We’re closing out Women’s History Month with Julia Perez, CMO of OWYN. We learn how she started her career with a true passion for fashion, attending school and interning in New York City. But, it was her introduction into marketing as a ‘Red Bull Girl’ where she found her calling. From there, she was motivated to pursue a new set of goals that led her to become the young CMO she is today. Listen in as she provides insights on the latest marketing trends in the industry and the impact the right social media influencers can have on a brand.
3:24 Julia’s background
4:34 Her intro into marketing from the fashion industry
10:26 The micro influencer/brand marketing connection
13:11 Don’t dismiss that paid ad!
19:02 Current digital marketing strategies and trends to look out for
22:13 Unlocking the potential of SMS
Brian Weinstein: Welcome, everybody to Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. We’ll be kicking it here every other Friday, quenching your thirst for an insider’s take to enhance your customer experience. So, grab your drink of choice, kick back, it’s Sippin’ & Shippin’ time. All right. Welcome, everybody to another episode of Sippin’ & Shippin’. I am your co-host, Brian Weinstein, and I am here. I’d like to say as I always am, but I wasn’t here a few episodes back or a couple episodes back, but I’m with Caitlin Postal.
Caitlin Postel: Never going to let me forget it. It was one time I hijacked the pod. It was its Woman’s History Month. We’re happy to wrap it up here with our special guest and happy to have you back, like I said last time, Brian.
Brian Weinstein: Yes. Yes. And you know what, I intentionally did that. That was passive-aggressive. I called you Postal again, not Postel.
Caitlin Postel: I know how I’ll get her. I’ll just call her name wrong. Give me Siri back. Give me the Siri pronunciation.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly.
Caitlin Postel: Don’t target my tarjay. Don’t do that.
Brian Weinstein: So, this is our final episode of Women’s History Month. Honestly, we’ve been talking, Caitlin and I and Tanya have been talking about having this in March since way back last fall, getting ahead of something because I am a girl dad. I am married to a woman who is a very strong career driven person, I’ve always surrounded myself with women of the same ilk. And I have to tell you, I’m really proud to be able to participate in this. I volunteered to have the hijacked episode. The episode hijacked away a few weeks ago, and I thought it was really cool to listen to the stories. And then we had Maia Benson on who’s a real boss lady, right? She came in extremely impressive career.
I’m just so proud of where we’ve come. I still think we have a long way to go, but I think the advancement of women in the US has been incredible. And I’m really proud to see the people that have rosen up, and I’m proud of the people that are coming up in the ranks. And this was not something, I don’t believe this was because of any in particular except people had a chance to make it in advance. And I’m really happy to see where we’ve come and I know we have a long way to go, but proud to be where we are in 2023.
Caitlin Postel: Appreciate that sentiment. I’ll echo that.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. All right. So, with that said, we have a very special guest this week. Julia Perez from OWYN. How are you?
Julia Perez: Hey, good to see you. Good to be here. Doing great, excited to chat.
Brian Weinstein: And sorry I made you listen to my whole little mind. I don’t usually have monologues. Caitlin keeps me in check, but I felt like that was something I had to get off my chest and considering she took the episode for me a few weeks ago and I didn’t get to pontificate for a while. So, it was good.
Julia Perez: No, Brian, I love it. I really, really great kind words and excited to chat today about, I got to wear them at, and hopefully it can inspire other women out there. I’m a young CMO and I’m excited to share and chat with you today.
Brian Weinstein: That’s awesome. Can you give us a little bit for the audience, a little bit about your background?
Julia Perez: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’m Miami based now, but New York born and spent the first eight years of my career in New York. I always knew I wanted to be in marketing. Well, actually that’s not completely true. I was actually in fashion. I came up during the Hills era. I don’t know if you were into the Lauren Conrad fashion merchandising, FIG world. And I thought I wanted to be in fashion and then I quickly realized that what I love about fashion is really marketing. And it was during MySpace, Facebook and I had a real knack for social media. I knew that there were jobs that were going to be popping up and kind of proud of my younger self to have the ability to see that foresight into what I was good at and what opportunities might be on the forefront. So…
Brian Weinstein: Julia, was there an aha moment there? You’re in fashion and all of a sudden.
