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posted by Ryon Edwards Jan 31,2014 @ 03:01PM

Warby Parker: finding a niche and making it happen

A few days ago, I happened to be scanning channels in the car and came across an interview with Jeffrey Raider, founder of Warby Parker on Business Radio powered by The Wharton School. This interview really got me thinking about the importance of identifying an unmet need in the marketplace and really focusing on that niche market. Raider and his business partners have done just that with their business Warby Parker, the wildly successful online prescription eyeglass company that's changing the way people buy and shop for prescription eyewear.

The idea for the business was born in 2010, while Raider was studying at The Wharton School. During the interview, he recalled his experience of not being able to find any glasses that fit his personal style or his budget. That frustration led to an idea that led to the formation of the company (along with three other classmates) that would provide quality, stylish eyeglasses at a fraction of the price of designer prescription glasses. They figured out a way to keep prices low by designing their own frames and selling online, cutting out the middle man altogether and refused to charge outrageous prices. This link explains exactly how they do it: They identified the unmet need in the marketplace and delivered in a big way. They've carved out that niche — and the target audience is quite specific: men and women ages 18 to 34 who like to buy designer eyewear, but not willing (or able) to shell out $500 for a pair. Warby Parker designer glasses typically cost about $100/pair, including the prescription lenses.

They win over customers by making the online ordering process simple and easy — with a focus on the customer and making sure the brand experience is all positive. For example, they’ll send five pair of glasses for you to try for five days, offer free return shipping on the ones you don’t want. On the website, you can try glasses on virtually to see what they look like on you. Oh yeah, and if that’s not enough, there’s a Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program. Warby Parker funds the production of a pair of eyeglasses to give away each time a pair is sold. To date, they’ve provided 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in need in developing countries. Certainly, a powerful social mission and a great way to make a difference.

The founders’ affinity for simple design as well as an appreciation of well-made objects is evident. Spend some time on the site, and you definitely get the sense that they are passionate about the products they create and truly care about making the world a better place. They've found their niche and have filled the need, and with the added component of social good — that's what I call a relevant and purposeful brand.


_ _ _

Note: Raider and another partner from Warby Parker started another company in 2013 called Harry’s— "Great Shave. Fair Price”. This time the products are shaving razors and blades. You guessed it — design conscious, quality, german-engineered blades and stylish razors at a very reasonable price. Check them out at

posted by Michael Powelson Jan 30,2014 @ 06:41AM

The Gospel According To Luke

Smart people say modern advertising is about sustaining a dialogue with the consumer. Fair enough. So, over the airwaves and through the pages, to a data-driven, inbound Utopia we go?

I'm not so sure.

I’ll happily grant that it would be foolish to assume your brand's voice is inherently the MOST interesting in this new, multi-tracked conversation. But isn’t it downright lazy to think you can get away with being the LEAST? An audience is still fundamentally that: human beings to be charmed, entertained, provoked, flirted with, and yes—absolutely—listened to. But before all that "connecting," don't you still have to give them something to talk about?

Obviously, I have some opinions on the matter. And when I saw my name on today’s square of the blog calendar, I decided to use it to comprehensively unburden myself at your expense. Lucky for both of us, someone older and much wiser beat me to it[1]. Though it was re-tweeted on our feed last week, there’s a post by business hall-of-famer Luke Sullivan that deserves an encore spotlight.

So let’s make a deal. I spare you umpteen more self-preserving paragraphs on the subject, and, in return, you click on this drum-tight, insight-laden, pretense-free summation of all that's true in modern marketing. Trust me, no one will ever argue that you didn't get the better end of the arrangement.

Besides, all I can offer in response to Sullivan’s homily is an "Amen" and personal benediction. Namely, that during my own twelve years in this industry, everything and nothing has changed. That story matters more than ever. And that telling a good one is all I've ever wanted to do.


[1] Yes, I could have scrambled to write on a different topic when I found this ground had already been tilled. But yesterday there was snow, and a fire, and Wendell Berry to be in awe of. I was, as Sullivan says, Being a vegetable, not Selling them.

posted by Apprentices Jan 28,2014 @ 04:30AM

Learning From Experience

For many students, an internship is the goal. You can't get a job without experience. You pray that someone will find your qualifications appealing and hire you. For me, I got an internship and so much more. I have worked under Keely (and now Riggs) for about a year and a half now, and I am still thankful every day for this opportunity. This internship has evolved into much more. Most millennials would call it my first "big girl job." This being my first real and lasting experience in the real world, I have learned so many things. I thought for my first blog post for Riggs, I would share those things to everyone out there. Hopefully someone will find these helpful, or maybe even relatable.

