Brand building legend, marketing innovator & community expert, Angelic Vendette, is here. She’s demystifying the secrets of brand marketing, one tried-and-tested tactic at a time.
Recognized by Forbes, Business Insider, Vogue, and Glossy as one of the most influential figures in the industry, Angelic is ex-Global Head of Marketing @ Alo Yoga, ex-Global Head of Social & Influencer @ Stitch Fix, and the Founder and CMO of Ave Advisory.
Tune in for an insightful discussion that promises to reshape your perspective on brand engagement and community cultivation.
In this episode, Angelic shares her expertise on fostering thriving communities, even amidst lockdowns; revealing the secrets behind her success in nurturing a community of over 20,000 devoted members. From innovative approaches to engagement to the pivotal role of AI in shaping brand marketing strategies, Angelic offers invaluable insights that transcend conventional wisdom.
Discover how and when to invest in brand marketing, learn how co-creation with community can elevate your brand to the forefront of consumer preference, and explore frameworks for effectively attributing community efforts. Angelic also uncovers the untapped opportunities within communities, guiding brands to identify and empower their most passionate Advocates.
Peering into the future, she paints a vivid picture of what 2024 holds for community-first brand growth – highlighting the importance of optimizing the customer journey and focusing on priorities to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape. From navigating the complexities of the sales cycle to embracing industry best practice, consider this episode a comprehensive roadmap for brands striving to thrive in the digital age.
Tune in as we explore the intersection of innovation, technology, and human connection; uncovering the strategies that leading brands are leveraging to dominate their markets.
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Building Brand Advocacy 052:
Alo Yoga, Sephora & Stitch Fix: The Secret Formula for Brand Marketing ft. Angelic Vendette
PAUL: Hello and welcome to Building Brand Advocacy. You're with me, Paul Archer. I'm your host and I'm incredibly excited today to be joined by Angelic Vendette. Now, Angelique is a Forbes 50 CMO, Business Insiders CMO to watch, Vogue 100 Innovators, and Glossy's 50 Most Influential People within fashion. I mean, what a way to tee you up. Angelic, welcome. I'd love to dig into a little bit about how you got to have some of those incredible monikers.
ANGELIC: Well, thanks for that. I mean, I've always had two passions. One has been in the digital marketing realm of things. And so my whole career, I've been really focused on digitization and started out on the fashion side of things at a luxury retailer in Canada called Holt Renfrew, where my first mandate and my very first job was really to help kind of bring the consumer away from in-store, you know, receiving catalogs to bringing onto sites and to start building up email lists. I actually, fun fact, opened up their very first social media channel. And so this is back in the day dating me now. But that's kind of the crux of where technology and then also fashion, going back to Vogue, really kind of start and met. From there, I did my MBA, I had worked at Deloitte, kind of through internships and did digitization there. But after my MBA, I left Holt Renfrew and I went into management consulting where I helped digitize more traditional industries like banking and insurance. And really, really love that, you know, when you think of, you know, how do you get folks away from that in-store or in-bank kind of counter approach to now building wireframes that has that UX and that journey that is so much better for the consumer. But soon came to realize that my true passions were obviously in consumer disturbing businesses, specifically lifestyle, retail, fashion, beauty. And so started my own digital marketing agency and did that for about 4 and a half years. We did DTC and transformation for 27 of the 32 L'Oreal Canada brands, which was wonderful.
And slowly but surely L'Oreal Canada opened up their content studio and brought a lot of that team in house. And so with that acquisition came the opportunity to either go in house or Sephora and LVMH came knocking in the U.S. and said, hey, understood that you, there's a non-compete, but come do what you did there south of the border. So I immigrated with them to the US and since then held leadership roles that touch innovation, marketing, but always on the digital side of things. And so yeah, have held leadership marketing roles at Sephora, LVMH, Stitch Fix, and most recently held marketing for Alo Yoga right before leading to me to where I am now, which is in consulting and advisory at Ave Advisory, including for brands still today like Alo, but a slew of others now that I have my green card.
PAUL: Amazing. Let's start at the end there for that. Alo is such an incredible success story. What period, when did you start there?
ANGELIC: Yeah, I started just during the pandemic. So at the tail end of 2020, beginning of 2021.