Julia Perez: It’s a yes.
Brian Weinstein: Okay.
Julia Perez: Yes. Yeah, there was. I was sitting in fashion supply chain management and starting to realize that so much of what I would be doing would be about the supply chain, which exposed a lot of ugly truths in the fashion world. It wasn’t really appealing. It kind of made me upset honestly. And I was thinking about what my job it might be if I ended up being a buyer for a bigger retail chain and I just saw Excel sheets in my head and that’s what I was hearing the more classes that I took. And I knew that’s not what I like about fashion. What I like about fashion is what’s the mind state of that person getting dressed in the morning? What music are they listening to? What vibe are they trying to achieve for their day? What image are they looking to put out forward?
And kind of dawned on me that’s not fashion, that’s marketing and fashion will always be a part of whatever marketing you decide to do. And yeah, I realized I can take this love for fashion somewhere else into marketing. Social media was really big at the time, and I have always had a natural, just a knack and social media and sharing my own life and personal branding compared to the Gen Z and the millennials of today. I’m not quite on that level, but at the time I was an early adopter in all those social platforms and knew that brands were going to start be looking for these positions. So quickly sought it out. I went to a very small fashion school, and it was super competitive, and I tend to do best in those environments.
I don’t know why. It just fuels me to be better and do more. And I saw so many other inspiring women or young women at the time getting internships in New York City and a light bulb went off. I got to find a social media internship and yeah, that’s what happened next ended up interning at a social agency that I later then received a job offer for out of college.
Caitlin Postel: Nice. I think it’s definitely the New Yorker in you that likes the competitive atmosphere. But before we move into your first role within the marketing space, I have a very groundbreaking question that I’m sure everyone is wondering. Team LC or Team Kristen. I mean, let’s just clear the air right now. If you were Hills watcher, what was it, Julia? This can make or break this whole conversation, so choose wisely.
Julia Perez: Okay. Absolutely, LC. I was once the party girl in school, and I really loved her drive, and I was just jealous of her internships.
Caitlin Postel: Okay, fair enough. I’ll take it. We can continue with the conversation. So, on our pre-call, we talked a lot about where you started, which was interestingly enough, at Red Bull. Being a Red Bull girl in college, can you tell us a little bit about that and how that really jump started transitioning from fashion into the marketing space?
Julia Perez: Yes. I mean, what a great college job. It was truly a dream. I remember seeing other people doing it. Again, back to my competitive nature, just seeing what other cool, what I thought was “cool people” and I saw a different promotional models working at Monster or just different beverage brands. And I learned quickly, I did some research. They’re hired by promotional companies, but Red Bull girls are hired by Red Bull. So, I applied on a whim because I saw the cars are on Philadelphia, which is where I went to school. And I quickly got called back and had an interview and it was just like a dream job because you’re surrounded by Red Bull’s, very specific about their hiring process. And at the time I think they’ve now opened it up to men, but at the time you had to be in college, and you had to be female.
And they looked for women with really driven qualities that were doing interesting things in their respective colleges. Because remember I went to school in Philly, so there’s Drexel, there’s UPenn, Temple, Philadelphia University, Westchester, there’s so many different schools. So right away, I think it was the perfect intro into marketing because Red Bull is one of the best companies when it comes to marketing strategy. And it’s such a large company that they have the resources to really refine their strategy. I’m at Startups now, so it’s a little bit different, but just a great place to understand the framework. And we had very specific training on the type of language we can use and how we could present the Red Bull product to different consumers and the way that we would get dressed with our different Red Bull gear and present ourselves. Because a lot of the times that’s the consumer’s first touchpoint with the brand, especially in college. So, it was a really great place to start from a company such so spectacular as Red Bull.
Brian Weinstein: So, this predated your foray into fashion, is that correct?
Julia Perez: No, this is actually after because I changed-
Brian Weinstein: This is after.