  1. Click on a link before retweeting it to your audience.
  2. You will mess up. It's okay, just learn from it.
  3. You will learn more in one week in an office than you will in an entire semester of Marketing 350.
  4. Puppies make everything better.
  5. You will stop considering your co-workers as terrifying, and start considering them as practically family.
  6. Office celebrations are the best.
  7. CreateAthon will be the most exhausting yet rewarding moment of your 20 short years.
  8. Some people won't take you seriously. Prove them wrong.
  9. Not everyone knows what twitter is.
  10. Facebook will outlive all of us.
  11. Do what the client wants you to do, even if you don't agree.
  12. You will probably cry when your first friend at work leaves for another job. Try to be happy for them.
  14. Some of the funniest things ever heard will come from The WECO.
  15. Coffee fixes everything.
  16. If someone knows your name, it IS a big deal. Be happy.
  17. You won't get anywhere without hard work.
  18. Respect is earned.
  19. You will rather go to work than class.
  20. You don't know everything, and you won't.
  21. Directory Listings are evil. They are an obstacle you must take head on.
  22. The things that are the hardest and take the most time, are the most satisfying things to finish.
  23. Be positive. Complaining won't change anything.
  24. You will dread summer and winter break. You have to leave your family and you will feel out of the loop.
  25. Be thankful. Not everyone has this opportunity.

These are only a few of the thousands of things I have learned from working here. It is kind of one of the best places ever.


Mary Cate

posted by Keely Saye Jan 27,2014 @ 05:39PM

A Social Media Marketing Case Study


In 2013, South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance faced the daunting challenge of establishing a social media presence online. The program needed to increase social media reach, be sustainable and manageable by internal staff, and build engagement over time. Results had to be measurable, so metrics needed to be tracked and processed regularly for executive review. Ultimately, a positive return on investment (ROI) needed to be demonstrated for the program to continue.


Buyer Personas

Before any execution of work could begin, a discovery session was scheduled to take a deep dive into the psychographic profiles and consumer behaviors of the target audience. It is during this process that audience segmentation begins to uncover pain points in relation to how the product or service can solve them, and areas of interest that intersect with those pains and potential solutions.

Content Categories

The results of buyer persona research provided insights into the top four main categories of content in which the social media content strategy would focus.

  • Safe driving
  • Home improvement
  • Agriculture education
  • College sports

Keyword Research

To confirm our assumptions on the content strategy, basic keyword research was performed to identify specific topic areas around the content categories and monthly Google search volume associated with them.


Channel Development

The top six social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Youtube and Google+ were opened and optimized with custom branded graphics and keyword rich descriptions.

Content Resource Development

Trusted content resources and online influencers associated with the four content categories were followed in every network. Here at Riggs, we call this “getting down with OPC” or other people’s content.

Microblog Scheduling

Once the foundation of the content strategy was in place, the news feeds were full of interesting and relevant content as it related to safe driving, home improvement, agriculture education and college sports. Facebook posts, tweets, Linkedin messages and Google+ posts were then scheduled days in advance and dripped into the news feeds through the social media management system, Hootsuite. Pinterest and Youtube were used primarily to find multi-media content to share in the other networks.

Live Engagement

It is important that news feeds not become over-automated with scheduled posts. Therefore, live engagement practices were adopted daily. The social media team used Facebook as a page to like, comment and share content from other content resources and online influencers. In Twitter, tweets were retweeted and favorited regularly.


All case study results were recorded from July through October 2013.


  • While starting at 0, the Facebook page converted 1,520 new followers.
  • 2,200 Facebook users liked, commented or shared content on the client’s page.
  • 216,000 Facebook accounts were reached.
  • 430,000 impressions were earned.
  • 6,800 clicks were recorded.


  • 170 new Twitter followers were converted.
  • Up to 35,000 impressions were earned in one month at the peak of the campaign.
  • Limited social media metrics are available for ongoing measurement in Twitter.


  • 316 new company page followers were converted.
  • 15,000 impressions were earned.

posted by Kevin Smith Jan 27,2014 @ 09:56AM

The Fast Route to Instant Recognition

What if you could instantly tell if a business is enlightened?

Organizations that recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility are part of what I’m now calling the Enlightened Economy. These companies have emerged from the Great Recession with a more considered perspective on how their business impacts the world.

We all know national brands who make social responsibility central to their messaging; among them Subaru, Newman’s Own and Kashi. Yet many local businesses and national corporations’ efforts are invisible. What lost opportunity.

The National Recovery Administration, fighting unemployment and deflation during the Great Depression, asked employers to shorten hours and raise wages. Participating businesses, from JC Penny to Gillette to the local hardware store, put the blue eagle in shop windows and on factory doors. Americans were asked to boycott businesses that did not participate.

While the blue eagle only lasted a few years, what a powerful example it sets. What if we could tell who was doing their part, who had grown wiser from the days of corporate avarice? The right logo could make it happen.

For more detail about the NRA, listen to NPR's "Planet Money."

posted by Courtney Melendez Jan 23,2014 @ 09:01AM

New Beginnings

Here’s where it all started.

It was day three of our four day vacation, celebrating one year of marriage.

Blissful right? It was. Except for the fact that our vacation was almost over, and I had yet to relax. Seriously. My mind was swirling with work stress—my venture into the nonprofit world a few years ago just wasn’t turning out the way I had expected it to. A successful career in sales had led me to the non-profit fundraising world where I sought deeper meaning beyond what the corporate world could offer. I wanted my work to really help people, and not just meet financial goals and hit sales targets. I’ll use my skill set to give back, I thought. Sales and fundraising compliment each other, right? While true, I found myself lacking the fulfillment I had initially sought.

