WE Communications gathered formidable women leaders to discuss their business journeys, rife with successes and struggles, at its Business in Motion event held in New York City last night.
Panel moderator Jenna Blaha, technology and fashion editor at Marie Claire, kicked off the session by asking the women what was the impetus for their entry into entrepreneurship. Both Susan Feldman, cofounder of One Kings Lane, and Trish McEvoy, founder and CEO of her eponymous firm, said that as consumers they were frustrated about a "white space" in the marketplace.
For McEvoy, who was a make-up artist, it was a lack of quality make-up tools. For Feldman, it was difficulty finding unique home décor items online. They believed there was an untapped market of consumers experiencing the same frustrations they were.
"There was a big white space where we could democratize the industry, so we built it," said Feldman.
But just filling the need was not what would take their companies into the strata of being business disruptors and, ultimately, household names. "The trick to capturing and keeping a female customer is emotion," added McEvoy.
"We treat our customers the way we want to be treated and we have done that since day one," said Feldman, adding that the founding team at One Kings Lane was passionate and obsessed about home décor. That passion came across online and was a bar set for anyone wanting to join their team, she added.
"The biggest change PR practitioners have had to contend with in their industry is the rise of social media and the individual influencer," said Alyssa Garnick, MD of WE Communications’ New York office.
Media coverage, even if it’s social, has always had to be earned, but Garnick said the agency had to become a much more visual company that changed the types of skill sets needed from associates and changed the "texture" of the ideas the agency comes up with.
And when it comes to counseling brands, Garnick said, WE helps clients "examine the disruptions happening in their competitive set and in their industry and what is generating that change." That, in turn, helps identify what drives media interest and "the intrigue of the day."
A good product, emotional connection, and sustained word of mouth are crucial to success, said Garnick.
She also stressed the importance of making sure that research and data is backed into a program from the start. "You’ll get better ROI if research and insight are part of the program from day one to identify trends and inspire ideas at the front end."