Julia Perez: Yeah, I changed my major in college. Once I started taking more courses, I think it was like my second year I changed my major and I went into Red Bull. And at the time I was interning in New York City at a few street wear brands, because I had the job all through the last two years of school. And then I had the internship, it was a streetwear brand, Swedish streetwear brand called WeSC New York. And I would say it’s parallel to Red Bull in terms of, I was interviewing a lot of professional skateboarders and snowboarders. So, it was nice that those worlds were connected because they would kind of benefit each other. And then I did some blogging and then I went to a digital agency, so that’s my college intro.
Brian Weinstein: It’s interesting. So Red Bull’s almost like grassroot marketing almost directly to the consumer and then you’re dealing with on the streetwear side skateboarders and really early entry into influencers.
Julia Perez: Absolutely. And I love that you made the connection between skateboarders and influencers because, I think skateboarding is just a phenomenon. The way that sport has done such a has always been a cultural influencer when it comes to fashion or music, skateboarding culture really drives so many trends. And you might not know it until you’re working a little bit closer to it, but I found that really fascinating and still do even if I don’t really get to explore that world anymore. But it’s a great intro to influencers and surely the beginning of what that looked like for brands.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, that community is something that comes up so often. It was such a buzzword last year. And I think that world that you’re alluding to is just community and then putting that cool factor with what folks in that space really want to see, which is marketing.
Julia Perez: Definitely. And I think, yeah, community is such a buzzword today. And I believe it’s a bit overused because when we think about… I feel like we’ve been going back to our roots in terms of the way humans connect with brands. So, what I mean by that is the early 2000s and far before that, the social media was everywhere, and it was an integral part of marketing. We found out about new products and beverages and food brands and all that we found out through word of mouth and people who were influential and in real life. So, they were doing something cool, they were in an insider community, they had some type of charisma that equals influence. And I just feel like we’ve lost that over the last few years with influencer becoming just a way to make money and almost like a career for young people now.
And I think it’s been, it’s just gotten saturated. And what I’m seeing now for brands is it’s really about, it’s not so much about how many followers the influencer has. Of course, it’s important when you’re going mass, but when we think about community, it’s about finding brand evangelists that are going to talk about your brand and spread information about your brand on behalf of the brand. So, we as marketers aren’t doing all the heavy lifting. We have a community that knows so much about us and is so passionate about the brand that they’re out there spreading the message. So, in a way, getting back to the roots.
Brian Weinstein: So, I have a question about that. So how do you tap dance around? So, you want your influencer to be representing the brand, but not necessarily selling the brand. Because I think the more overt you are in the sale, the less authentic it is. And so how do you balance that?
Caitlin Postel: Yeah. And Julia, before you jump in, Brian, you read my mind because as Julia was alluding to that, I thought in my mind. Hashtag ad in the second that I see that this person is being paid, I’m like, this isn’t community, this is a paycheck. So, Julia, what’s your take on that and the power of a paid ad versus the micro influencers that I think you’re alluding to?
Julia Perez: Yeah, I mean that’s so true. And I think that as we craft these contracts, we have to be very mindful of that. But really, we want the influencer to share their genuine experience with it. And as marketers, we have to empower our community and our creators with the tools to tell whatever story they need to tell about the brand, because we all experience brands in different ways. Another thing here is, I think as marketers also, we underestimate how smart the viewers are. We don’t always have to say, “Buy at this exact link or click this.” But maybe it’s shifting the influencer to explain where the products are on shelf or explain what was their first touchpoint. I saw one of my friends drinking this and I decided to buy it. Just really let them take the reins. But even if we’re thinking without the contracts, because again, a lot of these brand evangelists they’re not paid.
They’re simply going on TikTok explaining that they found a product in a store and broadcasting it because they genuinely want people to know about it. I mean, that also goes down to the type of marketing you use and how you speak to the consumer. Currently, I’m the CMO at OWYN, and we always say that our goal with our communication is to make the consumer feel like the hero. We are a sports nutrition brand, or rather a protein drink brand, a nutrition brand. And I think a lot of brands in that category preach onto their consumers, so we’re pretty mindful there to make the consumer feel like they are the hero and that they have figured this out. We don’t need to talk to them as if they have no idea what a protein drink is.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, and…
Tanya Phipps: Julia, if I can chime in, this is Tanya the producer. I just wanted-
Caitlin Postel: Producer Tanya.
