Cultural

  • Plus sizes

  • Teens

  • Seniors

  • Lifestyle

  • Lingerie

  • Hats and accessories

Put your vision on paper to help you identify exactly what you want your business to be. Then, develop a formal fashion boutique business plan. Your business plan will help you think through potential hurdles and develop realistic projections for startup costs, operating costs, market size, and profitability. It will also help you determine what business licenses and legal documents you need.

Be sure to study the competition, which can lend insight into which marketing strategies work best – and which opportunities are untapped and rife with potential.

Popular fashion boutique brands include:

Armed with a sound business plan, you can avoid business-killers and put your clothing boutique on the path to early success.

2. How much it costs to start a fashion boutique

Entrepreneur.com gives a range of $50,000 to $200,000 for fashion boutique startup costs, though it does provide an example of a successful boutique that started for $30,000.

Profitable Venture puts the range between $50,000 and $150,000 for a small boutique, at $750,000 for a mid-size boutique, and up to $2 million for a large-scale clothing store.

All of these estimates assume your clothing boutique will be housed in a brick-and-mortar location. If you’ll be selling exclusively online, your startup costs can be significantly less – especially if you dropship (so you don’t have to carry or pre-pay for inventory).

Again, develop a sound business plan to determine exactly how much it will cost to start your fashion boutique.

3. How much money fashion boutiques make

According to PayScale.com, the average retail store owner takes home around $49,000 per year; however, the site also states the average clothing boutique store owner makes around $34,500.

How much you can make depends on the success of your store; the average range is between $23,000 and $142,000. Some businesses fail and make no money, while the biggest fashion brands have flourished and make millions annually.

4. Fashion boutique marketing: Branding and design

Fashion boutiques are all about image and style, not only in the products you sell but also for the customers who wear your clothing line. Branding is an integral part of positioning your company as a popular purveyor of world-class garments that will help your customers look better and gain confidence in their own images.

Importance of a branded image

Branding is important because people purchase on emotion. When it comes to fashion boutique marketing, they're seeking an image, which is why your own image is crucial to success.

It's important to identify and promote your branded identity so you can connect with your target audience at a glance. If your fashion boutique is not branded, then you're just another clothing store. There's nothing that separates you from the competition. This reduces your potential customer pool to make choices based on factors such as price, convenience and preconceived notions.

Without a branded identity, you have no control over preconceptions and therefore you're forced to compete on pricing and location alone. This is not a way to grow your fashion boutique. Cheap does not outsell quality - and, above all, there will be a brand-minded competitor who is more than willing to take your business if you miss this step.

Branded Identity

How to identify your branded image

Consider what you offer that your competitors do not: How are you different from the competition? You might be the "grunge fashion boutique," the "chic fashion boutique" or the "discount fashion boutique."

To help you define what type of fashion boutique you are, consider the features and benefits you offer your clients. Understand the distinction between the two. For example, having world-class fashion designers is a feature - guaranteeing that clients will like the way they look in your clothing is a benefit.

List your features and benefits, and base your brand on the most important and beneficial distinctions that differentiate you from the competition.

Most importantly, consider who and what you represent. How do you fulfill self-image for your customers?

Need Help Bringing Your Brand To Life?

Branding through design

Much like talented fashion designers can transform cotton into a beautiful wardrobe, skilled graphic designers can transform your fashion boutique's branded identity from a concept to a visual motivator. This image is what the world will see, and your customers will perceive the ideals and emotions that your image expresses – that they, in turn, will express when they wear your styles.

Your fashion boutique colors, logo, corporate identity package, website and other marketing materials are all a reflection of your brand; so familiar, cohesive design must be applied to all mediums. The goal is for your prospects to be able to glance at your designs and instantly recognize who it's from and what you stand for.

When you achieve this, you've developed a powerful fashion boutique brand identity.

5. Fashion boutique marketing: Marketing tools

Your fashion boutique needs strong marketing tools to succeed in today’s competitive environment. Print quality is paramount; since fashion brands are largely based on image, it stands to reason your marketing tools must convey a sense of elegance, beauty, and fashion.

Must-have fashion boutique marketing materials

Business cards - Business cards are cheap and expendable. Print as many as you can hand out, and make sure everyone you meet has one. Your business card should reflect your fashion styles. Consider printing ultra business cards, which feature an attractive band of edge color on triple-thick paper stock. Need inspiration? Check out these free business card templates.

