Like many startups, SurfStitch started with an idea, an enterprising spirit, a tiny budget and a big vision. Now, it is an international company that operates successfully in Australia and Europe and has gone from strength to strength in a few short years.
How did they become so successful, and what can you, as a startup learn from them?
Create brand awareness
One of the first things SurfStitch did was to create brand awareness with their target market, which is surfers. Within a year of launching they had managed to get the attention of Billabong, who acquired a minority interest.
As a startup brand awareness is incredibly important. There’s no business without awareness. Most startups use social media, online advertising, or attend events or expos to create buzz around their brand.
Our tip: In the early stages, use your connections – online and offline – to spread the word about your startup – friends, family, business connections and anyone you know in the press. But once you establish that buzz, you need to maintain it.
Use social media not only to inform your customers, but also for fun
SurfStitch has 324,250 likes on Facebook and 5,882 followers on Twitter. They use their social media to inform their customers about their offers, but they also regularly post other things (think behind the scenes photoshoots, surf videos, and competitions). All of their posts are on-brand, but it feels like they have a personality too. Extra effort on these things enhance brand engagement, no matter what industry you’re in.
Our tip: Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing that works well on their social media, and mirror it with your followers. There’s nothing wrong with replicating a strategy as long as you personalise it.
Invest money into your website
SurfStitch invested significant money in making their website as user-friendly as possible. User experience is incredibly important – this means making sure your users find it easy to use, navigate, and find what they’re looking for. Users will almost certainly click away if your website doesn’t offer a good experience. Check out this handy guide about conversion rate optimisation.
Our tip: You can do this yourself, but it is time consuming and costly. Sometimes better to go to an expert who knows exactly what they are doing and can test the site quickly and efficiently.
Create loyal customers from the get-go
SurfStitch managed to create a loyal customer base using newsletter-based marketing. If you ignore your customers and only focus on attracting new ones, then your business won’t maximise its profit potential. One of the best ways of doing this is to have a newsletter, and use it to generate new leads and encourage the customers who have spent before to spend again. Newsletters also keep your brand top-of-mind. The internet is a cluttered world, and you don’t want your customers to discover something else and forget you.
Our tip: Offer an incentive to get people to sign up to your newsletter – for example free delivery. People like the feeling of receiving a gift.
Use coupon codes to stand out from your competition
One of the best ways to attract people to your site is to use coupon codes. SurfStitch regularly has coupon codes, and their customers know this. This means that they will look for them before they make a purchase. It can encourage customers who might be looking for a particular product into your store. It doesn’t have to be much – free shipping, for example. This can mean you will be a step ahead of your competition, and it also means you will generate more brand awareness.
Our tip: Make sure you are on coupon sites, and be sure to ask for homepage coverage and a spot in the newsletter so you reach more potential customers.
As a startup, it is important that to get ahead and stand out from competition, especially in a culture where startups are disrupting other startups. SurfStitch is a great ecommerce example of how startups can grow exponentially within its first couple of years in operation.