October 18, 2021
Emma speaks to Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl about marketing her online store.
In this episode Emma speaks to Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl about marketing her online store.
Erika is a dirndl designer. She started designing dirndls in 2009 when she saw new designs coming out of Germany, but the American companies were still selling the same old styles. She launched Rare Dirndl in 2010, moved into the current appointment only store-front studio location in 2013 and have been growing the team and evolving the brand ever since.
05:01 The start of the business
12:53 The marketing mix
16:02 Email marketing
21:22 SMS marketing
25:18 Customer photos
34:50 Content between platforms
38:20 Facebook group
41:27 YouTube content
45:03 Word of mouth
46:49 Calling regular customers
56:30 Most effective
1:00:00 Quick fire round
Find Erika and Rare Dirndl
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 0:00
So I do quite a bit to market my business online. I'll just run down the list, email marketing, I have a blog, I do SMS, text message marketing, reviews and testimonials, I have affiliates. So there's some travel bloggers, food bloggers, YouTubers that are affiliates. I have a Facebook page facebook group, I run Facebook ads, Instagram, I have a YouTube channel and Pinterest. I think that's it.
Emma Peacock 0:47
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode I spoke with Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl about marketing her online store. We talk about how she manages marketing and all the different spaces she works in, how calling your customers can impact your business and how to create word of mouth marketing in an online world. Erika is a dirndl designer, she started designing dirndls in 2009 when she saw new designs coming out of Germany, but the American companies were still selling the same old styles. She launched Rare Dirndl in 2010, moved into the current appointment only storefront studio location in 2013. And have been growing the team and evolving the brand ever since. I hope you enjoy listening to this chat about both online and offline marketing, as well as some amazing word of mouth tips to implement into your own business.
Welcome to the podcast. Erika, it's so good to have you.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:39
Thanks for having me.
Emma Peacock 1:41
Start off with a big question. Tell us about you and your business.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:45
Oh, okay. I make dirndls for a living. And that is basically the dress that you would wear to Oktoberfest. It has its roots in the Alps. It's like a peasant dress. And then over the years, it's gotten more modernized. Its had its own kind of lifecycle. And I started my business in 2010. When I was fresh out of college, I was performing with a local German organization, a German club that I belong to for years and years. And I was just really tired of wearing the same thing all the time. And there were no other options available. And one of my girlfriends was studying abroad in Germany, and she's just sending me all these cool things that were happening over in Germany. And I was like, well, we have nothing like that here. So I thought, well, I can do that. And here we are.
Emma Peacock 2:50
I'll make it myself.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 2:52
I'll make it myself. Yeah, and and I did for the first two, three years, I was making everything myself, everything was made to order, then I started to carry inventory and do some festivals and sell from there. And now primarily, everything is sold online. In a non pandemic situation, I would do one to two festivals a year, and then some smaller holiday shows. But my focus is primarily online sales.
Emma Peacock 3:24
Hmm. And there's also a part of your business, correct me from wrong, that is still the custom made, but you also have the like, buy and ship like, you know, with a nice cup of rice as well. Right? Yeah.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 3:36
Correct. So a lot of what I was doing previously was custom. And that is I think, what people still assume is my bread and butter and what I do most which is not true, I do very little custom work. Right now all of the custom work that I'm doing is bridal. So pretty much everything else is going to be it's in stock and it ships however I do offer what's called what we call the one of a kind sale, which is in this little season in January, you place an order online all you tell me is the colors you like, your size, the skirt length, and then we take care of the rest so it's quite a trust. Quite an exercise in trust, but we've had great success it always sells out and it's always a big hit. So in that respect, there's still a lot of custom stuff but it's not customer completely designing the piece.
Emma Peacock 4:42
Yeah, and that's seasonal. So it's like limited depending on like your everything you have going on. Nice. So um maybe tell us a little bit about like your business story. How long ago did you start the business? How has it kind of grown over time?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 5:00
Sure, so I started in 2010. So we're going on 11 years. And it started with me, myself and I in my parents dining room and living room with a home sewing machine, I was using the dining room table as a cutting table, and also cutting larger pieces and doing pattern work on the floor. Eventually, I had stuff everywhere in the house, and my dad kindly suggested, I find my own space. So in 2012, I moved the business to its current home, which is a storefront space in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, in the US, and that's like, traditionally a German neighborhood. So I was thought to myself, if I'm going to have a storefront, it's going to be in this neighborhood. If I'm not going to have a storefront, then it really doesn't matter where I am. But the space worked out. So I've been here since then. And it has grown and evolved. I've brought as I tried to do men's stuff for a while. That didn't work. So put that aside. Did this that and the other and really settled on dirndls. That is my, that's what I do best. So people will ask like, don't you do anything else? Like, no, that's it. But we carry blouses, which is what you would wear underneath it. Because if you can see behind me there's, it's like a sleeveless dress with an apron over it. And so you'd wear a blouse underneath. And so we sell those, jewelry, and some of the accessories to go with it. But for the most part, that's that's about it, we added bridal. And oh, and also in 2014, I believe is when I brought on my first part-time employee. And I have had a part time employee ever since then. And so the day to day operations of packing and shipping, some customer service emails, cutting special orders, organizing all of that stuff is not my job anymore. And to, yes, today I also have a couple other part-time team members, but not technically employees. They're also contractors that I work with. So like a VA, community manager for our Facebook group, and stuff like that.