PAUL: And that's just what an incredible time to be. So that's, that's what I wanted to ask you about. So when you're talking about building communities and often when you're thinking about what Alo do and the various other, other competitors in that space, it's a very in-person thing. Communities been baked in to the yoga industry since day one, but it's in person. Like how did you, first of all, how did you adapt and kind of get after that in a lockdown era? And where I'd really like to know, how did you come to that conclusion? How did you try and puzzle that out?
ANGELIC: Yeah, I mean, like all of us were looking for community over a lockdown period, right? There was so much isolation. There was so much conversation around mental health and how folks can come together and really lean into activities and or, you know, mental well being that helped with that isolation and mental health kind of endemic that was starting. And so it felt natural to bring folks together, obviously could not do it in person, but could certainly bring groups together. And we leaned in a very organic manner, which was leading into a behavior that consumers were already doing. We were already zooming. So why not get a few thousand of us together and do a meditation to close out the day, even though that was over Zoom? Why not schedule in yoga classes that you could take live and for free, just because the community and the world needed it? We also went into a lot of education. So you know, Gua Sha Zooms as well as, you know, learning about intuitive breathing, intuitive eating, chakras, you name it. So it became a big part of us to lean into community in a way that felt natural, but also very giving. We were not looking for anything in exchange we were providing because this is a time and place where a lot of us were looking for connection and although could not necessarily leave our homes wanted to do that with like-minded community and like-minded individuals that were just like us still wanting to lean into their health and wellness and or fitness so that's where it came about and it just it grew beyond what we could have had anticipated. At first it was just; let's get friends together within the community. Let's get yogis together. And it grew to, you know, at first maybe 500 people to then a thousand, then 3000, and eventually 20,000 people in one kind of live session. So, um, very naturally and organically by word of mouth.
PAUL: Wow. That's incredible. Um, 20,000 people on one live session. And now I remember at the time, um, pulling together; we were consulting for a bunch of brands and we put out some free sessions on how to adapt to lockdown. And we had hundreds and hundreds of brands just came through just desperate for a way to adapt to it. And one of the kind of examples we were using was Alo's generosity of spirit and a few others. And the kind of the key thing that we kept trying to tell to brands is like, you will miss your targets. Well, actually, in some cases, they completely exceeded their targets, but most brands miss their targets and they need to just reset. But the majority actually of brands went into sell mode. They went to discount mode. They went aggressively to try and sell those kind of things. And obviously, you guys didn't do that. How do you make a decision like that when actually you've got to go against what you've set, you've got to go against boards, you've got to go against things that you've shared with investors, et cetera, to make a decision to say, well, actually, instead of saying this, we're going to take all this money, we're actually not going to make that much money at all and we're going to give in this sort of way.
ANGELIC: Yeah, I mean, I think it's a very, very conscious decision. And as marketers, you have to know when the right time and place is to invest in brand. Obviously, with that comes community and partnership and whatnot, but really investing in brand. And what's interesting in, you know, a tough economic time where brands have the decision to say, OK, am I going to lean in on what is the drug of sale? Because it's kind of a hook. You give a discount, people come in, and then they don't come again until you give another discount, and then they're back. And so that doesn't really create any loyalty or any sense at all. It's folks that are shopping for a discount, and as soon as you're not on sale, they'll go somewhere else to get it on sale. But in a time that's harder economically, you have the decision. Do you go on the sale route and the revenue route? Or do you choose to invest, to build, to co-create so that when kind of purchasing becomes top of mind again, you're the brand of choice? And that's the route that we took. Definitely not the safest route, but I think the one built for most long-term growth and long-term organic build, that's able to withstand these ups and downs of liquidation and or of sale.
PAUL: And like, that's, this is a topic we talk about quite a lot in terms of discounting and understanding the right times to do it. And you mentioned it's a drug. A lot of brands are hooked on that drug and it's quite hard for them to go backwards. So what would be your prescribed rehab for those brands that are, you know, they're stuck in that discount sort of cycle of death, but they want to break free and that's often the hardest part of it. So how would you recommend they go about building that strategy?
