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Ready. Set. Scale. Growth Tips from Successful Startup Sunday Swagger

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Small business owners looking to scale need to focus on three things: innovation, adaptation, and connection.

This installment of CO—’s event series Ready. Set. Scale. focused on customer engagement trends and expert insights from a business owner who has numerous celebrities and influencers among his business’s customer base.

  • Mark Carmona, Founder and President of golf apparel brand Sunday Swagger, shared his business journey and tips for spotting growth and expansion opportunities.
  • CO—’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief,Jeanette Mulvey, and Editorial Director of Features, Barbara Thau, discussed what small businesses can learn from the way big brands are engaging their audiences right now.

Growth strategies from Sunday Swagger’s runaway success

In a conversation with Mulvey, Carmona shared how Sunday Swagger has built a loyal following while seizing unexpected opportunities for expansion. Here are some tips for small businesses based on his experience.

Prioritize real engagement over sales on social media

When Adam Sandler wore one of Sunday Swagger’s shirts, it led to a significant boost in brand visibility. The company quickly leveraged this by creating related content, repositioning the product on its website, and running targeted ads.

“Our social media platform is there to entertain and not necessarily sell,” Carmona emphasized. “Over time, if you entertain, you’re going to get engagement … [and] followers, and then eventually those followers can turn into customers.”

Be adaptable, but make data-driven decisions

Carmona discussed how initial assumptions about their target demographic were adjusted based on data insights from social media ads and customer interactions. Small businesses should take calculated risks and be flexible.

In Carmona’s experience, that flexibility is key: Businesses shouldn’t stick rigidly to initial plans but rather take calculated risks based on data, he said.

Have strategies for engaging customers during your ‘slow season’

Businesses can counteract seasonal slumps by creating special moments and experiences for customers year-round.

For Sunday Swagger, launching themed polos around specific events or holidays, like the Winter Olympics or National Bloody Mary Day, helped boost sales during slower periods. Selective discounting and sales opportunities, such as Black Friday, can also help maintain a steady revenue stream throughout the year.

One of Carmona’s top tips is to have a thirst for knowledge within your business.

“Always learn [and] stay on top of things,” he said. [If] you’re not, your competitors are, and you’ll be left in the dust.”


Over time, if you entertain, you’re going to get engagement … [and] followers, and then eventually those followers can turn into customers.

Mark Carmona, Founder and President, Sunday Swagger

The power of authentic engagement with your target audience

Thau and Mulvey highlighted three recent CO— features that display how modern brands of all sizes and industries are finding innovative ways to connect with their audiences and what small businesses can learn from them.

Fashion brand Marimekko is evolving its ‘anti-fashion ethos’ for Gen Z

Marimekko, a 73-year-old Finnish fashion brand, first gained popularity when First Lady Jackie Kennedy wore its designs during the 1960 Presidential Election.

Over 60 years later, Marimekko’s bold floral designs and patterns are targeting younger consumers in the U.S. market. Operating under an “anti-fashion ethos,” the brand rejects traditional fashion trends and opts for originality, which resonates well with Gen Z.

“These days, it’s about looking like yourself, and individuality, inclusivity, [and] timeless design,” said Thau.

Small business owners looking for this type of longstanding success can follow Marimekko’s strategy of embracing a unique brand identity, engaging influencers in their respective fields, and forming partnerships to increase visibility.

Read the full article: How Marimekko’s ‘Anti-Fashion’ Ethos Woos A New Generation of Consumers

Mental health and wellness are a focus for brands across industries

Consumers’ mental health has become a priority for brands outside of the health and wellness industries. In the past year, the dating app Bumble incorporated new Profile Prompts and Interest Badges dedicated to self-care after a survey found that 55% of its users felt it was important to discuss mental health to create genuine connections.

Around the same time, Ulta Beauty launched The Joy Project, in partnership with Mel Robbins, to combat the inner critic and negative self-talk. Starting with store associates, the initiative focused on providing tools to identify one’s inner critic, disrupt negative thought patterns, and help others do the same.

“You don’t have to be a big brand to [incorporate emotional wellness],” Mulvey said. “If you run a small business and you have customers … maybe the first thing you say to a customer is, ‘How are you doing?’ [Think] about how people are feeling a little bit more.”

Read the full article: How Everyday Brands Are Marketing Wellness

Lockerverse capitalizes on the phenomenon of fandom-fueled commerce

Digital sports community Lockerverse provides the ultimate fan community: an outlet for athletes at all levels to share content, sell merchandise, and create both digital and in-person experiences.

Thau explained the platform narrows the social gap between fans and athletes, and both parties can monetize their interactions. But the model of creating connections and fostering dialogue extends beyond sports. Small businesses in any industry can use Lockerverse’s example to build communities and facilitate more consumer interactions to capitalize on.

Read the full article: How a Digital Sports Disruptor is Redefining Fandoms

Apply today for the CO— 100!

Is your small business one of the best in America? Apply for our premier awards program for small businesses, the CO—100, today to get recognized and rewarded. One hundred businesses will be honored and one business will be awarded $25,000. Apply here!

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Kaytlyn Smith

This post was originally published on this site

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