by Laurie Petersen, July 5, 2016
For 16 years, Ethelbert Williams drove go-to-market and channel expansion strategies for consumer giants Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever. As CMO of InstaNatural, a natural organics products company in Orlando, Fla., he is responsible for global marketing, brand development and sales strategy. Williams speaks next month at the Brand Marketers Summit in Lake Tahoe. We talked to him about InstaNatural’s omni-channel expansion plans.
What’s the first step?
InstaNatural was a direct-to-consumer brand and ecommerce is really multi-faceted. We haven’t even touched brick and mortar yet. My job is to figure out how we want to tell our stories in those new channels. We have to build a lot of new capabilities — content is at the top.
By the end of the year, we’re going to be in about eight different channels. Walmart is different from Jet.com, which is different from Amazon.
How are you going to transfer what you know from the world of big brands to this new company?
Start with brand and the role it plays for consumers. Shopping at Target is not the same as Costco or Walmart. You have to change the experience and how you talk to the customer.
InstaNatural was born on Amazon and one of the key insights is the customer doesn’t go to Amazon to search for brands. She shops for how-to, ingredients and solutions. She shops for retinol, SPF, vitamins.
Her customer journey starts with the solution in mind and that’s what gravitates toward the brand. As we transition into other channels, it’s a more curated experience. Content has to be around the brand and how we’re differentiated.
Our content must tell our story beyond just product and solution. It has to go into problem and solution.
How does the product line need to evolve?
We are introducing a cleaner and fresher new packaging look next week. It features a bird of paradise flower representing magnificence, excellence, success and optimism.
As we move into new channels we have to have a much stronger assortment. We’ve improved our formulations and a more robust pipeline introducing ourselves into new categories. We need to offer a more complete solution. So, for instance, we’re introducing a Vitamin C cleanser, Vitamin C serum and Vitamin C moisturizer, along with several other products.
What tools are you using?
We invested in an omnichannel solution Zentail; ChannelAdvisor is another martech partner. Internally I structured a vertical content marketing team. We built an in-house content studio.
In the old world, you’re writing a brief for an agency, the legal is weighing in and four or five weeks later it can be on Instagram. No brand is waiting four or five weeks. We are responding in real time. Engaging live.
In Florida we have set up a living room, a restroom. We can take images on a sink counter or in the living room. It’s us embracing how we need to engage and connect — within our resources.
How many people are you?
My marketing team is about a dozen people. In two weeks I have a new content lead coming in to manage that content development. I work with agencies for a lot of the lifestyle photography and lifestyle shots.
Our exceptional creative partner, Canopy Brand Group, helped us develop a lot of the content product shots and social media.
The majority of people on our team are responsible for content — keyword research to back-end to product detail content — images, listings, video, etc., all the way to marketing, commercial, paid media, social media. We are a content engine.
What about the channels?
Many of the channels and how they’re working are new to everyone. Jet is new to everyone. They’re a completely new platform and so are their processes.
Walmart’s Marketplace is new for everyone. Even they’re selling click-and-collect. A consumer can shop online and then go pick it up at a local Walmart retail center. We’re figuring out how to engage customers. It’s important to make sure you have the right talent that is curious and can stretch and learn this platform.
How much is real-time?
Quite a bit. A designer is sending us images so we can test some things over the weekend. That is so refreshing. You send out an email, learn how it is doing and make changes. We make changes on listings real-time. We react to the data.
What about Facebook Live, Persicope and Snapchat?
We’re testing our way. We by no means have the secret sauce. It’s hugely, hugely important — especially with some of the capabilities Facebook has announced with Live. We’ll be doing live beauty consultations and a call to action around our products, solutions and content. We have a huge plan to leaverage live formats in this category in beauty and even leverage our retailers.