Emma Peacock 7:45
Hmm, awesome. So if people are wondering kind of like what a dirndl is, so you mentioned Oktoberfest?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 7:52
Emma Peacock 7:52
but that's not the only time so you also have the everyday dress, right? Right? Yeah. How like, how often do people like this is like local dances and stuff I know you've talked about in the past like it's basically a dress you could wear anytime you like, right?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 8:12
Correct. Yes, you can wear it whenever you want. It depends there are some styles that are easier to get away without getting like a confusing look. There was a couple times the the dirndl that I wore to dance in was red with a white blouse with a white apron with flowers on it. And I would get asked all the time. Oh, do you work at the apple? pickery? Like No. Oh, are you going like there was very there were a lot of questions and like what am I wearing and looking at me funny. But my designs tend to be a bit more modern and depending on how you style it. There was I did an experiment one time where I wore a dirndl for 14 days straight and I went out to restaurants and different things and I had one on that with like spikes and chains and it was really cool more punk Dirndl and someone's like, Oh, your Game of Thrones outfit is fantastic. like Oh, thank you. But essentially, it's a dress that most notably for southern Germany, Bavaria. And if you are involved in the German community in the US, or anywhere, there's also some German clubs in Canada. You'll have events throughout the year, dances, picnics, other get togethers where you would wear a Dirndl and I also encourage my customers to wear them to German restaurants. There's also local festivals that aren't necessarily Oktoberfest related. Once you start looking, you can really find places to wear it and that's also one of my favorite things about some of my customers. They come in and they're like, I'm going to Oktoberfest in Germany. So I was told I have to have this dress, but I'm never gonna wear it again. And then three years later, they're buying more, because they can't keep wearing the same one all the time. See?
Emma Peacock 10:17
Yeah, it's like it's fun. And it's like, bringing in part of your heritage into your every day. But it's not like, just like a costume, which I guess is why people thought you were like apple picking or whatever is like this is a uniform or a costume. She's not wearing this by choice.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 10:34
Correct. So I really do pride myself on the designs can. There's elements of it that are visually a Dirndl. But at the same time, the style of it isn't something where someone's going to walk down the street and look at you like you're wearing a costume. One thing I'll say about the everyday design, because you brought up the everyday dress, and that one is definitely something that you can get away with wearing as just, it looks like a sun dress. But for the customer that loves celebrating their German heritage and wearing it makes them feel fantastic. I love it. And a lot of my customers, especially last year, towards the end of the year, were just wearing their dirndls out on the street with their boots and their scarves. And it was so fun.
Emma Peacock 11:33
So yeah, what's the difference between the everyday and your other designs is it just like the fabric or is there like a different cut to it.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 11:42
It's the fabric and the design is monochromatic. It's all one color. It's the same pattern as some of my other designs, but it's literally all the same fabric all the same color. So it really is more of a day dress. It doesn't, it doesn't have any ruffles or trimmings than a lot of the other designs have it's like a almost like a corset. So it criss crosses in the front. Like a shoelace. It's like a lace up front with ribbon or chain. So it doesn't have that it's very basic. So that and it's also machine washable.
Emma Peacock 12:26
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 12:29
And always two pockets. Pockets are always worth the extra time.
Emma Peacock 12:33
Yes, for sure. Yeah. I often actually check stuff now I'm like, does this have pockets? Like especially if it's online? Because I'm like I got put my hands in there. Is it on the product description? Or is it not?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 12:47
It is now because I was getting emails. That's said can you add pocket? and I'm like Oh, honey, they're already there.
Emma Peacock 12:53
Yeah, whenever I always make the assumption of if it's not specifically on the product description, they probably aren't pockets, because that's something that we like they're just so handy. People generally like to shout about it. OK cool. So let's talk marketing. So walk us through how you market your business, both offline and online.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 13:14
Okay, so I do quite a bit to market my business. Online. I'll just run down the list. Email Marketing, I have a blog, I do SMS text message marketing, reviews and testimonial, I have affiliates so there's some travel bloggers, food bloggers, YouTubers that are affiliates, I have a Facebook page, facebook group, I run Facebook ads, Instagram, I have a YouTube channel, and Pinterest. I think that's it. Yeah, the only thing that's not really on there is Twitter because I decided, like five years ago that I never tweet. So why have this?
Emma Peacock 14:10
Hmm. So let's walk through. Oh, offline. What about offline offline?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 14:11
Offline. So I make posters and postcards for some of the local German restaurants and other German businesses in the area. So cross promoting with them. Word of mouth, in the German communities throughout the US. I often think if I can just get one or two women in a group to really be good, big fans, it'll it snowballs from there. I put business cards, three business cards in the pocket of each Dirndl. So not only if you don't know about the pockets, then you'll find the pockets and chances are someone's gonna be like, That is so cute. Where'd you get it? I just happen to have these business cards in the bag. I work with German bands. Most of the German American bands are all men. But occasionally, there is a woman involved. And so I try to reach out to her and get her all dolled up. And so they get a discount for whatever they want to order. And hopefully they just tell more people. So that's more word of mouth. And then occasionally, I will just cold call good customers and chat, tell them if sometimes we'll get a blouse in certain sizes. And before I put it online, I'll call a couple people and say, hey, I've got this thing. I know you like this, where there's black blouses are hard to find. And I only carry a few of my own blouse designs. Now I combined it with another brand from Germany. So when I get a black blouse in, I'll usually call a couple customers and let them know, and that's a great way then they usually add on more and yep.
