CMO of the Week: Ideal Image's Elizabeth Otero

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Elizabeth Otero joined Ideal Image about nine months ago, after spending her entire career in the global prestige beauty industry. Her mission: to scale the brand, they way she did with MAC Cosmetics, which she helped grow from a $250 million business to a $3 billion company. 

Elizabeth Otero joined Ideal Image about nine months ago, after spending her entire career in the global prestige beauty industry. Her mission: to scale the brand, they way she did with MAC Cosmetics, which she helped grow from a $250 million business to a $3 billion company. 

Most of her experience has been focused on growing smaller brands into new categories, new territories and new channels. This experience is the ideal background to help grow the personal aesthetics and wellness DTC brand Ideal Image.

“The combination of the smallest scale and the big turnaround experiences that I bring to Ideal Image sets me up for taking Ideal Image from a midsize brand and scaling it in all the ways that I know how, while building processes and teams and strategies that we know are super important to drive the remarkable growth trajectory that the brand is going through now,” explains Otero.

Ideal Image offers cosmetic services to a vast network of medical professionals in the industry that have performed over 20 million FDA-approved treatments. The company is built on four pillars –individuality and being who you are, safety, natural results and welcoming everyone.

The company launched its first-ever brand campaign this month titled, “Results You Can See. Confidence You Can Feel,” which features real clients that the brand’s Aesthetics Consultants helped “feel and look their best.”  

“The new campaign embodies Ideal Image’s mission to deliver real, effective, and affordable results by giving prospective clients an inside look at the Ideal Image experience, as well as the powerful impact real results have on building confidence inside and out,” says Otero.

Otero joins Ideal Image from The Estee Lauder Companies, where she most recently served as the senior vice president of MAC Cosmetics, leading transformational change and driving growth. 

“I have two chapters, I like to call it MAC 1.0. and MAC 2.0,” says Otero. “MAC 1.0 was small and we scaled it. I worked on another brand in a different capacity at Tom Ford Beauty. Then I returned to MAC when MAC was quite big and needed a reset. The transformational change that was needed was resetting our strategies – our consumer strategies, our retail strategies, our innovation strategies.” 

Brand Innovators caught up with Otero from her office in New York to talk about changing consumer habits, the company’s first brand campaign ever and the potential of AR. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What is your vision as CMO of the company?

My vision, in partnership with our CEO David Prokupek, is really to elevate the brand from a clinically modality led med spa to a more holistic health and wellness brand, but really rooted in the brand's core pillars. And then driving brand awareness, continuing our client acquisition growth, and also fueling the lifetime value of our existing clients, which is very important to the success of our company. 

Can you tell me about your company's brand purpose and how this shows up in your creative executions? 

The client is just generally at the center of our epic ecosystem. We're very committed to consumer research, really understanding what's on her mind, what's important to her, what are her concerns are. All of our messages and creative executions are really designed to address what she or he is looking for. 

Our number one concern is really around natural results. Our message is pretty consistent around real people, real results, personalized treatments to their preferences using safe non-invasive procedures to really accomplish that. You'll see non-evasive, no surgery, no need to go under the knife, no downtime, really bringing the conversation from being a bit taboo to front and center and really a commitment to having a consumer really look and feel their best and walk away as the best version of themselves. 

We really do believe that beauty ideals sit with the individual person and the honest view about the benefits of our services to our client is really what we try to put first and foremost in our executions. 

What channels are key to connecting to your core customers, and why are these important? 

Social is probably at the core of how we communicate. But we are laser-focused more on the client journey and how he behaves and where they spend their time. We let that dictate how we evolve our channel strategy and the content that we create on each. Today we're repurposing a lot of our content across our platforms, but we're pivoting to creating content for each specific channel with a clear intersection of the role of that channel. It's no longer sort of a one-size-fits-all. We know that there are many people that challenge sort of the marketing funnel, but today with the breadth of channels that a consumer can engage with today than they had years ago. 

