Among the sessions was a candid conversation led by two brand founders and CEOs who are navigating the ever-changing marketing tides. While both executives admitted the challenges are many, they uncovered the unique advantages of advertising while small, including the ability to deeply understand your mission and creating content and experiences that resonate with a core community of users.
Six key takeaways from the session include:
Have a Clear Mission and Audience in Mind
What is the size of your total addressable market (TAM)? Who is your target customer? How do you plan to provide provides and services that meet their distinct needs? These were questions that Nyssa Care effectively asked and answered, which is why the brand resonates so much with its postpartum community. CEO and Co-founder Eden Laurin said she was inspired to start the company after having her own unique experience giving birth — and finding that the existing product left more to be desired. (And that’s putting it nicely.) Although the company has expanded into new categories, such as period pain management and period recovery, it has remained true to its core audience.
“One thing I’ve learned is to always stay consistent with your brand identity and stay consistent in how you show up to your audience,” Laurin said. “Depending on the platform or where they find you, they know what to expect, and then trust is built that way. That has helped us to break through the noise.”
Tap Audience Insights to Drive Product and Marketing Decisions
Companies that have very niche products and specific target audiences can tap into social media and platforms like Amazon to paint a more detailed picture of their unique customer profile.
“You can look at not only the reviews of your own product but the reviews of your competitor products, too,” explained Jeffrey Cohen, Amazon Ads Tech Evangelist at Amazon Ads. “You can look at other pain points that similar customers may or may not have or look for alternative uses for products that people are using that can help identify potential things you would learn as characteristics about your customers. You have this vision of what your ideal customer profile is and then you need to work to validate it through additional conversations, testing products in the market and what I would call larger research projects. It’s about building from one-to-one conversations to one-to-many.”
Tailor Messaging to Customer Needs and Pain Points
Content fuels the customer lifecycle and can be adapted to different marketing channels and platforms. Tea Drunk leans heavily into content marketing, especially because it has such a niche focus that requires education: high-quality loose leaf and Chinese tea.
In addition to its online business, Tea Drunk has a physical shop, which has helped the brand have face-to-face encounters with customers, educate them and set a foundation for loyalty. Online content helps apply the same principles online and tailor messaging based on distinct audience needs and attributes.
Shunan Teng, Founder and CEO of Tea Drunk, revealed that the brand’s messaging strategy is more like a matrix. “On one side, we have wine lovers and foodies, people who want finer things, and then people who are seeking tea as a lifestyle,” she explained. “And then on the other side, there are people who barely know anything about tea, people who know a little bit about tea, and then people who self-identify as a tea lover. And then we try to mix and mash those sides together and that helps us find our messaging.”
Create Content that Educates and Inspires Across the Customer Journey
All brands can take cues from Tea Drunk by creating audience-focused messaging. However, that messaging needs to scale across channels to ensure consistency. After all, consumers are jumping from social media to Amazon and branded ecommerce sites, so brands need to ensure their content is uniform, according to Cohen.
“A lot of times, we see brands set things up on Amazon differently than they would on their own site, but that’s not what the customer wants to see,” Cohen advised. “They want consistency. If your customers want to shop on your DTC site, then make it available for them to shop on your DTC site. If you want them to shop on your Amazon site, let them shop on your Amazon site. But you can remain consistent because there is a store you can build on Amazon. Plus, there’s content you can add to your product detail page, including video. When we talk about advertising and we talk about brand building, I think there’s an automatic assumption that you have to spend money. But there are things you can do for brand building and promotion that don’t require money.”
Nyssa is primarily a digital-first, direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, but it does sell through Amazon and other marketplaces. The brand has even expanded into CVS’s online and store properties. Despite its omnichannel reach, standing out is “intensely challenging,” according to Laurin. With limited budget and capacity, the brand has had to think creatively to adapt as the competition has tried to nip at Nyssa’s heels.
“We’ve had the competition coming after us, taking our keywords and we’re fighting against larger budgets, so it feels like a constant uphill battle,” Laurin shared. “I think one thing we have found is staying nimble [is key]. We’ve absolutely gotten burned by putting too much budget on one platform or in one channel.
Band Together with Other Small Businesses
Small business owners frequently try to build partnerships with larger entities in order to grow. But Teng noted that Tea Drunk has successfully partnered with other small businesses — adjacent and even competing ones — to drive brand awareness and sales results.
“We have tried to make partnerships with brands that are bigger than us and similar to us…because we can totally collaborate to benefit,” Teng said. “We have even collaborated with people who might seem to be our competitors. For example, we specialize in traditional Chinese tea, so we find companies that specialize in traditional Japanese tea or even European style teas so we can tap into our industry and collaborate and get a bigger project together.”