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DigiCom Interview with Laura Maurer, Brand Strategist and Marketing Consultant

We had the pleasure of conversing with Laura Maurer, a versatile marketing guru with a deep expertise in digital marketing. Laura's extensive experience spans a wide spectrum of business domains, making her an intriguing guest for our Growth Marketing Podcast. Our collaboration with Laura has involved numerous brands, involving the creation of effective brand strategies and the management of paid media campaigns.

Laura's Journey into Digital Marketing

Laura's journey into digital marketing is an interesting one. She graduated in 2009 during the financial crisis with a history degree, which didn't offer many prospects at the time. To pursue her dream of living abroad, she moved to Argentina. It was in Argentina that she entered the field of marketing. She met someone who hired her to support their business, primarily focusing on content marketing.

Upon her return to the United States in 2011, Laura started working in-house for a multi-brand retailer. Her role was diverse, overseeing various marketing initiatives, from social media to email marketing. This was in the early days of social media and influencer marketing, before these concepts became widely recognized.

At the age of 26, Laura left her in-house position and began working as a marketing consultant, a role she has embraced ever since.

The Confluence of Brand and Performance

Laura highlights the inherent interconnection of various digital marketing elements, emphasizing that marketing efforts are most effective when they work in harmony. She emphasizes the need for strategic alignment across all facets of a brand's marketing strategy. The key takeaway is that a brand's success is closely tied to the consistency of its message across all channels.

Launching a successful brand requires a holistic approach, with all elements in sync and future marketing efforts carefully planned to complement the existing strategy. In the world of digital marketing, adopting this approach is crucial to yield measurable outcomes.

Favorite Brands and Their Impact

Laura shares her admiration for two distinct brands, Everlane and BarkBox. Her appreciation for Everlane extends beyond their impressive social media presence. What stands out for Laura is the ease with which customers can seamlessly navigate between online and physical retail stores. The integration of these two experiences is instrumental in making the shopping journey effortless and enjoyable.

In the case of BarkBox, Laura highlights her affinity for the brand's quirky and irreverent social media persona. Despite being a dog owner and BarkBox's clear target audience, the brand's distinct approach to social media strikes a chord with Laura. It reflects her belief that brands can forge a strong and positive connection with their audience by delivering content that is authentic, engaging, and, most importantly, relatable.

Advice for Startups: The Importance of Content and Email

When it comes to giving advice to startups, Laura focuses on businesses that sell directly to customers (B2C). She stresses how important it is to use content and email marketing. Her strategy involves using paid ads to grow an email list. This email list is a direct and dependable way to talk to your customers. It's not affected by the unpredictability of changes in social media algorithms.

Email marketing, despite being a relatively mature channel, remains highly effective and consistent. It lets you talk directly to your audience and share personalized content. Laura's advice is simple: get that email list and connect with your audience through tailored messages.

The Future of Digital Marketing

Laura's insight into the future of digital marketing includes predictions of real-time personalization, driven by AI and data. She believes in the power of predicting user preferences and providing personalized offers.

Furthermore, she anticipates an increase in interactivity and seamless integration between digital and in-person events, making marketing more immersive and personalized.

Tune in now to hear the full conversation!

Connect with Laura

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We at DigiCom are obsessive data-driven marketers pulling from multi-disciplinary strategies to unlock scale. We buy media across all platforms and placements and provide creative solutions alongside content creation, and conversion rate optimizations. We pride ourselves on your successes and will stop at nothing to help you grow.

