E-commerce businesses and great content marketing are a natural fitting pair – content makes the products look good, and product gives good content constant new material with aims at profits.
But for Ara Katz, content is about so much more then brand context – it’s crucial storytelling.
As the head of Creative and Partnerships for Beachmint, a non-traditional e-commerce company focused on celebrity-endorsed women’s lifestyle products, Katz directs the flow of creativity for the company’s three brands: Stylemint (tee shirts) with the Olsen Twins, Jewelmint (jewelry) with Kate Bosworth and her Stylist Cher Coulter , the soon to be released BeautyMint (beauty products) with Jessica Simpson.
Whether she is facilitating new celebrity partnerships or choosing a twitter background, Katz’s ultimate goal is to stay true to each brand’s story.
“It filters down into everything,” she explains, “Because it’s not just about selling stuff. Storytelling and content are the only tools you have to engage in that relationship.”
She firmly believes that this consistency is necessary to any successful e-commerce strategy.
“We can also give a new transparency around the shopping experience that just can’t happen in regular retail. If a brand sells at a department store, it has no control or ability to tell a story besides the clothing tag. We get to create, control, and build a community around our product.”
A History of Storytelling:
As a former filmmaker/ producer, and leader of MIT Media Lab’s Storytelling 3.0: the next generation project, Katz has always been fascinated with experimental storytelling. But her career change has taken her exploration of storytelling to a whole new level.
“A movie is very one sided – a consumer goes into a theater, watches, and leaves – and is not ongoing,” she explained. “But the internet gives us an opportunity to give a voice to something that doesn’t normally have one. We can take still imagery or videos, and turn them into an interactive consumer experience.”
The “Celebrity” Factor
Unsurprisingly, the Olsens, Bosworth and Simpson are a major asset in initial customer aquisition for the Beachmint Team. But Katz is quick to defend that the name alone is not in itself a strategy.
“They are an immediate attractor to any brand,” Katz explains, ”but though they help with the initial hook, celebrities don’t keep customers buying. Once they are in our world, we have to deliver on the experience, product, and customer service or we lose them quickly.”
“It’s not that we have celebrities, but more the way that we use them,” Katz adds. Unlike some of Beachmint’s major competitors, the company has attempted to only work with stars whose involvement is truly aligned with current passions, and who actually contribute to the lines involved. ”Our audience expects authenticities, so offering unprecedented access to how involved the celebrities actually are is a key part of our strategy.”
The Beachmint Content Strategy: Broken Down
Katz was kind enough to break down the key components of the Beachmint Strategy. Here are the three branches.
This is the core storytelling of the brand. If done well, it is ongoing and iterative. This connects with the audience, but encourages and rewards their creativity while hopefully building a loyalty to the brand.
Example: In the Jewelmint Facebook App we have a cool page called Refashion, where you can vote to reincarnate a favorite Jewelmint piece, like a bracelet, into something else, like a necklace.
This is the harder sell; The direct email, the display ad, the new products on the site, etc. We always try to mix it up here, keep it fresh, and of course always visually brand consistent.
This is anything thats more collaborative or third party - whether it’s user-generated from a contest, or a media spot of Rosie Huntington Whitely wearing it on the street and showing users how to recreate her look. This one is a little more flexible – you need to work with your community to find out what they want and need.
Example: The Stylemint T Moment Contest: users entered their favorite T moments according to theme – like July’s red, white and blue contest.
Going forward, the Beachmint brands’ biggest hurdles aren’t in the creative space – it’s clear that they have no shortage of ideas. According to Katz, the issue is actually the inverse; “It always comes down to bandwidth. We constantly have a long list of exciting things we want to do, so make sure you put something in place that you can scale. ”
Her main advice for other content markers stays in the same vein. “In order to really innovate,” she notes, “you have to take all those ideas and really prioritize on the best ones.” By being thoughtful and resourceful, you can successfully allocate your money to bring in real ROI.
- How BirchBox Sells Tons of Beauty Supplies Through Content (contently.com)
- Gilt Groupe’s Secret To Engaging Male Shoppers: Stylish Content (contently.com)
- Jessica Simpson to Launch New Beauty Site, BeautyMint! (news.instyle.com)
- Gilt Groupe Investor Matrix Partners Leads $33M Round In Fashion Retail And Styling Platform JustFabulous (techcrunch.com)