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Episode 125: Troy Lee Designs Digital Marketing Manager Tanya Velazquez On Telling Your Brand Story

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

We’re joined this week by Tanya Velazquez, Digital Marketing Manager at Troy Lee Designs. Tanya talks about building customer relationships, forward thinking as part of your marketing calendar, streamlining processes, and telling your brand’s story through a blend of creativity and logistics.

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Episode Transcript

Iris: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Outside by Design, the podcast about the business of creativity in the outdoor industry. I'm Iris and I am so excited to introduce our guest this week, Tanya Velazquez. She is the digital marketing manager of Troy Lee Designs, and she joined us on the show to talk about building customer relationships, planning ahead in a product-based brand, blending logistical thinking and your creative side, as well as telling your brand story through digital marketing.

This is a great episode, so I won't make you wait any longer. Here is Lisa and Tanya.

Lisa: Well, Tanya, thank you so much for being here today.

Tanya: No, thank you for inviting me. I love it.

Lisa: The first question we ask everyone is to describe where they are in the world and what they're looking at.

Tanya: Yeah. I mean, currently I'm actually in my office and staring at a wall, whereas yesterday I was actually at the beach. [laughs] So definitely a different, you know, environment, but I'm ready to roll. I work hard to play hard.

Lisa: And you're out of California, right?

Tanya: I'm out of California. Yeah. Corona, California.

Lisa: Oh, fun. Do you… Okay, wait. So before we start talking about work, so what, what sports do you do the most there?

Tanya: Oh, I mean, I love mountain biking. It's part of the industry and I started a year and a half ago and now I just, I continue to do it. I go on the trails. I do Enduro as well, sometimes. I'm practicing, I'm getting there. But, yeah, I mean, I'm trying to improve myself every day.

Lisa: Cool. Well, I guess for our listeners and for me, what do you do at Troy Lee Designs? And what does a day look like for you?

Tanya: Yeah. So I'm the digital marketing manager. And you know, on the day-to-day basis, I just have to make sure all campaigns run smoothly from start to finish. So basically I, you know, go on Asana and I put all these tasks down for everyone, whether it's the copywriting, whether it's the email design, whether it's the inventory process, you know, I just have to make sure everything runs smoothly.

And even sometimes I have to do it myself, where if I have an online SMU which is an online item only, or like a gift with purchase, then I have to do the start to finish where I research the item, I talk to our purchase team, and then I get it done. And then, you know, the vision starts there with our designers. It's like, okay. Just recently we had a limited edition straw hat that I wanted to do as a gift with purchase. And it just, it went crazy when it went online because, you know, we haven't had those in a long time and it was limited. And so it actually had some artwork of Troy's that was just, you know, off the charts. Like, a lot of people loved it and it sold out pretty quickly. So just taking care of that and making sure that, you know, I communicate across all channels. And then also our partners, and we also have an EU site, so I have to make sure we coordinate and sync properly with our EU team and then our Canadian site as well.

Lisa: Wow.

Tanya: So it's… it's busy every day.

Lisa: That's a lot of details too, to make sure what you're doing is congruent for another country.

Tanya: Yeah, absolutely. And then just recently too, I launched our loyalty program in the US and Canada. So that's been exciting to do and just start it because it, you know, the process took a year. Because we just wanted to make sure it fit our brand, what we were doing. And we were not giving away discounts everywhere. We were just like, no, we want to give our customers the VIP experience and, you know, show them how important they are to us because they're part of our family. Yeah. So that's been an exciting project to do.

Lisa: That's so cool. I always find it really interesting for people such as yourself in a digital marketing manager role, where you are, like, bringing your own personal experience and knowledge - which is like, obviously why you got hired - and you're balancing it with a brand voice, which I think is like a really hard nuanced thing to do. So as you have come into Troy Lee, or TLD, like how... I guess, how do you balance, like your personal experience and ideas with the brand voice and like, where do those meet.

Tanya: Honestly, it was a struggle in the beginning because I was new to the industry as well. It was new to me and I just didn't know, you know, how to speak Troy Lee Designs. And I think after a few months of many corrections and many updates on copy and just seeing how the brand is... because even our segments for bike and moto can differ between voices. So we have like, um, you know, it just... it compares differently. I can't even describe it. I'm just like, I know it in my head, like how this sounds versus... because mountain biking, our audience is a bit more fun. So it's kind of like, you know, you can, you can goof with some slang and talk and whatnot. But on the moto side, it's kind of cool, you know. So we want to make sure we talk to that crowd as well.

And so, you know, I learned a lot about that along the way. And even then, my main thing that I loved about myself with TLD and how I implemented my own skillset to Troy Lee Designs is basically I helped improve their email design. Now I didn't design it, but I talked to the creators and the designers, and I said, look, we're not telling our story. We're not telling our brand. We're not giving it away on our emails that we're sending out.

