My third and final rule: Use Social.
In this day and age, it is essential that buzz becomes viral–meaning that it has a life of its own. More specifically, if you work it to get one new member to your site through amazing PR or great paid marketing spend, in order to really grow as a company, you need that one member to refer her friends. Why? Because your cost of member acquisition would be way too expensive and unsustainable if you had to pay for every single person who ever finds out about you. You have to create network effects.
With a business like Rent the Runway, we knew that women talking about us to their friends would be essential to our success. Given that women are renting the runway for social occasions—weddings, parties, galas etc.–we needed our customers to feel comfortable telling their friends they had rented the runway when someone came to compliment them at a party and to be proud of this, instead of pretending they had purchased that $1,000 dress. Therefore, we had to invest in making our brand cool and chic. We’ve made it cool to post a photo of your Rent the Runway moment on our site after your rental and share your experience. Brands like Shoedazzle invested in building an incredible Facebook community that has created massive virality for their brand. Gilt Groupe launched the innovative “refer a friend, get $25” promotion. There are many ways to build your brand socially but you MUST do it and figure out the strategy that is best for your brand. A social referral often has more than double the conversion of a member who comes from a general channel—so it’s also smart business to be social. Who would have thought that back in middle school?
I think finally, building buzz for your brand is fun. Creating the Rent the Runway brand has been the greatest privilege of my life (to date) and such an amazing time. Just project the love you feel and everything will fall into place.