Tag Archives: branding

Having Sway – Danielle Wiley on Influencer Marketing



In 2020,  Danielle Wiley was included in the revered “Top 50” list by Talking Influence. And the agency she founded, Sway Group was selected by Chief Marketer as one of just three influencer agencies of the “2020 Chief Marketer 200”. So it’s a safe bet that she has something to say about #influencermarketing. And that’s what she did, in Epi 32 of Insider Interviews.

I’d had the chance to experience Wiley’s thoughts last year when she contributed to The Continuum, a publication about brand + demand marketing, which I’m privileged to edit. In that article she explained how to look at the KPIs of influencer marketing a little bit differently, and the varied ways to determine impact and engagement. We touched on that in this conversation, but a 30-minute conversation gives you a chance to understand much more — not just about this food writer turned marketer, but things like how cause-marketing is another essential ingredient in influencing consumers. And these days, Sway has evolved to embrace that (and she shared case study examples) as well as digital advertising, both programmatic and paid social, and built what was a natural extension: a content studio.

One of my favorite discoveries about Wiley (aside from learning about our common roots working at Food Network in the early days!) was that she was a baker and a cheesemonger at one point. I believe that takes the cake for eclectic pasts among my podcast guests. Her culinary chops have served her well, though, as she can name several brands in or around the category as clients, including Igloo, Coleman, and Domino’s.

If that didn’t get you hungry to hear more, here’s what else we discussed:

  • Wiley’s evolution from a baker and blogger to early stage expert in social media to our common ground in marketing chefs like Emeril as “c-hunks”!
  • Her observation of the power of engagement with popular bloggers — and the infusion of trust vs. the singular appeal of celebrity

In its infancy influencers were treated more like journalists. Brands were just sending them product and expecting that they would get reviews out of it. That worked …for a short period of time. …Then they realized ‘if we’re just sending them a box of Mac & Cheese, we can’t have control over messaging…’. And we started paying them.

  • How the transition from providing product to bloggers to hiring them necessitated greater trust and authenticity in the influencer, and the path to creative content was laid
  • How Sway itself evolved away from the “Hollywood agent” business model to be able to scale and replicate requests — whether for moms of bedwetters or people who picnic with pizza
  • How brands solve for the demand for content tonnage across multiple channels — which sparked the birth of a content studio
  • Why the most important step in the strategic brief is a deep dive into the brand’s KPIs — impressions? engagement?

The big thing to remember is that as you increase in following the engagement rate goes down dramatically.

  • What’s a micro or a nano influencer and why does it matter — and the various forms of sponsorship. (Hint: Feel free to sponsor THIS podcast just by buying me a coffee!)
  • The shift from wanting to steer clear of influencers with a point of view, to actively seeking that out — and how the GenZ demand for brand purpose has influenced how brands use influencers!
  • Wiley explained the two initiatives Sway worked on for Stonyfield Farms, for example – tapping eco-conscious influencers and creating a cause-related corporate initiative

We took a deeper dive into pro-social initiatives and examples, and the confluence of content channels. (Of course I mentioned the conference I’m producing about the intersection of television and podcasting for example!) And that led to a chat about why Wiley’s family gets a little annoyed about her heavy podcast consumption habit!

Find Danielle Wiley at:

Sway’s social channels are:
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From Print to Podcasts and Back: Kathy Doyle of MacMillian



Kathy Doyle embodies the early bird that catches the worm. Early into her freshman year of college she aimed to give the commencement speech for her class in four years’ time. She got the honor — and forty-eight hours later was offered her first job in media. Then, as you’ll hear her describe in this episode, Doyle was part of the earliest team building out The Wall Street Journal Online (yes, I sing the dial up tones for her). Then, being an early riser, she started to listen to podcasts well before Serial was even a thing. And guess what? She was an early-stage employee on the podcast team of Macmillan Publishing.

The Macmillan division of morphed out of a prescient move to team up with Grammar Girl podcast phenom Mignon Fogarty – and quickly evolved into the Quick and Dirty Tips Network of short form helpful content. (Perhaps it’s fitting that Doyle’s career was launched with a speech.) Now, with the addition of a narrative network, their podcasts garner millions of monthly listens – and recently also scored an inaugural Ambie Award for their stunning show, Driving The Green Book.