How is it that we can tell our story? And, you know, I spoke to one designer specifically and he was like, okay, let me see what I can do. And then he brought back a template to me that I was like, that's TLD. It's just the paint brush, the strokes. Like, you saw all of that. And that's basically our history is, you know, the paint shop with Troy Lee. So we were able to just put that on our emails. And then, for every email that we do, it's just artistic and it tells a story rather than just throwing product out there. And I think that's important because even the feedback we get from subscribers, they're excited. They're like, “oh, I love opening your emails.” You know? And back in my old jobs, it's like, no one's excited about opening emails! But here it's like, people are just wanting to open the emails to see how cool it is versus, “okay, I'm just going to purchase, purchase, purchase.”

It's like, we don't want to be that aggressive with, you know, our subscribers. We want to create a relationship and tell them like, you know, this is our artistic side. And, you know, we're here to show it and create your artistic vision as well. Because, you know, we have a paint shop here and if they purchase the helmet and they have a vision, they can work with our paint department and, you know, make that vision come to life with their helmets. So that's pretty neat. ‘Cause, you know, no one else in the industry does that but us.

Lisa: Yeah, that is awesome. So do you interface with the paint department a lot as well?

Tanya: I do work with them a lot, in the sense that I just make sure, you know, if I want to promote any of their projects and just tell a story. Because one of my campaigns that I actually send to my subscribers is called From The Paint Shop. So I basically let my subscribers know, like this is actually coming from the paint shop. And if other customers can make their vision come to life, so can you. If you want that perfect helmet, we can help. So it’s just working with the paint department and telling them, okay, what projects do you have? You know, is it worth telling a story about it? And a lot of them do, a lot of them have a lot of story behind the creation of those helmets.

Lisa: That's cool.

Tanya: Yeah. It's neat.

Lisa: Yeah. It's uh... I love that you offer that as an option, too, to customize things.

Tanya: Mhmm. Yeah, we do that and then custom jersey lettering as well. But definitely the paint is what separates us. It's our history. It's our most important, you know, trait that we have.

Lisa: Mhmm. I am curious to ask you about marketing mountain bike apparel to women and kind of your women's line at TLD. Obviously, like there are a lot of awesome women-, you know, women's-only brands for mountain biking and Troy Lee is not like that. You know, it's very much the women's gear is a section of the product offerings. And so, like, do you modify your brand voice at all for the women's gear? Or like, how do you, I guess, how do you navigate that?

Tanya: Yeah.

Lisa: And it's awesome gear. I love, I have some Troy Lee shorts I love, you know, like yeah. How do you, how do you navigate kind of like, I guess that segment?

Tanya: Yeah. So we do offer our women's collections on our site and a lot of our marketing is actually overlooked by Leigh Donovan, and she's one of our ambassadors. So she definitely helps us with that voice and pushing a lot of the women's collection.

I know our first launch last year with our bike women's collection, she had a lot of feedback on it. She was able to tell us, you know, what's working, what isn't, and we definitely take her voice into consideration the most. I mean, again, I'm not... I'm not in that production side, but I do know that she does take a big role in it. She's definitely known in the mountain biking industry, and it's just... you know, we're continuing to grow it. That's for sure.

And on my end, I continue to push women's bike collections a lot of the times, and just making sure that, you know, we have a women's segment in each email or making sure, you know, our women athletes are getting noticed and it's not just our male athletes as well.

Because the industry is growing with females and, you know... I believe I read, it was like a Whistler data... it was like a fact sheet that said how many more females were going to the bike parks and it just continues to increase every year. So we're starting to see it grow and grow.

I know in, at TLD, we're continuing to push more lines and push more- or, I'm sorry, prioritize the women's side as well. So it's pretty exciting to see, even as, you know, myself. Before, you know, I think it was my first year, actually, we had a limited amount of lines for the women's collection.

So it was like, okay, well, you know, they're not really specific on sizing. They're not really, you know, it was just... it was just created, you can tell. But last year when they improved that and brought out, you know, we have the Mischief, the Lilium, the Luxe, and it was just… we had a lot of positive feedback from that. So many mountain bikers were excited, even men were excited to finally purchase for their wives, girlfriends, partners. You know, it was just, it was exciting to see all of that and be part of it as well. Because I hear all the feedback. I'm the one that's, you know, reading all the customer reviews, I'm reading all the customer emails and I just see all that feedback. So it's pretty exciting to see when it all comes out. And you know, you already knew about it before, you're like, okay, you're building up for the go-to-market date. But no one else knows about it. And then once the product drops, you just see the excitement and that's the best part because you're like, I worked how many days to make sure this comes out perfect.