Tanya Phipps: If you could elaborate a little more because to what Caitlin and Brian was talking about, because we can’t just dismiss the influencer just because it may be a paid ad, it’s really important. Sometimes it’s truly organic, if you could speak to that because usually the influencer, the marketer really taps into. That influencer has been talking about the brand way before they were even paid, and that’s the beauty of the partnership sometimes. And so that makes it more authentic and they bring in its kind of the thing that really bolsters the community aspect. So, if you want to speak to that maybe a little bit that would-
Brian Weinstein: Hey, hey.
Tanya Phipps: … kind of help.
Brian Weinstein: Hey Julia, just so you know, it’s like a unicorn when Tanya steps out from behind the curtain. So, you should feel privileged that she actually did that and came up with this question.
Julia Perez: I love that. Yeah, I definitely can speak to that. And in fact, it’s one of it’s how one of our partnerships that we worked on last year with Justin Fields, he’s an NFL quarterback, that’s how that partnership came to life. Justin had been a fan of the brand and drinking OWYN and got into contact with us. And that further encouraged us as a brand to sign that contract because there is a genuine understanding of the brand and he’s already drinking the product. There’s a story there and I think consumers can also catch on to that. And a lot of the influencers and partners and friends of the brand that we continue to seed product to. And this isn’t just for OWYN, this is for several brands that I’ve worked on. You discover them through them posting on their own about the brand, they’re not getting paid.
They’re simply sharing with their followers that they love the product. And I wish I could explain to more influencers that sharing products that you’re not getting paid for shouldn’t be a negative thing that’s why you are an influencer. And the more that you do that, once brands see that you’re posting about the brand, naturally as marketers, it actually excites us more. Maybe I should explore something larger because there’s a real story there. And the consumers catch on quickly like, “Oh, I’ve seen this influencer post about the brand five times and now it finally says add.” They’re really not going to be upset by that. If anything, they’re going to say, “I’m glad that the creator that I follow, and I’m invested in is now partnering with a brand that he or she loves.” And audiences, they’re very engaged with the influencers that they follow. And I think it’s only a positive thing when it can become something larger for the brand and the influencer.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, that’s interesting. And by the way, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried these Altoids, they are curiously strong peppermint, but I cannot get enough of these things.
Caitlin Postel: Brian, does that mean you’re considering yourself an influencer here?
Brian Weinstein: I don’t, but I’m hoping they listen and send me at least some free Altoids.
Julia Perez: Maybe they’ll sponsor the pod.
Caitlin Postel: Oh, see-
Julia Perez: There you go.
Caitlin Postel: … a girl can dream.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly right. Exactly right. So, tell us a little bit, I know you had some strategies coming out post-COVID on how you were marketing and what was going to differentiate and how brands were going to differentiate themselves. Tell us a little bit about your strategy, the strategy you adopted coming out of there.
Julia Perez: Yeah, I mean there’s so many different strategies that we’re born in and then we had to adapt them again. I just feel like the last three years it’s been nonstop reiterating of what we’ve done as marketers, what we can do. I mean, the most important thing I know we also talked about what we can learn from COVID. I think the brands that have done such a good job are the ones that were hopping on the different opportunities that were available during COVID and then post-COVID. So, when iOS was before, it was super gated. So many brands throughout COVID were built on Meta on Facebook and Instagram ads. And I just think it goes to show you at Core Water, we used to have a slogan that our CEO, Lance Collins, proudly hit hung behind his desk. It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.