ANGELIC: Yeah, it would certainly not be to cut it off and go cold turkey because you're going to be missing your numbers, your business might, you know, if it's highly, highly dependent, as in this example, you have to introduce brand back in slowly and refocus in on the top of funnel. So how do we move energy away from that, you know, mid to lower back into that mid to top? And it might be one campaign a quarter. It might be one campaign a month, but really starting to lean into sharing what your values are, why you're differentiated outside of just price and outside of just discount. That might come with how you show up in the world. You know, what are the experiences that your consumers are gaining, whether that's in person or online or whatnot, and starting to invest in that so that you do have a clear point of view. You do have a clear differentiator. And slowly but surely doing it so that you're eventually not, you know, these discount brands are relying 90% on demand gen and they have, you know, a 5% to 10% of their total marketing budget is brand awareness. So really nothing. That's maybe a few assets here and there. But leaning that back to an industry average, at least in our retail holistic space, that is more of a 60-40, and doing it slowly but surely at a time so that you're sustaining business, you're sustaining sale, but you're doing that at a place that is full price and that is valuing the brand for what it is and the product for what it is. So it's a slow wean, but one that's, I think, absolutely crucial. Otherwise, brands that continue to only be this down in liquidation, I don't think they can survive in the long term.
PAUL: And so just to clarify that 60% brand or 40% brand?
ANGELIC: Yeah. It's actually so industry best practice is 60% brand and 40% demand generation and lower funnel, which sounds scary to most. But that's, that's certainly at a really healthy place where you're focusing all your efforts on showcasing who you are, what you stand for, you know, what you bring to the larger consumer and 40% gets into that personalization of retargeting acquisition, maybe personalized, abandoned cart emails or personalized ads. That's the gold.
PAUL: There are not that many brands who are investing 60%, I think, particularly post-pandemic. It's a really great start for people to say as a benchmark to the CFO, whoever, that you need to prove that this is something you need to invest in and you won't track 60% of that revenue, which is a great place to stop. Now, I'm going to ask you about the full funnel in a moment, but still on that theme of community. Do you see community building as a brand building activity? Are you able to attribute anything when it comes to community? I'd love to know about any frameworks you have so brands can think about this really tactically.
ANGELIC: Yeah, I mean, I love the subject of community. I think community is the single most important brand building kind of tactic that brand leaders and marketers can use today in this day and age. Building community and being able to co-create with folks that are as passionate about your product, as passionate about your service and or experience, no matter what industry you're in, having them be a part of the narrative and grow it outside of what you're only able to do. It's going back to those examples of word of mouth. Back in the day, maybe 20 years ago, you would say your best marketing is to deserve your first 10 customers as best as possible, and then they'll go tell 10 people. Well, community in this day and age is not different, but they get to tell maybe hundreds or thousands of people at a time because of social, because of reach. And being able to foster what a community could look like, both within the walls and confines of your company, of your consumers, but then in the larger zeitgeist is very important. I think it's interesting that you mentioned, attribution, whether it could be attributed or not. There's certainly tools that you can use to help do that; to help really quantify the value that community is bringing. And you and I both know, you know, attribution funnels are broken and extremely hard when it comes to, you know, kind of line for line saying what's brand marketing and what is that driving versus, you know, your bottom of the funnel. However, there's things to do, like is it introductory kind of welcome links. It doesn't have to always be a discount code. But is there a unique experience that community members can drive their community to come in and it might be early access. It might be kind of a unique landing page for that; that person's community in and of itself. And so you could track all of that traffic. You can furthermore really track the engagement and the reach that you're getting from an standpoint. And folks, oftentimes under value, the earned media kind of quantification that they're getting from that extended reach. And you would be paying for that otherwise. So if I didn't have, let's say a group of a thousand folks that are within my community and I had to now go reach a thousand folks, well, that's going to cost me. And as a CMO, I have to know and understand that value of what community can bring me so that I could start quantifying and looking at the whole business from a marketing perspective and understanding where I invest. So there are tools and there are ways to quantify and also to track communities value that go beyond just the like direct conversion.
PAUL: Nice. Well, I mean, not to get too nerdy, but like, I'd love to just unpick that about EMV and earned media value there for a second. So do you mean that we're literally valuing all engagements based on the cost it would cost you on that platform? So let's say the number of likes and comments on Instagram, you would be gauging that as to what your brand's equivalent cost per click would be on Instagram and saying, well, actually, my community have engaged with 500,000 likes and it cost me $1 a like, therefore that's $500,000 worth of earned media value.
