Guerric de Ternay Gerrik de ternay is the founder of two fashion brands focused on providing sustainable products. GoudronBlanc is over 8 years old offers unique crew and V-neck T-shirts for men using organic cotton, and Blackwood launched last year, and sells accessories handmade from cork leather. They now serve 1000s of customers each year.
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About the Business
- GoudronBlanc is based in France
- Blackwood is based in London
- Uses content marketing as a primary strategy
- Platform: WooCommerce
How it started
While there are many contributing factors in Guerric’s move into eCommerce, he says there are three main components that stand out.
Firstly, Guerric’s mother runs an eCommerce business and he says it was inspiring to grow up watching the behind the scenes story unfold.
Secondly, Guerric started blogging in 2001 at 10 years of age, mostly about video games.
Lastly, his experience blogging eventually led him to start his own digital marketing agency at 16 years old. Working with online companies at his digital firm is what eventually informed his desire to create beautiful products of his own.
With so many digital influences in his life, it only took a gap in the market and a passion for creating high quality, environmentally friendly t-shirts that led Guerric to where he is today.
GoudronBlanc is Guerric’s high end T-shirt company based in France. While the company does sell internationally, 85% of their audience is based in the French speaking countries of France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Guerric says that the company uses a lot of content marketing and focus primarily on French speaking audiences. GoudronBlanc runs on the WordPress eCommerce platform, WooCommerce which Geurric says he’s been using for ages and really likes.
Some of his favorite plugins are Yoast for SEO and Jilt for managing email lifecycle and abandoned carts.
GoudronBlanc’s team includes Guerric, a few members of his family and some consultants. He says the goal is to keep the operating cost really lean by keeping the team small and tight knit.
Unlike GoudronBlanc, Blackwood targets an English speaking audience first. Based in London himself, Guerric says that Blackwood actually needed to function on an English platform because that is how he and his Polish co-founder, Oskar communicate.
Guerric and Oskar are the main work force for the company and Guerric says he has become adept at juggling both roles.
Like GoudronBlan, Blackwood is a WP site running WooCommerce. Because the businesses are so complimentary, the synergy is strong and the inspirations of one informs the other.
While Guerric likes to devote time and energy to the businesses evenly and still leave room for new inspiration, he admits that he often has to focus on emergencies first.
Listen to learn how English markets can be a lot tougher competition.
Competing in English Markets
While the businesses have synergy and similar foundational elements, Guerric says that the English market is more competitive and therefore a more difficult environment in which to survive and thrive.
Fierce competition makes marketing launches more difficult, partners harder to reach and content more challenging to promote.
Marketing in English means you are not only exposing your business to competition, but also spreading yourself thin among the many English speaking markets around the world.
Succeeding in France
For people considering launching a business in France, Guerric has a few pieces of advice.
He suggests that if you aren’t a native speaker, to hire a very good translator. He says that French people won’t tolerate spelling and grammar mistakes. He also says you need to get a handle on French culture and really understand the difference between the French markets vs. the market you’re used to.
Unusual for an eCommerce company, content marketing has been a crucial part of the growth of GoudronBlanc. Guerric says a big part of the company’s content focused marketing comes from his early start as a blogger.
When he began exploring the concept of an eCommerce fashion company, Guerric says surrounded himself with people from the fashion industry, many of whom were fashion bloggers getting a huge amount of traffic.
He was intrigued by how much of this attention was being generated by great content and how few businesses were using it as a strategy. Initially, the majority of this content came from a blog on GoudronBlanc’s website. Guerric says that the original content they created was primarily ‘behind the scenes’ stories about the business, which his customers weren’t ultimately that interested in.
After some experimentation, taking a step back and examining the market Guerric realized how popular fashion blogs were. He says that by changing the content to align with what the market wanted, the blog took off and has become both companies’ primary marketing focus.
Creating content that stands out, connects with influencers and generates useful backlinks is harder in English speaking markets, but it is possible.
When he and Blackwood co-founder Oskar were fleshing out their marketing strategy they decided to not only build a solid foundation with great content, but push it farther with a sustainability focused podcast called Living the Green by Blackwood.
On giving the podcast it’s own name, Guerric says they wanted people to understand that the content would be about sustainability first and foremost–not selling their product.
Listen to learn where you can hear a full length podcast about how to start and grow a sustainable fashion business.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- SEO – Good SEO strength comes from patience, but when it works it works really well
Tool Top Tip
Growth Top Tip
- Create valuable and well targeted content
- Goudron Blanc
- Guerric’s Blog
- Guerric’s Book
- Guerric’s Podcast (link coming as soon as we get it!)
If you liked this episode then checkout these episodes that focus on SEO and Content Marketing