Be Over-the-top –There’s no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to customer service. People are fickle with brands. If they are experiencing a problem and it’s poorly handled or with halfhearted effort, you could lose the customer forever. At BIGtoken, we over-communicate with our users. Even when an issue is resolved, we make a conscious effort to follow up and make sure our users are happy.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Natalie Santos, Director of Marketing at SRAX. Natalie Santos is the Director of Marketing at SRAX. Natalie is passionate about all things digital advertising and consumer data. When Natalie isn’t trying to keep up with Facebook’s algorithm, you can find her reading mystery novels or riding her motorcycle. Natalie has overseen the transformation of SRAX’s blockchain identification graph technology platform, BIGtoken from just a platform for its users to a community of over 16 million people who genuinely care about their personal data. Natalie graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration: Marketing.
thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I grew up in a fiercely creative household. My sisters and I pursued dance at a young age and practiced various styles of dance from ballet and jazz to tap and hip hop. Also, my mom loves to sing, draw, and paint, so creativity was always nurtured among my siblings and me. That is how I always knew I wanted to build a creative path for myself. Later, in college, I blended my love for business and creativity. I dove headfirst into all things marketing and never looked back.
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?
While I’ve had my share of typos on both digital and printed marketing materials, I’ll never forget one mistake I made when I first started, and it’s not at all funny. I was writing a blog post about blockchain technology and to complement the piece, I found a beautiful stock image of concrete blocks (because you know, blocks = blockchain, right?). After publishing the blog post, a coworker alerted me that the concrete blocks are actually part of a large Jewish memorial site. To be fair, the image was taken from far away, and no context was provided when downloading. Still, I was so embarrassed. This photo was not appropriate or at all relevant to the content, and I immediately swapped out the image. Lesson learned: Details matter. And while controversial marketing is an actual thing, this was not an example of it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My fellow SRAXers are what makes the company stand out. They’re the most dedicated and aggressively forward-looking people I’ve ever met. I don’t know if I have one specific story, but I can tell you the late-night surprise calls to brainstorm on specific products are my favorite thing!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! I’m currently helping to grow SRAX’s consumer-managed data platform, BIGtoken. Since its inception in 2017, we’ve worked to build the BIGtoken brand and foster relationships with our BIGtoken community of over 16 million. BIGtoken is a platform for people to own and earn from their data. Here’s how it works — you download the BIGtoken app and create an account. Next step, you then share data about yourself through a variety of actions such as answering surveys, checking into locations, and connecting your social media and bank accounts. From there, BIGtoken places you into anonymized advertising segments that advertisers will buy access to, and you will get a portion of the revenue from the data sale. You also get full control over what data is shared and who it’s shared with. We’re changing how data is exchanged in the digital advertising space, and the best part is that it benefits all parties. Consumers get control of their data and get paid for their data, while marketers gain access to permission-first, quality data directly from consumers — not corporations.
Now moving 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 is what you’re going to do to sell and get products off the shelf. It produces fast results. Brand marketing is developing an identity for your business that is complete with personality, values, voice, and more. It’s what you do and how you do it that develops how people perceive your business. It takes more time to build a brand, but it reaps long-term results.
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?
Brand marketing is extremely effective because it builds trust with customers and drives loyalty. If people like your product marketing, they will buy your product. But if people like your brand, they will purchase ALL of your products because they know you, they trust you, and they know what to expect. You’ll get picked every time!
Can you share 5 strategies that a small company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
To build a trusted and beloved brand, you shouldn’t think about what it takes to build a trusted and beloved brand. You should think about what it takes to develop strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers. If you do that, the trust will come naturally.
- Be Transparent — This may seem obvious, but just like any other relationship, if you want to have a meaningful connection and thus earn trust, you have to be open and honest. One of our core values at BIGtoken is transparency. We strive to be as transparent as possible with BIGtoken users about their data and how it’s collected, stored, and used.
- Be Human — Humans run businesses, so show some personality. If you don’t seem human and real, you won’t click with your customers. We created BIGtoken because we believe everyone has a right to choice, transparency, and compensation when it comes to their data. When communicating with our users, we make sure to welcome them into the fold and actively express that we want the same things they want.
- Be Over-the-top –There’s no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to customer service. People are fickle with brands. If they are experiencing a problem and it’s poorly handled or with halfhearted effort, you could lose the customer forever. At BIGtoken, we over-communicate with our users. Even when an issue is resolved, we make a conscious effort to follow up and make sure our users are happy.
- Be Data-Driven — Data drives personalized customer experiences, which secure loyalty and trust and ultimately foster long-lasting relationships. We are a data management and technology company, so we utilize our data to drive personalized experiences across all of our products and verticals.
- Be Customer-First — Listen to customers’ needs, make sure they know they are heard, and always act with the customers’ best interest in mind. We’re always looking for new opportunities to request feedback from users because we want to make sure everyone has a chance to participate in the development of the platform.
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?
Harley Davidson — I think the brand truly represents freedom and also inspires freedom, something that every rider, including myself, values. Everyone who owns a Harley stays loyal to Harley forever, and that’s pretty amazing. They’re also a brand that continually supports and empowers women, and I love that. I think all brands should find those core values, the ones that attract people to your brand in the first place, and then show that you value their interests.
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?
By using track brand mentions and brand sentiment, you can measure the success of a brand-building campaign. You can track brand mentions and sentiment by using social listening tools. There are a variety of tools, both free and paid, that enable you to monitor the organic conversations people are having about your brand.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social media is a core part of our branding strategy. Most of our BIGtoken users are on social media now, and they follow us on multiple channels to get the latest news about BIGtoken. It’s the most widely used platform for global communication and should be at the heart of any business’s branding strategy.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
1. Work only on the things you’re passionate about, and nothing else
2. Don’t overwork yourself
3. Say no sometimes
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. 🙂
I want to inspire a movement where people spend less time indoors on their devices and more time outside disconnected from the internet.
How that was relevant to you in your life?
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Great by Choice, said, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” This is relevant to me because I’m a child of immigrants and while my family didn’t have a lot of opportunities when I was growing up, they taught me the true meaning of hard work and dedication, and to fight for a life that I’m proud of. Therefore, I love this quote as it reminds me that although there is a lot in life that I cannot control, I can still forge my path and create my definition of success.
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 lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Beyoncé! I’m going to fangirl for a minute because I think she is a such a strong and powerful woman. She’s iconic, and I’ve admired her since Destiny’s Child. Enough said.
How can readers follow you on social media?
Follow me on Twitter at @natsantosa
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.