Interview with Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media on LGBT demographics and upcoming marketing conference in NYC

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Online marketing company Pink Banana Media is at the forefront of connecting companies with the LGBT market. They place an emphasis on the power of social relationships and for businesses to avail of innovative ways to reach this audience. 

President Matt Skallerud started his career online with GayWired in 1995, which became a top LGBT website worldwide. With the benefit of considerable experience in the area, Skallerud and Pink Banana now help clients reach the LGBT market using the most cutting edge marketing techniques. 

The upcoming 6th Annual Gay and Lesbian Marketing Conference, being held in New York April 12th, will showcase Pink Banana’s perspective on LGBT online marketing and allow attendees to get the company’s insight into effective targeting of this demographic.   

429Magazine discussed with Skallerud his personal story and successes, his thoughts on LGBT marketing and social media, and what the Media Conference will mean for him and Pink Banana. 

429Magazine: What drives you on a personal level?  

Matt Skallerud: I think I just enjoy the fact that I have found a way to successfully marry my love of technology and my passion for building things, building things that matter to people.

429Mag: Tell us your top advice for a startup in the LGBT space?  

Skallerud: It’s always best not to over-assume that everyone in the LGBT community thinks just like you. It’s a very diverse community, both based on regions of the world and by age demographics. So creating a product or service that assumes LGBT folks will flock to it because it’s a “gay alternative” to a product in the mainstream market isn’t always a safe bet.   

To create a successful business in today’s environment requires an openness to watching and listening to how LGBT folks use your product or service, and it requires the skill set to not only create a product or service, but to also be able to get out of the office environment and tell people about it.

429Mag: Just how key is social media to reach the consumer right now, and is any channel especially so?  

Skallerud: In today’s world, consumers have learned they don’t need to just be “talked to” by brands and advertisers. They can enter the more unpredictable space of “talking with” brands and advertisers, interacting with them on a more human level.  

When it comes to consumers making choices as to what news to read, what movie to see, what events are hot, etc., they are relying more and more on the old-fashioned “word of mouth” information source from their friends and friends of friends.  This information source in today’s world is Facebook, which took our ever-more-complex world and brought it back to something less impersonal.

429Mag: How would you describe interpersonal marketing?  

Skallerud: Interpersonal Marketing tries to place a “layer” on top of all of these human interactions and conversations going on in social media today, creating a marketing strategy that taps into these new tools being used by everyday consumers and allowing businesses to focus on speaking “with” the folks they’re trying to sell their products and services to, rather than speaking “to” them.  

429Mag: Would you say that you are constantly adapting the services you offer, tailoring them to the marketplace as it changes?  

Skallerud: Yes, almost every client’s strategy is different because when it comes to people there is absolutely no one size fits all, which is where traditional ad agencies have trouble adapting. Ad agencies have loved the 1/4-page ad buy and the 30-second TV commercial, and ultimately fell in love with e-mail marketing and banner advertising campaigns that they could monitor, control and measure at an incredibly fine-tuned level.  

With social media marketing, it throws most of these strategies out the window. Targeting a real person in today’s world requires an understanding that people do not fit into the strategy boxes of yesterday’s ad agencies. If you want to reach gays and lesbians in 2013, a company has to find ways to reach them based on what they’ve engaged with in their comments, likes, shares and ReTweets.  

429Mag: Pink Banana Media will be part of the 6th Annual Gay & Lesbian Marketing Conference in NY, April 12th.  Are events like this a rewarding part of the job you do?  

Skallerud: Very much so, as so much of today’s marketing world is evolving, these conferences bring together those that understand the ever-increasing importance of reaching the LGBT community, and merge these discussions with an education and understanding of some of the new tools and opportunities available to businesses to reach them. 

429Mag: How do you define success? Do you believe you have achieved it?  

Skallerud: I would define business success as having created something, a product or service, that people want to use in their daily lives. The more successful this product or service, the more successful the person creating it.    

I do believe I’ve achieved success, both on a business and personal level, by having had the opportunity to create something online, starting with GayWired.com in 1995, and watching that creation grow and develop in an environment that offered no roadmap as to how to succeed, the Internet. By being able to balance all of that with what I feel has been a very rewarding and fulfilling personal life is how I’ve measured success so far.

429Mag: What’s next for you and Pink Banana?  

Skallerud: We’re going to continue our education and outreach, with the goal of helping more and more companies develop and execute their LGBT online marketing strategy. In addition, we’ve recently launched Gay2Day.com, a website that brings together those most social in the LGBT online community, with offers and perks provided by businesses wishing to reach them. As this develops, it should prove to become an incredible new tool in allowing businesses the opportunity to speak more and more “with” their LGBT audience.

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