The daily for
New Zealand’s Startups

Marketing stories from the trenches

Six presenters revealed lessons from their best marketing moments at Movac’s Disruptive Marketing Jam in Auckland.


Fiona Rotherham

Movac's Disruptive Marketing jam drew in tech marketers.

Movac’s Disruptive Marketing Jam in Auckland this week turned out to be the largest gathering ever of tech marketers – with just under 200 people hearing stories from their peers about their time in the trenches.

The six presenters were Jo Blundell, CEO of CarbonCrop; Jesse Logan, director of marketing at Tradify; Goodnature CEO Dave Shoemack; Georgina Bondfield, head of marketing at Re-Leased; Auror head of marketing Marcus Hoefliger; and Tracksuit head of marketing Mikayla Hopkins.

Movac operating partner Serge van Dam, who was handing out pots of jam to those asking questions, says the event aimed to elevate ambition and audacity in growth and marketing leaders. It demonstrated that small companies can do “incredible, game-changing things” even under adverse circumstances such as Covid lockdowns.  

Here are stories from three of the presenters, who talked about campaigns that shifted the dial on business revenue.

CarbonCrop CEO Jo Blundell

The Timely brand change

Jo Blundell is CEO at CarbonCrop, the AI startup that is working to make carbon credits available to landholders. Her talk, though, focused on her years as head of product and marketing at Timely before it was sold in early 2022, and how it managed to gain a competitive advantage and become a category leader in a crowded market.

Blundell left after the sale, when the company had 50,000 customers across 90 countries. She said being out of the trenches has given her time to reflect on what made it successful.

The company provides business management software to the beauty and wellness industry although it started out supplying the appointment software to everyone – from tradies to driving schools. But by 2017 it faced around 150 competitors globally in the same space, some of which were much better funded, Blundell said

It wasn’t enough to compete just on having a good product, she said, so the company decided to focus the brand on a particular market segment – beauty and wellness – and go deep to create a competitive advantage. It was the market segment where it had less churn and was fastest growing.

The second step was to work out what customers in that segment cared about and it wasn’t software. Timely had to differentiate itself from everyone else that looked and sounded the same in the market, she said.

“We decided to become a beauty company instead of a software company,” she said. “If your customers see you as a peer, as someone they can trust and look to, they are more likely to think about your product and recommend your product. That was one of the keys for us, we needed to look and sound like a beauty company and put that at the heart of everything we did.”

A visual makeover of the brand was straightforward but the bigger challenge was instilling the new brand into the company’s DNA because brand doesn’t live in marketing, she said.

There were three stakeholder groups that were really important to get across the new brand: the board and CEO, the team, and the customers and community it wanted to capture.

It was the third aspect – convincing the sceptical beauty industry to believe in its positioning and trusting Timely – that was the hardest marketing challenge. “There was a whole bunch of stuff we did but it definitely was not an overnight success; it probably took around 18 months,” she says.

A key element was having Tabatha Coffey – a renowned hair stylist, TV personality, author and business expert – join the board in 2018, bringing instant credibility with customers but also important insights that helped shape authentic sector engagement.

When the company went into the Australian market, the message from customers in 2018 was ‘what is Timely?’ and by 2019 that had changed to ‘we love Timely’. “We knew that what we were doing worked; it just took a lot of money, people power and we made a lot of mistakes.” 

Too much was spent on digital ads that didn’t have the cut through with their customers and the cost of acquisition spiked to an unsustainable level. Trying to move upmarket from solo operators to salons also proved hard due to churn following product issues.

“All we could do was persevere. We were winning in terms of mindshare, brand awareness was exceptional and lead generation but we needed to do some fundamentals to bring our product up to speed.”

In 2020 Covid hit and when Timely’s competitors went mainly into hibernation, it doubled down on its community – doing things like building a place for them to share messages, and distilling complex government policy around how beauty businesses had to operate during the health crisis. 

It turned out to be the company’s biggest growth year with customer numbers doubling. 

Blundell said the company knew it had been successful with its brand change when one of its customers said unprompted in a public forum that Timely was not just a software company, it was a community.

“When your customers, unprompted, play back your brand position to you, you know that you are winning that market.”

Tradify markeing director Jesse Logan

The value of influencer marketing

When most people think about influencer marketing they think of businesses trying to sell to retail customers though using celebrities, social media, or people famous for being famous.

But Tradify, a Kiwi company going global selling job management software for tradies, has used influencer marketing to expand its B2B business, utilising influencers among those it is seeking to sell to.

These influencers, who prefer to call themselves content creators, are tradies who have embraced social media and got into it by sharing what they do online. They’re passionate about their craft and like to share the work they do and some of the challenges they face.

“They’re tradies, business owners, they’re real people, they’re funny and friendly; they’re the sort of people when you watch their content you could easily imagine having a beer with them in the pub,” said Tradify ‘s marketing director Jesse Logan.

The company researched who those key influencers were in the markets it had targeted and reached out to see if they would promote Tradify.

It supplies the tradie with training, free product and a promo code to provide to their audience with a special Tradity sign-up offer.

Logan said it works with the influencer on product promotion ideas if they want, but the company mostly just “lets them do their thing”.

