Less than a year since it broke from its in-house model to launch its biggest-ever integrated campaign, and with a new senior marketing team in tow, Treatwell has spelled out its ambition to become the Deliveroo of beauty – but it still doesn’t believe it needs a big agency to do so.
Ex-Sainsbury’s and Restaurant Group marketer, Susan Judge, joined the hair and beauty bookings marketplace last 10 months ago, reporting into chief marketing officer Joost Brok; who replaced Inés Ures after she departed for Deliveroo.
Judge isn’t shy about challenges the young brand faces in changing people’s behaviour, but she is confident that a consistent and flexible approach to marketing driven by its longstanding in-house team will help it do so.
“Deliveroo and Just Eat changed the way people order their takeaway, Uber has changed the way people book a taxi, but we’re still trying to convince people that when it comes to booking your beauty there’s no need to pick up the phone, to tell them the salon is busy as well, just book it online – it’s easier for everyone,” she told The Drum. “So we need to concentrate on all of the levels of the funnel.”
The brand bills itself as the "largest hair and beauty bookings website in Europe," but it's looking to lift awareness and drive app downloads in the coming year. It currently spans 500 employees and 20,000 salon partners, the latter of which it also wants to scale.
These efforts are mostly being realised in-house, with Judge noting how despite dipping its toe in the pool with agencies (as it did recently with Proud Robinson & Partners and PR agency Freuds for its ‘Life Saving Wax’ campaign alongside Public Health England) the brand is “very self-sufficient.”
Design, creative, programmatic and performance marketing are all handled by Treatwell’s in-house teams across its London and Amsterdam officers. It's an approach Treatwell has taken for around 10 years (including under its previous guise of Wahanda) and one brands like Made.com are now adopting.
The exception for Treatwell is traditional media planning and buying which, since the advertiser's TV debut last summer, has been handled by Grow@Mindshare – WPP's 'specialist entity' designed to help startups and businesses at the 'early stages of marketing'.
“Being a challenger brand in a space where we’re trying to change customers behaviour, having an in-house design team has been a real asset,” said Judge.
Though Londoners especially might associate Treatwell with its “bright and bold” OOH and tube ads, Judge notes how its London-based performance team has got paid social down to “a fine art”. In lieu of giving figures, she admitted she'd been “very impressed” with how the team are using platforms like Instagram to target customers online to drive conversion and app downloads.
On the creative side, Judge praised the “speed” at which assets can be designed and altered. Simple concepts, like Treatwell’s tradition of changing its brand colours every season can be seamlessly implemented without delay.
“We can be incredibly reactive to anything that’s going on and can cover a very consistent message across every single one our channels,” she added. “I don't think you can do that cost-effectively with an agency. And that's one of the beautiful things about doing it in-house.”
The biggest benefit, too, she claimed, is everyone in her team “owning and loving the brand as well as understanding it.”
For all this praise, though, Judge is firm that she’s not anti-agency, praising those she worked with at Sainsbury’s and Restaurant Group. "Agencies are great, they serve a purpose but we wouldn't have been able to run campaigns like the 'Life Saving Wax' without them.
"The beauty of our business is that we're able to be flexible and when we need expertise that's external we go ahead and do it but we've built up to a point where we're self-sufficient and selective about bringing in external support."
However, she did concede that agency relationships were usually also “fairly expensive”.
Growing marketing in-house, she added, has meant the brand isn't compromised by having multiple people handling its accounts or going over its billable hours.
"When I've worked with other businesses, [they've had] a creative agency, digital agency, a media agency and a PR agency and to get all of those parts to work together to drive a consistent campaign is really challenging.
"But when you bring that all in-house, suddenly you have people around a table having the same conversation because you all have the same objectives. 10 months in, I'd say it's working."