Set KPIs for each stage of the funnel. We’ve made the mistake before where we’re not seeing the conversion metrics we want on a digital campaign, so we change course quickly without fully considering the value it was providing on the awareness front. It’s tempting to jump quickly into conversion data when you have a small budget and tight timeline, but attention to the early stages of the funnel will ensure you aren’t cutting short future sales. It takes time for customers to convert, especially on considered big ticket purchases.
I had the pleasure to interview Lisa Tan, CMO of Reverie. Tan’s professional experience includes PR, publishing and management consulting across a wide range of industries and business issues, with focus on marketing growth or optimization. She also sits on the board of the non-profit Sweet Dreamzzz, which is an organization committed to improving the health, well-being, and academic performance of at-risk school-age children by providing sleep education and bedtime essentials.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was never someone who knew exactly what I was going to be when I grew up. I liked reading and writing and creative pursuits as well as science. I enjoyed problem solving. I think that’s why early in my career, I ended up in management and strategy consulting. It touched on a broad range of industries, companies and business issues, and I enjoyed the learning and problem solving involved in the everyday work. Joining Reverie has really been an extension of that path, but with a much more direct connection to the impact of my decisions. In my current role, I have sales, marketing and customer experience responsibilities, which means I spend my days championing cross-functional communication and collaboration to ensure we’re working tightly and efficiently as we grow. Also, the size and upside opportunity in the bedding industry allows for impactful problem solving.
How I ended up specifically at Reverie is a different story. I told my husband Martin (Reverie CEO and co-founder) that I’d do a 6-month consulting project to build a marketing strategy for Reverie while I figured out my next career move. That was almost 7 years ago.
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?
I’m still not sure I’d call this story funny, but it’s definitely a marketing mistake. The first ad I was ever responsible for running at Reverie was a direct response ad for a magazine. We planned for months, testing copy and creative via focus groups and surveys. We purchased unique phone numbers and developed landing pages to drive leads. And guess what? The phone number in the ad was a typo — we swapped two of the numbers. Instead of going to our call cue, they went to a dark and dirty scam line targeting retirees. What a great way to irk potential customers.
Key learning: Don’t put in all the work and then skim over the details at the end. Develop a checklist to ensure accuracy for every single ad that goes out the door — from typos to phone numbers. Everything needs to be triple checked and specific team members should be accountable. And ideally one of your proofreaders is seeing the content for the first time.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Whether it’s business strategy or business development, at Reverie we invest for the long term. From a product standpoint we design, source, control production, market, sell and service our parts in house. When it comes to serving our retail partners, we believe in building relationships that last. This means understanding how our partners operate and making sure they deeply understand us as well. We believe understanding our industry, product and consumer is a daily commitment.
An example of this is we just completed our 4th innovation summit — a day designed to give our partners a break from the daily grind and be inspired to innovate by engaging with leaders and ideas from beyond the bedding industry. This type of summit breeds collaboration across competitors and partners and helps us all gain a new perspective on what really matters in our industry and working together to achieve it. Participant takeaways ranged from, “Wow — their industry is just like ours!” (Mattresses and PCs) to “My inside talent needs to better reflect my customer base” to “Pushing ideas into the world and failing fast is better than putting great resources into big ideas that fail slowly.” There aren’t any other events in our industry that go this deep.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
This January we introduced Reverie Connect, our IOT platform. This means that using Google Assistant or Alexa, you can tell your Reverie adjustable power base to adjust into a zero gravity, anti-snore or a custom position of your choice without needing a remote. It also allows for future integrations such as sleep tracking (e.g., how did I sleep last night?) and routines. For example, I could ask Google to begin my custom bedtime routine and the lights will dim, thermostat will lower and my bed will elevate. Projections show that in the next five years, more than half of the U.S. will have smart homes. The ability to piece your smart home appliances together to support healthy habits has huge potential. We view voice activation as an emerging means of furthering our missing to help people live better through better sleep by incorporating our sleep technology into health habits.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
I would say a memorable “tipping point” in my career happened in 2008/2009. I had just graduated from business school and was back in management consulting. I hit a stride where I started taking responsibility for my actions versus waiting for instructions. I stopped being completely deferential to superiors and started voicing my opinions. Or more accurately, initiating conversations where I was providing thoughts and recommendations. I started embracing my own confidence. With this change in my approach came the opportunity to manage others and to start playing a larger role in mapping out projects and business development.
