From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last week, we kicked things off with our first guest, Mark DiCristina, the Head of Brand at Mailchimp. As we mentioned before, we had so much great content on our fingertips that we decided to release the uncut interviews in a new podcast called, “The Brandwagon Interviews” — and we’re super excited to share the latest episode with you today!
On this episode, Chris sits down with Nancy Dussault Smith, CMO at Hydrow, to learn more about taking a stand on your brand, why it’s so important to budget for experimentation, and how to lean into your niche. Listen to the full episode to hear all about how she’s navigating a new industry in this ever-changing marketing landscape.
Watch the actual Brandwagon episode here!
Nancy started her career at iRobot as Assistant to the Lawyer, but made her way to running Global Marketing in no time. For about 13 years, she ran marketing communications and global marketing at the company. One of her biggest wins with the team was deciding the name of their robot vacuum, Roomba, which was originally going to be Cybersuck (oof!).
Nowadays, Nancy serves as the CMO at Hydrow, where she’s marketing a connected fitness product and a live outdoor reality experience — think along the lines of Peloton, but an in-home rowing machine. Fun fact: Rowing works 86% of your muscles, and a 20-minute workout on a Hydrow is equivalent to 40 minutes cycling or 30 minutes running.
“If your goal is to just sell volume and be the cheapest thing, you do not have to worry about emotion. You’re selling solely on price. But, if you want to build a brand that people care about, you have to have that emotional component.” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Nancy highlights the importance of brand-building, knowing your audience, and how to make space to experiment with different types of brand marketing tactics at your business.
Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:
- Always allocate part of your marketing budget for experimentation
- Be sure to have a deep understanding of your niche and your market
- Redefine your brand if you end up “jumping the shark”
- Show don’t tell — we’re in a world that’s highly visual, people need to see your product
- Don’t be afraid to take a stand with your brand
Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Nancy.
Chris: What advice would you give to somebody who’s just starting out marketing their business? And, in today’s world — what kind of things should they expect as they’re marketing that will stay the same, and things that will change?
Nancy: The thing that’s going to stay the same is the study of human behavior: people and their ultimate needs and wants. Because people’s needs and wants are consistent. Attention, affection, food, sex — those are the things that drive people to want and need your product. The emotional and rational balance, and where your product fits in that is the same. Understanding your benefit, understanding your core, who’s gonna buy it, why, that’s the basics of marketing. But HOW you communicate all that is completely different.
Chris: When you have a product that people have never seen before, how do you actually convince them that it’s worth checking out? How do you position a product that has never existed? You obviously did that with Roomba, and you’re doing it again. How do you think about that?
Nancy: It’s really fun because traditional research doesn’t work … You have to tell people what they want and why, and get to the essence of why they should love your product …
Chris: How do you get comfortable taking big risks with a brand like Roomba?
Nancy: You have to take risks. Without great risks come no rewards. A lot of times in the early days, it’s gut. We talk a lot about failing fast and that’s no secret. Everybody knows. But if you fail fast, you learn something. You should learn something from everything that you do — what works and what doesn’t. For brand, you have to build core family values over time that are consistent throughout and feel authentic to you. The second you veer off, the public will know and that’s when you jump a shark. That’s when you start to become less authentic to who you are and people won’t understand you anymore.
Chris: When you’re taking risks, how do you convince the people around you to feel comfortable with those risks?
Nancy: It’s a great question because it’s a battle every day — anywhere you go. Understanding how different minds work and understanding consumers work, I think you have to use that in your day to day in your office as well. So I look at everybody across the C-Suite sitting at the executive table with me as my consumer and ask myself, “How am I going to convince them that what we’re doing is the right thing?” I used to always say at places where I had bigger budgets, that a certain percentage of the budget was mine to do as I choose … and nobody could question it. I’ll take this 5 or 10% of the budget, and this is what I play with. This is where I test things that in my gut feel right, but I can’t prove this to you until I try it … and that’s where a lot of wins come in.
Chris: How do you think about marketing in a world where so many conversations are happening behind closed doors?
Nancy: It feels like the world has come full circle because those conversations used to happen face to face, and marketers had no idea they were happening and had no control over them. Then on social, you had trolls and people yelling things. People felt free to do it. Now, there’s a little more clamping down, and people are going back to having those conversations as if they’re face to face, but electronically. The best and only thing you can do is maintain your brand voice in a consistent way that you feel proud of. There are always going to be nay-sayers. There are always going to be people who are saying bad things. There are always going to be people who are against your brand, but for the most part, I don’t care if they’re a customer I don’t want. I don’t want every customer. Someone saying they hate a product actually identifies for other people this is not for them, or this is for them because Bob hates it.