Fashion boutique ultra business card

Postcards - Postcards are likewise extremely cost effective and can be targeted to several market segments within your niche. Showcase your styles and designs, and include a discount coupon or special event promotion when you print direct-mail postcards for retail sales and send to targeted mailing lists.

Fashion boutique postcard

Posters - Design posters that feature models showcasing your latest fashions. Make sure your company brand is obvious, and consider printing extra-large posters to command attention – especially in shopping malls and anywhere your boutique is located. Even small fashion boutiques can get in on poster marketing when you print affordable short run posters.

Flyers - Like posters, flyers can be placed on bulletin boards and anywhere else your target audience frequents. They can also be folded and mailed, set on counter tops, and handed out to passers-by to draw crowds to your daily specials and other promotions.

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN DESIGN YOUR OWN BUSINESS CARDS, POSTCARDS, AND STICKERS FAST AND EASY WITH PSPRINT’S FREE ONLINE DESIGN TOOL!

Booklets/guides - A rather unique yet extremely effective approach to fashion boutique marketing is to print booklets about how to choose the right styles for one's body. You've seen similar guides in magazines your target audience undoubtedly reads, telling them how to pick jeans that have a slimming effect or that accentuate hips. You can do the same with input from fashion designers.

Catalogs - Catalogs are a staple of the fashion boutique business. In fact, many companies sell via direct-mail catalogs alone. Wow your customers with full-color retail catalog printing that includes style guides and fashion tips to help create desire for your products.

Fashion boutique catalog

Brochures - Your brochure should include images, features, benefits of your fashion boutique's styles as well as before and after shots of wardrobe makeovers so it's easy to see why you're the No. 1 choice.

Calendars - Everyone loves (and uses) free calendars. Try a new fashion theme each month.

Other materials you should consider producing include a website, door hangers, magnets, stickers, banners, wall graphics, window clings, and a corporate identity package (complete with letterhead, envelopes, brochure, flyer, business card and pocket folder).

Fashion boutique corporate identity package

6. Fashion boutique marketing: Copywriting

Many marketers subscribe to the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing, which states that 40 percent of your success depends on your offer, another 40 percent depends on the quality of your mailing list, and the remaining 20 is contingent on everything else.

In general terms, this might be true; but for fashion boutique marketing image is what sells. Your customers want to know that when they buy from you, they'll be stylish, sexy and confident. This is why powerful copy is so critical to fashion boutique success.

Four steps for writing winning fashion boutique copy

1. Craft a powerful headline

Your headline is the introduction to your marketing piece. It grabs attention and elicits interest. It tells your customers that you have what they want right up-front. It can play on desires, fears and a general sense of making life better, but it should be very specific in nature. If your headline can solve a problem and present an offer in one or two lines, all the better.

2. Highlight your benefits

Many amateur writers list features but forget to include benefits in their marketing copy. Features are statements, but benefits sell. If your fashion boutique features designs from world-class fashion designers (feature), then you can say your customers will be dressed in the hottest trends when they shop your boutique (benefit).

3. Develop an incredible offer

Free or discounted apparel, tickets to fashion shows, and other paid (by you) incentives are all excellent ways to drive business to your fashion boutique. You can also offer an image, a look, and cool confidence to your customers by simply donning your garments.

4. Motivate with a call to action

A call to action tells your customers exactly what they need to do next to take advantage of your special offer. Be very specific and provide several ways to respond (call a phone number, visit a website, visit your fashion boutique, etc.).

Example fashion boutique postcard copy:

Be celebrity-sexy with the new Bust-Up Top - 20% off!

BeSexy Fashion Boutique has released its most uplifting top yet, the Bust-Up Top, which gives you the look of a Hollywood starlet no matter your size.

Scintillating lines and voluptuous curves pampered in comfortable Egyptian cotton and finished in world-famous designer Maurice Mercutio's latest patterns make for a stunningly sexy silhouette no woman (or man) can resist!

Call 555-555-5555 today to schedule a private fitting and you'll receive 20% off the regular price of the new Bust-Up Top.

BeSexy Fashion Boutique

Beauty on the inside. Sexy on the out.

7. Fashion boutique marketing: Distribution

Getting the word out about your fashion boutique takes more than simply printing catalogs and launching a website. You must get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time.