One specific contributor to this confidence development was a manager who pointed out to me every time I said “Um” in a presentation until I stopped saying it. Earlier in my career this would have felt like a shaming tactic and made me even more nervous and withdrawn. But with an open mindset, I was able to view this as constructive and work through the feedback.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Schedule a vacation way in advance. Take random PTO days — sometimes at the last minute. Stay home when you’re sick. It’s easy to get attached to the mindset that you have too much to do to take time off, or that others are so dependent on you they can’t function when you’re away. That’s a self-centric view. The world will continue turning without you for a personal day, or even for a two-week vacation. And it will make you a healthier human being and a more enjoyable colleague to be around. We are lucky to have a nap room at work (living our mission!) and on the days when it’s not even 11 a.m. and I feel like I’m crashing, I take a nap. If you feel that way and don’t have a nap room: go home. You’re going to be completely useless otherwise.
How do you define “Marketing?” Can you explain what you mean?
Great question. Marketing is about so much more than the marketing team creating ads to drive leads for the sales team. To me, it’s a cross-functional rally around the things that drive meaning and impact for an organization — the “why.” Marketing is developing the language that crosses departments and mindset/expectation barriers so that a band of diverse people with different perspectives can all agree and work towards a singular goal and meet the needs of their customer. Exquisite marketing means the customer feels a need satisfied by the message and experience they have, which is facilitated by a unified company behind the brand.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’d like to give a nod to my parents. They raised me to be a problem solver, which has helped me adapt to personal and professional surprises along the way, and gave me the resources and education to solve problems without telling me the answers. I can think of several instances as I grew up where a request for something — clothes, spring break money, etc. would be met with a definitive “no.” I learned to appreciate my parents’ priorities (education, safe and healthy home, travel) and prioritize and work to earn the extras.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
Any tools that help with visual representation of data are amazing. We use the “wave” tool in Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics, it allows us to track marketing campaigns, leads and ROI in almost real time — and slice and dice data in an instant. I also love website feedback tools like Hot Jar or Fresh Marketer. Being able to see how an anonymous website visitor is navigating your site or landing page is extraordinarily helpful.
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Go inside-out with your marketing. The natural inclination is to reach your target consumers ASAP and skip internal education and rallying across departments beyond the marketing team. But what happens when your own colleagues can’t communicate your brand messages is that you’re not taking advantage of an army of “should be” believers. I was hit over the head with this realization one day when somebody from our ops team started asking basic questions like, “Who are our biggest competitors? Which of our products does Retailer X carry?” I thought, wow, nobody (including myself) has taken the time to explain the business to her. That needs to change so she is enabled to do what’s best for the business.
- Leverage your full sales force. In line with point #1, your biggest opportunity to realize sales growth comes from two to three degrees of separation from corporate — your retailers’ sales associates and their customers. When we invest in programs that give retail sales associates the opportunity to experience our product in home, we can see sales increase by the double digits.
- Traditional ad channels still have cache. There are large and important groups of consumers that still consume traditional media. When you start to experience increasing CPAs on a digital campaign, consider if radio or print might reach your target consumer as a way to shake things up. For example, we had amazing returns on a campaign we ran in consumer-facing science and engineering pubs that targeted engineering types.
- Set KPIs for each stage of the funnel. We’ve made the mistake before where we’re not seeing the conversion metrics we want on a digital campaign, so we change course quickly without fully considering the value it was providing on the awareness front. It’s tempting to jump quickly into conversion data when you have a small budget and tight timeline, but attention to the early stages of the funnel will ensure you aren’t cutting short future sales. It takes time for customers to convert, especially on considered big ticket purchases.
- Indulge the solicitors sometimes. I get hounded with calls and emails every day from companies vying to be our next agency or martech vendor. Sometimes I respond or pick up the phone, and I rarely regret doing so. There is a lot to learn from how external tradesmen view your brand. I’ve gotten some of the most honest and constructive feedback from potential vendors (they are also really good at pointing out embarrassing website mistakes). As a marketer living the brand, we can lose sight of how people with limited exposure and information view us. It’s important to be reminded of that.
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. 🙂
I’ve said this before, but I think it needs to be said again. Good health starts with good sleep, and all the over-achievers out there (yes, that means you!) aren’t getting enough sleep. We overestimate the incremental value of a minute of our work time. Quality is truly more important that quantity. Having the discipline to unplug and turn out the lights for a consistent 8 hours of sleep opportunity every night would increase our productivity, lower our health costs and make us all happier. If everyone logged their daily activity for a week, my guess is 80% of people would be able to find an hour per day to trade in mindless time for sleep opportunity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Brene Brown. Sometimes (perhaps more often than not) we set aside the things that light us on fire to do the things we should or ought to do. This leads to mediocrity and disappointment. I love this quote because it reminds me that I make the most meaningful impact when I truly care about the outcome.