ANGELIC: Yeah, that's correct. That's probably the simplest way engaging where your earned media value comes to play. But then beyond that, it's also kind of the cost of creating that new assets, the cost of getting it out there, the cost of the resources on the team and what they're now doing versus what they could be doing should they be focusing on something else. Community, what I love is that you have content creation with that. You have experiences within that. You have events within that. And as long as a brand is nurturing the community in a way again to co-create, but in a way that has that through line of what the brand values are and how the brand is differentiated, then someone can go run with that. And that's inherently really, really special because you're not only placing the value of the brand at the center, but also the value of that community member at the center. And so for example, if someone is highly, highly passionate about I'm going to say breathwork. Well, you know, from a brand perspective, you can still play a role and you can help amplify that message or amplify that meeting place. But then you give the opportunity to someone who's a breathwork practitioner to kind of share, share that beauty in the world and share that experience in the world. But they have the backing of a brand, whether that's you know, to get invitees in or to lower the costs of what they're putting on. And so you're now starting something really, really special with that individual and the folks that are kind of coming to that experience itself, which from a memory standpoint, just can't be beat in any other scenario. I don't know how many of us have memories with great. This ad retargeted me that, and I love this brand versus I went to this event, this brand was there in a really kind of holistic way, but what I remember is that breathwork practitioner and he shared that this was his first time putting on an event and he was so grateful that brand allowed space for that. But now as a consumer allowed space for me to live this experience. It is so much more sticky and so much more valuable to have that memory associated with the brand versus a non-memory that is just great. I've been served 12 ads. I forget which one I saw, but this one had the best price or this one just came at the right time and place where I needed to buy right away.
PAUL: So, yeah. And so the way that you're talking about community there, it seems on another level to where a lot of brands talk about community. Often they think about the brand's own community, the collection of humans that are in their forum or whatever. But you're sort of, you're talking about the individuals within that community and their individual communities and how a brand can piggyback on that. Is that correct?
ANGELIC: Yeah, that's right. The true sense of community is really who is in that network and who has a shared passion and who has a shared sense of values. And so I wouldn't describe community as just the followers you have on social media or the number of folks within your CRM system, but rather kind of the extension of folks that are advocates, that are content creators, that are influencers, that are ambassadors for you.
PAUL: And what does that community look like? And what is their connection back to your brand?
ANGELIC: So it's like tentacles that have reached beyond just what you can see and quantify from a hard kind of platform and our CRM point of view. And I think that's the right approach to think through community because your brand percolates and what you put out there from an experience standpoint and from a value standpoint has much more legs than what you're just seeing from kind of a hard number point of view.
PAUL: Well, I love this. I always think of it as the brand's network and it's made of sub communities, as you said, ambassadors, the practitioners, industry professionals, creators. But then at the heart of it is that authenticity and that passion. Like, do they love the brand? That's the most important thing. And how can a brand facilitate and work with those various different individuals, those advocates? And obviously, that's something that's quite passionate, like close to my heart. But tactically, that is quite far away from the way that a lot of brands are. And mapping out that network, identifying those individuals, particularly, I mean, also, like it's a lot easier when you're in yoga or you're in sports. I think that's what a lot of people say. It's just like they're selling something which is a bit more homogenous fashion, for example, or maybe beauty products. It doesn't... Although you do have obviously makeup artists, et cetera, in beauty, but like for a brand that's not quite as advanced as this, what's the first step that you'd recommend they take in terms of identifying the different areas of opportunity within their community to find those advocates?
ANGELIC: Yeah, I think the very first step is understanding your niche and starting small, right? Where quality trumps quantity at every single time and when you turn every single corner. So understanding where it is that you truly have community members that are passionate, that are vocal, and that share the same sentiment as your brand, and how do you empower them? And you might just start with one person at a time. You might eventually grow to have five people within that community and have them almost be the eyes and ears and also voice for you still while amplifying their very own voice and their own experience. But starting small and starting from a quality standpoint versus just kind of, you know, the spray and pray approach of going wide and large without having any depth at all. Yeah, that's, that's probably at a very high level, the highest advice I can give.
PAUL: And how does audience size play into that? Because that's the one most people look to first, it's like, okay, I want to do some influencer marketing, I'm going to find someone who's got a big enough audience to start working with them. You've not really referred to scale of those individuals. Like, do you think that that's important? Does it have anything to play with this versus the passion? I'd love to know how you think about that relative to the interest in the brand.
