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Marketing Strategies from the Top: “Start with answering some fundamental questions” with Lyndsi Stafford of Nature Gnaws

You must start with answering some important questions: what are your goals, what are you trying to achieve? From there, what’s your competitive advantage? Why should customers purchase from you over the competitors? Answering these vital questions sets the foundation for your marketing campaign. I also like to look at other companies for inspiration as […]

You must start with answering some important questions: what are your goals, what are you trying to achieve? From there, what’s your competitive advantage? Why should customers purchase from you over the competitors? Answering these vital questions sets the foundation for your marketing campaign. I also like to look at other companies for inspiration as well as get a pulse on the market.

From there, I develop an overall yearly strategy that includes social media, content marketing, public relations, video, email marketing, Amazon marketing, trade shows as well as new outlets like augmented reality. I want to make sure the same branding and messaging is strung throughout all of these channels to maintain consistency. On Nature Gnaws, you will see the same look/feel/messaging on every single channel.


As a part of our series about “Marketing Strategies From The Top” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lyndsi Stafford

Lyndsi Stafford is the Chief Bark-eting Officer of Nature Gnaws, helping grow the company from a start-up in a garage to over $10 million sales in three years. They are one of the fastest growing dog chew companies in the United States and South America with top selling products on Amazon, Chewy, Costco and Target. She also owns her own marketing company, eLuminate Marketing.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, or readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ireceived my Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing at Florida State University. While in college, social media was in its infant stages and a few innovative companies wanted to pursue this new thing called “Facebook.” I interned at these companies, discovering a true love for the industry. In 2014, I decided to start my own marketing company and it was the best decision I have ever made. For over five years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented individuals and developing incredible marketing campaigns.

Today, I still run my agency, eLuminate Marketing but I also accepted the position as the Chief “Bark-eting” Officer of Nature Gnaws. They are one of the fastest growing dog chew companies in the United States and South America. As the CMO, I am responsible for all aspects of their sales and marketing including digital, print, strategy, branding and more. It’s been the most incredible experience watching a garage start-up go from an idea to over $10 million in sales.

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 wouldn’t say my mistakes were “funny.” In the end, it is really important to stop and reflect on that mistake. What happened, how could I have done that differently? I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

After my son was born, I realized time was more of an important commodity than anything else. I started to work more efficiently. My mindset shifted from, “working a lot of hours equates to success” to “working efficiently and delegating properly equates to more happiness and therefore more success.”

Additionally, it’s so important to have a thirst for knowledge. I push myself to read business books, listen to podcasts, and learn new skills constantly. This allows you to stay ahead of the competition and keep your passion ignited.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The people I work with, co-founders Steve Mamak and Jay Mokbel are honest, good people. Every decision they make for the business is transparent and what is best for the customers and their employees. It’s important to surround yourself with people like that.

Nature Gnaws is an extremely transparent company. They share where the raw material is purchased, how it is packaged and the extra steps they take to ensure quality. This transparency is one of the reasons for its overwhelming success.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Nature Gnaws sells 100% natural dog chews. In addition to selling our individual products, we are now offering a subscription box which sends a variety of 10–15 chews per month. This subscription service is called the Gnaw Box and in three short months we have achieved over 500 subscribers and counting.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Drink lots of water throughout the day to keep energy levels up, exercise to keep your mind and body fit and get plenty of sleep to stay sharp. Gone are the days of working to the brink of exhaustion. My best ideas and projects are completed when my mind and body are feeling 100%.

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 have a lot of people in my life that I am grateful for, but I do want to thank the Co-founder of Nature Gnaws, Steve Mamak for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of Nature Gnaws and its success. It’s been the most exciting story of my career thus far. I remember two guys sitting in my office holding a brown bag of dog chews asking for marketing help. Fast forward three years later, and we are a top seller on Amazon and Chewy. We are also on the shelves of Costco and Target.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much?

With social media, user generated content is key to success. When we first started Nature Gnaws, I reached out to micro-influencers offering them free product in exchange for posting. These real images of dogs enjoying our chews helped build a loyal following. In fact, a lot of our initial influencers continue to purchase and post about our product because they love it so much. By focusing and listening to potential customers on social media, we were able to build a solid brand that continues to thrive.

If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

You must start with answering some important questions: what are your goals, what are you trying to achieve? From there, what’s your competitive advantage? Why should customers purchase from you over the competitors? Answering these vital questions sets the foundation for your marketing campaign. I also like to look at other companies for inspiration as well as get a pulse on the market.

From there, I develop an overall yearly strategy that includes social media, content marketing, public relations, video, email marketing, Amazon marketing, trade shows as well as new outlets like augmented reality. I want to make sure the same branding and messaging is strung throughout all of these channels to maintain consistency. On Nature Gnaws, you will see the same look/feel/messaging on every single channel.

Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?

In the hands of the consumer. Micro-influencers have such an incredible pull. Most of us do not purchase a product or service without a friend/family recommendation or reading a review. Marketers cannot ignore the beauty of digital and the opportunity for two-way communication. I spend majority of my time and efforts talking to customers, reaching out to influencers and answering questions and reviews.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.

1. You’re Going to Make Mistakes

At times, my ideas and decisions work and other times they do not. It’s important to learn from them and move on.

2. Stay ahead of the curve

Constantly be learning and growing your skill set. I set a goal to read at least one business/marketing book a month.

3. Don’t Stress It Will All Work Out

It’s easy to get stressed over minor things but in the end you will prevail and in years from now, it will be a lesson learned.

4. There is more to life than work work work

I absolutely LOVE my career. I get excited driving into the office every day but it’s important to have a passion elsewhere and not working 24/7.

5. Do What You Love

I was fortunate to find what I love to do right away. So many people are stuck in jobs they truly hate and it’s so unfortunate. You have one life to live, why not do something that makes you happy every day?

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?

I use a variety of tools:

20Twenty: This is a great stock photo website to use, the photos are real and authentic

Hootsuite: A great scheduling software for social media

SkedSocial: Scheduling software for Instagram

Upwork: An amazing place to hire freelancers to assist with research, writing or truly anything you need assistance with!

What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I love this question. Some of my favorite podcasts include, How I Built this with Guy Raz. The stories are so inspirational. The Art of Online Business with Rick Mulready, great advice! The Happiness Lab, science backed ways to stay positive and happy in life.

My all-time favorite business book is Tim Ferriss the 4-Hour Workweek. That drastically changed my business. As well as Like a Virgin by Richard Branson, I love his mentality on life and entrepreneurship.

Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?

I have a lot of role models. Arianna Huffington is a bad-ass female executive who promotes a healthy life balanced with working hard. Richard Branson shares those same morals. I appreciate Sheryl Sandberg for rallying women to sit at the table.

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. 🙂

Being more time efficient so you can focus on what really matters. Focus on tasks you have on hand so you can leave work at 5pm and spend quality time with family. People are always saying how busy they are, but if they really looked at their day-to-day activities, I am sure there is a lot more time than they realize.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndsistafford/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eluminatemarketing/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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