Marketing FAQs for Social Impact: Mentor Chat with Jessica Vodlika and Amu Fowler
In this interview, Amu Fowler Founding Partner at Startups Ignite | A social impact accelerator interviews program mentor Jessica Vodlika, the Founder and COO of KBF Marketing, who discusses her work in social impact, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as her role in coordinating innovation pitch competitions. She emphasizes the importance of marketing with a specific target audience in mind, rather than trying to appeal to a broad market. Jessica advises startups to focus on customer discovery, engaging in in-person interactions to understand the needs and pain points of their audience. She highlights the significance of clear communication and using language that is easily understandable, particularly when addressing social impact. Jessica also stresses the need for a strong online presence, including a website and valuable content, to enhance credibility and reach a wider audience. The interview concludes with both participants expressing excitement about the future collaboration.
Amu: Hi Jessica. Welcome and thank you for taking the time to join me on our Startups Ignite mentor show. I'm thrilled that you're involved in Social Impact, DEI, and entrepreneurship as the Founder and COO at KBF Marketing. As I understand, your focus is on multicultural marketing for brands, assisting corporations to stay aligned with their DEI goals.
You also coordinate and manage the two largest innovation pitch competitions in the region. This is a great chance for the community to get to know you and gain some valuable insights around marketing or any other topics you'd like to discuss.
Jessica: Thank you for having me. This is an opportunity I've been looking forward to for quite some time.
I'm a GW graduate and alumni where I received my bachelor's in finance and innovation entrepreneurship. That education paved the way for me to work with startups through these pitch competitions. I'm currently pursuing my master's degree there as well, focusing on business strategic management and business analytics.
I co-founded KBF Marketing in 2020 with my business partner, Stefan Pedigree. We had previously worked together in a corporate environment, where we noticed and addressed DEI-related issues. We decided to take our entrepreneurial leap together and re-strategized the firm towards helping businesses stay accountable for their DEI goals, rather than just ticking a box.
The pitch competitions have been a perfect complement to this work because every company I've worked with is interested in representing their community and diversifying themselves. I'm excited to meet the teams and see how I can help them move forward.
Amu: I see a common thread around learning, entrepreneurship, and social impact, specifically DEI. Let's dive right in. How can we market ourselves as a profitable, strong business while also maintaining a strong focus on mission and impact?
Jessica: I'd recommend communicating effectively with your target market. Most businesses I interact with try to engage a broad audience, which is where they lose their focus. When I advise my clients, I suggest they start with one target market. Understand your audience well and know what they want from you. This will enable you to speak to them more effectively and present yourself as a high-value expert in that field.
Amu: That's a great point. Market yourself to who you're trying to serve, not everyone at once.
Jessica: Absolutely. And when it comes to social impact, remember that your audience might not be as knowledgeable about the topic as you are. So, explain your business venture in a way that's easy for them to understand.
Amu: That's very important – simplifying your message for your audience. Now, startups are often resource-strapped, be it time, skill, or cash. What is one crucial thing that startups should focus on in the earliest stages when it comes to marketing?
Jessica: I'd say the most important, but often overlooked aspect is customer discovery. Rather than just sending out forms, actually go out into the field and interact with potential customers. Understand their needs and pain points. My other piece of advice would be to focus on your online presence. Establish a good website or landing page, produce good content, and provide value to your audience.
Amu: Thank you for those insights. Have a strong online presence and actively engage with your market. Thank you for your time, Jessica. We look forward to working with you more in the program.
Jessica: Likewise. I'm super excited. I believe every opportunity is a learning experience, so I appreciate this.