Macmillan is the only one of the “big five” publishers with its own podcast network. As Doyle says, “It’s been our vision to serve our authors the best way possible. And audio emerging the way that it did certainly created an opportunity for us to use podcasting as best advantage whether that’s through an audio book excerpt or interviews or guest series…” In a media world where everyone is aiming to flow content cross platform it’s a surprising exclusive advantage. (As a matter of fact, we discuss the conference I’m producing for NATPE about the proliferation of TV brands leveraging podcasting, as well. Please register free to attend ContentCast on July 14th!)

While she provided many serious business takeaways, we also learned how one phone call, and frequent dog walking, helped lead to Doyle’s career success, and of the drama of “dial-up days” during early-stage internet jobs.

And you won’t believe what’s got Doyle’s gobsmacked about podcasting these days (yes, I checked the spelling, Grammar Girl fans out there): the evolution of the host read ad. I know, I wasn’t expecting that answer either. But you’ll appreciate how she illustrates the issue with an example from a men’s underwear advertiser.

In all seriousness, host read ads are a major topic in the business of podcasting as we balance the goal for perceived alignment with an influential personality with personalization enabled by companies like A Million Ads or Frequency. (Note: I’ll discuss the power of influencers in the upcoming Epi 32 with Danielle Wiley of Sway.)

For Doyle, the learning was about balance: how to deliver a strong response while preserving the integrity of hosts and authors. But another balancing act is tied to revenue and the competition for ears and ad dollars.

Another business consideration is discoverability. That’s where Doyle and team did a wide scale collaboration with Apple for the notable Driving the Green Book. Hear how they did, in fact, leverage cross-platform promotion in innovative ways – from reading lists to playlists. (Note: Hear show producer Juleyka Lantigua Williams on this from Episode 12 of Insider Interviews.)

“I think it keeps a lot of us in this industry up at night. We talk about revenue diversification a lot. In fact, I just did a panel for Digital Hollywood on revenue diversification. …You can’t just rely on the ad model anymore. You have to find new ways — like exploiting a podcast into a book or a film and TV. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how podcasters leverage new tools that are available now through Spotify and apple, which have been available through Stitcher and Luminary, to be strategic about your content and then finding ways to expand and enhance that through a premium subscription. I think three or four years ago, I would’ve said absolutely not, but now I think there’s probably opportunity for that.”

“As people expand their listening and really become hooked on some shows that have that have a big ad load then spending a few bucks for a premium subscription to eliminate that might be very attractive.”

(This was where I noted that you can support THIS podcast and just “buy me a coffee”. Just sayin’ …. )

But don’t worry; there was more: Doyle also prognosticated on the future of consolidation in podcasting…and shared some of her favorite shows these days. So, make like that early bird, and catch all of Doyle’s words. You’ll be ahead of the curve.

More about Macmillan Podcasts: https://linktr.ee/macmillanpodcasts
Kathy Doyle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kdoyle2/
If you found this helpful, or liked any of my Insider Interviews episodes, please add a review on apple, share this episode, and of course, “buy me a coffee!”: https://buymeacoffee.com/mossappeal
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KoAnn on Building Sustainable Brands – Epi 28



KoAnn Skrzyniarz has been making a strong case for building Sustainable Brands in global conversations with some of the world’s biggest advertisers. It’s all about the business value of environmental and social purpose. And the data is on her side.

In time for Earth Month, or any time, in Epi 28 KoAnn (frequently known by just her first name) shares not just the “whys”, but some recent “hows”: how sustainability has moved the needle for leading brands and how to be resilient in a “VUCA” world. A what?

Listen; she’ll explain, and we also discuss:

  • The impetus for creating Sustainable Brands – and if its mission has changed more than 15 years later?
  • What kind of changes has she seen in the brand and media marketplace in terms of embracing brand purpose

“Twenty years ago it was not recognized that companies that understood how to innovate for environmental and social benefit were going to be the companies that survived and thrived in the 21st century.”

  • Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a good description? (Hint: KoAnn explains why it’s more a “business opportunity” and why the ANA [Association of National Advertisers] uses he notion of ‘good growth’. )
  • How companies should integrate their brand marketers and strategists, the product and service positioning teams AND the sustainability/procurement/diversity teams
  • Is our current focus on brand purpose just another trend? How does it compare to the green rush of the 2007 timeframe or rallying around Hurricane Katrina? Have companies evolved in their mission-driven work?
  • The data supportive of sales driven by environmental and social value propositions; What kinds of brand transformation are happening — and at which companies?
  • How have companies like Clorox and P&G navigated the road to sustainability? And what is a Brand Transformation Roadmap?
  • How has Sustainable Brands itself pivoted during the pandemic to salvage — and even grow — their world-class conferences in a VUCA world! (There it is again!)

 Additional Links:

SB Brand Transformation RoadmapSM.

Sustainable Brands global conferences 

P&G Planet KIND brand

Clorox Company social responsibility

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Robyn Streisand, CEO, The Mixx: DEI as Key Marketing Ingredient



When Robyn Streisand went from the client side to her own marketing agency, The Mixx, the opportunity to certify as a woman-owned or LBGT-owned business did not exist. 25 years later, she has helped both brands as well as other agency owners to leverage DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — in media and marketing. Part of that help came about through her creation of Titanium Worldwide, billed as “the world’s first collective of certified-diverse independent agencies,” to help make DEI more easily “front and center” for clients.

Given today’s times with its heightened sensibilities, she couldn’t have been a better move if she’d had a crystal ball. After all, marketing comes down to “PeoplePeople Who Need People” to buy things… And embracing people of all stripes and varieties to drive business opportunities is what Streisand does flawlessly. 

For Episode 27 of Insider Interviews with E.B. Moss, hear what this marketing maven says about:

  • The value of certifications — for business owners to the brands who are seeking diverse suppliers — from WBENC, which certifies businesses as woman-owned and operated, to NGLCC (the ‘LBGT Chamber of Commerce’), to the NMSDC, which has the largest number of certified minority-run businesses;

“Now I have a certificate that says I’m woman-owned or I’m gay owned and all of a sudden, it’s a new day. It gave us an opportunity to register our company in these portals that help diverse suppliers get found [by Fortune 1000 companies.]”

  • How the rise in both consumer demand and procurement department mandates that purpose be built into marketing created a bit of a COVID silver lining for The Mixx and Titanium

  • Examples of brands embracing DEI — and how the anniversary of Stonewall sparked the start of more and more inclusive marketing efforts around more and more groups

  • How pressure from the streets is being matched by pressure from The Street — Wall Street!

  • The added pressure to recognize the power of Gen Z which “is coming like a bat outta hell!”

  • The essential need to communicate authentic brand purpose

“The benchmarks of success around purpose “must be front and center on brand websites: ‘We see you. We appreciate you. We embrace you. We stand for gender parity, transgender, equality’…all of it. Like, now’s not the time to be living in Alabama.”

  •  Where brands are focusing their dollars — or not

  • Advice and caveats for the future, which include:

“I think it’s like ripping the band-aid off. You have to start somewhere. But this is a long game. This is about doing the right thing now for the long haul. Invest in diversity, equity and inclusion training programs. Invest in what matters to the broader audience. Talk to people in their voice, and be consistent and authentic about it. It’s not about how much you do, it’s that you do it, do it well, and do it consistently.”

  • Why Streisand describes work around sustainability as the 2.0 of DEI.

And don’t miss the answer to the big question: Will I actually dare to sing to a member of the Streisand clan?

Please listen, and follow anywhere you like to get your podcasts. And if your business needs help from THIS woman-run business, please reach out to podcasts@mossappeal.com for help building a podcast for your business!


Heidi Zak: Supporting Women with Brand Purpose



Heidi Zak has been in finance, in retail and in tech. Like most women, she’s also been in plenty of dressing rooms trying to find the right bra, leading her to build ThirdLove, one of the largest online bra and underwear companies in America.

Close encounters with the NOT ThirdLove kind of shopping experiences, meaning the universal ick-factor of cold hands and awkward measurement moments with in-store underwear salespeople, were part of Zak’s a-ha moment. So, putting all of her professional and personal experience together, she created a brand that disrupted an entire industry — to the great relief of uncomfortable women everywhere.

