In Conversation with Laura Haddock from Unyoked

Natalie Dean-Weymark


March 5, 2024

This journal article is taken from Episode 8 of Compass Studio’s podcast series “In Conversation” hosted by Co-Founder and Director Natalie Dean-Weymark.

Laura is the Marketing Manager for Unyoked, a premium and previously uncharted accommodation offering that exists to give you access to high quality nature experiences more often.

Since launching their wilderness cabins, this brand has become globally recognized as a first to market best practice example of how content and leaning into purpose can create a beautiful brand that keeps people coming back to it. Read on, or listen here 👇

Q: Tell me about your favourite campaign that you've worked on and why it's your favourite?

A: One of my recent favourites is a campaign focused on creating a new category in marketing. Essentially every piece of content or campaign we do, we want to communicate the benefits of nature by leveraging scientific evidence.

Traditionally, we've had to do that by relying on third-party data and scientific studies, but we've always secretly been wanting to have our own data. What's better than first party data to sort of talk about how impactful the experience could be. So with that in mind, we teamed up with AllTrails for a crowdsourced nature study across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, measuring the impact of nature on well-being. We're essentially sending people down to nature, using a series of surveys to measure the impact of nature on their well-being. 

This initiative allows us to leverage first-party data, and we're excited to release our findings this year. What makes it my favourite is the blend of scientific evidence, customer involvement, and the potential for long-term impact.

Q: As the campaign is ongoing, do you have any learnings so far?

A: Flexibility is key. While I wish for more time for planning, being adaptable to change and evolving deadlines has been crucial. We're turning our customer involvement into a learning experience and aiming for this to become an annual initiative.Timelines rarely stay fixed, and we need to adapt to unforeseen challenges. Staying aware of external events, adjusting launch dates when needed, and acknowledging the bigger issues in the world beyond our brand.

Q: Do you think there's a secret recipe to getting marketing right in the purpose-led space?

A: Consumers can detect authenticity, so it's crucial to focus on a specific cause, be committed to it, and listen to voices that authentically represent that cause. Aligning with values and being genuine builds a strong connection.

It's really easy to think - if we're going to be purpose-led, that means that we have to be everything to every single person. I think that there is really so much power in saying - this is the cause and that’s what we want to go after. This is what our brand purpose is and really focusing on that and committing to that. There are definitely flow on effects into other areas. At Unyoked, our brand purpose is to get more people into nature more often because there are scientific benefits that nature helps us feel better.

There are flow-on effects that we hope means people will care more for the environment long-term. That's definitely secondary, but our primary purpose is always around getting people into nature.

Unyoked cabin's offer an off-grid silence, freedom and comfort to get you back into nature.

Q: With a big marketing budget, what moves the needle most?

A: The big budget approach for me would be having that mix of an always on brand play and then doing smaller driven campaigns, showing the classic long and short of it. That gives you the flow within that to be testing different markets, different segmentation messaging, but always still have that higher overarching, always on brand approach. 

Q: Small budgets, what do you think moves the needle most?

A: With a small budget, it's about being selective with spending and focusing on customer touch points. Emphasising the brand in every interaction, despite budget constraints, contributes to positive word of mouth. Even with a smaller budget, we still think about those big budget things that would be really cool, build it up, then reduce it down to still capture some of that blue sky thinking. 

Q: What's been your biggest external hurdle, and how did you overcome it?

A: Changing people's behaviours and perceptions takes time. The biggest hurdle in a way for us is how do we really cut through those preconceived notions and then focus on educating the customer, encouraging them to change that way of thinking. To address this, we focus on educating our customers and encouraging them to change their thinking through intentional communications. 

Q: What are you currently reading for inspiration and development?

A: I'm doing the Marketing Mini MBA, which helps me think about challenges and build a cohesive strategy. I'm also reading "Emotion By Design" by Greg Hoffman, who is the former Nike CMO. He really emphasizes the importance of that last 1% in marketing that you think doesn’t matter, really does. 

Q: Any podcasts you're enjoying?

A: I’ve just uploaded an audiobook called "Unreasonable Hospitality," recommended by our Co-Founder. It delves into creating experiences beyond expectations, which aligns with our brand’s philosophy. It’s all about how to build an experience that just goes beyond people's expectations. It's something we like to do a lot, not just draw our inspiration from accommodation or areas within marketing, but hospitality is so deeply linked to what we do. There's so much that we can learn from that. 

Q: Any specific voices or brands you always keep an eye on?

A: I spend a lot of time looking at our own brand and thinking about it, learning from our customers. But aside from Unyoked, I admire "Who Gives a Crap" for maintaining a profit and purpose model during intense growth. Learning from brands like them is inspiring for our continuous improvement.

Q: With the evolving marketing landscape, how have you responded to the shift in consumer content habits?

A: The rise of TikTok has increased passive interaction with brands. Patience, consistency, and authenticity are vital for building relationships, especially in the engagement stage, which is often overlooked.

At Unyoked we're not interested in just one-off customers. We want people to be doing this habitually - to come back. That's why it's so important to continue that engagement at the top of the funnel, but also afterwards so that it is more circular.

Like what you read? Listen to the full episode podcast with Laura Haddock here or read more from our other In Conversation guests over on the Compass journal here.

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