Deliciously Ella on her ‘unusual’ approach to marketing

Food writer and entrepreneur Ella Mills started Deliciously Ella back in 2012, and it has since grown into a multimillion pound brand. Here she shares the secrets to her success and the role marketing has played.

deliciously ella

What does ‘marketing’ mean for your brand and how have your ways of doing it changed as your business has grown?

We’ve had a very unusual approach to the marketing side of our brand and almost five years into our company I still operate that side of the business and we’re yet to create a marketing department. Instead we talk directly to our audience, about twenty-eight million people a month, through social media. Our approach on social media is to be very accessible, authentic and approachable.

What roles do the different media you have worked in play in helping you reach customers and fans? Do you see any as being more important than the others?

Social media has been the most important part of our customer communication. It’s how we talk to our audience every day, and we love that we can have such a direct relationship with them. It allows us to talk to them in an uncompromised, unedited way which we feel creates a real sense of trust.

What challenges and opportunities has moving into branded products and delis created for you personally, and your business?

The products have been an amazing opportunity for us. Initially the biggest challenge was ensuring that we have the right team and the right manufacturer to help us realise our plans, and then ensuring that we met the standards that our audience were looking for from day one.

How have you added to or changed the people working in the business as it has matured?

Matt [Mills, her husband] and I split the responsibilities between us, I run the creative side of the business and he works as our CEO, overseeing business development and the day-to-day operations and finances. As the company has grown we’ve really professionalised the team around us too, hiring some incredibly experienced people to oversee areas of the business, including the former head of innovation from Innocent.

How do you differentiate yourself from other brands by food writers, and how easy is this to do, given the risks that particular diets or eating trends can have?

Deliciously Ella has always been a personal brand and we’ve continued to have that real connection and authenticity throughout everything we do. There can be downsides to it, and it definitely makes you feel very vulnerable at times, but the true personal connection we’ve had with our readers has been what’s made our business so successful and saved us from needing huge marketing budgets when we were starting.

Social media has been the most important part of our customer communication. It’s how we talk to our audience every day, and we love that we can have such a direct relationship with them.

Ella Mills, Deliciously Ella

Are brand partnerships important to your business? If so what opportunities do they contribute?

We haven’t found them to be a key driver in anything we’ve done so far, but having strong relationships with our stockists is really important to us and something that we work really hard on.

How are you developing your brand today, and what are your plans for growing the business in the future?

Our aim is to continue to expand within the product space, testing our ideas and recipes on our existing audience to get direct feedback and working to deepen our relationship and daily connection to our existing audience, while working to grow the readership by providing a great stream of free content. Making Deliciously Ella useful is incredibly important to us, helping to make your five-a-day feel more do-able and more interesting is a real goal of ours and we feel the free content really helps in this space.

Deliciously Ella will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing about how she has built up her brand. This year’s event takes place at Tobacco Dock on 4 and 5 October. For more information, including how to book tickets, visit www.festivalofmarketing.com

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