Can you talk about some of the challenges that are facing DTC brands this year and how you're overcoming those issues? 

The biggest challenges facing DTC today is increased competition, personalization and probably changing consumer habits. These are forcing brands to reevaluate their consumer journey, reevaluate the operational logistics and the capabilities that are needed internally and then really also understand the impact of those to the end-to-end sales process.

Ideal Image is in a growth mindset. Agility is at the key of everything we do. Our strategic approach has allowed us to differentiate ourselves. Two examples of that would be the pivot to virtual consultation. Pre-COVID, you went into a clinic and had your consultation walk through what services were right for you. We created your personalized plan, and then you scheduled your appointment and went to your services. COVID happens and in record breaking time, the team pivoted to virtual consultations with a dedicated microsite, which we're really investing in today. The dedicated microsite breaks through the competitive clutter and really gives a prospective client an elevated, differentiated brand experience with relevant content to guide their journey and choices from the comfort of their own home. 

Ideal Image just recently launched an app, which is another excellent example of differentiation. We're the first in the personal aesthetics sector. It really addresses this growing client demand for self care treatments, a desire for convenience and comfort. These are two good examples of how Ideal Image is kind of overcoming some of the challenges that DTC brands are facing. 

What role does video play in helping demonstrate the product?

We are definitely pivoting from still imagery to video. This evolution is leading to more brand building. The virtual consultation is two-fold. If you're a new client inquiring, you set up a virtual consultation, that microsite has to give you a peek behind the curtain. Still images can serve some purpose in this process, but video demonstrates how it actually works. Does it hurt? There's like a bunch of top of mind questions. We've created this microsite and it's a living breathing thing. As we get new claims, we are always thinking of dynamic ways, video being one of them, to express to the consumers what the journey is going to look like for them. 

New technologies also give a view of what that could potentially look like is something that's on our roadmap. I'm curious mostly about AR. There's definitely a role and an appetite for it. There are lots of platforms offering different filters that are super fun, but we're looking for technologies that provide digital assessments. If you're at home and you're doing your research or you're on a virtual consultation, you're not sitting in front of a medical professional that's taking you through it. Any AR technology that provides that digital assessment that could give you a glimpse of before and after or even take you through a journey of the procedure itself, the technology, the machinery, the placement, just that entire process to have our clients understand the treatments, how they work, why they'll love it, the scientific technology behind the treatments themselves. AR could play a big role in providing or delivering that to our clients. 

Can you talk about your commitments to DE&I and how it is manifested in your work as a marketer? 

One of our core values is that we welcome everybody and that manifestation really transcends in our internal talent. We've partnered with the National Urban League. We tap into their recruitment community and the medical professionals that are graduating. 

It also shows up in the faces in our content. Ideal Image has a very broad consumer demographic. We skew really young and we skew ageless. It trends a little bit younger, a little bit older, depending on the modality. But even that understanding informs who we partner with the faces that we use in our imagery and content, as well as in The Confidence Crew, which is our own internal community of medical professionals and aesthetic consultants that create content for us. All of that plays into this idea and our commitment to equity and inclusivity. 

What are you most excited about for the rest of the year? 

Launching our first ever brand campaign. The connective tissue throughout is that we are in the business of selling confidence and we know that confidence changes everything. The campaign gives the viewers and prospective clients an inside look at our experience and the powerful impact that real results have on building confidence both inside and out. 

We invited some Ideal Image clients who have cultivated a personal and trusted relationship with their aesthetic consultants. We had them all come to our headquarters and just capture these results. These powerful first-hand testimonials that embrace this notion of real people, real results, real stories. The content is meant to be evergreen across all of our social platforms and also on our website. It's really meant to showcase the deep, honest, genuine connection that our consultants have with our clients. It helps us create this culture of trust, honesty and transparency, while shifting the brand's perception from this clinically modality led med spa to a holistic health and wellness brand.

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