How Ambitious Brands Turn Economic Uncertainty into Opportunity
We’re months into the pandemic and have seen many companies pivot. Some businesses have been impacted more than others — from seeing products flying off the shelves to zero demand — whether you’ve been in either position, you have faced challenges that have required you to pivot.
Interviews and advice from Nurx, TeePublic, Catch.co, Betabrand, and Léon & George.
Kristen is a product leader in consumer FinTech and banking integration. She co-founded Catch, a Y Combinator-backed startup combining savings, investment, and insurance for those without access to employer benefits. Early in her career, she worked with Commonwealth to design and scale innovative savings products that now serve more than 80 million consumers. Kristen also helped launch one of the first student loan repayment SaaS benefits platforms.
Léon & George make it easy to bring beautiful, quality greenery into your space. Their curated plant and pot sets make a stylish and sustainable addition to any modern interior design. Each set includes the plant, pot, delivery, and lifetime plant care support to keep leafy housemates happy and healthy for years to come.
Caroline describes herself as ‘a curious marketing and e-commerce maven with a history of applying creative solutions to amplify brand positioning while driving growth’. Betabrand designs amazingly comfortable clothing for women who like to stay active all day long. Dress Pant Yoga Pants, Yoga Denim, travel wear, and more.
Adam is a performance-driven marketing leader in e-commerce, and an expert in digital and print marketing campaigns focusing on new customer acquisition and retention. TeePublic is an ecommerce platform that connects independent artists with their fans and allows them to sell their art on t-shirts, apparel, and accessories.
Katelyn has nearly 20 years of experience in consumer marketing for agencies, large brands, and early-stage companies. Her sweet spot is products and services that are building a new market, and typically at a pivotal point of change within companies. From reinventing a 50-year-old hotel chain brand at La Quinta to making “photo books” a household word at Shutterfly, Katelyn’s focus from the beginning has been performance marketing at scale while balancing brand building along the way. Katelyn graduated with a marketing degree in business at the University of North Texas and participates in the Peer 150 and Enrich leadership programs, to name a few. Katelyn was named 40 under 40 by DMN News in 2017, one of “50 Growth Marketers You Should Know” in 2016, and 40 under 40 via Brand Innovators in 2013.
economic uncertainty into opportunity’.
“Folks don't have enough income to
pay for their meals or to pay for rent or you know,
those sorts of things and we just made the decision really early on that.
It's like it wasn't worth any additional conversion
because of how that messaging might be perceived in the midst of such a such a difficult situation
for so many people'“.
'“We saw a huge up-tick in not just, like, open rates and click rates,
but purchases too. We had customers just communicating
and engaging with our content more
so along those channels, because we were giving them opportunities to do”.
“The change was made incredibly
quickly and we're still testing this campaign testing different headlines and testing
different galleries that show the different ways that people work from home”.
We’re a couple of months into the pandemic
and we've seen companies pivot. Some businesses have been impacted more than others, from seeing products
flying off the shelves to zero demand.
Whether you've been in either position you face challenges that have
required you to pivot. From navigating supply chains to updating
how and what you communicate to your customers.
We've all gotten our fair share of pivots.
In today's episode we'll walk through how some very ambitious brands have managed to adapt
and thrive during these very unusual times. Betabrand makes dress pants yoga pants.
They have a unique connection to their customer with more than 2 million people
helping to design and decide
what apparel they should create and release.
Stephanie from Betabrand explains how they pivoted
their campaign to align with working from home.
So when we have a product that is for women at work,
and we've like Caroline said doubled down on it.
These are dress pant yoga pants dress pants are in the title.
You're going to associate it with an office.
And so when people aren't necessarily going to the office anymore,
we still want them to feel like they are
and still be as productive
and as comfortable as they would be
so we actually took the same idea these pants are
for women at work and now work happens to be at home.
So we want the website to That and the change was made incredibly quickly.
I think we actually launched that work from home campaign on March 27th.
So yeah, really proud of our creative team
for doing that and we're still testing this campaign testing different headlines and testing.
I'm Different galleries that show the different ways that people work from home plants.
Lots of tea coffee anything that you would associate with your homework space is
what we want to show in our galleries
because that is where people work now Stephanie chats through how the
company was able to Pivot their website branding
and online customer experience.
We do mostly direct response advertising.
So it's we're not really running an overall branding campaign.
