So, why saf shoes? What does it mean? Saf is an acronym that stands for “sexy as fuck”. When you wear our dance shoes we want you to feel like your best, most authentic self. Throughout our lives there are ups and downs, and saf is a reflection of all the things we have learnt along the way: authenticity is sexy, communication is sexy, dance shoes should be comfortable, and friendship is one of the best gifts life has to offer.
Before saf shoes, to get a quality pair of dance shoes in North America you would have to order from Europe. But after taxes, shipping, and duty, most shoes were prohibitively expensive. Keeping with both the spirit of the Savoy Ballroom and the contemporary times that we live in, we wanted to make our shoes as inclusive as possible. Inclusive for us meant comfortable, affordable, and gender neutral.
Once the idea for saf shoes was born, I had four short months to create prototypes, establish a brand, create a buzz, build an online store and launch a crowfunding campagin
the solution (aka. the marketing plan)
Develop a multi-channel marketing approach, leveraging Instagram and community outreach as the main ways to magnify influence and exposure, and build our brand around a defendable asset: our values.
From its inception, saf shoes positioned itself as a brand that stood for authenticity, inclusivity, and community. Using these principles as our defendable asset, we immediately aligned ourselves with organizations and influencers that embodied these values. Our values and connecting to community came before a single shoe photo was ever published. This put our brand in a unique position to build an emotional bond with our customers, so they could feel empowered by the values we stood for and share our message.
After aligning with influencers across Canada and the Pacific Northwest (PNW), we developed social media policies that enabled influencers to share company values, personality, and products at any time. They flooded their feeds and the company feed (Instagram, Facebook, and email campaigns) with authentic content (helping with organic reach) from across North America (Montreal, Boston, Vancouver, Seattle).
We partnered with a long-standing community dance event (Vancouver’s Lindy Bout) with the same target market. This all allowed us to utilize their platform and brand loyalty for our product launch. Leading up to and during the four day dance event (and our product launch), all influencers were in positions of prominence; wearing shoes while instructing, competing, judging, MCing and performing (both in Vancouver and abroad).
Instagram was leveraged as an online store, to successfully strategize, build, and market the brand. It became the central focus of our community building effort as I funnelled all customer activity through the platform. This enabled me to build relationships and organically share our story with multiple layers of customer (dancers, shoe makers, and small business owners) around the world.
Content was developed with community engagement as the main goal. Images focused on a diverse range of community members (gender, ethnicity, body type, dance skill level), mixed in with dance influencers. The content’s text encouraged shares, tags, and likes through various calls to action.
Instagram stories provided value by being utilized as a blog under #businessdiaries. Resulting in 25% user engagement, focusing on honest content about the ups and downs of starting a business, and sourcing manufacturing in Asia.
Product personalities were modeled after community members and existing client personas.
Grey Matter is for the tattooed black-wearing hipsters, the intellectuals that care about the history of the dance and are working on their PhDs (in the history of jazz dance, obviously), as programmers or engineers. The dancers that are understatedly cool, that don’t give a fuck about anything but coffee and the lindy hop.
Bluebird is for the free spirits, the feelers and the artists. The dancers and musicians that travel to every event, driving through the night to get back home after dancing to live music until 5am in a different city. The bubbly and excitable extroverts that NEED to be the centre of attention.
Mashed Potatoes are for the homebodies and nerds, the DnD players and Star Wars watchers. The wallflowers that are steady, constant, and often overlooked. The dancers who maybe don’t steal the limelight, but their hard work and dedication brings the limelight to them.
We officially launched on April 4th, in person at Lindy Bout and on our online store. The online store (Shopify) was the main crowdfunding platform. All orders were pre-sales until we reached out crowdfunding target. 25% of all lindy bout event attendees purchased our product and we reached 75% of our crowdfunding target within four days of our launch. Five days after the event we reached our crowdfunding goal, and after that the sales kept rolling in and we flew to Asia to source manufacturing.
Prior to the launch day, retargeting codes were placed in the back end of the landing page and all product pages. Instagram and Facebook ads were activated to target all individuals that interacted with our social media and store content.
Successfully developed and launched crowd funding campaign, new product, and online store within a four month time frame. Met and exceeded all targets within 10 days of product launch. Sold to customers in Vancouver, Montreal, New York, California, Sweden, The Netherlands, the UK, and Australia.
Identified an unmet niche market need and utilized Instagram and community leveraging to capitalize on a unique audience. Organic reach and social media shares prior to launch garnered over 100 shares on Facebook and 600 followers on Instagram within a 7 week period.
Hired influencers, brand ambassadors, and professional brand photographers to create and establish an online “pop-up shop” within 4 months of conception.
Developed collaborative relationships with key niche community leaders, including brand ambassadors, manufacturers, non-profit organizations, and dance schools. Product was profiled on the cover of Dance Magazine in September 2019 via brand ambassador as a result.