Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.04.37 pmIn this time of ubiquitous email newsletters, it’s nice to give credit where credit’s due. So to kick off this new series (Column? Honour roll?) I’d like to start with Of a Kind. This online store supports local designers with limited runs of one of a kind pieces. They match each piece with stories about the designer, their tips (E.g. Sarah’s favourite taco places in Los Angeles) and often something about their production technique or a studio tour.

This commitment to detail and stories elevates their website beyond just e-commerce, and no doubt has a positive impact on their average browse time.

They also translate this well into their newsletters. Of a kind has a variety of product launch or collection emails every few days (which are well designed and short and to the point). But, the one I consistently look forward to and open is their weekly Ten Things wrap up.

of_a_kindIn Ten Things, the two co-founders (Erica and Claire) talk about five things each that they’re into or have discovered recently. It’s not business related, so it comes across as friendly and authentic. Of course, the bonus is that it still keeps the Of a Kind brand front of mind, business related or not.

So what are some lessons we can take away from the Of a Kind method?

In retail, stories sell

Sure some categories may lend themselves to a back story better than others, but with a little creativity most items should be able to be given some personality. Nuts and bolts? What have customers used them for in their DIY projects. Dishwashing liquid? Cleaning tips involving the product. You get the idea.

Don’t be afraid of personality

This point is more relevant for small businesses, but is also applicable to larger organisations. Your brand should have a tone all on its own, but there’s nothing wrong with having some of the founders(‘) voice(s) in there too. Having blog posts authored by different employees (like me!) is another way to give your customers a glimpse behind the curtains of your company. The added advantage of people writing like themselves is that every piece of content doesn’t read like a homogenous marketing textbook.

Be interesting

You have other interests. So do your customers. And chances are if they’re your target market (which, as a salad loving, life hacking, travelling online shopper, I clearly am Of a Kind’s) many of these interests will overlap. Experiment with occasionally diverging from your company’s offering and just (to use a completely overused term) having a conversation. Maybe your customers don’t care what you do outside of selling nuts and bolts, but maybe they do?