And that’s really stayed with me. So I think the brands that were able to hop onto Meta when it was giving so much, I think that’s obviously a really positive, really positive moment for them. And maybe they’ve built loyal followings from there. That’s where they got their start, their acquisition. TikTok was huge during COVID, and it still is huge. I mean, there’s so many conversations that are happening right now about the ban and everyone’s asking. I think so many of us are asking one another, are you worried about it? What does this mean for marketing? I mean for us at OWYN, and it’s not the be all end all because we have so many other levers that we’re pulling. But back to TikTok and what it can bring for brands, when we talk about influencers and democratizing reach, democratizing influence, creating brand evangelists, and turning your consumers into influencers.
I mean, TikTok is the number one place for that right now. So that’s been big. And then, another trend that I’ve been seeing is, and I don’t think it’s a trend at all really, but the idea of transparency. So, I work in the fitness, sports nutrition, healthier for a food and beverage space. And consumers in that category, even the ones that are first dipping their toe in, they really value transparency. And there’s been so many tools that have helped consumers get closer to the brands I just mentioned, TikTok, democratizing influence. There’s this whole trend of influencing now on TikTok where influencers are coming on and sharing brands that they “don’t think are worth the money” or are overhyped. So again, it’s giving voice and creating more transparency and really making it so that brands need to be communicating directly with consumers. And because any of them can be influencers about their product and about their ingredients.
So, one thing we’ve adopted is just getting closer to our consumer through that transparency. And a vehicle we’ve been using since COVID and continues to grow every single day is our SMS marketing channel. And we are one of the few brands, I think in our space that are doing a two-way SMS strategy. So, we’re inviting consumers to ask us questions, “Hey, have you seen this latest news in health? If you have any questions about it, our registered dietician is here to answer you. Do you have any questions about the products? We’re having a sale tomorrow, let us know.” And we’ve seen the engagement on that channel contributes to customers that have a higher LTV. So, I’m really bullish on SMS marketing from a two-way perspective.
Caitlin Postel: I think that’s a great strategy and it just builds a lot of trust and of course, puts that personal touch. We talk about it even a lot in our space, just positioning yourself more as a subject matter expert and less of someone who’s trying to sell something. And I think that resonates with a lot of folks and consumers.
Julia Perez: Yeah, I think so too. It’s so much noise out there from email inboxes and now SMS and you definitely have to just let the consumer know you’re there if they have questions and if they need you. But again, I think our customers are smarter than we think, not us at OWYN, but I think in general as marketers and just let them come to us with the questions that they have. I also think you can learn a ton about your consumers when you do that too. So that way something to learn it’s the qualitative is really where the beauty happens for me.
Brian Weinstein: It’s somewhat generational too, I think. And I’m really putting myself out there. I’m a little bit older and so I get a little bit more annoyed by the SMS and I opt out a lot of times. But then I watch my daughter who’s in her early 20s, and she gets a lot from the brands that she’s involved with, and I think she appreciates the updates. And so, is there a strategy, by the way, when you start to target specific demographics of what works best? Is there a huge swing in strategy or are you finding everything’s coming more to center?
Julia Perez: Yeah, I don’t think the age. It’s interesting what you said about the age, your daughter probably really appreciates that her brands are letting her know-
Brian Weinstein: Absolutely.
Julia Perez: … okay your product has been shipped or it’s been dropped off. And those shipping updates are one thing. And then just letting her know about restocks. And I mean that’s probably very exciting to her, but I can understand that if you’re not using your phone as much, maybe it’s a generational thing.
Caitlin Postel: Oh no, he is. He just-
Brian Weinstein: So I guess some of it is because I’m getting hit everywhere and I do appreciate the… I do suffer from Wizmo like most normal people do. So, getting the texts and alerts to where my package is I like. It’s the, “Hey, this is on sale, this is coming up. We’ve got a new releases.” I don’t need all that because I’m getting pinged everywhere. I feel like between Slack Teams, email, texts it’s just-
Caitlin Postel: Overkill.
Brian Weinstein: Overkill. When I’m getting it from brands tell me where my package is. Don’t necessarily have to tell me that there’s a new release of product coming out. But my daughter loves it and I think my son does as well.
