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Country club prep thinks social networking is simply top drawer.

Being connected and social networking have always been important for the preppy set, but now Country Club Prep is taking that to a whole new next level with its marketing efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

The retailer started life in March 2012 exclusively as an online purveyor of preppy goods such as Lilly Pulitzer clothing; Sperry Top-Sider shoes; and fraternity, sorority, and university sportswear. Today Country Club Prep is a profitable business that recently moved to a larger warehouse and just this summer opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Charlottesville, Va. (home of the University of Virginia), with more physical locations in the offing.

Country Club Prep was started by two now former attorneys, Stephen Glasgow and Matt Watson, who say they were eager to exit the law profession. Their goal with the new venture was to position themselves as experts of all things preppy, which the men view as a lifestyle rather than simply as a clothing style.

As such, the retailer not only aggregates preppy goods from both well-established and hot new brands, it has created its own brand, and Country Club Prep is building exposure for that brand via social media campaigns with plenty of giveaways and tie ins to popular events such as the Kentucky Derby.

Country Club Prep also recruits ambassadors to promote its efforts. The company currently has 400 ambassadors. Applications for ambassadors are accepted at the Country Club Prep website.

Ambassadors are college students from various universities that get rewards such as discounts and free product in exchange for posting photos and videos relating to Country Club Prep on popular social networks, and for handing out Country Club Prep giveaways on campus.

Giveaways are an important method Country Club Prep uses to promote its brand. In addition to the ambassador handouts, Country Club Prep offers free gift cards on Instagram, which encourages people to submit photos of themselves enjoying the company's products, and allows the retailer to stage best-of photo contests.

In the process, Country Club Prep has amassed about 45,000 Facebook and 19,000 Instagram likes (with Instagram likes growing at a rate of about 1,000 per month), and seen typical conversion rates of 2 to 3 percent--although conversion rates can be up to 50 percent in the first 48 hours following campaigns with a high level of customer engagement.

Glasgow and Watson say they are able to get these promising results with minimal investment in marketing. Country Club Prep spends about $200 a month for its e-mail, social media marketing, and retargeting ad campaign platform from Atlanta-based Springbot, in which HootSuite is embedded. Glasgow says Springbot is great because it makes just about everything traceable. That enables businesses like Country Club Prep to see the source of the visitor, understand whether that visitor converted, have visibility into where visitors abandoned their shopping carts, figure out the best time to engage with individual shoppers, and get other metrics.

Facebook recently started charging for some marketing-related efforts, they added, so Country Club Prep has pulled back a bit on its Facebook efforts and is dedicating more time and energy to doing giveaways and other marketing campaigns on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

As Country Club Prep moves into the bricks-and-mortar realm, the company is working to bring the physical and online worlds together by providing store visitors with touchscreen TVs though which shoppers can easily order goods not available in the store. Country Club Prep has also extended its random acts of kindness giveaways, as it calls them, for visitors to its physical stores. Even if they don't make a purchase, no store visitor leaves without getting at least a small token--such as a free keychain--from Country Club Prep promoting its brand.
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Title Annotation:ENGAGE
Author:Bernier, Paula
Publication:Customer
Date:Sep 1, 2014
Words:622
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