Hemant Varshney (00:00.51) Laura, thanks for jumping on call with us today. Very excited to have you on our podcast. Laura (00:05.786) Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here. Hemant Varshney (00:09.103) So just gonna jump right into it. Could you tell us and our listeners a little bit more about your background and what got you into digital? Laura (00:12.343) do it. Laura (00:22.138) Yeah, it's kind of an interesting story. I graduated in 2009 in the middle of the financial crisis within our history degree. So I did not have a ton of prospects at the time. So I ended up working in an art gallery in New York for a couple of months, made some commissions and I knew I wanted to live abroad. And I knew that if I stayed in New York, and got settled I would do that. So I decided to move to Argentina where I lived for a year and I ended up getting into marketing. I met someone who had gone to my school years before me and he hired me to support with marketing his business. So this was, Instagram had just come out, Facebook advertising was not a thing, so it was really like content marketing. And that's how I kind of fell into marketing. I came back to the States at the end of 2010, I believe, or the beginning of 2011, and started working for in-house for a multi-brand retailer. It was a very, you know, small, it was one of the companies that like looks much bigger from the outside than it is. So sort of overseeing all of their marketing initiatives. So social, email, you know, PR events, all of that. This was before influencers were really a thing. So not just doing like little bits of influencer here and there without really knowing it was influencer. And then when I was 26, I left that company. working as a consultant ever since. Hemant Varshney (02:14.362) Yeah, it's amazing. I know, you know, we've partnered on a multitude of different brands together and you wear many hats, right? Like some include content, some include creative work, others include like audit or brand positioning. I always find, you know, the brand positioning work we do together quite interesting because like, of course, like we focus predominantly on performance marketing and growth and acquisition, but There's a huge brand component that is always important. And I think they both go hand in hand together. You need one and you need the other. Would love if you can kind of chat a little bit about brand positioning and content creation and where you think, what's important and why. Laura (03:07.474) Yeah, I think, you know, you mentioned that we've worked together on a lot of projects and that, you know, what we do is fairly different. But we, I think we work so well together because you really do need both sides of the equation to have a really successful campaign or brand. So, you know, like when you and I are working together on a launch strategy for brand for example. You know what I think you and I both really understand is that there aren't any elements of digital that live in a silo, it's all very interconnected. So if you have a great social campaign but it's not driving people to the website or it's not getting people to sign up for the mailing list like and it's not you know clearly driving sales it's really not very valuable. And same thing with paid marketing. If you are spending a lot on paid marketing, but you don't have the organic and brand content to support it and back it up and keep people engaged over a long period of time, that's not optimal either. So I think like when you're launching a brand, it's so important to think about how are all of these elements interconnected? And if there are elements of our marketing that we can't put into place right now, but we know we want to in the future, how do we set ourselves up so that that's going to be as easy as possible without throwing things off? So yeah, I think does that answer your question? I just think it's so interconnected. Nothing works on its own and for a brand to be really, really strong. There are a lot of elements there. Hemant Varshney (05:05.386) Yeah, and I think, you know, just I watched a video on this, I think maybe even last night. It was basically this gentleman, he was talking about the importance of building brand and awareness. And he's the example of Hyatt and Nike. And he basically said, Hey, if you have Nike wanting to build a hotel, most consumers would know that look and feel and aesthetic and You know what that hotel will be about but if you have a company like Hyatt that goes hey I want to make shoes. Well, nobody knows what that means, right? It's a Hyatt's known for its logo over its actual like brand look feel and And just you know the consumer understanding of what this brand is about Laura (05:38.562) Mm-hmm. Laura (05:47.706) Thank you. Laura (05:59.074) Yeah, that's really interesting. And I think that, like there are some hotel chains that I think could do that. Like if like Amon or, you know, some of these like boutique smaller hotel chains, like the graduate is another one that have a very distinct aesthetic and brand. They could probably launch a clothing line or a shoe line and it would make sense. Hemant Varshney (06:09.143) Yup. Laura (06:27.094) But that's one challenge, I think, for a really large company like Hyatt. Like, who actually are you? Because you're trying to be so many things to so many people. Hemant Varshney (06:39.262) Yeah, and I think that's like, you know, some of the brand positioning work that we've done together, right, where it's like this person should feel X or there should be a specific aesthetic associated with that, with the with that brand. And, and I think what's cool is as we're working on certain partnerships and running media, you know, we, we might be like, hey, these are 10 benefits of work like using this brand's product or service, but these are the top three that matter. And from a positioning standpoint, then you can also lead in with that and vice versa. So it's always like this push and pull between brand and performance, which I think recently has been coming more together because you're right, teams are siloed, but you can't think about everything in a siloed manner. Laura (07:33.558) Right, because if I say that I'm the target audience for a product and you serve an ad to me and the targeting is spot on, but I don't really know what the product or the brand is and I don't have some of that other supporting information to make me say like, oh yeah, this is a company I want to purchase from and support, then your ad dollars aren't really like spoken. You've targeted the person, but you haven't really spoken to them. Hemant Varshney (08:08.106) Yeah, yeah, it's very interesting how it's all connected. What's one of your favorite brands and why? Laura (08:18.062) Um, so I have two. So one is Everlane, and I love Everlane. Like not because I think their social is incredible, but I think just from a, like I like the clothes they make, and they make it very easy for me to. buy them. So like the way that their online and brick and mortar presence is like very intertwined. It's like as a customer, it's super easy to go in and buy things and they show you things that you will like, right? So that's one for me. Another one I really like is BarkBox. I've kind of always said that the only way I would like take a full-time role. again, is if it was with BarkBox, because I think their social media is so, like, weird and irreverent and fun, and it's clear that they're not trying to... they're not trying too hard. I don't, like, I don't know who their social media person is, but I want to be friends with them. It's just, and I'm, you know, I'm a dog owner, so I'm their target audience for sure, but I just think what they're doing is really... Hemant Varshney (09:24.057) I'm sorry. Hemant Varshney (09:27.821) Yeah. Laura (09:33.422) weird and interesting and I get a big kick out of it. And I have a really positive association with the brand because of it. Hemant Varshney (09:40.702) Yeah, I worked with BarkBox and worked on some media campaigns for them a few years ago. And I know when Rob Schutz was at BarkBox, he's now a co-founder at Roman, but was at BarkBox and we were doing my content campaigns. Everything was always fun. Hemant Varshney (10:03.454) It was always lighthearted and you know, every now and then there's like all of these promotions, like a Halloween promotion where it's a specific Halloween based toy that they created for pets and you know, their campaigns are always like incredibly fun and like just great to see what's going on in their world. Laura (10:16.483) Yeah. Laura (10:26.543) Yeah, so those are probably my two off the top of my head that I really like for very different reasons. Hemant Varshney (10:32.874) Yeah, amazing. So you've worked with a ton of different brands. What advice can you give startups to grow? Like where do you think it's important for founders and employees one through five to focus their time? Laura (10:55.394) So I think it really depends on what the business is. But I think for anything that is B to C, I think that content and email are huge. But I think like what you and I have worked on with a number of clients together is like leveraging paid. as a lead generator to get people on your mailing list so that you can speak directly to them. And I think I like email so much because, you know, it's not like the sexiest of the platforms, but I think it's the one that performs the best. It's the one that I've seen that I work on that performs the best year over year. I like that it's not subject to the whims of an algorithm or If you build this list and you send an email to people, they will see it. And that's not the case with social. You know, you're really at the mercy of whatever the algorithm is that day or week. So those would be... My recommendation is building that list before you launch and then having a really solid base of people who are excited to hear about your brand, from the moment it's live. Hemant Varshney (12:22.666) Yeah, I agree and I echo that just because like, you know, when we're building these growth programs, right, like we focus on paid. So say paid is the driver of all the traffic to your site and there's offline non-paid channels that aren't working. Well that's going to impact your MER, your total business ROAS, what like your business breakeven points are, right? And building out email programs and building out a content strategy so you have better SEO to get folks to. site, like is there an investment there? Yes, but is the like, the larger your list gets, or the more pages you get indexed on certain keywords, right? That helps generate a lot of traffic. And it's also your own audience data, right? So when you're running these email deployments, you're like, just like you mentioned, you're speaking directly to the audience that is Hemant Varshney (13:21.678) to those folks and improve metrics across your entire business by building a strong email program, SMS program, content program. And that goes back in hand with all the things that are happening in paid because like paid might be bringing in the new users that want to hear from you again and purchase or they need to be nurtured a little bit more to learn more about the products and how it works and you know, or maybe. There's a like a price point where it's you're in the email program and it's hey, Black Friday sales are coming like going live and you can speak directly to that audience who hasn't made a purchase by segmentation. Laura (14:02.678) Like, I worked with this multi-brand retailer where, and this was like 10 years ago now, so like the capabilities have changed a lot, but we had all this customer data where we were able to go in and say like, okay, which brands have people purchased? How much have they spent? And then we were able to recommend other brands that we carried or other styles that we just knew that these customers would like. And so like it was a lingerie company. So for women, a lot of times getting, so getting an advertisement for something that like does not come in your size or is not available to you is super frustrating. And I think especially when you're talking about like the lingerie industry, when you're talking about bras and there's so many sizes. we would make sure we were leveraging that data to be like, okay, what size does this person buy? We are never gonna show them something that doesn't come in their size because what a terrible user experience. So we were able to incorporate size, price, style, recency of purchase, and then create really targeted campaigns. And as a result, we saw great success with our email program and it eclipsed while I was there, the brick and mortar revenue. And it'd be, yeah. Hemant Varshney (15:27.542) That's incredible. Yeah, personalization, you know, and it is important and yeah, it totally makes sense. I mean, you know, for me, if it's like, hey, you buy this shoe and this shoe is not in my size. Well, why did you send me this? Laura (15:44.29) Not even, right. So like, I think that's frustrating. If even if it's just out of your size and you could say like, okay, notify me when it comes back. But if the product does not even come, it's not made in your size. Like that is so infuriating as a consumer. You're like, you've wasted