Emma Peacock 16:02
Yeah, nice. Okay, so let's walk through a few of those. So email, do you have like a welcome sequence that you send people to like, welcome them in so that they get to know what it is? Or is it just kind of like straight into the newsletter?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 16:18
Yes, I have a welcome sequence. I also have a dirndl quiz that you can take to find out which dirndl style you are it's fabulous you can be one of three styles. And that funnels you into a sequence as well. Before in 2019, I launched an Oktoberfest packing checklist. No one's really needed that yet. So maybe that'll take off in a few years. And the other is, oh, that's for text message. There's like a discount for signing up for text messages. But for email, those are the two major ways to get on the list.
Emma Peacock 17:05
Nice. And then how often? Like when you're sending out newsletters, how often do you send one of those out?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 17:11
I don't really send out newsletter-y things as like the typical recap of what's been going on. My system is typically at least once a week. So especially in the offseason it's just once a week you're going to get an email from Rare Dirndl that is either product promotion, or a featured article from the blog. And we just copy and paste most of the blog posts into the email and then link back to the blog. So it's content and like a product push. Right now, so I'd say like, June, basically June through December, it's two times a week, sometimes more. I also segment my list. So certain parts of the list those interested in certain things will get more emails about certain things. So like, if I'm running a promotion, I'll email the people that opened the email, but didn't buy. I'll send them another one. As opposed to like just sending the whole list it again.
Emma Peacock 18:22
Hmm. I like that. It's like you opened it cause you showed some interest, but you maybe didn't buy it? Like maybe got it to the people that were interested. Hmm, yeah. Yeah. It's like the biggest, like loss, I would say of any sale is ,they just got distracted. Something happen, right?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 18:40
Yes, and on that note, I also have an email sequence for abandoned cart. So if for some reason you left to your cart, within two hours, you're going to get a GIF of these lovely men dancing in lederhosen being like, did you forget something?
Emma Peacock 18:57
That's like you. I like that. Just putting a little bit of humor and personality in there. Yeah. Sometimes it's not so fun receiving those. It's like, yeah, I decided not to buy it. Leave me alone. But like, other times, I'm like, Yeah, I really needed that reminder, because I completely forgot about it. And then also, you made me chuckle so
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 19:16
and that's, I think that's another like, key shift in my business is in the beginning. I was okay, so I was 24. And I'm like, I am a designer. So I had like this website that was super unique. And the web designer was like, Oh, yeah, it's gonna be like horizontal scroll. So when you scroll vertically on your mouse, it'll move horizontally. Like really cool. Like, Oh, yeah. I need that. Because I'm the Alexander McQueen of Dirndls. Well, guess what? I sell dirndls. It's pretzels. It's prost. It's a giant beer shine, like get a grip. So once I made that mindset shift, and I also fired that web designer and got an actual Shopify site that is meant for e-commerce and doesn't scroll horizontally.
Emma Peacock 20:06
You were ahead of your time, though, because thats come back.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 20:09
Oh well guess what? It's probably not gonna stay because it's ridiculous.
Emma Peacock 20:14
Yeah, I've seen out pages where people will almost do like a horizontal scroll through the timeline of the company. That's been cool. Yeah. Well, like if I was shopping on a horizontal scroll, I'd get confused.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 20:24
Yes. And it's also like mobile. So much of my web traffic is mobile. So I mean, in 2010, there was no online shopping from your phone. But now there, it's all these different things. But definitely, I have to put humor in it, I make it fun. And there's a lot of people that do come up to me at in person and say that they enjoy just reading my emails and not actually purchasing anything, but I'm glad someone's opening them.
Emma Peacock 20:59
It keeps them engaged until they maybe decide later that they do need or want to buy something,
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 21:06
or they find somebody that else someone else that needs it. There's word of mouth again.
Emma Peacock 21:11
Yeah, I've seen this. I haven't actually bought from them. But I've been following them. And they're really fun. So yeah. Cool. So SMS, how often do you text people?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 21:22
I really only text people, when I have promotions, I tested sending a text message for a blog post. And it didn't really get much the traffic didn't increase, it really wasn't a big hit. So I'll just send something like when dirndl is on sale, or if we have something new, something big. And I would say that's maybe three times a month that I'll send a text message. But the open rates on those are bananas. It's like 98% open rate.
Emma Peacock 22:01
What about the clicks? How? How do you find that? I mean, you might not know the number off the top of your head, but like, Is it good or not? Yeah, like, yes. generate sales, right?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 22:12
Correct. Yes, the conversion rate on the text messages is, is quite high. And the I also trust, what the text messages are saying they converted because it's a completely separate thing. Whereas the email, like email, Facebook, they all want like a piece of it. And so if a customer clicks on multiple things, I feel like everybody's saying that they are the reason that the sale happened. So I don't really trust those numbers so much. But the text messages, since they're completely separate.
