Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the President of Atlanta-based Brainchild Associates, Ms.Tori Allen. As you can see from her biography, Tori has worked with many major brands. Two of her current clients in the natural hair community are Design Essentials and Mhe Magazine. For this interview, I spoke with Tori about multicultural marketing and advertising.
With more than a decade of experience as a communications professional, Tori Allen is known for her seamless execution of fully integrated marketing campaigns including strategic planning, advertising (print, radio and online), media relations and grassroots outreach for consumer and not for profit clients. In 2006, Tori founded Brainchild Associates, a full-service marketing communications firm, where she presides as the company’s visionary and president.
Executing everything from strategic planning to project management to hands-on implementation, Tori has worked with major consumer brands, B2B brands, nonprofit organizations, green businesses, authors and health and medical services. Clients include Target, McBride Research Laboratories, TheRoot.com, Coca-Cola, Shell Chemicals, BP, Nationwide Insurance, the National Urban League, the National Conference of Black Mayors and the Center for Black Women’s Wellness to name a few. Clients regard Tori for her ability to leverage a variety of communications tools to garner a diverse mix of product and brand visibility among target audiences.
Prior to Brainchild Associates, Tori worked as senior account executive for the corporate communications practice of Porter Novelli Public Relations and in the consumer practice for IMAGES USA, a full-service multicultural marketing agency. She is currently a member of the Public Relations Society of America, American Marketing Association as well as the National Association of Black Journalists. Previously, she served as a board member for the young professionals affiliate chapter of the Atlanta Urban League and previously served as the Atlanta Area Director for eWomenNetwork, a national networking organization for women-owned businesses (Source: Brainchild Associates, 2012).
Here are some key points from my interview:
Tori enjoys being able to think objectively and broadly about ways she can re-energize a brand.
Typically, companies are proactive in contacting Tori. Companies “want someone to help them position themselves to get the return they need at the end of the day”.
For companies: The importance of having a pulse check on the audience is key, especially when dealing with multicultural audiences.
“What makes a great brand is a brand that gets their target consumer”.
Tiffany: How did you get interested in marketing?
Tori: I’ve always been creative, an out-of-the-box thinking kind of person. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an only child, whereas I’ve always had to come up with creative ways to keep myself entertained…Initially, I thought I would end up in a career as a screenwriter. However, since my Alma mater—Spelman College— didn’t provide an undergraduate degree in that area, so I ended up becoming an English major instead. By becoming an English major, I had the opportunity to intern at public relations agencies. It expanded my mind, created a good fit for me to use my creative, out-of-the-box ideas and add value to the client brands that I worked on.
Tiffany: What part of your career do you enjoy the most?
Tori: I enjoy being able to share ideas that inspire our clients and get them excited about the potential of their products/services. Sometimes, when companies approach me, they can be stuck in a rut. They’ve been doing things a certain way over a period of time. It may not be as exciting as it was when they started to do it. When they bring me into the equation, I can think more objectively and broadly about ways we can re-energize their brand. It’s at that point when I enjoy my job the most, because I am able to re-inspire them.
Tiffany: At what point do companies/organizations typically consult you for assistance with their brainchild?
Tori: Oftentimes, clients contact me when they’re getting ready to launch a new product, rollout a new service or seeking event marketing support for an upcoming event. For nonprofits, they may need counsel on ways to enhance their fundraising and community support initiatives.
Tiffany: What type of market research do you conduct? What methods of data collection do you use?
Tori: The market research we [Brainchild Associates] do is kind of at the base level….Anything that is in-depth, I may have to partner with a market research firm. Beyond Internet and industry research, we sometimes do online surveys and polls with our clients’ existing customers, target customers and sometimes even with their staff. Upon compiling and analyzing all of the findings from our research, we then prepare our project recommendations to help guide our efforts in best publicizing and marketing our clients.
Tiffany: What challenges, if any, do your clients face when marketing their products to multicultural audiences? Follow up: What techniques or tips do you offer to deal with these issues?
Tori: One of my clients struggled greatly in attracting target customers to the services that they provided because they failed to understand and address the unique needs of their target multicultural consumer, and only focused on driving one-sided sales messages. Therefore, while my client offered a much-needed service, they did not understand nor practice the art of leveraging relevant triggers to compel people to take the desired actions they wanted. Upon bringing Brainchild in for assistance, we had to prepare a competitive analysis to demonstrate how more effective groups, similar to our client’s organization, were able to garner more financial, community and word of mouth support from their constituents—thus increasing sales. By revamping the client’s core messaging; utilizing social media to build genuine relationships between the client and their target customers; and establishing a series of engagement events to secure support from key community and industry leaders, the client has successfully established a fan base of staunch ambassadors and acquired numerous community and industry awards and grants, new business opportunities, greater publicity and increased sales.
Tiffany:What do you think makes a great brand?
Tori: I think what makes a great brand is a brand that gets their target consumer. “Getting” them means that you have a built such a relationship with your consumers that the relationship evolves into a culture with your product right at its center! I always marvel about the genius behind brands such as Apple, who have done an incredible job of cultivating such a consumer culture where their fans are literally counting down the days to Apple’s latest and greatest new product releases.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview with Tori Allen, where we discuss natural hair in the context of marketing and advertising.