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Messaging in COVID-Times and Giving Back – An Interview with Framebridge

At the beginning of 2020, before the COVID-imposed lockdown, one of the last in-person client conversations the Zaius team had was with Framebridge, a custom framing startup company based in Washington, D.C. Now, a year later, we met online with Frambridge’s Jeannie O’Reilly, Director of Marketing Acquisition, and Ted Voss, CRM Manager, to talk about the effects of lockdown on business, the team’s adoption of Zaius’ SMS solution, and their initiatives to give back to the community.

Zaius: Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, people have been forced to stay at home. Have you felt the effects of that in the past year? 

Jeannie: Yes, companies across the home decor industry have seen success in 2020. Our customers can allocate a larger portion of their budget to decorating their homes because they are not traveling and not dining out. So they look around at home and want to spruce up their environment. We’ve also seen the gifting business grow because life still happens in quarantine — people get married, have babies, and celebrate anniversaries. And, as people can’t see each other in person, giving personal and unique gifts is now so much more meaningful. I, myself, hopped on Framebridge’s website to order a frame with a photo of my friend’s newborn baby to memorialize the occasion. 

Zaius: Based on personal experience, framing pictures and objects is something people have on their to-do lists but often don’t get around to doing. How do you combat this?   

Jeannie: You’re right. Getting people to make time and take the first step is one of our biggest challenges. We ran a TV campaign in the Fall, “You can Framebridge just about anything,” which showcased the variety of items our customers had framed, from kids’ drawings to family heirlooms. The ad is a reminder that you have that one thing you hold dear and have been meaning to give a proper, special place in your home. 

Zaius: Do you think the SMS channel gives you a more direct line to your customers? Do you use SMS to remind them they have these plans to frame beloved items?

Ted: Yes. We’ve seen the use of SMS in our space and thought, we should really give it a try. Very shortly after launching, we saw that SMS was an effective addition to our tools.

Jeannie: As I mentioned earlier, people’s procrastination to get things framed is our challenge. SMS is a fantastic channel for creating urgency and sparking action, especially around the holidays, when people have to get gifts by a specific date. In order to get the finished products back in time for the holidays, we announced deadlines for framing physical and digital items. We used SMS to drive urgency and support those deadline-based campaigns. 

Zaius: How long did it take for you to get ramped up with SMS?

Jeannie: Not long at all. Before using Zaius’ SMS solution, we tried another provider but decided to move away from them. It didn’t make sense to split the system. We wanted to send all our messages from one place. 

Ted: The integration with SMS was quick. It was actually my second or third week working at Framebridge when we got started with SMS, and I was able to jump in and set up everything without any issues. We’ve been seeing good results, so leveraging this channel for our campaigns is a no-brainer at this point. 

Zaius: And how long did it take to expand from SMS to MMS?

Ted: That transition happened very quickly — it wasn’t a big decision we had to make. Framebridge has such a strong visual component; it was natural for us to use images in our text messages. In fact, we almost exclusively send MMS messages now.

Frambebridge's MMS campaign

Zaius: You launched a campaign for Giving Tuesday at the end of the year. In this campaign, you let your customers know that $10 of every frame sold would go directly to 100cameras, a non-profit organization. How did the idea of this initiative come about?

Jeannie: 100cameras provides a platform for kids across the globe to tell their stories, sell their photographs, and get 100% of the proceeds back to support their communities. Supporting people’s artistic expression stands very close to our hearts at Framebridge. 

We also have The Black Artist Print Shop, which is part of our efforts to help advance racial equity in our communities. We believe it’s important to use our platform to highlight deserving artists. The program’s goal is not sales-focused, but to support and give visibility to Black artists and help tell their stories. We launched the second iteration of The Black Artists Print Shop during Black History Month, representing a diverse group of artists and making exclusive prints available for a limited time this month. We’re committed to promoting new artists, so stay tuned for the next iteration to launch later this year. 

Zaius: And how can someone let you know they want to be featured in your program?

Jeannie: It’s very easy to nominate or self-submit! We also source from social media, our Art & Trade program, and referrals from Framebridge employees and friends. We always welcome new artists.

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