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One of the things we are most proud of at heymama are the incredible panel discussions we’ve been able to curate over the years. Our community is always open to sharing their successes (and mishaps!) in growing their businesses and dissecting the delicate balance between work and motherhood. In our latest panel series, we partnered with rag & bone in both New York and LA to chat about marketing and the newfound landscape we are all navigating in both our business and personal lives in a series called, Digital Daze.

We tapped experts in their fields to join us for an indepth morning discussion in the beautiful rag & bone stores on both coasts and dare we say, these might have been some of our favorite events yet? In LA, Alli Webb, founder of Drybar, Chelsea Matthews, founder of Matte Black, Raina Penchansky from Digital Brand Architects and Stacy Matthews form The Narrative Group had so much to say we could have stayed chatting all day. In New York, Janna Meyrowitz Turner, Founder, StyleHouse, Lindsay Knaak-Stuart, Founder and CEO of Meant, Nicole Siegel, CMO and Managing Partner at Story and Johanna Murphy, Global CMO of Rag & Bone shared the differences between a scrappy start-up and a multi-million dollar campaign. It’s a whole new digital landscape and our experts share their tips and tricks for customer engagement below.

Read on for tips on navigating the digital landscape …

 

Stacy Matthews, The Narrative Group

At the narrative group, you are focused on creative storytelling. How do you determine what story will resonate best with your audience? Are there specific strategies that you employ when designing a campaign?

At the Narrative Group we help clients define and refine their brand stories. We then look for ways they can be woven into popular culture moments. By deeply understanding the macro and micro trends that are occurring both online and off, we are able to develop smart communication tactics that enhance relevancy.

It is so important to stay top of mind and consumers want information. Being “in the know” has become social currency so we are trying to carve a space for clients in the conversation and exchange of information that is constantly happening through multiple channels. This is something that takes ongoing strategy and proactive and reactive storytelling. We also lean on our clients to inform us of trends they see within their space and turn those trends into pitch ideas for media and social campaigns. Sometimes they stick and other times they do not, but we try and get them in the habit of thinking bigger than just their product or service and get them thinking about the larger landscape.

 

Chelsea Matthews, founder Matte Black

Marketing has become such a sophisticated (and complicated!) industry. Brands have to do much more than place an ad during the Super Bowl to make their product a bestseller – that is simply one piece of the pie. What has been your most successful integrated campaign and what were the key elements that made it stand out for you?

There tends to be an industry standard that anything under $2,000 per month towards paid (social – like Facebook, Instagram, etc) won’t do a ton for you as it’s a very competitive landscape. That said, TEST. Test twenty different ads (use different images, videos, copy, promotions, etc) and see what performs best… then run with it. Even if your budget is only $500, just use it as an opportunity for some learning.

I would always recommend you pair your Facebook/Instagram advertising with ad retargeting (think: those shoes that follow you around the Internet when you ditched them in your cart on Revolve.com). This way, the new traffic that Facebook and/or Instagram are sending you can be captured, if it doesn’t convert right away.

If you’re focused on geo targeting (aka you have a product that is carried at Whole Foods and you want to very strategically target those customers at specific locations), be focused of geo based ad strategies. Foursquare is a great place to start! Their AdTech is great.

 

 

Raina Penchansky from Digital Brand Architects

As your talent gains popularity it must be tricky for them to maintain a consistent and authentic voice. How do you scale a brand when the individual is at the heart of what people want more of?

When a person is the heart of the brand, brand means connectivity, so you have to always think about that connection to your audience. There’s a balance between scaling something and evolving. If you’re making decisions just for the sake of growth, that will backfire. If you are genuinely evolving, growing and listening to your audience, you can scale your brand intelligently.

People confuse inauthenticity with monetization. There is nothing wrong with being compensated for your work and as women we have to continue to support and celebrate entrepreneurship and creativity.

 

 

 

Lindsay: You company Meant is fairly new. Budgeting for marketing, especially in the beginning of a brand, can be restrictive. What are some grass-roots, low-cost marketing hacks you tried when you were first starting out?

Meant is a self-funded start up, and we only launched 7 months ago, so at this point everything we do is low-cost, grass-roots and scrappy! We don’t have big marketing budgets to run digital ads at the scale that would produce ROI, so while we did some testing with Facebook, Instagram and Google, we’ve recently pulled back. We’re now focusing on what we do have – product. Product is our currency, and we’re using this to partner with micro-influencers in the 1K to 10K follower range. I say yes to a small amount of influencers reaching out directly to me, and with them I’m looking at their engagement and quality of content. Do they produce content that is on brand enough that I can use it across the Meant channels, because everyone, not just small brands, needs more content. Additionally, this past Fall I partnered with PALM, a network for like-minded brands and influencers. We ran a 50 influencer campaign with the goals of building brand awareness, creating buzz and generating content. The campaign produced some great results and learnings and I’ll be looking to partner with PALM again in the new year. Lastly, PR. I prioritized budget and recently hired a PR agency. In the category of beauty I believe positive press is truly a game changer and a non-negotiable expense.

Nicole Siegel, CMO and Managing Partner at Story

You’re website states that, “The belief that authentic storymaking is the best and only way for brands to truly connect with their audience has always formed the core philosophy of our integrated creative agency.”. Today, everyone literally has a “story”. How do you advise brands to stand out above the noise of all the user generated content available?

 

As the world becomes more and more experiential, everyone is a natural storymaker and the desire for amazing experiences is bottomless.

While storytelling remains the core of how humans relate to their world and truly connect, telling stories is not enough. Storytelling implies that somebody’s doing the talking and someone’s doing the listening. It’s not a collaborative process. Storymaking, implies it’s collaborative. It’s taking your brand story and bringing it to life by creating brand experiences people want to be a part of and want to share.

It’s imperative that brands incorporate their audiences’ experiences into the process of making brand stories. UGC is actually more powerful when used in tandem with your brand content to create brand advocacy. User-generated content helps your most passionate customers become your brand advocates, effectively turning people into media and building communities around your products. This level of authenticity drives higher engagement and ultimately leads to more sales.

Applied to a content strategy, brands should approach content in 3 steps – create, co-create and curate.

  • Create your own content: create a strong identity in the minds and hearts of consumers. This comes down to a brand story that matters.
  • Co-create in partnership with consumers: once consumers welcome and value your story, they can internalize it and make it their own.
  • Curate the best of the UGC and show it to more people: people’s reactions and experiences become a part of your narrative.

The best stories are made, not told.

Janna Meyrowitz Turner, Founder of StyleHouse

How much do you encourage your brands to use direct email as a marketing tool? How much weight does that have for them? How interested are you in growing newsletter lists?

Email is the most valuable relationship you have with your customer because not only does it convert more than any other medium, but it’s the only relationship you really own. Success on Facebook and Instagram can change overnight if Facebook changes their algorithm (which they do often do). It’s a privilege to be in someone’s inbox and you need to treat it as such by providing high value content. Seth Godin calls it Permission Marketing. Email and CRM platforms like MailChimp and ConvertKit (our fave) also provide valuable data that is worth the time for every small business owner to dissect and perfect their email marketing strategy.

Have you discovered any new marketing techniques that are resonating with your customers? We’d love to learn from you in the comments below.

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