A newsletter about branding, startups, and mission-driven companies aiming to make the world a better place.
👋 Welcome to For The Love, so happy to have you all here! Also, to note — I’ll be off next week (recuperating from my second COVID shot) but I’ll be back in your inbox on the 28th.
Today we’ll be discussing:
How to text your customers (like a friend)
A roundup of new launches this week, including one designed by a nine-year-old
Another round-up of summer must-haves?
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💣 For The Love of Startups
Our brains produce dopamine from positive social interactions — which is why it’s so exciting (and you’re so quick to check) when you’ve received a text message.
That also makes it all the more disappointing when it turns out to be a text from Lululemon trying to sell you yet another pair of leggings.
At this stage of the pandemic, you probably have enough soft pants.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. A text from a brand can be a positive experience.
Taika co-founder, Michael Sharon, knew that texting was going to be part of the communication strategy for his company, so he gave his phone number to a few brands for research purposes — “I was continually disappointed because every two days they were sending me a 20% discount code.”
Taika is a line of adaptogen-infused coffees, and the founders are so serious about texting as an integral part of the experience, their entire brand identity revolves around it.
Also on their cans?
Their motto — by friends, for friends.
This phrase informs everything they do and the way they communicate, especially over text. Micheal told me:
“If you think about friends, this is made for friends by friends, we want this to be a friend — friends don't send friends 20% discount codes every two days.”
Their approach seems to be working — they text with thousands of customers on a regular basis (some daily) and have a less than 1% opt-out rate.
So what makes them so unique?
Kal Freese, the other co-founder of Taika, has spent his career focused on hospitality. He started working at the age of 14 at the only two Michelin star restaurant in Finland and later opened his own coffee shop, learning along the way how important customer interactions are.
One way this manifests in their text strategy is also a key differentiator from other brands — their customers drive the conversation. Michael explained:
“It's just very different to many of the other companies that are out there... Everybody is sort of commoditizing the phone numbers…commoditizing the relationship… and they treat people like an email list.”
“Most companies, they ask for your phone number, they take your phone number, they send you a message that says, hey, is it okay for us to spam you forever with this number, and you have to respond with Yes.”
Taika took a different approach.
“We wanted it to be human. And so with us, it's a conversation — you have to text us first, we don't text anybody first. People proactively reach out to us and talk to us, we engage in a conversation, we banter, we do a custom version of the permission dialog, we send that 24 hours after the first conversation.”
Kal added that while other companies also took different approaches, they were still transactional.
“There were companies like Dirty Lemon that were really focusing on using text as a, basically like a novelty play with the hypothesis that consumers would want to order stuff over text, or it would be less friction. They were really viewing it as a kind of a transaction channel. Whereas, for me, my background is in hospitality. For me, coffee started as a culinary thing, but then I realized that it's actually much more interesting as a vehicle to deliver happiness. And basically, my job is making someone's day better.”
So if these aren’t generally transactional conversations, then what are they talking about?
While they do get general questions, like people asking where they can buy Taika, more often than not people just want to chat.
Make no mistake, this is an investment of time *and* money — Taika currently has two employees on hand to answer all text messages, but it’s already proven valuable for the brand and their customers.
Take this conversation, for example:
This approach certainly creates some seriously unique engagement.
In addition to a high level of engagement (and a delightful experience), texting with their customers also has. a few additional benefits:
It means they can provide their customers with the best possible service.
Kal explained that it’s particularly useful in helping them to identify and solve any issue quickly and efficiently.
“We use it as a way to troubleshoot any issue, it makes it easier for us to make it right. If we screw up an order or something goes wrong with shipping, or even if people have questions about the product...just taking a much more long term approach to nurturing prospects and customers through this journey, and becoming longtime Taika fans.”
Michael added some of the free-flowing conversations also led to improvements in the experience.
“People will text us and be like, ‘Hey, I didn't get my order.’ And that led us to actually institute an automatic notification message after it's shipped so we have all of our order notifications happening through SMS.”
Texting can be a great source of feedback for the company as well.
“And then after it's delivered, we added another message that says ‘rate your delivery one to five’. And if it's anything other than five, then obviously we follow up and ask ‘what happened, how can we improve this?’ And we wouldn't have done that unless we had enough people texting us and telling us there was a delivery problem.”
It allows them to connect with customers anywhere they are.
Having their phone number on their cans has been particularly beneficial for connecting and educating potential customers at retail locations (something many CPG brands struggle with).
Michael told me:
“We have a bunch of people texting us that haven't bought the coffee, that have walked past the shelf — they just text to see what would happen. We convince them that they should go back and buy the coffee...we have an opportunity to basically talk directly to people that are in a third place...They're somewhere where the coffee is available, and they have a direct line to the people making it, which is pretty much unlike anything else...If you look at any other CPG product, most of them actually do have a phone number on it, what I call the number of last resort.
It's like the phone number that's in the tiniest print on the back, that's like if you are poisoned by this product, please call this number. Whereas we put our number as prominent as we can and encourage the dialogue.”
And they can stay top of mind while building a relationship with their customers.
Michael explained, “we have people that have been texting us for over a year, now we have people that have been texting us continuously every single day for like three months...especially during COVID, people really need human connection. We didn't even understand the value of this so much when we started off. We were just like, ‘Oh, you know, a little bit of banter, a little bit of brand extension, tell them the story of Taika, tell them where to find the coffee.’ And it's gone way, way beyond that.”
As restaurateur Danny Meyer said in his book Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, (yes, he literally wrote the book on hospitality):
“In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
🔥 For The Love of Newness
After 365 days indoors your probably sick of cooking — Anyday is here to help with cookware designed for the microwave to cook up their custom recipes, or, you know, Annie’s Mac & Cheese.
Newly launched Lia is the first and only biodegradable, flushable, FDA-cleared pregnancy test.
Ikea released a truly delightful line of soft toys based on kids’ drawings including Sandwich Friends, Fried Egg, Cat, Bird, and...Mermaid Dog.
🔍 For The Love of the Details
Now that it’s Daylight Savings Time, that can only mean one thing…
Summer is just around the corner...
...and the automatic targeting ad bots from Wish know exactly what should be on your shopping list!
Normally, ghost finding is a Halloween tradition, but now you can enjoy it all year round!
Where exactly is this “digital therapy machine” supposed to go? Are you supposed to “plug in” at the beach with this? This doesn’t seem like something you should be using near sand.
And lastly, nothing says summer like…
A full-body rubber Ninja Turtle costume. Smell the fresh summer breeze…or the sweat of carrying 42 pounds of heavy green hero wear!
Thank you for being part of For The Love! See you in two weeks!
A few more things...
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Written by Aja Singer, a brand and creative strategy consultant interested in all things startup, mission-driven, and community. Born in Canada. Based in Brooklyn. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.