Laurel Mintz knows that in order to create a robust marketing strategy for her clients, her own business needs to walk the talk.
This means that Elevate My Brand, the Los Angeles-based marketing agency specializing in digital strategy and live events she founded in 2009, only recommends practices that it pursues for itself.
“We’re very clear on who we are as a brand, so we make sure that we are standing for something and have strong values,” says Mintz. “We start from that point, and then we execute our marketing strategy from an omnichannel perspective, whether that’s social, content, Google ads, video — we do it all.”
This method has secured her top-notch clients including Facebook, Verizon, Dom Perignon, and more. Her agency has even won the W3 Silver Award for their work on Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol Road Patrol Campaign, as well as the Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Award and the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Women in Business Award, among others.
Hello Alice recently checked in with Mintz to discuss how small businesses and startups can pivot their marketing efforts and stay profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, five of her top tips.
1. Build Your Marketing Strategy from a Place of Data
Many agencies focus on the creative side of marketing, which is important, but Mintz believes that a data-driven approach is much more important at the outset.
“People get really excited about the brand they are building and don’t understand that building a brand is not very sexy,” Mintz says. “It has to be a very data-driven process, otherwise it’s going to be about throwing some money at the wall, hoping it sticks, and praying you don’t go bankrupt.”
For example, Elevate My Brand starts with a listening software that allows them to see where a client falls in the brand universe. If you’re a food and beverage client in the consumer space, EMB can gather data on your competitors and how they’re playing in this space. “That approach allows her to determine where they need to focus their efforts to get from point A to point B,” says Mintz.
2. Implement a Testing Phase to Your Marketing Strategy
“That’s where we develop a hypothesis about the brand, who their audience is, and what their messaging would look like, and we test it for about three to four weeks,” says Mintz. Then, they can gather adequate information on how their current marketing strategy is working, and what variables they could experiment with.
3. Be Realistic About Timelines and Budgets
Mintz says a common mistake brands make is setting unrealistic timelines: “Most go, ‘We just launched this huge product, it’s the best in the category, so therefore we’re gonna be hugely successful in a month,’ and I say, ‘Good luck with that.’”
For example: “If we have a new social platform that’s about to launch and they want to ‘listen’ to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but they only have $1 million to spend, not $10-100 million, then we have to tell them they are nowhere in that space right now, so it’s about being realistic in terms of what market share you can capture,” says Mintz.
Timelines and budgets are misunderstood by most brands because it’s easy to be myopic about who they are, and who they serve. It’s great to be really excited about that, of course, but a reality check in terms of budget and timelines is needed in order to proceed with a good strategy. A good rule of thumb is to always assume you will have to spend more and devote more time than you originally planned.
4. Double-Down on Digital Marketing
“A recession happened in 2008-2009 — although not as dramatically and not on a global scale — and brands that stayed and doubled down on digital marketing were the ones that came out of it faster than the others in the long run,” says Mintz.
Her biggest piece of advice is to show up and not pretend that the pandemic isn’t happening. Take this time to double down, and you’re going to potentially capture more market share in less time and at a lower cost. Right now, digital ad rates have fallen more than 20%, so advertisements can reach more users per dollar. “That’s a huge win, especially for startups brands,” she adds.
5. Convert, Don’t Cancel
Just because you can’t organize a big, live, experiential event, doesn’t mean you still can’t bring about a great experience for your customers and audience.
“We’re not seeing people who convert their experience to digital events are still able to capture a great deal of market share,” says Mintz. ‘We’ve worked on a digital golf tournament, digital cocktail experience, and more.”
[Hello Alice Guide: Make the Most of Digital Events]
At the end of the day, the biggest thing to note is that content is still king. “Now that digital is the only channel, the more content you can pump out that’s keyword-focused and relevant, the better off you’ll be in terms of market share,” Mintz says.
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