my time. I now have like, my opinion of this brand has gone down. So yeah, I think being able to really personalize is so important and like that's not new. We've been talking about this for years, but it's just like a good reminder. Hemant Varshney (16:21.629) Where do you see digital going in the next five years? Laura (16:26.163) I see... Um I think that like I think there's gonna be more like real-time personalization so like an example of that is like and this could be email sms it could be like a number of channels, but like um And I saw this once with, I think it was Seamless, where it was raining where I live, and I got a text saying, don't go outside, it's raining, order your food. I think that sort of real-time personalization of, the weather is like this right now, so buy this thing or use this service. I think there will be more of that. I think, you know. AI, obviously, that's what everyone's talking about. I think using AI to like predict what people are going to want and to create like personalized offers will grow as well. And then I think interactivity and like email will continue to increase. But then I also think like on the flip side, there is like this craving for more in person. Hemant Varshney (17:31.117) Yeah. Laura (17:48.482) like events connection. And so I think it's gonna be really interesting to see how those things like diverge, but then eventually kind of come back together and help brands start using like in real life events to support their digital campaigns. Hemant Varshney (17:49.28) Yup. Hemant Varshney (18:03.626) Yeah, and I think very much like, you know, this year as we've come, you know, more out of COVID than we have since, you know, the last couple years, three years, people are longing to have more interaction and, you know, going to the store is an event because a lot of people are working from home and you want to get out and like touch the fabric, you know, try sizes on and understand like if the fit is good plus like you had mentioned right it's an event like you go to the mall you go check things out um and that is definitely more important I uh I've seen like some technologies come out in the last couple years where um your bluetooth is being like tracked somehow and like you're getting personalized messages walking through malls which is cool and you know maybe it's like a little intrusive but For me it's cool because I'm like, oh, you know what? I do want this, but for other folks, right? It's, might be a little intrusive. Laura (19:07.502) Yep. Laura (19:11.138) Yeah, I actually did a consulting project with a company years ago that was doing this. This was probably like six or seven years ago. And I just think the technology wasn't quite there yet, but it was similar, like alerts, very targeted geo location alerts. So if you were in a store, you would get an alert of like, oh, I think they were actually focusing on. bars and like happy hours and like alerts where it was like oh happy hours over in 15 minutes like things like that where I'm not sure where they're going I'm not sure because like you said it can be intrusive I don't know if people are going to want to allow that sort of communication but it'll be interesting but like you know when I mentioned Everlane earlier what I like so much about them is that when I go into store and I can ask someone a question and like they have my entire Order history at their fingertips and like so I can ask anyone in the store like what size did I buy these in last and They can tell me and then if I decide to buy something else It's basically like a one-click process because my cards on file. It's so easy so I think that sort of integration of digital and brick and mortar is going to just continue. Hemant Varshney (20:35.336) Yeah, it's very fascinating. What's one question you wished I asked you, and how would you answer it? Laura (20:47.61) question I wish you had asked me. Um, ba ba. I'm kind of blanking. Did I? I, I don't know, I don't really have anything. Do you have enough for me? Hemant Varshney (20:56.598) Hahaha! Hemant Varshney (21:03.486) Okay. Yeah. I know you just recently, you know, launched your podcast earlier this year. It's called Calm. You know, what inspired you to launch that and how's it been going? Laura (21:21.186) Yeah, I have a podcast called Calm the Hell Down, and it's been going well. So I live in New York City, which is not the most calming of places, but when I think about how I want to feel on a day-to-day basis, calm is always the thing that comes to mind. And... I've worked really hard to achieve that, mainly because like, I'm not, like, when I'm not calm I'm not great at my job, I'm not a great partner, I'm not a great daughter, like all those things. I just think being calm makes me better at everything I do. So I started this podcast as a way to... Hold on. Hi guys. My dogs are coming back from their walk. Hi. Laura (22:19.286) Thank you. See ya. Laura (22:27.37) Sorry, hopefully we can crop or edit that out. I, you know, and I just felt, especially after COVID, I felt like people really craving that sense of calm. And so I started the podcast as a way to... sort of talk to people who are approaching this topic in a different way. So, you know, there's meditation, there's yoga. I think that's what a lot of people think of first. And those things are great, but like there are a lot of other modalities and ways to approach it. So I have talked with people who are AI ethicists and they do breath work or they work with psychedelics. So just like talking about different ways to cultivate calm. And then I also talk a little bit about how as a business owner, you can maintain that sense of calm, which I think is one of the reasons a lot of people might not start a business because they think it's going to be just way too stressful. But there is certainly a way to stay calm and do it. Hemant Varshney (23:32.746) Yeah, I definitely, you know, I agree. I think they're, you know, being a business owner and like scaling a business is challenging. It can be lonely. There's a lot of things that can happen in a short amount of time or there are things you're waiting on that take too long. And that is, I think, important. So you know, for our listeners, check out Laura's podcast, calm the hell down. Laura, where else can our listeners find you? Laura (24:03.418) I think I'm most active on LinkedIn, so you can find me on LinkedIn or my website, And yeah, those are the places I spend most of my time. Hemant Varshney (24:15.722) Amazing. Thanks for hopping on with us today. Laura (24:18.331) Thanks so much.


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