Julia Perez: And thank you for sharing that about the type of messages that you prefer. I think that’s really interesting. Can I ask you if you ever make the purchase when you get a sales text? Because I think, although we say what consumers report they don’t like and do like, sometimes their behavior differs from what they say they don’t like or don’t prefer. And sometimes those texts work on the consumers that might not want it. So, I tend to be weary and slicing and dicing the segments so close, because even if it might be a little bit like, “All right, this is overkill. Well, does it work? Do you buy it?”
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. So, Caitlin’s pointing to herself because it clearly works on her.
Caitlin Postel: I’m such a sucker. I’m like, “Oh my God, new drop. You guys know, I’m just trying to be cool over here.” “All right, you got something new for me. I want to want to get it first. I want to be the person, show me what’s new for spring. I’m going to buy it.”
Julia Perez: And sometimes it’s overkill, but then you’re happy to know if there’s a promotion going on or sometimes it’s helpful that, “Oh, I forgot about that brand. That’s a great brand. I should head to their website soon.” But with consumer surveys. I mean, of course, if someone responds and says, I don’t want to get the sales, I just want the shipping updates quick, easy. And we do get those responses. But yeah, I always like to ask because we’re using the text.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, I would say for me I might be opening 10 to 20% of the text that come through and of those-
Julia Perez: Got it.
Brian Weinstein: … maybe 10% intrigued me enough to click through to the website. It also depends on what it is, the appearance of the product that’s there. And if it’s something that’s intriguing to me, but it’s getting me to even open it because I’m like, “All right, I don’t have time for this right now. I don’t get that.”
Caitlin Postel: Well, there’s nothing I hate more than, I mean, I don’t mind the text messages because I’ve opted in its brands that I love and I’m probably a loyalist for. There’s nothing I hate more than an Instagram ad that tells me, “Hey, look at this product.” And I go there, and I can’t even get that product. You just baited me with the dope product. I love it. And you can’t even sell it to me like, “What is that?”
Julia Perez: Oh, my gosh. It happens way too much. Yeah.
Caitlin Postel: What is that?
Julia Perez: I haven’t worked on a brand, I’m trying to think back into my experience, but since it’s in food and beverage, I haven’t worked much on brands where it’s a retail, an Urban Outfitters or where they have so many different products and the products aren’t there. So, I don’t have that problem as much in my arena. Sometimes we’re out of stock, I’ve been out of stock on brands I’ve worked on, but I feel like it’s less likely to happen of when it’s not a fashion or beauty item.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, that’s fair. Like CPG and health and beauty is a little bit more straightforward. Yeah, apparel definitely is the bait and switch.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah.
Julia Perez: Absolutely.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly right.
Tanya Phipps: And I have to jump in again one more time. I’m like Brian a lot, but I do get the text messages and sometimes I’m sort of on the sidelines, not willing to pull the trigger yet, and then I see a promotion, it kind of catches my eye. It’s like a little too good and I just go for it. I pull the trigger at that text where, you get the right promotion at the right time. And isn’t that what it’s about? It’s getting that promotion right at the right time and the person based on behaviors, they’re interested. So, you have an interest, Brian, you do, even though you’re in that, you get the-
Caitlin Postel: The marketer Tanya coming out.
Brian Weinstein: So, this will sound very funny to Caitlin, but I guess I’m exhibiting self-control.
Caitlin Postel: Said, Brian never.
Brian Weinstein: As we know that’s my core strand. Well, Julia, listen, I really have to thank you for coming on. This has been fantastic. Definitely have learned a lot and appreciate getting the opportunity to learn more about you and having you on. I’m very, very happy to have you on as our last guest that there are Women’s History Month. I really appreciate it.
Julia Perez: Yes, thank you so much for having me on. I enjoyed speaking with you all today.
Brian Weinstein: Excellent. All right, Caitlin, walk us out.
Caitlin Postel: Okay. Thank you, Julia. Thank you, to all our listeners for tuning in. Check us out every other Friday at sippinandshippin.com, or on your favorite podcast platform. Have a great weekend guys. Thank you, everybody.
Brian Weinstein: Thank you.