by Matt Oxley
Today, as part of our Opal Foundations Series, we bring you a conversation with Leah Randall, Senior Social Media Strategist at Minted. Minted is a design marketplace that sources creative content from a global community of independent artists. Minted produces and sells winning designs, paying the designer a commission on every sale.
We had a chance to ask Leah about the future of the marketing industry, what she’s excited about right now and how she’s navigating the challenges marketing teams are facing today.
Q: Hi Leah! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you give us a quick introduction to your role at Minted and tell us a little bit about your brand?
A: I currently act as the Senior Social Media Strategist at Minted, an ecommerce company that brings together independent artists from around the world and leverages their designs to sell. These designs are then made into a variety of product types and artists receive commissions. Minted fosters an environment where they can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses. See more here. We are best known in the wedding space for stationary as well as for Holiday cards, but we also have a large art & decor categories.
My role is multifaceted; I focus on the overall social strategy as it relates to content across channels, targeting + boosting, influencers, community management, and measurement. I also manage our influencer relationships and various partnerships. As a channel owner, I have many stakeholders across the business in each of our categories and it’s my role to help prioritize and message all major business updates, new product launches and campaigns.
I have been in marketing for eight years now. I started my career in a general marketing role in the government sector, moved over to email marketing, and then ended up in the crazy world of social media and content marketing! It’s been quite a ride —from hospitality at Hilton, to food at Uber Eats.
Q: It sure sounds like quite the ride! What are some of the recent stories you have been most excited about telling in market?
We have some really exciting partnerships in the works! One of the fun ones that I just worked on was a BHLDN x Minted exclusive invitation collaboration. I love thinking back on the initial conversations we had with them, and then finally getting to see a whole assortment out in the world, with amazing marketing behind it. The day we got tagged by our first customer I couldn’t resist sending the picture all around the office.
Q: Who is your target consumer at Minted? How do you reach this person?
Our target consumer is a myriad of different consumers because we have so many different types of products. We have the bride customer, the home decor and design customer, the mom customer, the holiday customer! The similarity between all of these customers is they typically are female and within a similar age range.
We reach this customer using all of our marketing channels and doing our best to storytell our products. We don’t want to just present a product as a product, but rather, what are the moments that this product can fit into your life? Our products skew customizable so we also want to speak to the fact that people can make this their own. Once we can do that well, it’s so much easier to convert a customer.
Q: What are some of the ways Minted comes to life across channels?
A: Minted + Minted Weddings have two large things they have going for them as it relates to social. 1) They get tagged in beautiful user-generated content (UGC). Minted Weddings is able to gather imagery from amazing wedding photographers from around the world, and Minted has our skilled interior designer community. 2) They have a micro audiences with strong brand love. We are lucky to have our amazing artists and wedding planner communities to pull stories from and leverage.
We bring light to our micro audiences by featuring them in our channels through our #ArtistVoices series and #MintedWeddingPlanner series. We believe it’s important to humanize these people, tell their unique stories and show their work.
Q: It sounds like people really love Minted! We’re curious to know if you’ve had to pivot since the pandemic?
A: We’ve pivoted in various ways! Process-wise, focus-wise, remote-wise… But perhaps the one I’ve found most fulfilling is that more than ever we’ve begun speaking up as a brand. We spoke up when COVID hit to let people know what we as a company were doing. We were there for our Brides as their Wedding plans were turned upside down.
We spoke up during the BLM movement and we put our money where our mouth was. We pulled together people from all over the company to ignite a time-sensitive campaign. We did this by lifting our Black artists and promising to recruit more BIPOC artists. We donated to organizations that were supporting the education, community-building and career development of emerging Black artists, and we agreed to publish data that we have collected on voting bias so that others can benefit from it.
Many times social is the place where brands speak up and it’s a lot of work to do it. I think sometimes people who aren’t in this work think it’s easy to just say something as a brand. But in the background, these messages have to have approval from many teams, creative teams must quickly create, customer service teams need to be built up for backlash, and you must always have a next-step ‘action plan’ to provide your customer. It’s not easy, but it’s important.
Q: What an amazing opportunity to strengthen what sounds like an already super strong brand presence. We’re really glad to hear about something positive coming out of this strange time. What are some of the steps you’ve taken to promote consistency of your brand message?
A: Minted’s brand is strong. In fact, stronger than any other ‘BIG’ brand I’ve worked at but that doesn’t come easily. As a business, we attend many weekly brand reviews across all of our categories to be sure all social posts, emails, direct mail pieces, etc. are aligned. We look at things word for word and we have a lot of skilled designers.
Q: That’s really cool! Tell us how do you plan Minted’s marketing stories and content? What are some of the methods or processes you use?
Stories and content are planned in a few different ways. When we have new product or brand campaigns going out, channel owners meet with our product teams and we discuss story ideas together. From there, the channel owners then map out the content needs and how we will bring this to life. Do we want to pull in TikTok, should we create an IG story series, do we need influencers, can we tap our partners?