Emma Peacock 22:50
Yeah, cause they might get it when they're like, offline or whatever. It's separate, but also because, I mean, nothing happens in a vacuum. So like, obviously, they came to you somehow to end up on their SMS list. But it's that thing of like, how what attributed to either closest to that sale of like, what made them make a sale, make a purchase today? or What can I tell is getting them like more jazzed and into it, because you don't want to stop doing the things that get them to the 98% point and then the last 2%, because no one will get to that point, if you cut out everything else. So it's like, it's the balance of doing everything, which can be overwhelming, but it's what works. So yeah. Nice. And then. So reviews, do you incentivize people to give reviews? Or is it just like a reminder?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 23:50
It's a little bit of both, they do get a coupon for their first review. And the actually, I believe you only get the coupon if you put a picture. So if it's a review with a photo, then you get the coupon. And so I do incentivize that. And then there's an app that automatically sends once the product has shipped it waits about I think it's 10 days before they ask to review. And then I also like put in some prompts in the Facebook group to kind of generate photos and testimonial so like during what I'm calling Oktoberfest season, which is right about right now and into September. I will ask the group, hey, did anybody do anything fun this weekend? Let's see some photos and then the pictures start rolling in, which is always fun.
Emma Peacock 24:57
Yeah, I like that. I always love seeing like actual customers generated photos. Like I'm just like, I just, I don't know, there's like a trust factor there. But there's also just like, I just like to see things styled differently. Because Yeah, that person has a different personal style than the, you know, the business owner or the stylist or whoever it is depending on whatever.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 25:18
And I suppose you could also say that that's part of my marketing strategy as well is taking these photos, the, from the customers from Facebook, Instagram, wherever they're posting it, I automatically ask if I can add to the website, same thing with emails, and usually the answer is, oh of course, and then I put it on the product page. So when you hover over the initial product shot, it like switches to a customer in it. So you can already see A. someone's previously purchased this and B. what a real life person looks like in it, as opposed to the ridiculously tall model.
Emma Peacock 26:02
Yeah, for sure. But I do feel like the companies that still like they don't take their own photos and models, they tend to get less user generated content, which is like the technical term for customer photos. Because it almost like shows people what they can do. Like how, how to take the photo, like what angle to do it from? Yeah, we used to have that a lot. I used to work in a sampling company. And one of the things that I did over the, like 18 months that I was there was I was really trying to get the brands that we worked with to take their own lifestyle photos was what I used to call it and still call it now. Because I was like, if you send me like a pack shot, the photos that we get, because it was all like Facebook-based, I'm going to be like it on the counter. And what we want to know not only because it's fun for social, but also because you want to know how people use like, what did people actually put on those crackers? Because of course that was what the client was. Like the bread, we don't just want to like see it on the plate we want to see it with like does that they put avocado on it or whatever. And so in your situation, it's like what kind of jacket are they wearing? What kind of boots? What kind of like, what's the like, niches are in my audience of like, how would people pair this and then turn it into their own style? Does that mean that their in to like punk or whichever.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 27:34
Yeah, exactly. And that's another aspect of my business that I really tried to not advertise. But the fact that just you know, you can use your own personal style. to style this, there's a few dresses one in particular is my little black dirndl, it's all black. And seeing how the customers style it in so many different ways is so fun, they can get different aprons, they can change out the colors, what they wear underneath it. And bringing all of those and also showing all of those really makes the customer feel more comfortable ordering.
Emma Peacock 28:21
They can see how they could potentially wear it, see how they can like, have it in their like life, like how would it fit into their life?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 28:32
And also showing it in a wide variety of sizes.
Emma Peacock 28:36
Yes, yes. Very important. Yeah. Yeah. And just like body shapes and heights and, and everything. I always find it really confusing on sites when it's like model is wearing size x. And that's it. And I'm like cool what height is she? What? Like, yeah, there's no reference point here. I have no like, I don't know if she short, tall, like anything, like, so I can't tell the skirt length or anything because she could be shorter than me. She could be way taller than me without that reference. And then other places will go to the full point of having like height, bust, waist hip, height, like yeah, I don't know, shoulder, whatever. Like whatever is relevant for you see if it's a T shirt. Certain things aren't really relevant. But -
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 29:23
So yeah. We have and that's we do have a full size chart. I have two tutorial videos. Then there's each page has a link to the sizing questions. There's lots of information there. So it's very specific in terms of how to size because the other thing is we are American sizes 2 through 26. And every brand is different. And it's obnoxious, it's obnoxious as a designer, and it's obnoxious as a consumer. So one of the first things I had to do was design a size chart. I'm like, why isn't this just standard? But it's not. So and then I ended up changing it three years.
Emma Peacock 30:16
Yeah. Do you do body measurement or garment measurement?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 30:20
Emma Peacock 30:21
Nice. Yeah. Cool. I always find it confusing when they do garment. Because I'm like, ueah, but if it's an oversized t-shirt. Like, I don't know how it's gonna hang. So.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 30:32
Yeah, and these are, they're very fitted. So the garment measurement and the body measurement are usually like, the similar. It just depends on how you like to wear it. There are some women that really like it quite fitted. I prefer to be able to sit and eat and drink without worrying about that. But there's other people with prefer the feeling.
