Kevin Wohlman runs Southern Scholar, a premium monthly sock subscription box for men. But with so many sock subscriptions out there, we wanted to know: What makes Southern Scholar unique and what did Kevin have to do to stand out among the competition and grow?
So, we asked him. Here are Kevin’s 3 tips for differentiating your subscription box and enhancing your value proposition.
1. Find the weaknesses in your industry and fix them
For Kevin, he found the biggest weakness to be quality.
Before starting Southern Scholar, Kevin worked an entry-level job at a Big Four accounting firm. That’s when he noticed that nearly every guy, including himself, was wearing some kind of patterned sock– people weren’t wearing the muted, browns, blues and blacks anymore. After wearing these colorful, patterned socks himself, Kevin noticed a few flaws. They kept sliding down, holes would begin to emerge after a few weeks, and most people didn’t really know how to coordinate their socks with the rest of their outfit.
Learn from your competitors. Follow them close and see what they are doing that you like and see what they are doing that you don’t. Create your own growth strategy based on that.
So, Kevin sought to solve these problems by designing and making his own socks. “Believe me, the first few sample runs were hideous to the point where I kind of laughed at myself” Kevin said. “I wanted something that could be worn with traditional business clothes in formal environments, but still add a touch of uniqueness and style to your look.” And after some trial and error, Southern Scholar was born with a design that is durable, stays on your calf, and features soft colors that are perfect for work OR play.
After taking his designs through a pre-launch (i.e. wearing them to work and raking in compliments from his would-be customers), Kevin knew they were a success.
2. Educate customers— help them get the most out of your product
One of the most important components of Southern Scholar’s business is the “Style Card”– a small card in each box that includes an elegant picture of the socks being worn with an ideal outfit. On the other side of the Style Card, there is a detailed description of the ideal outfit– from the color and style of the suit, slacks, and shirt, down to the watch and pocket square.
“Since in today’s business environment ties are rarely a requirement, gentlemen use their socks as their style differentiator. I wanted them to get the most out of that idea by providing them with some no-pressure advice and inspiration.”
In addition to the Style Card, Southern Scholar does a phenomenal job with pictures. Having good pictures is one of the best ways to communicate value to your potential customers. Their Instagram, which boasts more than 15k followers, is filled with high-quality pictures that showcase their product being used in a variety of settings.
You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t invest in great content to show it off, people aren’t likely to give you a try. I recommend all businesses invest in professional photographers, it will pay for itself later on, guaranteed (truth is, you can find great photographers who aren’t insanely expensive).
Check out some of their photos below and you’ll be blown away by how much emotion you can capture in a picture of socks. Want to learn more about the importance of pictures and how to improve yours? Check out our piece here!
3. Know your customers and give them what they’re looking for (and remember this can change seasonally)
When Kevin first started the business he thought his customers were all going to be young professionals fresh out of school, working in the business and finance industries. In other words, people like him. What he actually found was that a lot of his subscribers were in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.
But more interesting than that was gifting. Many of Kevin’s sales were gifts, so he combed through the gift messages and realized that during gifting season his revenue wasn’t coming from his target market, but from the girlfriends, wives, and children of his target subscribers. He realized that to take advantage of the gift sales he would have to make sure he communicates with this group.
We live in a time where people aren’t afraid to give a lot of information about themselves over the internet. We constantly ask our members for feedback– what they like, what they don’t, what we could do better. If they leave, we not only try and figure out why, but where they are going instead. For a one-man team it’s difficult to do everything, so I try and focus on what’s going to have the most impact and then fill in the leftover time with the rest.
Here’s how to get started:
Research your competition and target market
Educate your subscribers and communicate value
Read the “Promotion and Place” sections of the Marketing Guide.
Know Your Customers
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