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. You're like, so in there and like, I don't know. How do you... do you have to speak back to customer reviews or are you just kind of like taking that information and, you know, obviously like noting it and taking it into consideration, or do you have to have - or do you get to have - a dialogue with the customers?

Tanya: Yeah, I mean, we have a small team, so, you know, sometimes when I know I don't want to get deep into the weeds with some customers, then I make sure to send it to our customer service manager. And so I'll send it over to her and then she'll be able to communicate with the customers. But I know when it's something that I can do where I can just go back and forth and make sure I solved their problem, then I do that as well.

And then if they have feedback, then I definitely answer back and just let them know, you know, thank you. Because this is what we're about, building customer relationships is huge with TLD and just making sure that we can still give them that, you know, not the mom and pop feel, but just making sure they know that they have someone to talk to when they think of TLD.

Lisa: That's awesome.

Tanya: Yeah. It's huge.

Lisa: Yeah. And it sounds like you really care, you know, like that comes across really evidently and I think that’s exciting.

Tanya: Yeah. And I mean, that's what we were building off of our loyalty program is just making sure that we're not just doing a point system, but we're making sure that we have this tier system where we're constantly communicating with our customers. We want to write cards to them. We just want to email them with, you know, benefits and early releases and just make sure that they are the ones that we're nurturing the most.

Lisa: Oh, that's cool. That sounds so thoughtful, too.

Tanya: Yeah. Yeah. It's important to do that because you know, you increase your customer retention for sure. And your customers stay loyal to the brand. And TLD has a huge customer base that's very loyal and they stick to TLD. So. Yeah.

Lisa: What did you do before working in the bike and moto industry?

Tanya: I worked for a B2B company and I did... I did everything similar to what I do now. So I think that helped me out because I was able to just dip my feet everywhere and just learn affiliate marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, paid advertisements, you know, you just learn all those different parts of marketing because there's just so much to it. So you want to make sure that you can fit wherever it's needed. And at my B2B job, you're not just thinking like three months ahead. You're thinking a year out already because you have to talk to businesses and say, “Hey, you know, it's Q2. Or the end of Q1. And you have to think of Q4 already.” So, it was very challenging there, but it taught me to always stay ahead of the game.

And I think that's where I am now at TLD is just constantly thinking ahead of the game. Like we're already set with our Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. Like we have all that going. So now I don't have to stress about it in November and say, what are we doing?

Because actually the process wasn't like that before at TLD. Before I came in, there was no process. And so when we would think of online SMUs or gift with purchases, we would be thinking about it like a month before. And it's like, no one's going to produce an item for us in a month. There's no way. So, you know, the process changed little by little and TLD had many processes change over the past probably three years because the company is just continuing to grow. And you have a lot of, like, the people who have been there for 20 years and over, and it's like, you know, they're not used to the changes. And so it's kind of nice though, because at the same time you're learning from them and you know that they know the brand the most. And so you just have to take in their feedback. And at the same time, they're also getting used to the changes of just making sure, like, okay, there's a new process and it's only gonna help us to make sure we have a promotion ready in six months or a year out.

And so now I'm looking into 2022 and I'm saying, okay, what do I want to do for Memorial day? And so that's what I'm thinking about currently. So that way I can prepare all my channels and then all our partners as well. Because our partners also like to get in on our offers. Um, we want to make sure that we're speaking to them far out and that they're ready as well. So there's a lot of communicating.

Lisa: Yeah.

Tanya: Yeah. Definitely making sure that happens. But it excites me as well because in the end, once you see it, the promotion run, you're kind of like, oh yeah, that took me like a whole year to do, but you know, I'm glad it's here now.

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So like what... your job is interesting because you have those, like, you know, hard numbers of what product am I going to push, what's the discount going to be. But you also have a little bit of, like, creative director, art director responsibilities and making email templates that look great. And so it's like a really interesting blend of both sides of your brain, it sounds like.

Tanya: Yeah. I mean, after I had spoken to my design team, the first year I was there and just telling them, like, we need to switch up the layout and the template and just tell our story, and then we began to be a bit more artistic with our emails... I didn't really have to give them any more direction after that. Because then everything else went on brand and it just stuck to the design team instead. So mainly I give them the topic of what we need to talk about. And then from there they design it and they let me know, okay, you know, which call to actions do you want? And I give them the direction of, “okay, well, we want to highlight this. We want to highlight that” and then they get it done and they always make our emails look so good now. And it's awesome. Just to see the design come to life.

Lisa: Yeah. They sound like a really good crew of designers.

