Rarely do I rant or intentionally speak a negative word (at least out loud) but I find myself in an unusual position. You see, I was born and lived through the original "preppy" rush. Was in high-school from 1982-1986 when all things preppy and Ivy League were being discovered by the rest of America. Now, at that time, many of the styles were not ones that I embraced fully as I really didn't understand the considerable history and tradition upon which they were founded. My last two years at prep-school did, however, bring me around... I tell you this, not to impress, but simply to provide some back-story. I've seen prep, I've lived prep.
Now, in today's world, I don't live "prep" so much as I live a "sporting"lifestyle that would find me on the water, at the clays range, or on a quail plantation. I do, however still dress in a fashion that reflects my upbringing. A blue blazer is a "must" in my world...goes with jeans, khakis or dress pants...anyhow, here's my issue.
Today's purveyors of "prep" are "wanting." I follow them on Facebook and other social media outlets, and where I am not here to pass judgement as to what's in their hearts, it surely does seem as through it's all about "bragging." A bunch of newbies to the "preppy movement" that are all screaming "look at me...look at how wonderful my life is...now buy, buy, BUY!"
You see, I also head up an advertising agency that specializes in all types of digital marketing. I have some of the best in the business either in my employ, as business partners, or as advisory board members. I know what it takes to be successful online (no, and this blog is not a good example...this is just a personal, "whenever I feel like it thing") and these "newly minted prep stars" are missing the boat. So, just in case one ever reads this, here you go.
#1 STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF and ALL YOUR FRIENDS!
You want to be an aspirational brand, show people (other than you!) doing things that are aspirational. Show THEM at parties, boating, holding hands with their loved one in a park, enjoying a great dinner out, time with friends...be aspirational without being a braggart, or sounding like a used car salesman (no offense intended to any used car sales folks who may stumble across this). I get so sick of "look at me, look at me, buy my stuff, buy my stuff!" Show me situations where I can relate... where your product is on display...a situation in which I can picture myself with my wife and son doing the same thing in the photo. It's not rocket science, and we're certainly not splitting the atom here, but you're missing the boat so terribly that it's almost laughable...almost.
Here's a quick marketing 101 exercise. Go back and look at your posts and see which ones are getting the most traction. I'll bet dollars-to-donuts that it's the ones that are unique and not in-your-face sales-focused. Second part of the exercise. Find out if you're getting traction from the same people who are already "fans" of your brand, or if you're actually speaking to anyone new. A quick measure of this is how quickly your fan population is growing across all your social channels. If the number is stagnant you're simply speaking to the same people/market. Hint...quickest way to go out of business is gaining an increasing share of a stagnant or decreasing market.
#2 UNDERSTAND SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCES
Ok...if you take nothing else away from this minor tirade, get this! First, ask the question..."why are people on social media?" TO BE ENTERTAINED! period, end-of-story... They are not there to follow your every move, hear about your life and how good you have it! You garnered a "like" or a "follow" from them, now, just like with every form of advertising, the burden falls to you to answer the question every consumer asks..."what's in it for me?" And you'd better answer with some great content...entertain them, dazzle them, inspire them. Look at it this way...compare the new preppies with the Brooks Brothers and Ralph Laurens of the world...sure they are light years apart in terms of budget but the major differentiation on social media is that those heavyweights have figured out who their audience is and have strategized the best way to inspire those folks. Sure, they're there to sell, but they put that in a nice "aspirational" wrapper that doesn't come off as judgmental, braggadocios, or conceited. They simply conform to principle #1 above, while fully understanding principle #2.
I have had to stop following all the self-indulgent "look at me and buy my crap" new preps as it has gotten almost too painful to watch. Painful because I watched so many people do it right in my youth, and doubly painful because I can see the missteps they're making in business. I'd like to hope that they'll eventually get it right because, the wholesome, clean-cut prep look (and mindset) is one that the world could use a bit more of...
Really, I'm just tired of all the bragging. (and to those ends I've tried to offer up some solid advice...I hope one of them takes it)