What's the Digital Marketing Formula?

Keynote: J Jill Inc.'s Brian Beitler

Welcome to another installment in our Keynote series, this time brought to you by Executive Vice President, and Chief Marketing and Brand Development Officer for J Jill Inc. Brian Beitler.

As one of America's most well-known and beloved women's clothing brands, J Jill knows a thing or two about marketing, and Beitler was keen to share his insights with the room. Beginning with a short anecdote.

He tells of his mother who, when he was pitching for his youth baseball team, would yell congratulations from the stands. However, what was interesting was that she would also turn to the batter and wish them better luck next time. If the batter returned her son's pitch, she would yell congratulations to them, while encouraging her progeny that he'd, "get the next one."

The moral of the story was that his mother was a cheerleader for success - an ethos Beitler has carried into his professional life. Business is not about success at the expense of the industry or even competitors but doing your best while benefitting all around you.


Maya Angelou once write that, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

Beitler believes that the future of marketing lies in how you as a brand make people feel. All too often marketing is thought of in purely transactional terms - you present the customer with an offer and they make a purchase for example - a quid pro quo arrangement which operates without feeling or emotion - or even a conversation.

However, marketing today is more complex than simply baiting a hook and waiting to see what bites. Brands need to build genuine connections with their customers and understand how they feel. They need to meet the emotional demand of the audience and move beyond simply fulfilling their desires in terms of products or services.

A great example of this which Beitler cites is that of Airbnb. The room renting tech brand has found great success by emphasizing the homely nature of the properties it offers. It doesn't sell itself as a B&B service, but instead as "somewhere to live, if only for a day." This sentence alone immediately invokes feeling of home and sets Airbnb apart from other accommodation brands.

Brands must operate like a family. When a family decides where they're going for vacation, they have a conversation where everyone is involved. Thanks to social media, customers these days are perfectly comfortable telling brands what they think, so invite them in and sit down with them - don't stand behind a one-way mirror. J Jill put out a call for people to attend a focus group and had 1200 responses which demonstrates just how willing customers are to make their feelings known.

Final Thoughts

The future of digital marketing is all about feelings and building genuine connections with customers. Those brands which are able to achieve this, have the best chance of building a loyal customer base which will stick around for years.

"Storytelling is out, conversations are in," says Beitler.

For more insights, join us at eTail Boston, happening this August 10 - 13 at the Sheraton Boston! eTail is four days of action-packed stories, conversations, and connections with the top minds at America's most successful retailers. Download the agenda here for full details.

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