Emma Peacock 31:00
It's all part of the experience. I need that. Yeah. Nice. Walk us through your affiliate program. How does that work? Do you pick people? Do they approach you?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 31:14
I have approached the affiliates trying to think yes, all of them I have approached, I've just followed them, theres two or three travel bloggers. And that we just have a similar audience, the the two that bring in the most, one of them lives in Germany. She's from Canada. And then the other one is just she just loves Oktoberfest. And she's also made a side gig out of doing tours and designing trips for people. She's just like an a super Oktoberfest enthusiast. And they just have a totally different audience and a different following. And it works out well, because they're online blogging, and they're, they link back, they get 5% through this app, that automatically shifts it over. And the food blogger, she doesn't do as much she gets more in the holiday season. So some of the smaller stuff. And it's not a major part, but it's definitely I think this would be a more major source of income once Oktoberfest, comes back, and I'm talking about the Oktoberfest like in Munich, the big one. Yeah,
Emma Peacock 32:38
I can see that. Yeah, it almost like, I don't know, like, there's just a certain amount of buzz around it that even if people aren't going, it's like, they become more aware of the time of year and like, how can I do this at home and everything like that, whereas when it doesn't happen, or it's online only, there's just not that same kind of buzz around the world? Yeah.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 33:00
And it's definitely the buzz around Oktoberfest has increased over the years. I just did a in March, I did a presentation on the 10 years of the modern Dirndl and I went back and kind of analyzed where things shifted. And really, I would say after 2012 is things just started to you saw like every craft brewery was having their own Oktoberfest and brewing their own Oktoberfest beer and it has just continued to be a almost like a style of party now as opposed to just this one event that you could go to in Munich. And I mean, it's great for my business, hoping sticks around.
Emma Peacock 33:49
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So then how do you differentiate especially when it comes to like content between your Facebook page, your Facebook group, your ads, your Instagram how do you kind of shuffle around what you post in those?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 35:05
It's typically all the same general content. It stems from the blog that's kind of like the heart. So the content lives there. And then the photos are distributed in the different platforms as needed. And then Facebook gets a link, Instagram gets the whole link and bio, the Facebook group is really more about the customer and conversation. So it's not just like slap a post up, there's, there's more there. And that's what the community manager helps with is to get conversations going. And they'll also ask questions and post their own pictures. So that's really, I think, where if I need to make $100 today, that's where I'm going is the Facebook group. But in general, it's all very similar Facebook ads are more like retargeting ads. So I run retargeting ads with, like a testimonial, reel, dynamic product. So the product that you clicked on, you're just gonna keep seeing it again and again. And then a quiz. So generating new people to see and take the dirndl quiz to get on to the email list. Those are the Facebook ads I'm running versus the content for Facebook is just you know, the daily things that are going on. Regarding the blog, we don't do a ton of behind the scenes just because I can't schedule it out. And I try to do things I try to schedule things at least two weeks, or a month out. And then if something happens, then I can go back, like if the pandemic hits, and then everything you've scheduled has to change. You could go back into it.
Emma Peacock 36:57
Yeah, for sure. Now that makes sense. I like that. With the group. So you said like, you know, you're not really posting too much promotional stuff. I'm sure you probably mention when there's a big sale happening or like some of those bigger things that you do, like around the January can't remember what you called it, but like custom that you don't pick?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 37:18
Yes, absolutely. So the group started, it's called The Rare Dirndl First Looks Club. And originally it started as this is where I'm going to post sales and things first, and its evolved from there. And it could use a name change, I still haven't changed the name. But they still get. So if I send an email for a promotion at say, 8am Central time, I'll make sure that Jamie schedules the post in The First Looks Club to go out at 6:30 or something like that. So they still get the first it's even if it's a few hours, they get it first. Sometimes it's literally a full day ahead of time that they get access to things. So there's definitely that promotional thing. It's just not as there's more that we post there than just the promotional things. We have a recipe of the month. Yeah.
Emma Peacock 38:20
That's cool. Do you find now that the group is like growing, that you don't feel like you need to like stimulate conversation as much that people are starting to like, share without you like essentially starting a thread?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 38:35
Absolutely. There is definitely that safe space feeling where people can ask questions. For example, someone posted a couple months ago, hey, how does everybody store the apron? Do you just hang it over the top? Is there a strategy that I'm not aware of? And this started a long thread conversation, I ended up making a blog post and email out of it and a video. So there are definitely conversations that start there. I also encourage everybody to post about their local events, because there's some people who are in the same city, but not in the same circles and want more places to go and wear their dirndls they just don't know where it is. So people are posting that there. There's this Oktoberfest here or this German festival here. And they're creating it's it's funny because they're creating friendships and like I never knew that this existed. And yeah, hopefully it also grows some of these German clubs. Enrollment is not the word. Membership. Yes, so the German clubs have increased membership, because there's people that are like saying Cincinnati, they didn't know that there's this club here that has events all year long.