ANGELIC: I love that question because I think as a default, most marketers will say, well, who has the largest following, who has the largest community, what does that look like? That's not the place to start. It's going back to the place where you have true alignment and values and experience that truly, you know, transcend the number of folks that they can have on TikTok or the number of followers or views or whatever, but transcends in a way that feels like the guiding line of this is who the brand is and this person embodies that, and we want to showcase their experience via that guiding thread of our brand. Um, so, so I think that's the biggest mistake that marketers make is confusing community with following and not truly working with individuals or amplifying individuals that have the voice that is shared between the brand and them, but rather someone who's in the pay to play arena that could have a peripheral passion that is shared. So yeah, no, I don't think community starts with someone's following, not at all.
PAUL: Okay, amazing. I'm going to shift gears a little bit actually. And we've talked about community a lot. It's obviously shifted from that mid pandemic craziness when people are desperate for community and something which you and Elo did so well. And we're now at this post pandemic period of time where a lot of things have changed. We're at the beginning of 2024. I'd love to know what you think the future holds for community in the way that brands grow.
ANGELIC: I'm really excited about this. I love innovation and now, you know, not no longer being at Alo, but really consulting and advising a slew of friends in this space, including still Alo. I love leaning into innovation and being able to, to optimize the consumer journey and get to a place where it's, you know, as close to frictionless as possible really, really plays a strong role. So how do you have connected community? How do you have experiences where community can be at the forefront and at the center in places that are not always on your website or not always driven to a conversion, but whether that be forums, whether that be an exchange of know-how, you know, when you think back to whether it's, you know, whether we're talking about skincare, for example. How do we now hone in on a place where people can chat about skin care concerns and their experiences and share photos and share kind of before and afters? So, so really creating a place that has two way dialogue that we haven't seen before. Typically brands in the past have really kind of disseminated messaging down to the consumer. It's almost felt not transactional, but even when you think of, you know, let's say Instagram as a means of communication for community. You have the brand messaging out and then consumers perhaps chiming back in with then even if you have the best customer service, kind of a reply, but it isn't a two-way dialogue where, where community members can upload and start topics of conversation. So I think in 2024, that connectedness and that true two-way dialogue is going to become more and more important. And I'm really excited about that and how technology and innovation can help amplify that and help better that experience.
PAUL: Can you give me an example of how you see that working?
ANGELIC: Yeah. I mean, a great example would be, and do you want an example of technology or do you want more of a fictional?
PAUL: Yeah. Well, wherever your brain goes, you know, I mean, this is, this is your future.
ANGELIC: Yeah, of course. I mean, for example, I mean, we have to talk about the Apple Vision Pro, which is launching, you know, in just two weeks now, you know, on February 2nd. When you think of being immersed in someone's storefront or being immersed in, you know, a class that they're giving or seminar or whatever it may be, it could be brand education, but could also very much be, you know, a look and feel of the retail and you have someone wearing the Apple vision pro and kind of sifting through racks of clothing or sifting through a beauty counter or whatever it may be, picking things up, looking at the label, understanding. Yes, there isn't an actual look and feel, but you can feel as a consumer and as a larger member of that community that you're heading into real time content that goes beyond what you can see on a typical kind of storefront or e-commerce webpage. So love the idea of immersion and also with that love the idea of a kind of retail immersion that also showcases experience and values. So imagine you're at a retailer's store and all of a sudden, you know, one of their brand ambassadors comes on and you can have, you know, a Q&A with that brand ambassador or whether it's, you know, yoga, for example, you can you know, tuck away after looking at some merchandise and go do a 20 minute breath or, you know, yoga flow. Same thing for when it comes to makeup. Like let's do a tutorial and let's make it feel like I have access to something very special. So technology will enable that and also technology like the Apple Vision Pro will also enable community members to come together and to congregate a branded experience as though they were in a store without leaving the comfort of their home. And to me, that's optimized community beyond just optimized shopping, but optimized community because you're now becoming a gathering point and a center point for yes, entertainment, yes, education, but certainly for brand discovery. And that feels really special. And that's probably a really great example of how technology can help do that in 2024.
