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Zita Cassizzi

Zita Cassizzi

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Zita Cassizzi shares Digital Marketing Insights as TOMS’ Global One-for-One Business Grows

TOMS’ business model continues to create headlines, gain wider attention, and, most importantly, contribute to making a world of difference. The for-profit company sells shoes, eyewear and now coffee, but also operates a non-profit One for One® giving enterprise. When TOMS sells a pair of shoes, for example, another pair is given to a child in need. Zita Cassizzi, TOMS’ Chief Digital Officer, plays a critical role in expanding the company’s direct-to-consumer business around the world by enhancing strong customer relationships through e-commerce, online marketing, mobile, and social media.

TOMS has achieved success and admiration, because its model has the potential to do enormous good, but also because the company is built with a passionate entrepreneurial business sense and strong 21st century marketing principles. “We have a unique purpose and mission: to improve people’s lives through business,” says Zita Cassizzi. “It’s not just a slogan; it’s the foundation for everything we do.”

Zita spoke earlier this summer in Southern California at the ANA’s 2014 Digital & Social Media Conference about five fundamentals principles she uses to build the TOMS’ brand in a digital world. She admits to being motivated “by the fast pace of technology and how it empowers the world.”

She adds, “It is critical for TOMS to establish compelling, unique, and accessible experiences for our consumers – no matter where they are physically. This means observing, listening and leading with a focus on consumer behavior in all points of engagement and in all points of commerce-- from awareness to consideration to loyalty to physical and experiential integration.”

Zita emphasizes that everything TOMS does is digital. In her ANA address, she outlined “The 5Cs,” a guide to embrace the digital future and create an effective omni-channel marketing strategy. “These are not approaches,” she emphasizes, “but what we think about every single day at TOMS.”

1. Connect with your community

Zita describes TOMS as a movement-based business, which means that understanding the values of both current and future customers is especially important in establishing true community. She believes that “today’s customers expect you to be where they are-- at any moment. Nearly all of our consumers carry a smartphone and are connected 24/7. We coined the phrase ‘mocial’ around the office to ensure that everyone from developers to operations folks are thinking about our mobile and social strategy-- which is how our consumers live.”

2. Content

At TOMS, “content” simply means delivering meaningful and multidimensional information about all products and services in a manner that is both relevant and valuable to its customers. “We ask ourselves every day: What is valuable to customers—intrinsically and extrinsically? This is not only about discounts and coupons, but about more essential customer needs-- as many buy our products to contribute to making a difference in the world. Value is not only expressed in products and service, but in internal satisfaction.”

3. Customer relationships for life

She says, “We should always be thinking about long-term relationship building with our consumers. My philosophy: create trust through open dialogues with consumers via those channels that they want to use to engage with us. We often adopt the tone of voice of a best friend—honest, inspirational, and humble.

4. Continuing the conversation

Listening and adapting is also a big factor in keeping customers for life. According to Zita, “We certainly listen in social media; however, the TOMS organization is designed so that customer service is integrated in all we do, particularly in terms of listening to our customers. We encourage our customer services representative to spend more time talking with customers, so we can learn the ways in which their purchase matters.

5. Create culture of innovation

“We have a term at TOMS,” says Zita, “it’s TTF—Try It, Test It and Fail (fast). This attitude fosters out of box thinking.”

Originally from Budapest, she was named an Internationalist of the Year in 2013 and is a chapter contributor in the upcoming book, The Reinvention of Marketing, to debut this fall, published by The Internationalist Press with the ANA.

Prior to TOMS, Zita Cassizzi led globally. She spent 16 years at the company in a variety of roles and regions of the world. In a recent interview for the ANA Knowledge Center, she commented: “My 16 years at Dell had a positive impact on me both as a senior executive and a global leader. While a very different company from TOMS, Dell was founded on the basis of entrepreneurship and on a direct-to-customer, customer-driven business model. Both are now powerful elements in today’s marketplace. I learned about leading every aspect of a global direct business, from creating long-term strategies to marketing to leading a multi-billion-dollar P&L and dot-com businesses. I also learned how to manage hyper-growth and how to scale businesses — all critical skills that serve me well today at TOMS.”