I recently had a chat with Eva, founder of Maude a sexual wellness company. We talked about the strategies she had in place to build a meaningful brand and how she managed to drive attention to a product that hasn’t changed in a 100 years.
I recently had a chat with the founder of Maude, Eva Goichochera, on our Work In Progress Podcast. Maude are reimagining the sexual wellness industry that has largely been dictated by a handful of incumbents and global sigma for the past 100 years. Maude are actively creating their own DTC playbook, going against the grain of paid media and hyper growth, and building a brand and community that will disrupt the heart of an industry.
Relationships over advertising
When asked about how she is driving traffic to Maude, Eva’s first answer is not Facebook ads. Rather, she tells us about how she’s constantly building and fostering relationships with writers from different publications. Eva started building those relationships 1 year prior to the launch of Maude. Although paid media is still part of her strategy, PR gives her something that ads can’t, credibility. When Cosmos write a piece on Maude, it gives the company a third party validation.
A full year before Maude even had a product, Eva was building relationships with the key PR members that could eventually cover Maude’s story, connect to their target audience, and ultimately spread the word about their mission. They’ve actively fostered a word-of-mouth and PR strategy vs the traditional dependency on paid media for younger DTC brands. However, from day 1 Maude crafted their story in a market and industry that was ripe for disruption and a new entrant - not all stories have the same natural fit and gain traction in PR and word of mouth like they did. The story of sexual wellness being a more imitate and more conscious affair, and challenging an overzealous male dominated industry was always a story that was demanding to be told. This focus on PR vs paid acquisition as the early pillars of the Maude brand may have been slower in immediate feedback, but brought an element of weight and credibility that online ads can’t - credibility.
That’s not to say Maude’s model isn’t replicable. Key points for Eva evolved around seeing journalists as more than just key holders to her target market, and more how she could act as an affiliate and understand their incentives to write certain pieces. Reading pieces written previously and extracting elements that could align with different aspects of the Maude story more relevantly. Journalists don’t want to hear another bland pitch for a piece that communicates you don’t understand their writing, their motivations, and their audience.
“There is a takeaway in what we’re writing, enough for you to care about the brand and for us to be top of mind to you”
As a natural progression of their top of funnel PR and content strategy, Maude place a lot of emphasis on continuing that education, content and community through every step of their customer journey. All the content Maude creates has a clear purchase. They educate about sexual topics that have been previously covered with the shadow of stigma, they uncover the strange nuances of relationships we rarely cover, and they drip feed their best tips and tricks around intimacy and our biology. Apart from distributing their storytelling through PR outlets, Maude also write through their Maudern (https://getmaude.com/blogs/themaudern) publication, and contribute to a thriving community of young DTC challenger brands on the Staycation (Originally an IRL location to introduce their audience to Maude on a more personal level, Staycation evolved into a website designed to emulate the organic environment of your home that now counts the best and brightest community-focused brands in NYC).
Maude clearly see that first customer purchase as really just a single step in their entire customer journey - that will hopefully evolve into a lifetime of connection and education. Their strategy and focus on content and community overrides their desire for cheap growth and depreciation of their brand image. Taking on an age-old stagnant industry requires more than just a good product and paid media growth. Maude’s foundational pillars of education, community and relationships will enable them to connect with their audience in ways their competitors don’t even understand yet.