PAUL: So this is the episode we recorded just before this very united our predictions. And one of mine was very similar and the idea of these individuals acting as the kind of the guides for the brand. So the Maven who's a niche in their area of expertise, whether that's beauty, or whether that's fashion, or whether that's a particular sport or whatever it is, becoming the store associate in many ways, that is recommending the products that you should go and allowing them to be able to be incentivized off the back of that, whether that's through a TikTok shop or through a more direct affiliate model for that. So, yeah, very much agree with you there. And I also have some data that backs up what you were saying around this idea of those; that authenticity and message in that the idea of the store associates that are working with some of the brands I work with are getting seven times more revenue per follower than a creator is. And it's because it's this hyper local authentic person sort of advocating within their own personal network, which is one of the other recommendations for this year, which is, you know, store associates becoming those brand ambassadors for localized stores and bringing on the products and also a fan of the brand and then combine that with their own social media presence, you have a pretty heady cocktail of opportunity for brands. And so if I love what you're saying, and then the vision pro that's gonna, you know, that's going to be a game changer, because, you know, Apple always late with their products, but when they do, they do it really well. So I'm fascinated to see if this will be the thing that finally makes VR a thing because it's been talked about for as long as I've been in technology, I think, as it's about just around the corner, maybe it is.
ANGELIC: Yeah, same. I mean, when you look at, and sorry, I can geek out on this, but I love what you're saying about amplifying kind of the store associate and having them become advocates. When we were at Stitch Fix, you know, it was slightly different. We had personal stylists, but how did we amplify them and get their content out and have them become the face and voice of the brand? And when you look at the brands that are winning in today's day and age, whether that's the Altas, the Abercrombies, they're really, really putting their associates at the forefront. So wanted to touch on that. And then separately, yeah, I'm excited to see kind of where VR leads. I think Meta has done a really good job in the last few months, right? Since the launch of their kind of Ray-Ban CoLab. I see a lot of folks out and about with those glasses capturing content. And although it's not integrated from a shopping experience, it certainly gives you the idea of what is coming next. So fascinated by that and fascinated by how that amplifies our consumer journeys as a whole.
PAUL: Yeah. I think the biggest hurdle that brands are going to find with the store associates is the legalities of it. Of how do you manage people, the complexity of employment law across multiple states, multiple countries? There's a lot of difficulties I think that brands are going to have, but the theory is very robust and I'm excited to see a brand crack it really well. I know Macy's have their style crew, which was probably one of the earlier ones, like 2019 or something. They've figured out some of the logistical parts of it, so I'm sure we'll see a few more down the way. Amazing. So there's so much to kind of unpick here. And I don't think we could go on there. But there's one other thing like, you know, you referred to the meta and RayBan's collab, you know, the OGs will remember Google Glass, when everyone's walking around with those of a period of time, you know, we've been promised that VR is around the corner for as many years. The only thing that's been promised with more potential for longer and letting us down is the potential of AI. But it kind of feels like that has changed. Um, well, not it feels like that has definitely changed. I mean, where do you see the brand world changing thanks to AI?
ANGELIC: Yeah. I mean, there's so many opportunities in which, um, you can amplify the work of your current brand marketing team. Um, you know, just have it be on, on what folks are referring to as steroids, where you can create content at scale, where you can edit at scale, where you can have idea generation at scale. And when it comes to actually putting that in front of the consumer and in front of your community, you could almost now get to a place where, even before marketing, but still as a means of marketing, you're testing out designs. They might've been AI generated, but you're now testing out designs and pulling that with your community to understand where you're gonna go in and make, all the way through to leveraging influencers, leveraging content creators that may or may not exist, right? Some might be AI generated and that's crazy to see, right? When you look at certain creators that are out there that are just starting to pop up that have millions of followers, but that are not real, that also starts kind of opening up a network of, okay, well in the future from a brand perspective, will models not be real? And some great retailers already do that, the likes of Adidas. They're already leveraging content on site that hasn't been shot on actual model. But just getting to a place where we could eventually personalize. If I'm logging on to a site, I might have models that look like me. Whereas you're coming onto that site, we might be wanting the same hoodie, like a unisex hoodie, and you might be seeing it tailored to you and so on and so forth. So I love this idea of where AI is gonna help us with personalization, but right now, certainly on the copy front, certainly on the ideation front, and certainly on the content creation front.
PAUL: Now, I love the idea of us being our own models. And I wonder, I'd love to see the data when it comes in, whether we actually want to see ourselves modelling clothes back to us or actually there is something about the aspirational nature of purchasing that we want to see. We want to see models that we can aspire to be modeling the clothes that we want to buy or the products we want to buy. Fascinating to see where that one goes. The piece that I'm really interested in is this idea of the who said what, and I think it's going to become more relevant that the creator of that content there is, you know, you'll see some content when all content is just as good when it's AI or not AI. This is something which has been created by Angelic or this is something which is created by this particular individual and that authenticity stamp becomes the currency of exchange. I mean, do you see this being a problem or an opportunity for brands?
