Breaking My Brand Promise
If marketing is a battle of perceptions, then my brand, Megillicutti, was beleaguered.
My first brick-and-mortar antiques booth.
Since its inception eight years ago, Megillicutti (my jobby selling, styling, and writing about vintage) has waved the banner “elevating the everyday.” In fact, it’s my brand promise that I tuck into my bio on Instagram: “On the quest every day to elevate the everyday.”
Elevating the everyday isn’t about what I sell. It's not really about my style or what I take pictures of. Or even what I write about. It’s not a product or a service. It’s an experience. It’s that feeling I want to linger when people hit my Instagram page, read an article about vintage living, or shop my vintage finds.
For eight years of peddling la vida vintage, that’s been my promise.
But it took one year making one big mistake to recognize where that brand promise is susceptible to attack.
Operation Antique BoothIf you were permitted to peek at my basement in January 2019, you likely would have called A&E for a “Hoarders” intervention.
My vintage inventory, Jenga-stacked from floor to the rafters, was demanding either I sell more or find a storage unit. My patient husband, wanting to see an ROI between my bi-annual sales, lovingly urged me to sell.
So sell I did (and signed an agreement for a storage unit for overflow, which tells you just how bad the intervention was needed. But that’s beside the point.)
A friend alerted me to a space at a local antique mall available immediately. Out of desperation, I jumped. Without question. Without touring the shop. Without good judgment.
The next day, New Year’s Day, I hauled mirrors, cabinets, art and doodads to the second-floor of a suburban antique mall. It was Megillicutti’s first brick-and-mortar spot.
I was giddy (and my husband was thrilled) as my sales exceeded expectations the first month. Month two, sales remained strong, as my IG followers continued to trek to my suburban spot for the first time.
Month three, sales dropped dramatically. Month four, five, six, seven and eight I either barely covered or didn’t cover the cost of my space. Months nine and ten I experienced a mini-rebound. But months eleven and twelve — the happy high-traffic holiday shopping months — produced yet another abysmal balance sheet.
I was failing at selling vintage — something until this point I had excelled at—and I couldn’t figure out why.
New Year, New ApproachIn November 2019, I opened a second space at a new multi-dealer location - the buzz of the vintage town.
Unlike the previous location, dealers were vetted based on the quality of their merchandise and the care they put into displaying their merchandise. The owner said he would rather have an empty store until he found the right people to fill it than a full store that would leave shoppers feeling empty. He wanted to create a shopping experience that loosely reflected my own brand promise of elevating the everyday.
Finally, I understood my problem at the previous location. It wasn’t that my merchandise was bad. It’s that the shopping experience where my merchandise was sold didn’t match my promise.
The merchandise was largely not vintage or antique (which no doubt created confusion for my vintage-buying customer). Many of the spaces were crowded, cluttered, and not curated.
One of my loyal customers said, “That place made me feel sick. I’m never going back.”
Keeping the PromiseIf marketing is about how you are perceived in the minds of your prospects and customers, then Megillicutti could not exist in a space that made people “sick” — the polar opposite of “elevating.”
My customer experience had to match my brand.
January 2020, I shut down my first booth, and by February I expanded to three spaces at the new location. And guess what?
My customer-base is expanding as people share the space on social media. My sales are climbing. My storage unit of inventory is thinning.
And best of all, I’m making good on my brand promise of elevating the everyday. And we all know, promises shouldn’t be broken.