How do you think beyond the cheesy, stereotypical messages, model poses, provocative images, and outdated gender roles that we’re all accustomed to when advertising women’s lingerie? How do you re-invent the wheel? How do you make all of your customers (no matter their shape or background) feel confident in their lingerie and relate to your brand? That’s something Josselin Petit-Hoang is thinking of constantly. Josselin, who goes by the name Jo now that he lives in the U.S., is the customer engagement and retention manager at Adore Me, one of the fastest-growing startups in the states. Their main goal? Selling lingerie a little bit differently.
We spoke to Jo about how they differentiate themselves from a major industry player, the two types of people you need on any marketing team, and why everyone needs a side hustle. Welcome to our second living room-style conversation – PostFunnel’s Powwow.
Hi Jo, let’s begin with you telling us a little more about your career trajectory.
“Sure. I did all my studies in France. While I was studying for my master’s degree, I took a gap year to do an internship in New York City. This was the first time I worked in the U.S. I was with a very small startup in the Internet industry. After a year or so, I met the founder of Adore Me, who asked me to come work for him after I graduated. That was four years ago. Currently, my role within the marketing team is to engage the existing customers.”
What drew you to Adore Me?
“I liked their ambition and their goal to disrupt the lingerie market that’s dominated by Victoria’s Secret. Because of this monopoly situation, the lingerie market was characterized by very slow fashion and the products were very expensive for the customers. Plus, the players at the time marketed lingerie almost exclusively towards the skinny blonde woman, definitely not to all body types. What Adore Me wanted to achieve was to be much more inclusive, to bring lingerie to all kinds of women in the U.S. and to be an affordable, fashionable alternative. The idea felt very compelling, and I thought ‘Oh, maybe that would work.’”
It takes a lot of dedication to re-educate customers around the idea that wearing beautiful lingerie isn’t reserved for the statuesque, fair-skinned woman. How did you carry out this value through your marketing strategy?
“I think Adore Me has a different vision about how women wear lingerie. For many of our competitors, everything is about being sexy, being that thin girl that you see on all the billboards and all the ads everywhere. And a lot of women don’t actually recognize themselves in that person. Adore Me has a different vision. We want to empower women with lingerie. We want to make them feel confident, no matter their skin color, body type, or where they are from. And so far, our customers have really resonated with our branding and our messages because they see that we’re celebrating them for who they are.”
What communications or strategies have you implemented that have strongly resonated with your customers?
“The first big strategy we’ve carried out is creating styles that go from petite to plus size women. We have gorgeous lingerie for everybody, and that’s how we show that we care about all the women out there. We think about diversity in everything we do. From the models we work with to the social media posts. You can see that in the commercials we do, in the product images, and in all the collateral we create such as newsletters, Facebook ads, everywhere. And I think this is the best way to get our message across.”
You’re a prospect, you’re a customer
Can you take us back a few years to when you first started working in CRM? How have the changes in the industry affected your job? What did your day-to-day look like in 2014 when you started?
“When I started, the company was pretty small. The whole focus was to grow fast, and to do that, we needed to acquire a lot of people. After a year or two, we had a good number of customers and realized that the revenue was shifting from new customers to existing customers. We thought, ‘Okay, so we need to nurture these people, make them come back, make sure they’re happy and take care of them better.’ At that time, what we were doing was pretty simple and basic. We were only using email marketing. We had two or three segments of customers that we couldn’t really change. So it was, ‘You’re a prospect’ or ‘You’re a customer,’ and everyone would get the same email. That worked for a while. But we quickly felt we needed to personalize, automate, and obviously test more.”
Sounds like a substantial transition. Walk us through your CRM division at Adore Me.
“Today we use several channels. We send emails, of course. We use push notifications, push messages for our iOS and android users. We also send SMS and we re-target on Facebook. We have north of 70 target groups running every week with different campaigns, so it’s much more personalized. All the campaigns are automated.”
Do you feel your customers still reply to the old methods? Let’s say emails compared to push notifications, social engagement, etc.?
“I think what we’ve seen happening in past years is, first, users shifting from desktop to mobile, and second, the impact of the email is slowly decreasing. Now it seems that push notification is becoming very, very strong for us. Email is definitely still working, but it’s becoming less important. The biggest focus right now is push notifications and Facebook messenger, which is pretty new.”
So, you’re investing a lot in social. Any specific strategies around it?
“We’ve been doing social for a long time. But regarding social related to CRM, there are two big aspects. The first part is retargeting… how do you re-target to existing customers on Facebook or Instagram? It’s a bit tricky because it costs money, so you want to make sure you identify the right people who could convert and won’t drain too many resources. That means a lot of testing for us. And the second part is: how do you communicate with your users on apps like Facebook messenger or WhatsApp? Do you want to have a chat bot? Do you want to just blast messages on those channels? Do you allow customers to reply back to you with a real person writing back to them, or do you have a bot that can answer the questions? It’s still pretty new and we’re definitely going to explore that in 2018.”
What about automation–Do you feel it leaves room for other aspects of your job?
“Automation gives us the opportunity to save time on tedious operational work and focus on what’s really important. At Adore Me, we spend a lot of our time sifting through the data to see what’s working or not working. After we find our answers in the data, we need to come up with creative campaigns that make sense. At Adore Me and in a lot of companies that use automated platforms, data is available for everyone. Information is power, and any decision starts from there. When you are able to spend time finding your answers in the data, you can move forward and make sound decisions faster, instead of wasting resources working on repetitive operational tasks.”
Shoes, entrepreneurship and life philosophy
Working in the fashion industry you must developed a unique sense of style. What’s your must-have fashion piece or accessory?
“Good question! I believe the most important fashion pieces are shoes. I think the shoes are what ultimately define your style. Look, you can be dressed the same way on two different days with sneakers on day one and chic leather shoes on day two and look completely different. It’s like magic!”
Everyone needs a side hustle or a hobby or something… What’s yours? How do you spend your free time?
“I dance a lot. I practice a lot of Latin dances and I’m also part of a dance company. It takes up a great deal of my free time.”
If you didn’t finesse your marketing skills, what else would you find yourself doing?
“I might have been a developer because I really like the tech industry. I like the fact that it’s very innovative. Some of the most important innovations right now are happening in tech. Maybe I would have become a developer so that I could actually build a product myself. That being said, I really love what I’m doing now.
One of the best things that happened to me was moving to the U.S. Not because it’s the U.S., but because moving and having the chance to work abroad teaches you how to adapt to a different culture and different people. I really hope that a lot of people can experience that. I actually launched a website to help French people find a job in the U.S. (unjobpouralex.fr). I want to teach them the right techniques and tactics to get in touch with American employers so that they have a chance to find opportunities here. The end goal is to create a course with all the tips on how to adapt your resume, what you need to know about the market, what you need to know about the visas, and how to get in touch with people here.”
Lastly before we say our goodbyes, what kind of advice do you wish you were given when you first started and what advice would you give to the younger generations?
“I would recommend not spreading yourself thin. Focus on one thing, try to be the best in the world at it. And even if you’re not going to be the best in the world, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be really great at it. Outside of work, I would recommend finding an activity that you like so that you have a nice balance between your professional and personal life. If you don’t have something outside of work that you like doing, you might just spend your whole life working. And people need balance.”
Liked what you read? Be sure to check out our first Powwow with Deezer’s head of customer engagement here.