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For anyone who has wanted gorgeous, vibrantly colored hair without a permanent commitment...oVertone is where it's at. We got to chat with the Director of Marketing for oVertone, Chanelle Leslie, about her background, marketing strategies, branding, and more. She emphasized that they wouldn't be where they are today without the help of Instagram - they now have a huge following of over 140k! Read on to find out her top tips for marketing a brand, the importance of Instagram for a business, and more.
Hi Chanelle! Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you came to be the Director of Marketing at oVertone.
I came to marketing in a bit of an unconventional way — it seems as if most of the time, people get to marketing via a social media or PR internship, but I studied law and journalism and didn't do any internships. I did newspaper journalism and photography for a few years in Adelaide, South Australia, all the while creating my own content on the side by freelancing in the fashion industry. After about three years, I moved to Denver, Colorado, and all the blogging and freelancing paid off: it allowed me to slip smoothly into B2B content creation. It wasn't what I wanted to be doing, but it enabled me to learn and dip my toes in full-time digital marketing and analytics. After a year, I moved to a women's interest e-commerce and content company called f+w media, where I focused on digital audience development. I discovered a love for analytics, and the eCommerce experience I gained there equipped me to move on to oVertone at the beginning of 2017.
"Instagram posts are the best way to prove to potential clients that our conditioners actually work."
Please share oVertone's story and describe your product to our readers. What makes it unique and stand out from the rest?
Anybody who has ever dyed their hair a vivid color knows that shit fades SO fast. I first dyed my hair teal as a teenager and within a couple of washes it had turned to a horrible muddy green...oVertone exists to fix that problem. Like many people with vivid hair, our co-founder Maegan Scarlett tried to prevent the fading by making her own dye-conditioner cocktail to keep her hair bright — but it was making her hair feel like straw and her hair was breaking. Unlike most people, she has a chemistry background, so she was able to pretty quickly figure out the problem was that adding dye to conditioner prevents both the dye and the conditioner from working properly because of the pH balance and the way that emollients in conditioner function. Together with our other co-founder Liora Dudar, she created a color conditioner that fixed her problem by depositing color evenly and conditioning deeply — and it's able to stop any vivid color from fading as long as they keep using the conditioner. (Seriously wish this existed when I first had vivid hair!)
You have a huge social media following, especially on Instagram. How have you utilized Instagram to grow your brand and community? Why and how is Instagram important for your business?
Until I joined the company in January, oVertone had barely spent a cent on marketing. Every order that came in was thanks to word of mouth — and most of that world of mouth was happening on Instagram. We wouldn't have a business without Instagram, and it continues to play a pivotal role in our success simply because Instagram posts are the best way to prove to potential clients that our conditioners actually work. Since we have barely any brick-and-mortar presence, that social proof is key. We've used Instagram advertising extremely heavily, and that's helped us tremendously in gaining more followers. Our feed is naturally pretty interesting to anybody that is considering coloring their hair or simply interested in hair trends, but not that many people know about us yet. The challenge for us is just getting our feed in front of people, so our advertising has focused on acquiring engaged followers.
How do you choose what content to create and share on social media? As a brand, how do you decide on what to repost and share from user-generated content?
As a person of color, it's not just infuriating to be consistently left out of marketing, but it's also an unspeakable blow to my self-esteem every time I see another movie, another ad, another social media feed, without a single person who looks like me. Because I know how it feels, I've made a point of trying to make our feed as diverse as possible. I've set a goal of making 50% of the faces in our feed people of color. It's not a perfect goal, and we haven't reached it yet, but we're getting there. Because the vast majority of the UGC we see normally comes from non-POC, our PR team sends product to POC influencers so that we have more diverse content to share. I also try to post as many images of African-textured hair as I can, since that kind of hair is so often left out of the conversation.
oVertone has done an excellent job at marketing. What are your top three tips for marketing a brand such as yours?
- Don't blast people with unnecessary emails. Everybody hates that, and it should be common sense, but I still get so many emails every day from brands that are not offering me any value whatsoever with the content they're sending me. Engaged email subscribers are so valuable, and disrespecting them like that is crazy.
- Look to sources outside your industry for inspiration. If you're only doing what your competitors are doing, then you'll never get ahead in the game — but I see this happening all the time in beauty and fashion. For instance, most haircare companies still lack true diversity in their advertising, while other industries are decades ahead. By looking to companies that excel at representation, but aren't in my industry, I'm able to guide oVertone towards a place of leadership in diversity, rather than merely following the flock of others in the haircare community.
- Hire people who understand the audience, not just the job. The only reason oVertone's marketing has gotten so far is because of the incredible ability of the people on my team to intuit our clients' needs and understand their lives. If marketers don't share things in common with their audience and feel real empathy for their needs, then you'll never be able to trust the ability of their work to move your audience.