Apart from larger campaigns, my role is focused on coming up with stories. I went to undergrad to be a therapist so one of my skills is really understanding what people want and feel. I leverage this skill in my daily work as a marketer —how are consumers thinking, what do they ACTUALLY want (not want we want them to want).
We then use Opal and create stories (campaigns). We map out our calendar, and eventually, once we have our content it gets uploaded. My team uses this as our master calendar and as a place to do all approvals.
Q: That’s awesome. We’re glad to hear that working in Opal helps keep your team so organized. Have your methods or processes shifted at all since working remotely during this pandemic?
A: Before the pandemic, I managed someone that was remote so many of our processes were remote-friendly. Having tools like Opal and scheduling tools made it so we were all looking at content and data in real-time.
Perhaps the biggest change for me as a manager is making sure we still have ‘people’ time. You no longer have the 15 minutes to chat after a meeting or the desk-chatter in the morning. I think it’s so important to understand where people are in their lives and what they are up to. This way as a manager or colleague you are aware of what others are going through (happy or sad). I try to spend 10-20 minutes a week just ‘chatting’, no-work-talk with my reports. I also have created coffee chats with two junior members of the organization where we get on Zoom for 30 minutes and just talk (again, no-work-talk!)
Q: That’s really great to hear and so important that we all remember to take some “people time” in our day-to-day. What is the top inefficiency you’ve experienced in your role as a marketer?
A: This is an easy one to answer! The first, is content not being used to its utmost ability. Every single role I’ve ever been in, I’ve felt this. You make amazing content for email, but it doesn’t make its way to the social team. You make an amazing video for social, and the file is too big for an email… I believe you are going to start seeing more ‘content marketing’ titles pop up where their role is just this —pulling it all together and making sure it’s done right.
Q: We hear this a lot from our customers and we don’t envy what your teams have to keep up with on a day-to-day! What do you think is the biggest change you’ve experienced in your role since March 2020?
A: Being aware, and making sure your storytelling reflects it. There is so much going on in today’s world with just the pandemic alone; kids are home from school and some in classrooms, families coping with death, parents losing jobs, people moving. Everything is changing.
I’ve learned how important it is to just be in the know and understand people’s struggles. Every year we launch a Back-to-School campaign. This year we ultimately decided we were going to do it but we needed to storytell it right. Instead of shooting name labels on lunch boxes, we changed it to masks. Instead of talking about excitement of the first days, we talked about potential struggles. We marketed indoor classrooms.
Every single thing we market today, we have to step back and make sure it goes through our ‘2020 Checklist’. If you don’t take the time to do that, you risk your brand appearing tone deaf. And sadly, I’ve seen so many companies in this boat already.
Q: That’s a really smart way to approach it — a ‘2020 Checklist.’ Tell us what do you love most about your job? How would you have answered this a year ago?
A: A year ago, I would have answered this quite differently because I was out on the job search. I was part of the first large marketing layoffs at Uber in April of last year. I loved my role there and was just getting to the point where I felt like things were happening. We had just had a HUGE activation at SXSW, and launched one of our first large brand campaigns. I remember feeling completely lost. I had just relocated across the country for a dream role and it was cut short.
The next months weren’t easy either, but I bring this up only to say (or help others) that each role teaches you what you don’t want in your next role (big or small). During my entire job search, I had a list of must-haves that I wouldn’t let myself forget. I rejected offers at companies that some side-eyed me for…but I’m proud I said no because the role didn’t check my boxes.
When I found the role at Minted, and it checked one of my biggest boxes: happy customers. Customers that love the brand and support the brand. As someone that hears from customers (through social) all day long, I wanted to feel uplifted and not brought down. And now, it’s one of my favorite things about my role. We have amazing content to fill our feeds, and we have customer stories we can market.
Additionally, I love the fast-paced nature of social, and how it’s always changing. It keeps me on my toes, and checks me when I think I “know it all” (never!) I learn something new every day and I have such a great team to experience it with!
Q: We really appreciate your honesty about your personal journey and we’re so happy you found this role! What is the hardest thing about being a marketer in this moment?
A: Transparently, budgets. So often people look to marketing to make huge splashes. They see the amazing commercials that Coca-Cola does and they see social ads all over their feeds. But the truth is these take money, and lots of it. I think the biggest hurdle is working on tight budgets and still reaching your goals; from engagement to conversion. It means we have to work smart and scrappy, which can be draining. As a marketer during this moment, I think it’s important to ruthlessly prioritize and communicate with your manager.
Q: That’s really great advice… and it sounds like marketers today need to be more efficient than ever. What advice would you give to a marketer just starting out?
A: Be ready to get scrappy and be open to jumping around to different roles in marketing. The strongest marketers I’ve worked with are the ones that understand how individual marketing channels work. And also take the time to understand how engineering, supply chain, product, and pricing function. Email people in your organization to learn more, ask to take on projects outside of your current role and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Wow Leah this was such an insightful experience and we really appreciate you giving us such honest and thorough answers. We can’t wait to follow Minted’s feeds over the holidays and see all of your hard work come to life!
To learn more about how marketers like Leah and brands like Minted are becoming more efficient and effective than ever, get in touch with us here or email me at ALIAS@workwithopal.com.