“The content they create needs to fit in with the content that is on their platform and that’s where the gold comes from. We let them naturally, genuinely talk about the value they get from using the product. They talk about their favourite functionality and stories about how it has impacted their business.”

The influencers provide the content in different ways. Some have grown their audience to such a size that they do high-quality videos. “But it doesn’t need to be high quality and polished for it to work really well,” he said.

The influencer market is bigger in some parts of the world than others. The UK is now Tradify’s fastest-growing market, and the depth of its influencer market, where it uses around 20 tradie influencers, is the main reason, he said. “We’ve had over 600 percent year-on-year growth from influencer sales coming through.”

As the audience for each tradie influencer grows, so too does the Tradify’s sales performance, rather than having to increase the number of influencers it has signed up.

Each one is signed up for a three-month trial and there’s a mutual parting of the ways if sales don’t pan out. 

The company has also found it can double dip with the content; the digital ads it runs using influencer-created content outperform any of the content it creates on its own.

“As you can imagine, it is just so powerful having other people talk about how amazing and how much Tradify has transformed their business [rather] than us trying to tell that to people,” said Logan.

It’s also a very efficient sales channel: “Without being too specific, it is the most effective paid channel that we have,” he said.

The company has different arrangements with various influencers; some are paid per piece of content while some better-known influencers are paid a fixed monthly fee to deliver a certain number of content pieces. While the majority of the influencers are tradies, a few are industry experts who talk about the product rather than their experience using it, and are paid a fee for every promo code that is activated by their posts.

Tracksuit head of marketing Mikayla Hopkins

How a Barbie campaign can build future demand

Tracksuit head of marketing Mikayla Hopkins says before she joined the brand health tracking software startup in November 2022, she had “zero desire” in joining a B2B SaaS company. 

“Typically in my head – and I don’t want to offend – B2B SaaS was dry, not sexy – the vibe was a little bit boring.”

What changed her mind was meeting the founders and backers of the company. Tracksuit was founded in 2021 by co-CEOs Matt Herbert and Connor Archbold in partnership with TRA Labs and venture studio Previously Unavailable (also a backer of Caffeine). 

Hopkins was won over by the fact that the dashboard Tracksuit created allowed the marketing community, to which she belonged, to prove that “what we do actually works, does have impact and does drive the bottom line”. 

“I’ve had marketers crying on my lap because it is so damn hard to prove what we do works.”

She joined Tracksuit as employee number three and since then the company claims to be New Zealand’s fastest-growing, early-stage tech startup, scaling globally.

It bootstrapped its way to around $3.4 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) before taking on $7.5 million in a seed round in February this year led by Blackbird, and including Icehouse Ventures, Ascential, Shasta Ventures, and marketing legend Mark Ritson.  

Since then it has nearly tripled ARR and is “genuinely changing” the world of brand marketers, she said

The way Hopkins orientates Tracksuit’s marketing and the philosophy of many of its customers is via the concept of future demand, she said. To be truly effective, marketers have to convert the existing customers in the market but at the same time build future demand for their products, she said.

“That defines our entire marketing strategy at Tracksuit,” she said. “Building brand is about building familiarity and emotional positivity so when they do enter the market they gravitate towards you and spend more with you.”

“What we have built has been built by marketers for marketers and I genuinely feel like it is making a difference to the community, which is why it has scaled so rapidly in the last couple of years.”

Hopkins said in order for Tracksuit to have cut through in the marketing community it has to become synonymous with the word ‘brand’, rather than ‘brand tracking’ or ‘market research’.

That was the thinking behind a recent campaign – her favourite to date – based around the release of the film Barbie. 

In the film’s build-up, Barbie’s pink branding was seen globally across billboards, social media channels and in collaborations with more than 100 brands, appearing on everything from Xbox consoles to roller skates.

Tracksuit’s campaign led to a 50 percent increase in pipeline generated – its biggest-revenue month – and exclusives in many media marketing channels.

It was a cross-functional team effort, rather than one just driven by the marketing team, to start a conversation around the Barbie movie.

It did brand tracking surveys in all its primary markets to get a read on Barbie and whether there had been a change in consumer sentiment to the brand. 

The week before the movie’s premiere, Tracksuit got exclusive interviews with a number of media marketing channels and media on what the data showed. The feedback included that while Barbie had gaps in terms of relatability and lovability with some consumers due to previously showing a limited construct of what a woman can aspire to be, that was being reshaped by making the brand more relevant to a much wider audience.

A hero piece of content from the survey findings that Tracksuit created went viral; Hopkins alone got more than one million impressions and 40,000 reshares on social media when she posted it.

“It was using our product to tell the story,” she said.

The product team baked into the dashboard a way for its customers to track Barbie-related marketing efforts and invited core customers to a private screening of Barbie as a way to mark the event.

The biggest win for Hopkins was having a Tracksuit engineer come up to her afterwards and say “I finally get it – the impact of brand”.


Fiona Rotherham

Fiona Rotherham has worked at numerous business publications as editor, co-editor and senior journalist. Her passion for startups was sparked while working at former entrepreneur magazine Unlimited of which she was also editor.

6 hours ago

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
6 hours ago

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.