After about three years of designing creative campaigns for brands, Evan Horowitz, the co-founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based branding agency Movers+Shakers, says it wasn't clear he and his business-partner-slash-husband Geoffrey Goldberg could continue.
"It wasn't paying the bills and we needed to figure out if we could make it pay the bills," Horowitz told Inc.'s What I Know podcast.
A contract with e.l.f. Cosmetics gave the startup a chance, though. The company wanted a TikTok viral campaign--with the goal of hitting a billion views. E.l.f was looking for a brand reinvention, and Movers+Shakers proposed a hashtag challenge (#eyeslipsface) using original music. The client seemed skeptical; most TikTok videos used trendy clips of existing popular music.
But creating original music for brands was the agency founders' forte. They convinced the brand. "It's going to sound like a song the people you're trying to speak to would add to their playlist!" Goldberg said.
When the campaign launched, it was a hit, reaching more than a billion views in less than a week. What happened next, though, ensured that the viral campaign would have a life beyond the initial blip.
"We did so many incremental things after the campaign launched," Horowitz said. He took the 15-second TikTok song and expanded it to a full-length track, allowing individuals to stream it on Spotify and other platforms. Next, the agency made a music video, and seeded it on YouTube. Pretty soon, the song itself was trending outside of social media.
Horowitz's advice for other entrepreneurs: A marketing plan is only as good as your ability to iterate on it as you go. "Don't assume your plan is good," he says. "Assume that you're good enough to plan in real time."