The Intimacy of Conversation
The Intimacy of Brand to Consumer Conversation
By Bryan Kokkeler
We Are BeautyKind, Nice to Meet You.
Two years ago, a small team and I set out to create a new kind of beauty retailer, one that gave customers the opportunity to buy their favorite products while giving back to the charity of their choice. We named this company BeautyKind, and 5% of every purchase made on our site is given to the non-profit selected by our customer, whether it’s a large national organization, or a local school district, the choice is theirs. To date we have raised money for hundreds of charities, and as BeautyKind grows, so do the checks we donate. As a marketer, I can’t think of a more exciting company to work for, imagine the stories to come, “charities saving lives, feeding families or building schools using donations from people who purchased their makeup from BeautyKind”. Admittedly, this sounds a bit lofty but these are real possibilities, and again, I’m a marketer.
In an ideal world, I would shake the hand and share a drink with everyone willing to listen to all the reasons why they should be shopping at BeautyKind. I could tell them stories of how our company came to be, laugh with them about some of the silly mistakes we made along the way and excite them about our vision for the future. Unfortunately this is not a scalable solution. I have neither the time to meet everyone nor the money to cover their collective bar tab, but this human experience, this conversation is what I believe resonates with consumers. Applying this approach across our different marketing channels is an interesting challenge, but done in the right way, will make an impact.
Genuine experiences and the relationships they help create is how consumers become customers, and customers become advocates.
People are cynical of businesses, and for good reason. They have been promised their hair will grow back, their blades will never dull and that their 6-pack is only one pill and three easy payments away. What they haven’t been offered is to be listened to, or even really considered on a personal level.
At BeautyKind, we advertise on television, in print, online and in person. While these media are vastly different in how they can connect with consumers, it is important to consider all of them as valuable pieces in one cohesive strategy and to make a conscious effort to use each of them appropriately in ways that authentically introduces our company.
We use television to cast our widest net. This is a great channel to use when you want to get in front of a lot of people at once; however, TV is not without its drawbacks. Television ads provide a very brief opportunity to tell your story and the story you tell has to resonate with an extremely diverse audience. The problem with trying to talk to everyone at once means painting with broad strokes and solving for the lowest common denominator, which in our case is “shop at BeautyKind and support a charity”. This is a nearly universally accepted and celebrated concept, but supporting a charity will never be as meaningful to the consumer as supporting the charity they are passionate about. We convert much higher when we can talk to a mother with children about how she can support her school district, or the pet lover about the animal shelter she volunteers at.
Online and social media are great places to begin delivering more targeted messaging in more organic ways. BeautyKind’s online strategy is not founded in sponsored posts or promoted images, but rather real connections with charities and influencers. One of the biggest hurdles we face as a new retailer in a fairly saturated market is simply telling people we exist. Once we introduce ourselves to these bloggers/influencers, we nurture those relationships and eventually we begin seeing organic, natural sharing of BeautyKind, instead of resorting to promoted posts which get in the way of consumers who are trying to access content from their friends or trusted influencers.
One of our newest assets is one of my favorites, a mobile pop-up store made out of a recycled shipping container. Unlike traditional four-wall retail, we can put this “store” wherever we want. We can take a physical manifestation of our brand and put it on any college campus, in the infield of a “Relay For Life” walk or even in the middle of the crowd at the Academy of Country Music Awards (this actually happened). In all honesty, our store is not actually a store at all. We have never transacted from it, rather we use this as an experiential asset. Built more like a lounge than anything else, we invite people in for manicures, hair tool demonstrations and even micro-current facials. We intentionally kept this space flexible so we could make it work for whatever we needed to do in whatever venue it is placed. It is in these moments and in these venues that we can truly share meaningful conversations and provide experiences that will create a quality customer. Find your customer in their life, outside of your store, enter their world and share a moment with them.
There is no silver bullet in marketing; there are as many unique and crucial variables as there are consumers, which is why it is important to create a dialogue and carry that through all of your marketing channels.
With an omnichannel approach to marketing, you are given the opportunity to have both the stage of television, and the intimacy of a conversation.
Ask a question and listen to the answer. The better we know our customer the more likely we will say or do something that will strike a chord the next time we talk to them during a commercial break their from their favorite show, while they are catching up on Facebook with their friends or when they decide to take a pit stop for a free manicure on their way to their next class.