There is not a single industry and economy sector that the covid-19 pandemic hasn’t impacted. But while some businesses went down, others flourished in these hard times. This is the case with Ana Luisa – a jewelry brand that managed, during the past year, to become the fastest growing jewelry brand in the U.S.
We are here to talk today to Alexander Langhede Andersen, the Marketing Manager of Ana Luisa, who has agreed to share his insights on branding, crisis communication, influencer marketing and corporate video production.
A young entrepreneur, Alexander founded his first ecommerce company at 18 years old selling ties online for four years. Later, he took an ecommerce manager position in London before starting his studies at Copenhagen Business School. Alexander then spent four years after university as a full-time entrepreneur running two startups in Denmark. This was where he got to work extensively with marketing disciplines like Facebook Ads, Google Ads and SEO, and when Alexander later moved to New York City in 2020, he took charge of those areas at the young and fast-growing jewelry brand Ana Luisa. Today, Alexander is the Marketing Manager of Ana Luisa and part of Ana Luisa’s success during the hardships of 2020 is owed to Alexander.
Thank you for agreeing to share your insights with us, Alex. Before getting to the juicy parts, how would you describe last year in terms of marketing challenges?
Thanks for having me! 2020 was a year full of challenges and opportunities in the marketing space. A global crisis like this one shakes up the market, consumer behavior changes drastically in no time, and the big winners are the brands that adapt their businesses and marketing quickly. This is exciting as a young brand where you still have so much to win.
What was the main challenge at Ana Luisa? How did you overcome it?
As an online business, we were in a strong position to get well through the crisis as we were still able to fully serve our customers. We quickly saw our online sales skyrocket when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Many ecommerce businesses experienced this sudden and unexpected growth. While overall being a very positive situation to be in, the surge in demand gave us significant supply chain issues as we couldn’t get our products produced and delivered fast enough. We went through long periods of many sold out products, and since we as a young brand were very keen on growing as much as possible throughout the period, this was a stressful situation to be in. We luckily managed to get our supply chain back on track by fall 2020.
What mistake can a brand make in terms of communication during an international crisis like the one we are living?
If you don’t adapt your communication to this new world situation, your messaging won’t resonate with the audience. As a jewelry brand, it no longer made sense to promote wearing the jewelry for a day at the office or a night out. We went all in on alternative selling points like looking good for client meetings on Zoom or gifting your family jewelry to show them you’re thinking of them in these times where you can’t tell them face-to-face. Your product is likely still in demand but the reason for purchase may have changed and that takes some quick changes of your communication.
Is there common advice that both B2B and B2C businesses should follow when it comes to crisis communication?
You need to be very honest and transparent with your customers. Be open about longer delivery times, don’t promise anything you can’t keep – and apologize if you end up doing it by mistake. No one likes to say no to new business but even in a crisis situation, you need to think about the long-term customer relationships. You can’t afford to think too short-term.
Getting back to Ana Luisa, one of the marketing fields the brand excels in is influencer marketing. How would you explain the rapid growth of influencer marketing?
Consumers are increasingly becoming immune to traditional advertising and no longer trust brand claims like they used to do. An influencer that tells the story from a relatable perspective – like a friend recommending a product – is strong. Consumers are fully aware that influencers are paid handsomely to promote products but the best influencers deliver a story you can tell they believe in themselves.
I still strongly believe in the future of traditional advertising as well but the message comes out so much stronger if you’re not the only source telling the story. Influencer marketing is great for the first touch point in the purchase journey.
Do you think there is a connection between influencer marketing and the public’s need for striking visual content?
Yes, absolutely. Users of Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc want to see content that feels native to the platform and no one has a better sense of how to produce great native content than the platform’s top influencers. That’s why influencers attract many followers and why brands want to collaborate with them – they are able to convey the message in a way the brand can’t do on its own.
And speaking of visual content and video production, do you feel that today’s brands need to deliver more artful visual content to their audiences?
As a marketer on the major advertising platforms, you compete for attention with not only your direct competitors but basically any person or brand that delivers strong content. Therefore, brands need to up their content all the time to get the results they need. The visual content standard today is so much higher than 3 years ago, and I expect the development to go even faster in the coming years. Great visual content is becoming one of the only competitive advantages a brand can have in its marketing as other crucial elements like targeting and bidding are increasingly being handled by advanced algorithms.
And last, but not least, can you share with our readers an important lesson you took from last year?
It surprised me how drastically a global crisis can immediately affect the day-to-day operations of your small business. As a business owner, you mostly think about everything that’s in your control and how you can increase your odds of success – like you should – but there are going to be things outside of your control that can highly affect your business too. The key is how you react to these changes and build resilience.