Profile of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing series where we feature performance marketing industry leaders from around the globe.
Working in a role where you oversee a half-dozen brands with over 15 websites and B2C and B2B elements across dealer, retail, and e-commerce business units requires attention to detail and a team effort.
No one knows this better than Mike Wolf, Sr. Manager of Digital Marketing & E-Commerce at The Stow Company, an enterprise that manufactures a complete range of organization solutions for all areas of the home. Their products include closet organizers, garage storage systems, pantry organizers, wall beds, laundry storage, entertainment centers, mudroom storage and more.
We asked Mike about how he ventured into the world of digital marketing, his approach to implementing strategic initiatives for multiple brands and the role affiliate marketing plays in helping The Stow Company realize its goals.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR ROLE AT THE STOW COMPANY AND FOR EASYCLOSETS?
I'm responsible for the planning, execution and measurement of all digital marketing initiatives for The Stow Company and its house of brands. This means providing leadership and oversight to the digital customer journey, overseeing everything from acquisition campaigns, such as our affiliate programs, to marketing automation, CRM, and web personalization.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE WORLD OF PERSONALIZED STORAGE SOLUTIONS?
Right place at the right time. During my Junior year at Calvin College, I was randomly assigned to a class project for The Stow Company in one of my marketing classes. The professor was an advocate of project-based learning which provided a fantastic opportunity for students like me to make connections in the local business community and get real-world experience while still in college. The class project ultimately led to another class project the following semester, a summer internship, and a full-time job upon graduation. I'm still here 13 years later and enjoying every minute.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WEEKDAY LIKE?
Working in a multi-brand and multi-channel environment, there isn't a typical weekday. Most days are spent in the weeds with my sleeves rolled up building and adjusting acquisition campaigns, launching or removing promotional tactics across our portfolio of sites, reporting for our business unit leaders, or working one-on-one through local campaigns with our dealer and retail partners.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT WORKING WITH THE STOW COMPANY AND COMPANIES LIKE EASYCLOSETS?
I am surrounded by a phenomenal group of colleagues who have a passion and drive for what they do. It's rewarding to see hard work and dedication pay off in big ways, watching the company triple in size since I started in 2005. Our work not only helps our dealer and retail customers grow their own businesses but it also helps our end users tackle the clutter and disorganization that often leads to stress and anxiety at home. It's incredibly rewarding knowing that the products we pour our hearts into each day ultimately help people master their space so they can spend more time on things that matter most in their lives.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN ONLINE MARKETING TODAY?
I think a huge challenge is misplaced focus. It's easier than ever to fall victim to shiny object syndrome and spend our days suffering from the need to be everywhere – in every channel, using every tool and platform, and trying to reach everyone. Unfortunately, this approach is more about focusing on the numbers and the mechanics than creating actual value for customers.
I love how Mitch Joel put it. He said we should "think about making an impression over how many impressions you are getting." The challenge is to stop focusing all our attention on the platforms, tools, and processes and start focusing on the end user, the quality of our message, and the level of trust that it inspires.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW HAS THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL ADDED VALUE TO EASYCLOSETS?
I'm a huge fan of our affiliate program and its performance-based model. It adds value at each stage of our customer's journey. Whether it be attracting new customers via content partners during someone's discovery stage, exposing people to our brand through loyalty partners, or being accessible for customers who are hunting for that last-minute deal before checkout, affiliate marketing reaches people where they are while delivering value for both us and our affiliates.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH ACCELERATION PARTNERS?
I consider Acceleration Partners a part of our in-house team. They provide us with the depth of experience and expertise in the affiliate space that we lack internally and constantly bring new partners, programs, and ideas to the table. Our account team has been fantastic in helping us vet new partners, bring new programs to fruition quickly, and keep our program running honestly and efficiently. Most of all, everyone we've had the pleasure of working with has been of high character, had a strong work ethic, and has treated our business like it was their own.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL?
I've been most surprised by the volume and quality of output from some of our larger affiliate partners. We have affiliates in our program who drive more volume than most of our other acquisition programs at an average order value that is 15-20% higher than our other channels. At a cost of less than 5% of the sale, it's a no-brainer essential element of our marketing mix.