I have been talking more to the people who are doing the work of social media so the readers of Marketing Pilgrim can step back from the news and the theory to get some feet on the street perspective. More and more those feet on the street are C level executives who are embracing social media to brand themselves and their companies. Kent Huffman of Bearcom Wireless has put together a list of these socially active CMOs on Twitter.
One of these folks, Ted Rubin (@tedrubin), exemplifies the energy and effort that is required to make a place for oneself in the social web for business. I interviewed Ted by e-mail recently to learn about the who, what, where, why and how of his social media efforts as the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of the Eyes Lips Face (e.l.f.) Cosmetics line. I challenge you to find a more active C-level marketer out there.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your marketing experience and what is your mission as CMO for e.l.f. Cosmetics?
Prior to joining e.l.f., I served as Senior Managing Director of Marketing and Business development for Eastern Union Commercial and RealProspex.com, the fastest growing and most innovative commercial real-estate-listing site in the country. I was also President and CEO of The Black Book and responsible for its turnaround and eventual sale to a private equity group, and have held senior level positions at 1-800-Flowers and Yoyodyne, a Yahoo! company, in addition to running my own internet marketing and business development consultancy which serviced a vast array of online and traditional companies.
As Chief Marketing Officer for e.l.f. Cosmetics, my responsibilities include communicating with and building e.l.f.’s client base, leveraging brand equity through strategic marketing programs, and creating/managing a major thrust into social media initiatives and partnerships. I also focus on strengthening both core products and line extensions, including the extremely successful Studio line and Minerals collection, both launched under my tenure and growing rapidly.
EyesLipsFace.com considers itself not only an e-tailer, but a pioneer of social commerce… a beauty and trendsetting destination site with approximately ten to twelve million page views a month, several hundred thousand monthly visitors and over two million members. I believe the key to continued success is identifying with the customer. Listening is finally getting the respect it deserves through Social Media… listen and adjust your message to make it relevant to your consumer. Brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance… a direct result of not listening.
Number one is always try to understand who your customer is and stay true to your brand. At e.l.f. we position the brand with a unique approach toward beauty, accessibility, interactivity and consumer engagement.
2. Tell us how long you have been engaged in digital marketing (social media , search etc) and what venues you are currently using.
I have been involved in digital marketing since 1997 when I joined Seth Godin at his online direct marketing company Yoyodyne, which was acquired by Yahoo! a year later. I scaled and continued development of Yoyodyne’s most successful and only profitable product, “Get Rich ClickSM”. My team blew away sales projections from $20,000 in February 1998 to sales in excess of $6 million in the back half of that year – beating projections by more than 200 percent.
Currently at e.l.f. we are very totally immersed in affiliate, search, email, word-of-mouth, and social media marketing… as well as intertwining all of that with a robust earned media presence. In addition we maintain a seven day a week blogging presence and have built a very strong relationship with the Mommy and Beauty Blogging community.
3. Why have you chosen these avenues and are there others that you are considering?
I have chosen these venues because they lend themselves to performance marketing and allow us to either only pay for acceptable results or extend our footprint without the need for a traditional media budget.
We have an extremely high brand visibility and combined with our phenomenal “Affordable Luxury” model we are a great fit with many publishers (and work with most including Hearst, Conde Nast, Hachette Filipacchi, Time, etc.) and websites/bloggers for special features… especially in today’s economic environment.
We are featured regularly in blogs, magazines, newspapers and TV news reports on a daily basis. e.l.f. does not have a traditional marketing budget. The majority of our marketing is through PR, cross promotion, partnership, content sharing, and/or rev share with other websites. We work very aggressively enhancing the e.l.f. client base through hands-on marketing initiatives and are focusing on leveraging and continuing to grow brand equity through strategic marketing programs, partnerships and an aggressive Social Media strategy.
4. You stated in a tweet recently, “This recession, unlike past few, w/hav long term impact on consumr shopng habits. Ignor new valu paradigm at ur own risk. Could you explain what you mean by this?
This recession, unlike other recent downturns, has reached deeper into the wallets and more importantly psyche of most consumers. In addition the effects on the purchasing power of the average consumer will be longer lasting and most have seen the light for the first time in many years about the importance of building a savings base. Due to this, “Value” is now king… “Value” being a combination of price “and” quality. Simply put… consumers want more for less and will insist upon this for a long time to come.
5. Moving forward how do you intend to embrace this new paradigm for e.l.f? What will your marketing efforts look like in 5 years as a result of this shift?
The beauty of our business at e.l.f. is that we were pioneers, trailblazers and trendsetters in this regard. We were doing this when everyone else was raising their prices… even those brands that offered nothing more than fancy packaging for the higher prices.
EyesLipsFace.com is not just an etailer, but a pioneer of social commerce… we have become a beauty and trendsetting destination site with a few hundred thousand monthly visitors and in excess of 2MM members. Check out “the buzz” section on our website… . The majority of e.l.f.’s products are sold for only $1. Our single item price points for our three lines are $1 (our standard line), $3 (Studio line), and $5 (Mineral line).
In today’s rapidly evolving marketing world I am not sure what we will be doing next year, so five years out is not something I am even pondering. My hope is to continue to build upon what we have done to date with regard to engaging and interacting with our members/customers/prospective customers to build a relationship with our brand that will be loyal and enduring.
6. If you were to give someone who is new to the marketing game a bit of free advice what would it be?
Research the social media/marketing medium and become knowledgeable. There’s nothing better than first hand experience. Later, there are many things you will be able to delegate, but this is the one thing that you need to do. I spent months researching and understanding social media before I made many moves in the space for e.l.f.
Build a following for your personal brand. If you are able to build a sizeable audience for your personal brand then you are closer to developing a social marketing strategy for your company.
Set management’s expectations properly so everyone understands what you are trying to accomplish and how to measure those results.
Build a strategy with measurable goals, such as number of followers, growth rate and interactions, but don’t avoid areas that may not be measured accurately as these are potentially very valuable to the company’s bottom line down the road.
Get your hands dirty… interact with your audience and provide that personal touch that a brand so desperately requires.
7. How important do you think video and interactive content will be in the near future?
I think video, and the ability to put a face to the name of user-generated content, will play a huge role in the growth of social media marketing. When the next phase is complete, and the average consumer can manage the ability to embed a link that can click through to a product from a YouTube or other ubiquitous video platform, the next generation advocate/affiliate will arise and become incredibly valuable to a retailer/brand.
In January 2009 we launched a sister site ASKelf.com that hosts all user-generated content posted about e.l.f. around the web, primarily focusing on video, and will soon be integrating it into our site in a significantly upgraded format as the The e.l.f. Beauty Network.
We just re-launched our site this month with a new design and will be adding the The e.l.f. Beauty Network as soon as the design is ready to fit in and some important upgrades are made.
Thanks to Ted for his time. As noted at the start, he may be the “hardest working man in C-level social media”. If you have any questions ask away. I suspect Ted will be willing to “interact” here at Marketing Pilgrim.