Her first-to-market service as a DTC bra retailer hit some, ah, curves, along the journey but Zak has been named everything from Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs to a Fortune “40 Under 40”, and more.

Part of the accolades stem from how Zak has embraced not just brand marketing but brand purpose. Inclusivity at ThirdLove means being the only brand to offer more than 80 bra sizes, including their unique half cup sizing – and donating over $40 million worth of products to women in need. It has also helped evolve an old school industry previously defined by a narrow concept of beauty with a focus on inclusivity.

“We didn’t want to look like any other bra brand which mostly photographed skinny, generally white women with small boobs and generally did it in a really sexy way. So, we set out to build something radically different from scratch…. Back then there were barely any plus size models.”

Further iterating on inclusivity, ThirdLove launched a new initiative during COVID-challenged 2020: The TL Effect, to support entrepreneurial women of color.

“…Brand purpose has to be authentic, true to who you are and what you stand for, and what you’re building. Otherwise it can fall flat, or a consumer sees through it.”

While Zak and I commiserated about finding a proper fitting and comfortable bra I was a bit discomfited to discover that this rock star CEO/mom of two has managed to use her homebound pandemic time to also hyper-organize her home, when I haven’t even organized my sock drawer. In a conversation perfectly apropos Women’s History Month, hear how, in addition to organizing her home, this efficient CEO/co-founder has organized her company for success through adapting to the changes of the pandemic.

Envy aside, we discussed:

  • Her path from small town Main Street to Wall Street, Herald Square to Silicon Valley
  • How an encounter with the founders of Lyft drove her to solve another consumer problem, one bra at a time

“In 2012, if you look at what had existed [for bra shopping] at that time, there were department stores, Victoria’s Secret and some big box stores. There certainly weren’t online bra brands at the time. And that was the idea: better brand, better product, better online shopping experience for women.”

  • Zak on disruption and her definition of DTC, and why it was important for ThirdLove to “have a direct way to speak to our customer, to educate her, to bring her along the journey, to make her feel really comfortable.”
  • The product evolution — from one bestselling bra to their recently launched Fit Finder — and the pivot required by pandemic-era marketing
  • Navigating manufacturing and funding, especially as a woman seeking financing from primarily men (Note: McKinsey reports women are still only 21% of the C-suite and of those are mostly white women.)
  • Early-stage ThirdLove marketing tactics and positioning
  • How their innovative “try before you buy” program along with ads that asked if women were ‘Ready to graduate from Victoria’s Secret?’ drove 1 million new customers
  • How and why they leveraged podcasting as one of their main ad vehicles in 2015, baffling some investors
  • The pros and cons of linear and OTT TV
  • How ThirdLove spans Black History Month to Women’s History Month and beyond by uplifting women, in all senses of the word

“We were trying to figure out how ThirdLove was going to help support and impact change in the broader community. The TL Effect helps give female founders of color a little more of a voice in a crowded marketplace. We launched in June and picked our first recipient, Arra Simms, founder of Kewtie Nails.”

  • How ThirdLove keeps the conversation going with unconscious bias training required for all employees
  • The value of brand purpose to the bottom line
  • Aside from having Katie Couric in the ThirdLove influencer camp, Zak describes her use of micro-influencers: “real women who act as an advocate or a friend to the people who follow them.”
We wrapped with Zak projecting which industry, just as she disrupted one, could be ripe for a revision next.  Whatever it is I am certain Zak will be first to leverage the next new thing.

For those who caught my mid-episode mention of my podcast and content marketing services please reach out for help with podcasting to grow your brand. Click here to request a copy of my Seven Steps to Setting Up a B2B Podcast.

CMO Kim Wijkstrom: Start with the Brand Story not Silver Bullets



Joakim (Kim) Wijkstrom, SVP / CMO of Vanda Pharmaceuticals, has learned to “Think Different” and have “Lending Done Human.” He has sent little, teeny Absolut bottle-shaped Christmas sweaters to readers of the New York Times, and leveraged Andy Warhol style pop op to promote schizophrenia drugs. A Swede who grew up in West Africa, Kim also opened the Latin America markets for two TBWA\Chiat\Day clients. If that sounds like the start of a good story, then that’s the point.