Tanya: Oh, yeah, they are. They create everything from product to emails to, you know, dealer requests as well - you know, for their windows, you know, stuff like that, or any events that they do. And they're constantly busy. So we actually just had to add on a digital designer. So that way, you know, we get our digital stuff because there's just so many requests and just, it's like a group of four, four designers. Yeah. So, it’s cool.

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. And it seems like you're very good at communicating with designers and speaking their language and I think it's really special when you have a group of creatives, but, like everyone works well together and understands each other. And so you had, is that something that is just very natural to you or a learning process?

Tanya: Yeah. Yeah. So I also come from a background of design. I used to design emails as well. So that was actually my past job... at my past job, I'm sorry. I designed emails. So I was able to, you know, put my creative sides on all the graphics and, you know, making that come to life for myself. So going to, you know, TLD, I just, I had to switch that up.

And I wish I was able to still add on my creative side, but at the same time, I just feel like if I'd be a bit more bombarded with more tasks to do so I'm kind of glad I, you know, I don't have that. But I still design on the side as well. You know, just making sure I still stick to my creative side. But, yeah. I mean, I don't completely do it now with TLD, but back in my past job, I, you know, designed. And I used to work at Fox Sports, the network, and I created the on-air graphics that would go on live TV.

Lisa: Oh!

Tanya: Yeah! So, on live TV. And I just had that rush that, you know, you had to create it in like, Um, less than 15 minutes because you know, the producer would be like, “Hey, I need this graphic in by the next segment” and you have, you know, a one-minute commercial break and we're just like, okay, you know, we have to design it real quick because they want to, they want to share a statistic or a board of… featuring a specific athlete. So we just had like this rush on us and making sure we hit our deadlines.

And I think that's why I'm also great with deadlines is because I always had someone over my shoulder, in the live production industry. So it was pretty intense.

Lisa: Yeah, that sounds really intense. And then you're trying to spell things right?

Tanya: Oh yeah. So, that's the biggest thing too. And I'm so glad that I never got anyone's name wrong, but I do remember a story of one of my coworkers who had the same position as me and he spelled our host’s name wrong. And it went on air and it was just, you know, you hear people yelling from another room and you're just like, is that for me? Or is that for someone else? And of course, like, my heart was beating because I was thinking it was me, but then it was like, okay, I still feel bad for the other guy, but…

Lisa: Yeah.

Tanya: Yeah. It's intense. Live TV is definitely no joke. And many people say like, oh, you know, everyone needs to work customer service to know how to treat another person. I think people need to work live TV to also know how to reach their deadlines. [laughs] Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah. It would force you into excellent communication.

Tanya: Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, you're in a production room with the producer, the director, and you're just constantly, you have to share what's going on. You're just like, okay, I have this graphic ready, go ahead and throw it, you know, stuff like that.

It was an exciting time of my life, but I definitely do not miss it. [laughs] But yeah, it was, it was good.

Lisa: I love that. I love that fact about you. Well, is there anything that I haven't asked you that you'd like to share with our audience?

Tanya: No. I mean, I think that's it. I mean, also, we did launch our new website back in October, 2019. So if you ever visited before that, you would've seen like an older style of a website, you know, look and design and feel. And so now if you go on our website, you can see a whole new update and, you know, facelift and it definitely looks 10 times better, tells our story because you can see the paint history. You can see our athletes as well. Everything's just clean and it's just, it's up to date. And back then it was just… we didn't really prioritize the website, but now it's coming to life. And we have a whole digital team because before that, you know, it was just one person doing the whole e-comm world. And then, you know, I came along, along with a few of my other team members and, you know, we're a team of four and now it's… it's great. You know, we're constantly updating the website to make it look good, to be on brand, and to tell our story still and just, you know, make it a good customer experience.

Lisa: Yeah. And it loads quickly too, it's very well optimized.

Tanya: Yeah.

Lisa: Because it's very visual. So I think that's important.

Tanya: Oh yeah. Definitely. Like, we're always updating that homepage because, you know, that's the first thing people are always going to see when they search TLD. So we want to make sure it has the best images that we have, the visuals tell what we're trying to show.

Lisa: Yeah, it looks great. Cool. We'll put a link to that in the show notes.

Tanya: Awesome.

Lisa: But yeah, thanks for being on our podcast and sharing all your wisdom and, yeah, I really appreciate your time.

Tanya: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. It was fun.

Iris: Thank you to Tanya for joining us on the show and thank you to our listeners for tuning in to Outside by Design. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the show wherever you're listening to podcasts. And if you have a moment to leave us a review on iTunes, that really helps us grow.

You can find out more about WHEELIE at or at @wheeliecreative on Instagram and check out the show notes for all the other links.

Thank you for listening, and we'll see you next week!

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