It's just the look and feel of the site
and kind of rebranding the site
and beta brand as work from home instead of something that you would wear to the office right now.
But I'm just looking at you know,
some of our anti site analytics since we've made the switch,
you would think that everything,
you know with the current climate that performance would be down.
But we've actually seen an increase in pages per session
and the average session duration on the site.
So people are visiting more pages
and they're spending more time on the site since we made the change to the work from home gallery.
Then in our advertising we aren't using the same exact messaging
where it's still a direct response strategy.
So we still want to sell the features of the pants.
But we do show women in their office environments,
which means that they are at home.
So it will kind of tie it all together
because you see an ad that's telling you the features
and the benefits of this product where you'll be wearing it in your home
office and then when you click through to the site you get the entire work from Messaging
and imagery Leon and George bring nature into your indoor space with potted houseplant delivery.
They've grown no pun intended from Regional to nationwide delivery
and distribution in North America Renee from Leon
and George explains the operational and content changes the company made.
We have changed some things operationally to be more efficient on our side of things
because you know week for a while we had,
you know less work for us because we had to reduce the amount of people who would be working.
You know processing orders at the same time things like that.
So obviously we've made some changes but from a marketing standpoint,
we've definitely created a lot more content.
One thing we started doing is we started offering playlists to
our customers know people are staying at home.
They are looking for things to do looking
for music to put on and that's something I don't see why we wouldn't keep doing that,
you know, once everyone goes back to work
or you know in a year from now in this is kind of behind us all things like that
like small moments of beauty to our Our customers
so like here's a playlist that you can play for your plans for example,
or here's like instrumental music that sounds like nature.
So in a way, I think these are things that to some extent we're doing
but we really like put more of a focus on that
while the world was has been going through this
and I think that might stick around just kind of in the same way that
like the world hopefully will be a better place
after all of this your ex is on a mission to make birth control of food.
Portable and accessible to everybody the service makes it easy
for anyone regardless of circumstance to get medication quickly discreetly and affordably,
you know, we definitely shifted to more stay-at-home friendly message
messaging we've updated from a marketing perspective
because people are working from home.
We've changed a lot of just
what even what we will include in our subject lines
for marketing given that people Presenting on Zoom screens and you know,
there's a little less privacy
because people are at home and we've people have that so we've definitely made that change.
We've made the shift to make sure that if we are sending,
you know marketing emails that you know,
that that aren't related to covid
and we do believe and we've seen that people are looking to escape,
you know, all the covid dialogue a little bit and the news and the like contradicting news.
Been very open to receiving new interesting content from her ex,
but also to make sure that were not looking tone deaf.
So we'll say something like hey to get an escape,
you know, escape from all the news like hear something cool that you need to look at
or something that just kind of like what's going on in people's lives to
what we're putting in front of them.
So now's a good time to educate yourself on.
YZ Health topic and here's a quiz just to make it
so it feels still very relevant and we're not just like narek snorerx interacts,
right? We're actually trying to help you people are really looking
for ways to just kind of get through the day.
So anything that we can provide
one as far as resources or mental health resources or anything like that,
especially when it's driven from our providers advice has been very very welcome.
So we found that people have been ER acting with content in a new way
and you know from a business perspective.
We're very fortunate that patients have stood up and sort of said,
this is an essential service and we need we need what you're doing right now.
So from a business perspective that's been that's been certainly has been great.
But what I think a lot about is a marketer is,
you know coming out of this telemedicine has like
skyrocketed forward into the future probably 15 years
as has a other e-commerce.
So how does no racks maintain a strong position
as a brand that people are loyal to you know in a world where we probably
will have more competitors like Health Systems
and others who will be trying to start doing
what we're doing because they have
to but that's kind of key is like how do we maintain our brand position
when there are hundreds of competitors in the future?
And so that's where a lot of the content a lot of them not to be
so cliche the sort of we're here for you like putting her ex,
you know to a human level with our providers
and putting them at the Forefront is is more important than ever right now.
And what's really important is just
for us to just deliver and deliver on our promise
and our service and if there are delay
or if there are things that are happening to make sure that we're super proactive,
you know in in terms of what's Happening.
You know, sometimes there are supply chain challenges with covid.
So if we have to substitute someone
for a different type of generic we want to be super proactive
and let them know and those are the kind of things that are going to make people,
you know later on be like owner X really saved me
and I never you know in a world where everything was
so uncertain that was kind of the one thing that I could count on
and people will remember that long-term.