Because for this marketer it always starts with the story, not the silver bullets.

Kim has developed a “cultural curiosity” from both moving around and a liberal arts degree, which has been a big asset in his marketing career: “I think advertising lends itself naturally to someone who is interested in how we shape and creatively express our worldview, how we understand the things around us, how perceptions are shaped. So, I think it made sense for me to land there. But as it turns out, I’m half a humanist, half of something more analytical. Perhaps I was never going to be the next Leonardo…[but] you figure out the way to take whatever you’re equipped with and put it to use where it is best applied.”

This attitude is also encompassed in his top performing article in The Continuum, the publication I edit about “brand and demand” marketing. In that, and in this follow-up conversation about the origins of his branding philosophy, Kim sticks with the story that brand always must start with the story! The delivery tactics — what he has called the silver bullets – are secondary.

But when you’re talking to a storyteller you cover a lot of ground. We also discuss:

  • How movies are an analogy for Kim’s point of view about storytelling first
  • Why our obsession with technological solutions to everything don’t drive brand loyalty (“You can now have your car tell you that you’re low on milk because your smart refrigerator is coupled with your car, and so forth. But are you going to buy the refrigerator based on that? Do you think it’s a quality refrigerator?”)
  • Why too much emphasis on bells and whistles and focus on demand or performance-driven marketing “offends” him (“Fundamentally, all marketing is for performance purposes… to grow your market share. You need to start with what is it you’re trying to say and why would it be compelling to people, as opposed to just being the method by which you can deliver the message.”)
  • Why even DTC companies’ product is often the story… such as Warby Parker’s design
  • How our obsession with metrics and attribution is not wrong but often misses the point entirely, focused on the ROI, as opposed to just “can you see if it’s working?” (“If people are talking about your TV spot or have a positive reaction to it somehow then that’s probably more important than any sort of little blip of metrics.”)
  • And, just as he learned from hovering around Steve Jobs, Kim offers advice for junior marketers.

But wait, as they say, there’s MORE!…

Kim also explains the story of Vanda, and his move from marketing men’s suits (Perry Ellis) or financial services (One Main Financial) to pharma. He gives an example of how the same story (for a particular drug) can be extended into different spaces, like digital to video without having to be, well, prescriptive! (And, yes, we discuss the challenge of pharmaceutical advertising and FDA constrictions. But check out their innovative approach to Fanapt for insider insights on  how it can still be impactful.) And I finally got to understand what’s behind drug NAMING!

So, how did Kim finesse his own “brand story” – or POV about storytelling? Well, that starts with a guy named Steve Jobs.

“I was really lucky I got to work on Apple when it came back to TBWA\Chiat\Day … and that was the launch of the now-iconic Apple campaign “Think Different.” I was a junior person then, so I’m not claiming any credit for the campaign…but what was amazing was encountering Steve Jobs and seeing the process by which that campaign came about. That was a ton of learnings about what actually really matters. He couldn’t give a crap about ROI or metrics, frankly. …if people react to it, that’s what matters’. And Apple sells a lot of product. So, it’s not like the brand doesn’t work in selling or performance.”

Kim shares the three-point “a-ha” takeaways he got from Jobs. And that, my friends, is how you do a cliffhanger.

So, I hope you’ll listen to the full conversation with Kim Wijkstrom. And if his learnings from Apple aren’t enough, wait til you hear what he says marketing an odorless, tasteless product: vodka. Or, how an MRI machine proves out his belief that the brand is what drives ROI.

Okay, okay, I’ll also share that he says when you DO add in those tactics for delivering the brand story, he’s still a believer in different forms of direct marketing.

 … [But] to me, the point of a brand in the mix is it’s going to amplify your ability to get pull through on those tactical pieces. Because if people receive something in the mail, whether email or online, it’s really easy, of course, to dismiss it and throw it out. If you have a brand, it’s not as easy. They may actually open it. So, it basically primes demand. That’s what a brand does.”

I hope you’ll get some good insider scoop from this episode of Insider Interviews with me, E. B. Moss, and I hope you’ll follow Insider Interviews on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. And let me know if you have a question or suggestion for our next guest. My theme music was composed and performed by the incomparable and Grammy-winning John Clayton.
Thanks again for listening.