Somewhere in the space between my sandy toes and the grass thatch roof that shaded me, a crossroads appeared. In that moment, I admitted to myself I that I needed a change. Weight lifted. Clouds parted. I relaxed.

By the time our plane touched down back in SC, I knew what I was going to do. The next step roared into my consciousness the moment I made space for it. Enter Riggs Partners.

I’d had the pleasure of working with the talented folks at Riggs during my nonprofit tenure, and two of my friends—Kelly Davis and Keely Saye—had already joined their dream team. So, when I heard they were looking for an Account Manager, I jumped at the chance to investigate. On May 9th, 2013, not completely understanding exactly what the opportunity entailed, I emailed two of the partners I knew: Teresa Coles and Cathy Monetti.

My email subject line was something along the lines of “I just can’t help myself…” and I proceeded to request more details, and an opportunity to explore whether or not I might be a fit. Clicking "send" was one of those pivotal life moments.

And then there was this. Cathy was the first to respond to my email, and I instantly knew I was on the right track.

Smiley face indeed my friend.

One conversation with the ever-inspiring Teresa Coles over duck fat fries (If you haven’t tried them, get thee to Café Strudel immediately) confirmed what I already knew in my heart. This was my place.

I’m now about four months into my role as an Account Manager at Riggs. I’m learning more every day (heck, every minute) about our industry and how to best support our team here, and I'm working as hard as I can to help our clients meet their goals. Added bonus? I will still get my nonprofit fix through the magic of CreateAthon every year.

Moral of the story: Beautiful things happen when you follow your heart. Pulling into the WECO every morning feels like a hug. Like coming home. So glad to be here, and I’m buckled in for the ride.

posted by Julie Turner Jan 22,2014 @ 12:21PM

Chronicle of Philanthropy Profiles CreateAthon

In the midst of the hustle-bustle that was last week, there was a blissful shining nugget that almost slipped by me. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the premier news resource of nonprofit enterprises, cast its mega-watt spotlight on CreateAthon. If you’re a Chronicle of Philanthropy subscriber, you can read it here. If you’re not a subscriber, here’s the goodness you missed.

The story shared the years-long effort of Riggs Partners in establishing the effort in 1997 and growing the one-night marketing blitz into a year-round, nationwide nonprofit entity. CreateAthon Executive Director Peyton Rowe also shared that the group is very busy during the “off season” forming a national board and finalizing strategic and financial planning.

We were equally thrilled the story included partner agencies ECG Group, verynice and Think Tank PR and Marketing. The piece featured projects from the 2013 CreateAthon including those for Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia, SC; The National Museum of Animals and Society in Hollywood, Ca.; The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County in Commack, NY; and Madison County Historical Society in Edwardsville, IL.

We’re always grateful for the never-ending flow of ideas and information that stem from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That they would give CreateAthon a big ol’ fist-bump is nothing short of a dream come true.

posted by Alexandra Frazier Jan 20,2014 @ 06:15AM

Guiding Light

I became a morning person in Ireland. Two years ago, I spent an all too brief semester in West Kerry studying the poetry and plays of the Irish greats, an experience which, at least for a while, forced me to reconstitute my notion of good weather. Although I sometimes yearned for the Carolina sunshine of home, I came to appreciate the rainy, gray gleam of a perfect Irish day. I always looked forward to our early morning bus rides to various historic and literary landmarks; as my seatmate slept, I would press my forehead to the cool glass windowpane, watch the green hills roll past, and daydream about the ethereal, earthen stillness of the countryside.

John Millington Synge describes the beauty of this muted albeit magic dimness as “the wonderfully searching and tender light that is seen only in Kerry.” And yet, I was reminded of this same light in West Columbia last Tuesday, when the power went out at Riggs Partners. I had just settled into my desk when the overhead lights died with a sad, spurting noise. Sunshine diffused through the sheer window blinds, creating in the office in the same sort of overcast shimmer with which I was familiar. Instead of blurred landscapes, however, I observed the faces of my coworkers as they wandered into an office without electricity. Not one person seemed phased by the lack of light or wifi connectivity. In fact, I think the only real, vocalized concern was that we would be unable to brew a fresh pot of coffee. And so, I learned my first lesson as a newly minted Riggs apprentice: creativity isn't dependent on a laptop. Caffeine, maybe, but not technology. After a quick defection of the twenty-somethings (present party included) to Starbucks for a large carrier of coffee, everyone more or less went about their business until the power returned.

We talk a lot about the execution of inbound marketing tactics, the ubiquity of technology, and the overload of information in consumers' lives. But, at the risk of sounding sentimental, those things are secondary to the content—the thoughts and ideas and scribbles and strategies—generated by our creative, caffeine-addicted office staff. I'm looking forward to getting to know them, putting pen to paper, and, hopefully, creating powerful content. Let's spark our own electricity.





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