Emma Peacock 40:01
Yeah, it's almost like advertising them but like through word of mouth as well. Yeah, I like that because so many like clubs and organizations like that are becoming almost like, like people, like their membership is going down. And part of that is because like there's a lot feels like there's a lot going on in the world excluding like pandemic and everything even before then now that we're in the digital world you think, you think you know about everything that's happening in your local area. Like we go to a to a it's like a movie thing every Thursday that I go to with my parents, and I'm literally the youngest person in the entire place, oftentimes by like, 10 years, because they don't advertise it, like on social media or anything like that. So literally, no one my age knows about it, except for obviously the people I've talked about it. But what will happen is slowly over time, that will like, age out. So like, that kind of thing, just over time tends to if people don't know about it, go away, it doesn't mean that people don't want to do it. It's just they don't know about it. So like, sharing in those local areas. And then, like being like, I recognize that person and it being a, I recognize that person over there. And I feel like I can go say hi, because it's not a secret. Like, it's not something to like, shy away from, I like recognize your face, like stimulating real life conversations based on a Facebook group is so fun.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 41:25
Emma Peacock 41:27
Cool. Um, what about so YouTube, you mentioned, sometimes you do things in kind of like tandem with the blog, maybe like around the same topics? How do you make the content different?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 41:43
I'm not gonna lie, my Youtube channel is a bit rough. I have not made too many videos, I have two little kids at home. So I don't often put on makeup. And when I do, I usually like well, I should probably make a video today. Lately, I've been doing some reels. And then I'll take that and put it on the blog, which again, isn't generating too much SEO there. But the videos that I'm putting on YouTube are typically just like talking head videos, taking what I said on the blog and just talking about it. And so it's again, it's just kind of that same content, repurposed. And doing it in a slightly different way, hoping that it resonates with someone. And people do tend to recognize me personally from the videos. Because they they're like, I feel like I know you like oh, cool, we're actually, friends. So no, you're not gonna get a discount.
Emma Peacock 42:46
Funny that. Yeah, I like that, though, that you're, you know, it's informative, almost in a way of like you're doing the videos when you have a reason to do a video. But because you're not like I need to do a video every week. There's almost that thing of like, sometimes when you have to do something every week, it becomes like, you kind of run out of ideas, or it becomes like a to do rather than it being like, I have this really fun idea. It suits being a video. Let's do it. And that's like the instructional ones and things like that like that. You're making that when the context suits video, but not putting too much pressure on yourself.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 43:25
The Youtube, Youtube channel really hosts the content that is on the website. So the sizing instructional videos, the video of why this studio space is not open on a regular basis and we're appointment only stuff like that those videos live there, how to tie a perfect apron bow, those kinds of instructional things that tend to be longer. I'll put there.
Emma Peacock 44:00
And then Pinterest what's your kind of approach there?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 44:04
It's basically a link back to the blog. And I don't really have too much of a Pinterest strategy at the moment. I just have an image that's large and vertical that's hidden within the blog so that you can, I pin it, and then I just let it do its thing. Shopify automatically puts my product onto Pinterest. And I do try to put a lot of photos because people will do more research. So I get brides always have a Pinterest board for me to look at, which is super helpful. And if someone's planning a trip to Oktoberfest, that's another thing they'll they'll just pin a bunch of things that they like. So I want to make sure that my designs are out there and available for people to pin but I don't necessarily know that it's a direct sale thing.
Emma Peacock 45:03
Nice. And then a lot of your offline is focused in like your local German bars, restaurants, like community, basically, um, how have you gone about that? Have you just gone in and like introduced yourself?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 45:23
Well, the one restaurant I worked at, because when I left my parents house, I was like, Okay, well, now I'm gonna need some, you know, money to fill the fridge, because it's not gonna be full when I get home. And so I worked at the restaurant, part-time. And that was one of the things that I thought, right off the bat, I'm gonna have a part-time job, I might as well have one where I can wear my own designs. So I always wore a Dirndl every day, I always had business cards on me, eventually, I stopped carrying business cards, and I pulled the whole oh my gosh, I'm all out of business cards, let me get your email, and I'll send you some information, boom, list. And so I already had a good rep, reputation there. And I'll just drop off postcards that says use this card and the code to get 10% off or something like that. There's not too many unfortunately, anymore. Two of them closed this past year. So I'll send fliers to other the German clubs. So if I have an event here where I'm going to be open for a couple hours, I'll make sure that I send them posters. I would say the most offline stuff is word of mouth and just encouraging the sharing of information.
Emma Peacock 46:49
Hmm, nice. Yeah. And then calling people is something that only I've only ever heard you talking about. I've never really heard of other people like calling their, like, loyal customers.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 47:02
I'm always terrified.
Emma Peacock 47:04
Yeah, I would be uhh. Um, but these are people who have like, bought from you before. That's how you've got their phone number, right? So I know you've spoken before that somebody felt like they were talking to someone famous.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 47:20
Yes. She I said, Hi, this is Erika from Rare Dirndl. And she's like, Wait, what? Like, yeah, I want to call and say hi and thank you for I noticed you ordered this. And I want to tell you that we had something else I thought you'd like so I just figured I'd call and she's like, I can't believe you're calling me. This is like so exciting.
Emma Peacock 47:42
I feel special. Oh, yeah, yeah. And I think there must be a way that you approach it in terms of like, I'm letting you know that there's something that I think you would like, based on, you know, what you've bought from me before, rather than it being like, so I just wanted to let you know that our 25% off whatever. Like, it's a very different type of call.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 48:06
I keep having on my to do list to call this handful of customers that have become very, very loyal customers, just within the past two, three years. And I just want to find out more like how they found me why but that I haven't gotten the courage to call them yet because I'm worried that it's going to come off as like. I don't know, just like too inquisitive and salesy, like, tell me how I can find more of you. which is essentially what I want to do. So the cold calling, typically when I get up the gumption to do it is usually just calling the people that I know are great customers and I just want to call and tell them that we have something new. And usually I don't have much of it. So the whole idea of like photographing it, and then listing it and then advertising it takes a lot of effort when I could just like sell all these six, seven pieces in the next 40 minutes if I just take 10 minutes to call these five people.
