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!)
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 “People… People Who Need People” to buy things… And embracing people of all stripes and varieties to drive business opportunities is what Streisand does flawlessly.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for help building a podcast for your business!
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.
In interviewing the Radio Ad Bureau’s CEO, Erica Farber, my worlds collided: it’s a podcast, but about radio, the medium I grew up in and started my career in. Certainly radio IS about community, but it was still surprising to discover zero degrees of separation with Erica and two important people from my past: my dad and my first female boss, Joan Gerberding as well as a recent Insider Interviews guest and radio aficionado, Carl Fremont!
Erica and I took the conversation from the evolution of radio to the present, to how it’s defined today – audio? is digital radio still radio? – to its challenges, success stories, and current career opportunities.
What is radio today?
It’s broadcasting, but Radio is also available on any platform: If you want to hear it on your smart speaker…If you’re sitting in front of your computer or in your automobile. It’s multi-platform and available in any form and full of diverse content. It is a companion. It is a trusted source of information, news and entertainment. It’s available 24 seven. And there’s no cost to access it.
The ways everything is audio-focused today – with sound and voice;
The power of personalities;
Why Theater of the Mind is still key to listener engagement/conversion;
How radio served — and recovered from — the Pandemic;
I’ve never been so proud to say I work in radio as I have since March 2020. No one knew what to do…But radio rose to the occasion and stations did what they do best: they put their arms around their communities, consoled listeners and brought some humor and information. …They said to businesses that were open, ‘let us help you communicate to the market your protocols’. How can we raise money to feed or clothe people, to help people keep their homes? We have example after example of retailers who said that if it wasn’t for local radio they would have lost their business.
The role of the RAB as a nonprofit trade association;
Overcoming the digital divide and big brand success stories; (Reference: P&G and Radio)
Arra Yerganian thinks healthcare has always been a little upside down, controlled by physicians instead of the the patients. Ya think? But I misspeak – at least while speaking with Yerganian: he actually banned the word “patients” when he was CMO at both Sutter Health and One Medical. He explained that the word comes from Latin for “‘a place of suffering’ and that should be a temporary state at best.” Instead, he said, “We used the person’s name, so it wasn’t a dehumanizing experience to come into the doctor’s office.”
I liked this guy immediately. But there’s more to marketing healthcare than nomenclature. Yerganian is on a mission to raise awareness of the biggest issues impacting health for all of us: our Social Determinants of Health — or SDOH. Basically, if my zip code is wealthier than yours the overall population is likely healthier. I likely am more informed about and have better access to healthier foods or fitness facilities, I might have access to more parks for fresh air, and of course the income to afford anything from childcare to catch up on sleep and even infant mortality rates and so on. So how can we democratize health? For Yerganian, it’s awareness, it’s education, it’s communication. He also notes that, apropos our recent civic dis-ease and disease, “beyond the pandemic, the great challenge that we’ll have is the behavioral health crisis that’s affecting our country.”
He shares the details of best practices and how to get on a healthier collective path overall in this Episode 22 of Insider Interviews.(Hint: stand up more for healthy behavior in every sense of the meaning.)
NOTE: I’m proud to be Editor in Chief of The Continuum, about awareness and performance marketing. In Issue 2 posting in late January you can also read this interview along with the POVs and suggestions from other notables in the health and wellness marketing space. But, dear listeners, you get the advance insights here when you catch the full conversation with Arra Yerganian.
He and I discuss:
What are the social determinants of health, and how do they fit this into the world of marketing?
How can we track and thus help modify the exposure to environmental ills
What are some new approaches in brand marketing and health and wellness, such as driving uptake of tele-health?
How can promoting value-based programs reward healthcare providers with incentive payments?
How can products or brands, like a sleep aid or gym facility or a yoga mat or bicycle manufacturer, leverage some healthcare data and apply that to their marketing
How do you market against patients deferring to Google for diagnosing themselves?
And how do you conduct business meetings standing up?!
Here’s to a happier, HEALTHIER New Year to you all, with my sincere appreciation for listening, sharing and subscribing wherever you like to listen to Podcasts.
For Episode 21 I spoke with someone who’s been an animated head more times than he can probably count: Paul Hangesis CEO of JibJab, which is famous for its personalized e-cards and satire animations that lets your head be the star! If you haven’t heard of JibJab you may have had YOUR head in the sand; they’re the OG of digital branded content. It was born in 1999 to brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, perhaps best recalled from their 2004 glory days of being featured on everything from The Tonight Show to ABC News for then viral political satire, “This Land.”
Hanges, who was promoted from COO 18 months ago, says they’re proud of being dubbed the “original online cockroach” for their longevity and survival of dot-com and economy busts. In our conversation he explains why JibJab is still hot more than 20 years since its inception. They’re even having something of a renaissance with the resurrection of their trademark Year in Review video after a six-year pause. (But how could you NOT do a recap of a year like 2020? For Chief Creative Officer Mauro Gattiand lyricist Scott Emmonsit probably almost wrote itself! And I’m proud to offer my big head/floppy jaw cut here for your amusement by way of example!)
Hanges also explains the appeal of low-tech animation and their trademark “big heads and floppy jaws,” how they survive as a subscription model and why they walk away from brand dollars if not aligned with their mission – “to make billions of people happy by allowing them to be funny, wherever they’re having that conversation.”
Here are the highlights – but do hear all Hanges has to say in this very “animated” conversation:
How it all started – yes in the proverbial garage
Why, in a world of “deep fakes and augmentation” the appeal of JibJab is the personalization and NOT to replace reality. “We want to provide utility to help people say happy birthday or anniversary or other big moments.”
How personal micro networks add up to eyeballs at scale – and 1.3 million paying subscribers;
How they’ll leverage the rights to hits like “Old Town” or Mamma Mia the musical, but why they’ll walk away from 95% ofbranded opportunities;
Why politics and JibJab do not always make good bedfellows, but why they participated in the Facebook ad boycott in July to stand up to divisiveness;
How (self-plug here) they balance “brand+demand,” — as we promote in The Continuum;
The big data opportunity they’re sitting on to be a personalized service for people and how they’ve had to be nimble and “pivot” in their production and platform access.
And of course, for the last episode of 2020 we have to offer Hanges’ words of wisdom from the past full year as CEO to other new CEOs…and how to embrace your strengths and those of others as well. “I take a step back and look and say, ‘we have a very strong operating team that’s working towards a goal of making billions of people happy.’ …And I’ve been really proud to say I can lead this company with that mission.”
Personally, I could not have wrapped up my first year of Insider Interviews podcasts (AND my “It’s Quite a Living” personal podcast) with a better message than to “head” into 2021 with the inspiration of a JibJab to find the humor and spread the joy throughout this holiday season and into 2021.
Thank you all for listening and hopefully sharing this podcast. I value your feedback and support. And if I can help you create content that spreads joy or opens revenue doors please visit Moss Appeal or write to me at email@example.com.