Keeping It Local With Mariya Palanjian


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Increasing Productivity With A Holistic Approach

Keeping marketing efforts focused on a local level can have a great impact on the growth of a brand. Focusing on the needs of a community and partnering with its influential people can be a gamechanger.

Recently, our CEO, Stacy Jones sat down with an expert in creating local market-driven city takeovers. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares why keeping marketing local can be an incredible driver to your sales and marketing plan from the expertise of Mariya Palanjian, the CEO and founder of Globafly.


A Little More About Mariya Palanjian

Mariya is the founder and CEO of Globafly, a marketing agency, which specializes in targeted city takeovers while incorporating key regional and national influencers. Globafly has expanded its portfolio, grown 300% year over year by being globally minded and locally connected. Mariya is also currently at the helm of Roma Leaf, a health and wellness CBD company, which has been featured in publications like GQ, Vogue, and Vanity Fair for their focus on bringing relief to people's routines.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: I'd love to start off by having our listeners learn a little bit more about how you got where you are here today. You are not only the CEO of an influencer agency, but also a CBD brand. And you had other brands in your past history as well. What was your journey like to get here?

Answer: Wow, I think that's one of the best questions to ask for any entrepreneur, but I would say my journey has constantly been solving my own problems. Every company that I've started has always been due to a problem. Even my marketing agency at the time... I was working for HelloSociety, which was an agency owned by New York Times. When we were executing a campaign for one of the clients, I asked how they could track their influencer marketing campaign, and the city takeover idea came to mind. I was like, "Wait, if we can't track a campaign on a national level, maybe we can do it at a local level and be able to look at the baseline lift of that campaign and be able to give some data to the client." The idea really came out of a problem that a client had and approached us.

When I resigned from New York Times, I told them I was going to open up my own agency and do city takeover marketing. They became my first client and I became a vendor for them, which was the best transition. I would say mostly starting that journey of solving problems constantly. Then with Roma Leaf, it was a problem that I had to solve of my own. I wanted to use CBD for my migraines and did not want THC in my product. To ensure that, I went out and started researching, founf the best of everything, and put it all together. That's how the journey of the last two companies evolved.

Question: I know our listeners just heard you say a city takeover and they heard me say that, what does that mean, what does a city take over influencer marketing mean?

Answer: It's very community driven. The concept is that when you are preparing a marketing campaign, you want to understand that city. You want to understand what the community is like and what they are interested in. You use the influencers in that city to communicate the message, your brand messaging to their community. I've worked with, and I still do work with, Fortune 500 companies where they have their marketing campaigns and they assume that the messaging could work in every city and in every community, but it doesn't work like that. People are tired of advertisements. They're just exhausted of being bombarded with everything. Now with blockers and everything, they're not reacting to it. The only way you can do that is by working with influential people, whether they're online or offline, you partner with the influential people. You let them try the product. If they like it, you sponsor them and have them talk about your product and shine a light on your brand.

We like doing it one city at a time because we feel like when you're focusing on a specific city and you're able to use influencers on multiple channels, like radio, podcast, YouTube, Instagram, whatever it is, you have them create the content and then you amplify it through paid media. For example, if we partner Mercedes with ESPN and George Sodano, who's a radio host, to do a live endorsement about Mercedes, we'll take that live recording and run it as a radio ad. We don't believe in prerecorded canned ads, but we love influential people to talk about the product. We'll take that audio spot or the video or static image, and amplify and promote it, so more people in that community are being reached.

That's the concept. The other reason we do it one city at a time is to test the model and see which platforms work for the product or the brand. Then scale that to other cities and go beyond, instead of going national and wasting so much money and not knowing what worked and what didn't.


Question: When most people hear influencer marketing, I think their instant thoughts are "Okay, she's talking about Instagram, Facebook, nowadays, TikTok, but you're not. You're actually talking about utilizing influential individuals in local communities who have a big voice, even though the community might be a smaller microcosm overall, where they are talking about the brand, partnering with the brand, showing up at events for the brand, talking to the radio about the brand. You are literally creating them as a spokesperson and then repurposing their content in other ways.

Answer: Correct. A great example that I can give comfortably is Roma Leaf, my other brand. We opened our first flagship store in Studio City, and we wanted to do a Studio City takeover. My team's initial ideas were "Let's do influencers, let's do billboards, let's do radio. Let's do all these fun things that we usually do for our clients." I said, "Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, we need to go into the community and understand what the people in that community need and then go from there." I honestly personally spent about two weeks on and off going into our retail store and talking to our clients and customers to understand what their pain points were. Almost 90% of them said anxiety. So we created this series of wellness workshops that we're going to be running every first Thursday of the month.

We looked around and said, "All right, so who are the experts in anxiety, doctors, physicians, whoever within that area that community that we can bring on board and have them talk about anxiety, tell us why are we so anxious? Obviously COVID caused it, but why, and how can we deal with it?" We put this event together, that is actually happening this coming Thursday. The point is that instead of spending our dollars and investing in billboards and other things, we decided to give back to the community by helping them and first of all, letting them know they're not alone going through this. Second of all, we invested money in many CBD products that we're going to be giving away as gifts. That's the approach we decided to take with our brands.

It's important to understand the community and their needs, and create your campaign around it. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on Google Ads, we decided to spend those thousands on creating products and giving them away to hopefully help people with anxiety. That's just one example.

Question: For your brand, Roma Leaf, you decided to do your partnership in Los Angeles because you live in Los Angeles, which makes sense. For all brands who are out there, how do you choose which city you should actually be focusing a campaign on to start this out and to test because LA for example, is a really big market, and there's New York. I'm assuming that's not always the best go-to in every case.

Answer: Yes, that is correct. That's such a good question. I love it, Stacy. There's a lot of research that goes behind the cities that we select. Generally, our clients will come with the list of the cities. We'll ask them to provide the list of the cities that they're doing really well in. We try to find similar cities that have the similar demographics, psychographics, and so on. A lot of times we find with companies that are headquartered in a specific city, starting out with their home city is the best way a lot of times, because they're giving back to the communities. A lot of companies and a lot of brands might donate to the schools and churches and so on. They already have a presence there. To start out a model, and test out a different a model. Once it works and you optimize it, you scale it into other cities. Definitely a very thorough research analysis goes behind selecting the cities for us.


Question: Also I'm sure listeners are wondering about budgets, right? You can do a marketing campaign at any size, large scale, small sale. Is there a certain level that's just too small for a brand even consider, or are there options for really everyone?

Answer: You have the best questions! Before COVID, my answer would have been, you need to have at least $15,000 or more to do a proper city takeover, but after COVID, and having Roma Leaf and having to bootstrap our marketing, I came up with ways to do it on a very small budget. I'm going to say, honestly, if you really want to do this, you can start really, really small, really small. I would say anywhere from a couple thousand to starting with just doing it on a smaller scale, and scaling it up as you go. But prior to COVID, I would say $15,000 minimum. If you want to do local radio and podcasts and billboards and all of that, it can be in the thousands.

Check Out The Podcast!

Mariya has SO MUCH great information from her experience with city takeovers, check out the podcast below to learn more about how to drive your business from her advice and expertise!

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