ANGELIC: I see it as an opportunity for brands. I see it as a huge opportunity in the sense that matters. And right now we're living in a day and age where we almost value influencer and following more so than our actual buyers and community members. And not saying that that's how I approach marketing and the brands that I work with approach it that way, not at all, but the larger industry. And so I want to take ownership of the industry as marketers and our retailers. We've almost over-indexed into influence. And I think it's time to go back to that opportunity point, back to go to the opportunity of who is saying what. Are they an actual loyalist? Are they an advocate for our brand? Do they really care about the product and really care about what they're telling a larger community of folks? Whether they have 500 followers, 5,000 followers, 500,000 followers, 5 million, that part doesn't matter. But what is their connection point and what is the value that we attribute back to that person? So almost quantifying it. And right now, we still use rudimentary metrics, right? We still use kind of understanding someone's engagement rate when we look. And we all have obviously tools to understand someone's engagement rate and seeing, okay, is this audience bought or is this audience genuine and how do they resonate? We might be looking at sentiment as part of some of the social tracking tools that we have, but that's quite rudimentary because it's not giving you qualitative input on who that person is. And I think as we continue to move forward within the space of content creation and of influence, we're certainly going to dial back towards attributing a value to who says what and why is this important to our brand even though they might have a smaller following.
PAUL: And so, where can a brand start, just like the idea of going cold turkey from those who are addicted to discounting, if you have a very conventional influencer strategy where I go to a marketplace and I find some people and I pay them to pretend to like my brand because maybe I don't have a brand that's known by everyone that people are falling over themselves to try and represent. How can a brand ease themselves off that to start looking towards activating those real loyalists, those fans?
ANGELIC: I mean, going to platforms where you can find, you know, fans of the brand and community members that are already buying and incentivizing them to share that content out. So, you know, working with tools and platforms, working with Duel, just to get the word out there and doing that in a very authentic way. And obviously not in a means to like plug you guys, but... leveraging the community that already exists in a way that's authentic, but in a way that's easy for them to kind of plug and play into while doing that at scale. So yeah, love what you guys have to offer. And I think that's certainly a space in which more brands should be leaning into if they want to get that genuine content out there.
PAUL: This is going to be a huge year for a lot of brands, lots of shifts going on with AI and social commerce. What would be your number one takeaway for brands to be like, if they need to focus on one thing in 2024, what would it be?
ANGELIC: I mean, continue to lean into advocacy, lean into folks that are truly, truly passionate about your brand and amplify those voices, amplify that messaging. Sure. It might not be, you know, perfectly shot at one of your editorial photo shoots, but people want to see people and people want to see folks that have experience and that love your brand so that they can project themselves into that. Back to that idea of what you were saying earlier of as we shop, do we wanna see ourselves or do we wanna see an aspirational model? I think the tides from a consumer kind of trend standpoint are changing where we just wanna understand what's real. And we're eventually gonna get to a place where that stamp of disclosure of ad, right? That's kind of... It's done haphazardly on social today. That stamp will be the same when it comes to AI. That stamp will be the same whether it's a paid content integration. That stamp will eventually come for models. But what never will have that stamp and what can't be replaced is hearing other folks like yourself who are also passionate, who are also seeking value, seeing tremendous from... trying a brand or trying a product or trying a service. And those are your advocates. So lean into them and start nurturing those conversations, even on a one on one basis, so that they can then spread the word for you as well. That's probably the biggest piece of advice.
PAUL: Angelic, rarely have I had a meeting of minds that align so much. This; you're definitely preaching to converted here with me and with the Building Brand Advocacy podcast, we're all about it. So if anyone wants to know more about you and wants to learn a bit more and maybe follow some of your more of your amazing thoughts, where can they find you?
ANGELIC: Yeah, I mean, I publish probably a new daily thoughts and daily newsletters on LinkedIn so you can find me just at Angelic Vendette. I also answer every single DM that I get. So always happy to converse and have conversation, so I invite that as well on LinkedIn.
PAUL: And we'll also link to that in the show notes. Angelic, thank you so much.
ANGELIC: Thank you for having me, Paul. This has been wonderful.