ProQuo sits down with SmugMug & Flickr

Posted on July 26, 2022

Updated on March 9, 2023

4 min read time

Together, SmugMug & Flickr are focused on building a better world through the power of photography.


Flickr is a global community for photographers designed around inspiration, connection, and sharing. 


Growing these two brands, each with very different challenges, required a strategic, data-driven approach – and we got to hear all about it in this exclusive interview with Christine Fradenburg, Senior Director of Brand Marketing at SmugMug and Flickr.


Thanks so much for meeting with us Christine! Can you tell us about how SmugMug and Flickr differentiate themselves from competitors? 


Our primary differentiator is our belief that every photographer and every photo matters. We take these core principles and apply them to our marketing efforts, to our product design and to our development. Unlike other sites, we don't compress photos, so they retain their original integrity.  We also offer a full suite of options including storing, sharing, selling, accessing photos online digitally, and engaging in the community space – which many of our competitors don’t offer. 


SmugMug is primarily known as a solution for photography professionals and enthusiasts, while Flickr is  about the photography community and their connections with each other. So there's not truly any one competitor for either brand that’s in direct competition with what we offer. 


Sounds like both brands have quite a unique range of offerings. What’s the biggest challenge for both? 


Funnily enough, from a branding perspective, we have the opposite challenge for each. 


Flickr has incredible reach and awareness. But we're finding that we don't have strong brand affinity or loyalty, because people assume Flickr is outdated and archaic. Since acquiring Flickr in 2018, our main challenge has been changing perceptions of the brand and increasing that affinity. 


For SmugMug, it's the exact opposite. When I tell people I work for SmugMug, their response is usually, “oh, what's that?” But if you meet somebody who knows SmugMug, you get so much love back. We have strong affinity and loyalty, but the awareness and reach just isn't there – so our main focus  is on growing that. 


How are you using ProQuo day-to-day?


ProQuo was actually the first brand management tool we’ve used since I had started working here. It’s really exciting to be able to get a pulse on people’s perceptions of both brands, for users and non-users. 


We can also track how we're performing against our competitors. Getting those quick competitor analysis insights, looking at when our scores were fluctuating and what was potentially causing that, and then correlating that to our marketing activities and product launches has been so helpful. 


As a brand marketer, I love having something that we can share internally  to help everyone understand that the work and efforts we’re putting in on the brand front are yielding quantifiable results. If you have a very metrics-driven organization and you’re talking about brand, it can be very difficult to demonstrate the ROI of that. ProQuo provides a more structured approach, and has allowed us to better explain internally why brand is important for the company.


Our product and research teams are also using ProQuo to get a very nuanced understanding of the sentiments and behaviors of different segments and how they’re interacting with the platform - and then incorporating this into product development.


It’s brilliant that the platform is being used outside of the marketing team! How important do you think real-time analysis is for achieving your goals for both brands?


Real-time analysis was fantastic because it helped our product team see what was going on. They want insights pretty quickly when it comes to comparing it to other research or other product developments and ProQuo helped get those insights.


On the marketing side, what made real-time important for us was being able to see reactions to major marketing campaigns – positively or adversely. We had a few recent  product launches that were significant for our company, so were able to see in real-time – is it resonating? Are we hitting the right notes? Is it adding value and are people picking up on it? 


How did you use the 16 Drivers of Brand Relationships to inform your brand strategy?


We look at all 16 Drivers pretty regularly. That's where guidance is so great, because it gave us the chance to correlate the insights that we're seeing with potential improvements. When a Driver score changes, it’s easy to dive into it to understand the full picture. We had an analyst on it, so if a Driver shifted she’d call it out and take a deeper look. 


We’d also look at Driver reports on a weekly basis and share them with other teams within the company on a monthly basis. 


That’s fantastic! Can you tell us more about the kinds of reports you created? 


We created reports for our overall Driver scores, as well as how our scores are doing compared to two main competitors. 


Seeing the trends was helpful, not only for our cross-functional teams, but also for our leadership teams. What I like so much about ProQuo is that it gives us the ability to put some metrics against something that’s as difficult to quantify as a brand. 


That’s so great to hear. What was the single biggest impact of using ProQuo for you?


I’ll have to go with two things here! 


The first was the competitor analysis - being able to see how we performed against whoever we deemed as competitors during a certain time period. This was a challenge before, because no one has the exact same service as us. It was helpful to be able to see if when they shifted, did we shift as well? Is it a general market issue, or is it specific to our company and our product offering? 


The second is the segmentation capabilities - breaking it down into the segments we needed to look at – users, non-users, male, female, ages, etc. We were shifting our marketing away from the slightly older demographic that typically uses our platform, and the segmentation was wonderful because it helped us understand how to reach those different audiences – and once we did – how do we know if what we’re doing is resonating? 


If you want to see how other brands are using ProQuo AI to thrive, click here. 

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