Here are some tips for fashion boutique marketing distribution:

Direct-mail

Direct-mail is the best way to reach your fashion boutique customers. A calculated direct-mail campaign represents an investment in profit and should be approached with dedication. Consult a list broker or use the mailing list building tools available at PsPrint, develop a database of your own customers, and define a mailing list comprised of likely prospects.

Repetition is key: Instead of a one-postcard campaign, develop a strategy that incorporates multiple mailers over a six-month period. This contributes to your fashion boutique branding efforts and allows you to develop long-term relationships. By the time you launch your incredible offer, you'll have established trust and credibility and will earn a higher response rate.

Here's a sample direct-mail marketing campaign for your fashion boutique:

Week one:

Send a catalog and sales letter introducing your fashion boutique, the lines you carry and the benefits to your customers.

Week six:

Send a flyer or newsletter that highlights recent news about your fashion boutique. Include before and after wardrobe makeover photos.

Week 12:

Send a booklet that details how to measure one's body to get the perfect fit, what styles complement what body types, how to look slimmer or accentuate one's hips or bust, and other valuable trade secrets your fashion boutique customers will appreciate.

Week 18:

Send a calendar that showcases a different fashion theme each month. Include coupons, special sales, tips and fashion reminders for your customers. The more valuable your calendar, the higher your return on investment.

Week 24:

Send a direct-mail postcard to promote a special sale, open house or free wardrobe makeover event. Include a special time-limited discount to anyone who attends.

Week 30:

Send a follow-up greeting card and include a voucher or gift coupon to express your appreciation, and offer to personally answer any questions potential customers might have.

Fashion boutique direct-mail ultra postcard

Advertisements

You can additionally deploy advertisements online or in the yellow pages, newspapers and magazines; as well as on the radio, television, billboards and any number of published mediums.

Or, take your ads street side by placing flyers and posters on community bulletin boards and university, office and industrial social hot spots.

Word of mouth is the most powerful advertiser, so make sure friends, family and colleagues know what you do and are prepared to spread the word for you. You should consider handing out stickers and business cards to everyone you know for distribution.

Following up

Test, track and tweak - these three T’s will help you develop winning fashion boutique print marketing campaigns. Always test different variations of your print marketing materials on small portions of your mailing list before launching the full campaign. Sometimes a single word change can make a significant difference in your return on investment.

Track your response rates and record who responds so you can further define your target demographics. Tweak your subsequent marketing materials to cater to this audience. Keep a database of customers and respondents, and evaluate recognizable trends so you can customize your offers.

The three T’s are just another form of knowing your customers, but from an analytical perspective it allows you to make intelligent business decisions based on honest, proven statistics.

TEST, TRACK, TWEAK

8. Fashion boutique marketing: Creative ideas and resources

Creative marketing generates buzz, delivers value to your customers and increases profits for you. Try these creative fashion boutique marketing ideas and resources to boost your business this year:

Host an event

A free wardrobe makeover contest, fashion show, or other event can be just what you need to draw crowds and stir interest in your fashions, styles and designs.

Invite a celebrity

Hire a celebrity to shop at your establishment during peak hours. Word will spread like wildfire.

Partner with others

Partner with hotels, restaurants, spas and other complementary but non-competing businesses to spread the message about your fashion boutique. You could go in together on a romance and beauty package, for example.

Show off your customers

Snap photos of your customers to use in your catalogs, on your website, and on social media. Showcase before-and-after makeover photos, or let your customers be ambassadors to help promote your brand.

Create a rewards or loyalty club

Print loyalty rewards clubs and offer incentives for making multiple purchases of a certain dollar value in a given time frame. For example: three purchases of $50 or more in six months nets a $25 coupon.

Resources

Here are a few links to fashion boutique marketing resources you can use to bolster business.

PsPrint - Full-service printing, direct mailing and mailing list generation.

Small Business Administration - Helpful guides, forms and sample marketing plans for small business. The SBA also supports Small Business Development Centers throughout the United States.

SCORE - The Service Corps of Retired Executives provides free advice in the form of online information and business counseling. Simply contact one of SCORE's volunteer members for business mentorship.

Global Fashion Association - A major player in the fashion industry, organizing runway shows and much more.

Modern Glossy - A great magazine-like resource for the fashion industry.

class="top-gap"

American Apparel and Footwear Association - An organization representing the interests of American companies in the global marketplace.

State fashion and retail associations - A quick online search will yield hundreds of state, regional, and local fashion, clothing and retail associations.