I think T public is a platform for custom apparel.
Ilan designs, the company has a community of hundreds of thousands of artists
and millions of designs and illustrations when the pandemic initially hits,
you know, we were scrambling
for identifying like what is our North Star in all this like what is our organizing principle,
you know, we saw top-line Revenue drop we saw traffic drop.
I mean people, you know rightfully so did not care about buying and you know,
the latest t-shirt so we did pivot to gross.
Of it and you know at the end of the day we want to stay profitable.
We do not want to lay off anybody.
We do not want to go down the road of maybe taking out some loans to stay afloat.
So we shifted to GP as our North Star we cut a lot of unnecessary spend.
We really tried to emphasize either ad campaigns
or marketing channels that were driving gross profit
and and doubling down on That any type of testing that we wanted to do we stopped
because of the you know the environment we didn't know if this
was if the results would be Corona specific
or you know real real user behavior.
And then we also shifted towards really trying to scale
customer retention taking our existing customer
base and saying okay,
it's less expensive to to Market to them we already Have their attention.
What can we do and so we we scaled our efforts both an email
and SMS and all of those other recurrent channels?
I'm campaigns. And then finally we shifted towards our in our bidding structures to away from
from a return on adspend bidding to a to a profitability bidding
and a lifetime value bidding structure.
So the people that we do acquire for the first time.
We know down the road. They are more likely to convert again.
So that's what we saw. That's what we did and you know,
the first couple of weeks.
I mean March was pretty rough. We took a hit there April we started to turn things around
and I think with the rest of you know,
pure-play e-comm sites.
We saw that, you know starting in early April that revenue and gross.
If it started to return it and tick up and that's continued for the most part.
I think it's flattening out a bit. That's the pivot that we made
and we've basically stuck through it will continue to stick with with GP
as our as our guiding North Star for the rest of the year.
I mean, we don't know what the economic recovery is going to be
what the economic situation is going to look like,
you know, we're trying to basically solve for two things one.
We're trying to solve for pandemic and into we're trying to solve for a recession.
So that's why we stick with GP as our guiding.
Our Guiding Light cat stucco has built personal benefits platform that
handles taxes retirement time off health insurance
and student loan refinancing all in one place.
The biggest challenge is that our user base is extremely diverse
and so their experience through this pandemic has been really diverse some
our hair stylists who haven't been able to you know,
On a job in 60 days some are you know ux UI designers whose work hasn't been affected at all.
And I think that that difference in experience in that some folks have you know,
small kids and everything's crazy and other folks are just sort of,
you know by themselves and dealing with loneliness. I think that like that diversity
and range of experience.
It's really hard to get the exact right tone with all of those different,
you know emotions layered onto a pretty difficult situation even those different
and difficult in different ways.
So there are a couple things we did one was we launched a feature that was on our roadmap
for for later in the year,
but we accelerated it obviously given the circumstances and that was emergency savings.
So we typically offer things like tax withholding saving for time off with a family leave account.
All of those sorts of products that are really focused in the traditional benefit space,
you know, he saved those things in the same way. You would get them from an employer
as part of your your your salary
and benefits package emergency savings isn't exactly a part of that tradition.
No benefits world, but it was something that we felt was just really important to get live right now
because people are just paying much closer attention
and they have this sort of recency
and severity of this crisis really top of mind
when they're thinking about protecting their financial future.
The other thing that I think that we did early on WE paused all of our re-engagement campaigns.
We have, you know, email drip campaigns
for folks who have come into the funnel who maybe haven't completed setup
or who have done one thing,
but maybe not all of the things. They need to do really early on.
We just realize that some of those were a little bit there just a little
bit tone-deaf in the context of folks not working
and we will turn them back on but I think in the short term sort of starting mid-march,
and so I guess been a little over a month. We pause one particularly around retirement.
We had a great campaign around, you know, make sure you're setting
aside for the future and like save
for your future self and like you when you're 60 and like all of that sort of messaging.
So really really off-putting in the midst of like folks don't have enough income to pay
for their meals or to pay for rent or you know,
those sorts of things and we just made the decision really early on that.
It's like wasn't worth any additional conversion because of how that message.
You might be perceived in the midst of such a such a difficult situation for so many people.
Thank you to Betabrand, Leon & George, NURX,
TeePublic and Catch.co for sharing their experience with this podcast.
You can find links to all of the companies featured in our show notes.
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