Interview with Melissa Colleary, CMO at Baseball Lifestyle 101 & owner of mCo Media Inc.
Melissa Colleary is the owner of mCo Media Inc., a full-service marketing agency based out of Long Island, New York. She also is the Chief Marketing Officer of Baseball Lifestyle 101, which is the fastest growing apparel company in baseball, and the owner of Softball Lifestyle 101, the largest online community for softball players.
Your Journey as a marketing professional
I started with an undergraduate English BA. While in college, I got involved in several on-campus organizations that I felt were important to the university, but needed to get the attention of the students. As with any organization that relies on volunteers, most of them took any help they could get. I started utilizing marketing skills during the time that I worked with my university’s Sustainability Committee. In order to secure more grants, there needed to be more campus involvement, so I offered to take over the Committee’s social media channels, later entering us into a nationwide social media competition between universities in the United States surrounding recycling and other sustainability initiatives on college campuses. Despite being a small school and never really having been a marketer before, my university came in third place nationwide.
While I continued my English degree, I realized how much I really loved connecting people with each other who shared a mutual purpose, or telling people about the things I loved that I thought they would too. I still use this to this day to bring people to the people and things they need the most, just now it’s on a more macro level.
The final step towards becoming a marketer was when I was in graduate school pursuing an English MA. Every day on the drive to class I would dread going and was no longer able to imagine myself as an English professor. At the end of my first semester, I dropped out of graduate school and got a full-time job as the Social Media Director at a local non-for-profit that provided free HIV and STD testing to people in need. Despite the title of “social media director”, that non-profit was my first foray into grassroots marketing through events and activities, the most successful of which being a town hall meeting discussing how to help at-risk youth with local officials, and a World AIDS Day event which broke the records of most condoms handed out in a single day with a total of 50,000.
After a little over a year at the non-profit, I began taking on side projects and working on client projects in my free time. When I was spending more and more of my actual work day on outside work, I realized that it was time to move on and start my own company.
mCo Media was started about three years ago, and since then has worked with over 30 companies nationwide. Although mCo does take up a significant amount of my time, I also gained a larger role in two of the first clients I ever took on: Baseball Lifestyle 101 and Softball Lifestyle 101, where I am the Chief Marketing Officer and Part-Owner, respectively.
What are the primary marketing channels you have worked on? What will be your advice to young marketers on some of these channels?
The primary channels that I’ve worked on have been Instagram, Facebook, and email. Instagram holds a special place in my heart in that it was the first channel that I ever found rapid growth and success. One of my companies, Softball Lifestyle 101, started out with 1,300 followers when I took over its management and has since grown to over 150,000 in a little less than two years. Instagram, for me at least, has always been a platform of providing value. If you aren’t giving things away to your Instagram followers, whether that’s material objects or exclusive content that matters to them, you’re going to lose in the long run.
Facebook has always been such a useful tool for any marketer looking to get the word out about their company for as quickly and cheaply as possible. Facebook ads, if targeted appropriately, can be a huge asset to your brand, whether you’re looking for in-person traffic or online sales. I’ve also found it really valuable as a customer service tool to make sure that you stay connected with your customers. Tools like Octane AI really take Facebook to the next level by letting you talk directly with your customers through Facebook Messenger after they’ve opted in.
Email marketing has become one of the biggest drivers of revenue for most of the companies I work with. With a combination of automated emails and campaigns, customers are receiving messages that have been targeted directly to them for the kinds of content they like to consume. I personally think the number one mistake that a business could make is not having a newsletter that has automated welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, and customer thank you notes. If you don’t have those, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars every month/year.
The number one piece of advice that I would have for young marketers on these channels is to know your audience and meet them where they are. If your ideal customer is a college student, Instagram or Youtube might be more effective than Facebook or email marketing. If you’re targeting parents of young children, Facebook and email might be exactly what you need. I would also say that just because the people you want to be using the product are on a certain platform, does not mean that your customer is using it. For example, if you want a 12-year-old to use your new videogame, it might be tempting to exclusively run pre-roll ads on YouTube before videos of game tutorials, neglecting the Facebook market. However, your customer is not 12 years old. Your customer is the 40-year-old parent who is buying the video game for their 12-year-old. By running ads on both channels, you can reach the kid who will ask his parents for the game, and create brand recognition for the parents when the time comes that their child asks for it.
What are some of the important marketing software that you have used and found to be really useful for your company?
Klaviyo is quite possibly the best marketing software that I’ve used in the last few years. About six months ago, I switched from exclusively using MailChimp for email software and moved to Klaviyo. The switch has accounted for most of my clients doubling and tripling their email generated revenue in just one month.
HootSuite has been so helpful in trying to manage several brands’ social media accounts consistently and effectively. I also love that you can view all of your account’s mentions in one place.
Would you like to share a few words about any marketing software that you love?
I really can’t say enough about how much I love Klaviyo as a marketing tool.
Klaviyo has the most in-depth segmenting abilities of any email software I’ve ever used, and I’ve used quite a few. This has allowed us to break down all of our lists as specifically as possible to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. The design capabilities and templates are so user-friendly and allow anyone to create beautiful emails without having to code them specifically. I had actually used MailChimp for several years before switching to Klaviyo. This was before the MailChimp/Shopify fallout a few months ago. I had downloaded MailChimp Pro and found that the service was often interrupted and that emails were not sent as they should. I found Klaviyo on the recommendation of another marketer and made the switch almost immediately. It’s been the best decision I’ve made this year. I’d genuinely recommend it to anyone who was willing to listen.
Your 2 line advice to people entering in the marketing domain.
At some point, work in a field that’s difficult or uncomfortable to talk about. One of the most valuable experiences of my career was working for an agency that focused on HIV prevention – if you can get people talking about something they wouldn’t usually talk about, you can get anyone to talk about anything. Working in a field that you’re excited about is always great, but if you’re looking to run an agency, you’re going to have to work with a wide range of companies that may not all match up with your interests. To maximize your success, working in fields you’re unfamiliar with early on will help your ability to adapt to new companies at a much faster rate.