Emma Peacock 49:17
Yeah, nice. And then how do you like if they do want to buy it? How do you do that? Do you then listed on as and then send them a link or how do you?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 49:26
I'll just send them, I'll send them an invoice. I have their email I have everything. Yep. And if it is something that is not listed, I just make a note that doesn't have a picture doesn't have anything it just says new item or new blouse or something like that.
Emma Peacock 49:46
yeah, I mean, they just talked to you. They know what it's, they know what it is. Yeah. Cool. I really like that. It's like a, just a different approach that like treats your customers like their actual humans.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 50:00
Yeah, and not everybody picks up. Like, I know I don't pick up the phone if I see an unknown number. So chances are I just leave a message, which is also something that's easy. I just have to say this and this and that. If you're interested, you know, you can email me back, because there are some people that don't want to talk on the phone, and I totally get that. So it's, like I said, I'm always very nervous. But once you get going, then you just kind of get on a roll. And and you have I have had some of the most interesting conversations to with, with customers about random stuff. And then they're like, Oh, my gosh, she's so nice. I'll just buy from her. And then it's word of mouth again. All cycles back.
Emma Peacock 50:53
Yeah, yeah, I once ordered from a local person here in New Zealand. And I ordered two things. One of the things was pre order, and one of them was like an accessory. And she called me to let me know that she was going to ship the accessory, but the the dress hadn't come in yet. And initially, I was like, you could have just sent me an email, like, I'm probably not the only person that you're now having to call that must be a lot of work to do. But then I realized, well, actually, I feel like I've actually made a personal connection with her because it was the business owner who called me so like, it probably was actually worth it, because I've since bought another three dresses. So yeah. Why not?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 51:27
There was one time the one of a kind sale. That one I do in January, there were so many people interested in, I only had 30 slots for that year, it sold out in three minutes. And it got the site glitched out and every single person ordered as short Dirndl in a size two. And I'm like thats not right. So everyone was in such a hurry. Nobody cared they just purchased. So I had to call every single person go down the list. And that was also another great thing, because then I got to talk to these people. And they felt really honored that I took the time to call and figure out what happened. And especially now when on a regular basis, you just don't talk to people. Everything is online, everything's an email. I still prefer an email. But there's something to hearing a voice.
Emma Peacock 52:43
For sure. Yeah. But it definitely takes longer. And people respect that, that you took the time because it is they know that it's a lot easier to just send like a mass email out to everyone and be like, please reply with your information. But talking to them about it just feels so much more human and less like you've brushed them off and made them a collective thing as well. Like it just goes a long way. So it's definitely worth the time. So do you have any rules for yourself of like minimums, maximums, anything across all of that, because it is, it is a bit of marketing that you're doing there. So
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 53:20
Yes, it's a lot. And one of my goals for the coming year is to let go of some of that and outsource more. Because originally when I was started this business, I was doing so much sewing and so much production that I didn't have time for marketing. Now I've offloaded basically all of the production and all of the sewing. And now I'm doing so much marketing that I don't have time for designing. And I have people asking for new stuff. And I'm like, what? You want, you want me to design stuff? like do my designer job? So I recognize that maybe I need to do less of this and more of the design work, which is exciting because I haven't done that in a while. And so at minimum, I send the emails. So when I was pregnant and getting ready for maternity leave, it was right when the pandemic had, everything was up in the year and it was not so fun. I had to decide just what is the bare minimum that I'm going to get away with for being away for three months and that was email. And I did schedule some social media I did schedule out some text messages, but I knew for myself at minimum it had to be the emails and just like at least once a week, continue that because I know generates revenue.
Emma Peacock 54:58
And you kept your Facebook group active, right?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 55:01
Yes. And that's actually what prompted me to hire a community manager. Because I knew that there had to be a real person talking, it couldn't just be scheduled posts, because if I scheduled this, people would expect me to respond. And I was checked out. I was not answering. So I needed somebody there that was going to do that. And then after it worked out, so well, I kept her on. Maximum is kind of as much as I can do.
Emma Peacock 55:36
It's a good healthy minimum, though.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 55:38
Yeah, I'm not looking to get on to TikTok. I always see some of these videos. I'm like, ah, I have all these ideas of how I could do it. And I'm like, but then I'd actually have to do it. And I'm not. So yep, I could do all those fun dances in a dirndl, but then I'd actually have to get dressed up, learn the dance, film the dance, like, yeah.
Emma Peacock 56:02
It could be an opportunity for you for an affiliate though, if there was someone I mean, hopefully there's someone on TikTok, who is sharing German stuff, and could be
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 56:14
That that's a great idea.
Emma Peacock 56:17
Just outsource that to them. And they are incentivized in the way that affiliates are.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 56:26
Note to self.
Emma Peacock 56:30
Um, what do you thinks been the most effective in marketing your business?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 56:36
Word of mouth? I mean, that's how it started. And that's how, I have an email that goes out to first time customers that says, How did you find out about me? I'd love to learn, blah, blah, blah. And so often, it comes back. I don't know how. But I heard from somebody this and that. Or sometimes it's a specific person, or I don't know if it was email or this or Facebook or this. But it usually comes back to something relating back to a human person, or a Facebook ad. But yeah, I would say word of mouth, and just having excellent customer service, our beautifully packaged packages, the business cards in the pockets, those little things that get people talking, and then the emails.
