When you have made a decision, don’t look back — If you want to be innovative, you must trust your gut and go with it. The market can be tested but cannot be validated until your vision is there. Many people will see it in a different way and if you change your mind every time someone is sharing his vision you, it will never take off. Falling down is a possibility, but this is the only way to take off.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Andrea Tellatin.
CEO of LedWorks, Andrea Tellatin, oversees the Italian startup whose mission is to bring software innovation to the world of consumer and professional lights. Tellatin is an experienced business professional with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. His strong business development skills include knowledge in Embedded Hardware and Software, Management, Start-ups, Product Development, and Research and Development (R&D).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was working as the CEO of a different technology startup, I met a visionary person who asked, “Andrea, do you want to change Christmas with me?” In many years of business, I have never been involved in lighting, so I happily answered, “Do you want me to help Santa deliver gifts faster?” After listening to him, I understood it was time for me to bring the right people together to bring a new era of lighting experience to every home. That person is now my friend, partner, and President at LedWorks, Marco Franciosa!
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest marketing mistake happened when the marketing team was focused on a specific product called “String Lights”, which was the main visual on every package. One of our biggest markets at that time was France, where the word “String” means “Thong”. When a customer explained this to us, we began to panic and question the team on how we could make such a mistake. It turns out that we did the most product sales in France than ever before! I still don’t have an answer as to why this happened, but I learned that the biggest marketing results are not coming from what you study in school. The results come from your specific vision, strategy, and sometimes, with a bit of luck!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The way everyone is a part of the Twinkly story. This is not just a product, but an experience everyone wants to be part a part of. This emotional connection with our products is now a part of our brand story. I remember when a customer shared a story about their father’s illness and a picture of his glasses reflecting Twinkly lights on the tree they built together. He smiled and said, “Thank you for bringing a moment of happiness to his life.” When we hear these stories on a regular basis, we know that Twinkly is a pleasant light emotion people want to have in their life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we are creating an all-encompassing lighting ecosystem! No longer just a lighting experience, but a fully immersive experience!
Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
Product marketing creates tangible value differentiation, where brand marketing creates an emotional value differentiation. We always try to focus on the emotional value differentiation in the minds of our customers. Product marketing will always support our brand and strengthen our position in the market. Both marketing efforts are essential to our brand’s success.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Branding is the advantage you will create between you and your competition. It is the loyalty you will build with customers year after year. It is where your sales will stem from when paid opportunities and media placements are no long enough to see results.
General marketing and advertising are the “short term” revenues streams. You cannot maintain these sales without a brand connection. Are they important? Absolutely yes! Without advertising, you cannot bring the product or the brand to the next level of success. But to growth your market share, you need to connect foster long-term relationships with consumers, so they continue to buy again and again.
Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
Building a brand is like building a community. When building a brand, your job is to inspire consumers with your mission. I would suggest these 5 strategies to build your company and your brand:
Trust your team (and if you don’t, get a new team).
Trust in your team is essential. Your members must be aligned with the same goals. You cannot implement a mission without trust.
Never start a task if you don’t have the clear picture in mind.
Everything in your strategy must flow organically. Look at the big picture and begin to build your tasks from there. Do not start investing in anything that may stray away from the big picture.
When you have made a decision, don’t look back
If you want to be innovative, you must trust your gut and go with it. The market can be tested but cannot be validated until your vision is there. Many people will see it in a different way and if you change your mind every time someone is sharing his vision you, it will never take off. Falling down is a possibility, but this is the only way to take off.
When faced with a failure, take time to reflect on what went wrong
Many times, we fail in the execution of a task and simply re-try without asking ourselves what caused the failure. Some just repeat the task the same was as before, leading to more failures. We end up paying a much bigger price by not considering what went wrong the first time.
Bring your mission at every level of the company
If your passion, brand, vision, and goals are also a part of your team, everyone will be a part of the interest, listening, developing, and understanding. Ensuring this is done in the initial phases of your brand will help you see optimal results faster.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
I recently start a collaboration with Balsam Hill and I discovered the power of this brand in a such competitive market where everyone are selling pre-lit Christmas trees. But the way Mac Harman (the founder & CEO) built the passion, the details, and the beauty of the portfolio is amazing. To replicate this, you need to build the brand not in words, but build each part of the company breathing your mission.
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
Sales are for sure the metric to measure, but also the final result of a brand campaign. A strong brand is a power you cannot touch! The success for a brand building campaign is measured in how many times your customer is buying your product again.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social media is key for us, especially in this hard time where people are staying home and searching for something new and exciting, like Twinkly is. Twinkly is all about experience and excitement connected with the lights. Sharing customers’ homes and emotions while using the products with videos and pictures is the biggest communication tool a company can have. Our social networks and other digital channels are the engine helping us to spread the word quickly.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
There is no specific advice but a clear message to everyone starting a new business adventure. Companies are not just made by an idea. Execution is everything, sometime before the idea. So many times, I saw a startup founder burning out because under-evaluating the process. To be a leader, you need power, to be powered, you need support from all the people in your company working in the same direction.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Getting everyone in the world their own Christmas tree — for free if they can’t afford it — would be a dream.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
An old business teacher always told me, “We are paid to make things happen and not to justify why they didn’t happen.” Not easy to understand and even more difficult to accept. We are humans and we often select the road that requires less effort and without planning in advance. Anything can happen before reaching your goal, and choosing to find a way to cover the mistake is a natural instinct, but being responsible for the result is key. It was not easy for me to switch my way of thinking, but it has been a business success starting point.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.