Modern Marketing Brand Strategy Fast-Growth Brands

What playing for West Brom taught me about building a brand

By Thomas Hal Robson Kanu | CEO and founder

February 18, 2022 | 8 min read

Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu was a a forward for West Bromwich Albion until last year. Since leaving the club, he’s had his head down building The Turmeric Co, a health drink brand, which has seen a 600% revenue increase within the past 24 months. For The Drum’s Deep Dive into Fast-Growth Brands, he shares the lessons he’s taken from the pitch to the boardroom.

Thomas Hal Robson Kanu

Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu on building The Turmeric Co

In the increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer (D2C) space, brands need to be strategic in how they engage customers. Using a personalized approach allows for better connection and helps build loyalty. This is crucial, given that returning customers offer greater lifetime value, delivering a sustainable business equipped to scale.

As a professional athlete, loyalty is something I am well acquainted with. In sport, being loyal to your team – and to your fans – is everything. Understanding this basic premise has allowed me to apply the same ethos in marketing the digitally-native brand I founded in 2018, The Turmeric Co.

The beautiful game: applying football lessons to business

Back when I started my journey as a Premier League footballer, I never imagined that one day I’d help people all over the UK improve their health and wellness. But as an athlete dedicated to health and recovery from sports injury, discovering a natural, effective way to mitigate ailments allowed me to transform my passion for health and fitness into one of the UK’s fastest-growing health brands.

After successfully launching a scalable production process, we were faced with a new challenge: how to inform people about the benefits of our turmeric root-based products.

We realized that bringing a new category to market meant that we had the opportunity to not only connect with a large audience, but to educate them – a crucial aspect in an increasingly saturated market.

Educating consumers within a new category

We knew that allowing customers to be our biggest advocates would be a natural revenue and acquisition driver for us. We started by engaging with people on our social media channels by using carefully created, visually appealing content to unveil our health drink shots, explaining their health properties and benefits to the public.

We combined this with real-life sampling of our products, so that consumers could see first-hand the benefits of our wellness shots. Combining offline experiences with online, our content increased. People would try our shots and create their own social content about the experience, sharing it across their networks so that their friends and family were made aware of the benefits of The Turmeric Co products.

Leveraging user-generated content (UGC) is foundational to building trust with consumers. Authentic UGC transcends social media to include customer reviews, testimonials and feedback. This is the direction we knew we wanted to go in as the brand matured.

Going beyond social media into other forms of UGC

Social media alone had worked well for The Turmeric Co since its launch. But we wanted to go deeper into connecting with customers by collecting first-party data to build a community around the product and brand, and push customers into a tailored customer journey – without compromising on privacy.

We saw that the social content our customers were creating on behalf of our brand and its products was extremely valuable, so we thought of ways to leverage it. Our certified reviews program was born.

We partnered with Yotpo, a D2C e-commerce marketing platform, allowing us to harness the power of customer reviews in a very specific way – by collecting UGC and reviews, and linking this information with our loyalty program. This strategy proved to be the silver bullet to better customer segmentation, delivering a more tailored improved experience for our customers.

The execution was straightforward: we encouraged customers to leave reviews of their experiences with our products and experience with the brand. These reviews would not only be shared on social media and across our external marketing channels, but would also allow those leaving the reviews to earn loyalty points toward future discounts, special offers and other benefits.

Everyone wins: UGC and loyalty

Loyalty programs have been proven to be an effective method to align shoppers with a brand’s value, and with Yotpo’s help we delivered a multifaceted platform, integrated into our e-commerce store to our online customers.

Titled ‘Turmeric Tokens,’ our strategic loyalty program boosted engagement and retention by offering customers different ways to earn loyalty points redeemable against future orders – enabling us to link user-generated customer review content with our customer loyalty journey.

With over 10,000 reviews across all of our channels, customer-generated reviews are now at the heart of our digital strategy. We embed our review requests within emails and follow-up reminders, maximizing the amount of customers willing to share their experiences with other would-be customers.

The Yotpo solution also integrates with Meta, meaning that top reviews are displayed in our display ads on Google, as well as Facebook and Instagram. This is key in showcasing real customer experiences, increasing our overall conversion rate.

Leveraging customer reviews also allows our brand to continuously improve the customer experience by creating positive feedback loops. For example, we use regular NPS surveys to gather feedback on the entire customer journey, at both pre- and post-delivery, once the health benefits are realized. Looking ahead, we are also looking at the potential for SMS and personalized communications in that channel to further boost our engagement with our customers.

For now, by strategically implementing reviews with our loyalty program, our business has seen a massive benefit. We’ve doubled our customer lifetime value over the last 12 months, with a projected lifetime value of circa £300 by the end of 2022. Our reviews have a conversion rate of 7%, higher than the industry average of 4%, and our retention rate is at 60% – double the industry standard. Most importantly, we’ve seen a 600% revenue increase within 24 months. That’s a testament to the power of optimizing for loyalty and community advocacy.

Connecting with customers for the long game

Ultimately, our goal has always been to connect deeply and directly with our customers. As a professional footballer, I always understood the importance of being engaged with fans and giving my heart and soul to each game played. The fans cheering in the stands are what keep you motivated as a player.

Owning a health brand is no different. From the outset, we always knew we needed to launch as a digitally-native brand that connects with customers on a personal level around a passion for health and wellness. 10,000 customer reviews later, we’ve been able to do just that – giving people the gift of health and wellness while continuing to create a rewarding customer experience through every touchpoint with the brand.

Modern Marketing Brand Strategy Fast-Growth Brands

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