Emma Peacock 57:37
If you could turn back time as the only thing you would do sooner,
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 57:42
I think I would have jumped on the not caring so much about social media sooner. There was a what I think I started to let go of Facebook at right the right time, because I was really doing a lot with Facebook, when Facebook was showing my stuff for free. So I was getting good sales from posting on Facebook. And then when it dropped off, then I was like, Well, I guess I don't have to care so much. But for some reason, letting go of the beauty of Instagram was a little harder for me for some reason. But yeah, it's about the content for me. And I know that my customers like to see themselves in the pictures. And so whether my feed is perfect, like I love to look at a beautiful feed but do my customers care that much. Probably not.
Emma Peacock 58:39
Yeah, I like that. Yeah. And also like it's that thing of where can I make content that I really enjoyed, that people enjoy? And then secondarily is that will also get in front of more people? Because there's that thing of like I'm enjoying this and I'm enjoying like Facebook groups are kind of where Facebook seems to be putting their like algorithms towards at the moment. So you're there. Stories and Reels, are like where it's at on Instagram, that doesn't mean that you like either funnel all of your energy into those. It just means like, if a piece of content suits that context, make it the right length technically, or whatever, so that it can become that.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 59:27
Yeah, so when I'm doing something, for example, there was I was making I still make this one particular product or Edelweiss clips, I still make them myself and so while I was making them I thought this would make a great Reel. Reels? Instagram loves Reels, but I'm not going to go out of my way to try and make something that doesn't isn't conducive to it. So while I was doing I just took videos actually still haven't made the Reel. I just have all the videos ready to go. So that kind of stuff. Like you said, if you're creating a piece of content, and it fits into the parameters of what this is going to be best at then do it, I don't like to force it. Especially, I don't have the brain energy to force it either.
Emma Peacock 1:00:13
And also forcing it tends not to work anyway. Yeah. So it's like, how far am I gonna force this knowing that it's like a 50/50 shot, whether it'll actually like get like, no, just do the stuff that's fun. Because it comes across, like, the content is just more fun. Yeah, right. Nice. Cool. So let's do the not so rapid rapid fire, which is like just quickfire round questions. But sometimes some explanation is required. So where do you get the most of your website traffic from?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:00:47
Direct link clicks. So I'm guessing that's like email. And word of mouth, people just typing in the thing, followed by Facebook, which I believe is from the ads. Yeah, and then Google, that's Facebook ads, and Google, they they teeter, depending on if I'm running ads. If I'm not running ads, then Google outranks Facebook.
Emma Peacock 1:01:13
What is your favorite place on the internet right now?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:01:19
This is a tough question. I feel like I find myself on Instagram. But then I find myself being like, get off. Like it's on the last page of my phone. So it's a pain in the butt for me to get to. And I honestly like it might be the Being Boss community because I do enjoy chatting there. As opposed to being on Instagram. I basically Instagram is just like sending my sister funny things.
Emma Peacock 1:01:48
What are you looking forward to the most in the next year of business?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:01:53
Designing. Actually having more than four hours of sleep a night to come up with new designs and creating them because I haven't had anything new for a while. And especially last year, I had projected to do some big things in 2020 in regards to directly Oktoberfest sales. I don't need to explain why that wasn't the case. So while I'm still sitting on a lot of inventory, there's a lot of thinking behind whether or not I'm going to do made to order can I do like half made to order situations? So I'm just looking forward to ironing out those details and actually designing some new stuff.
Emma Peacock 1:02:40
Awesome. What about in the offline world? What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:02:46
Emma Peacock 1:02:51
Yeah, yeah. Nice. Yeah. Have they? So I mean, it's right now time, right?
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:02:57
Yeah. So they, it takes months to build. So it came out in beginning of June, that it wasn't going to happen. So it just depends, and they have the organizers of Oktoberfest have stated, quite frankly, that if they can't do the festival, the way they've always done it, they're not going to do it because it is not worth restructuring this whole event for them. So if they can't do it, if they have to implement max capacities or whatever, they're just not going to. So that's why it could potentially still not happen next year.
Emma Peacock 1:03:40
So if someone is listening to this episode, and they want to grow their own retail business, what is the one thing you recommend they do to market their business better.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:03:50
Um, just keep those testimonials and that customer top of mind while I don't love the phrase, the customer is always right. I do believe that a happy customer is the best advertising you can ever have. So going out of your way to make them happy and some people won't be happy. But if you have just an overwhelming majority, and that that's just going to speak volumes, your customers speaking for you is going to be way better than any text message you're ever gonna send.
Emma Peacock 1:04:33
For sure word of mouth is always the ultimate goal. Everything else is kind of just building behind.
Erika Neumayer Ehrat 1:04:39
Right and you can absolutely build a word of mouth strategy being online. You know, I have not I have not been in like an in person event in a long time and when I had my first baby. I also didn't do a whole lot either. You know, I was like, okay, I've been working for so long to build this business to be an online thing that I can run and take care of my kids. So keeping that word of mouth going was key, and it can be done.
Emma Peacock 1:05:24
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host Emma Peacock, and today our guest was Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl. To browse Erika's designs go to raredirndl.com if you're enjoying the podcast, I'd love it if you could share it with a friend or on Instagram and tag us @honeypotdigital. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast and handy tips for small businesses marketing online head to honeypotdigital.com