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EPISODE 068 : 06/30/2022

Jasmine Glasheen

Jasmine Glasheen is a writer and influencer with an impressive career in retail marketing. She has been influential at The Robin Report, RetailWire, and Retail Minded, among other publications. Jasmine has worked with IMB and Payment Depot, and today she is the Content Marketing Manager at Surefront. She shares her perspective on the retail rebound of 2022.

Host: Ned Hayes and Ashley Coates
Guest: Jasmine Glasheen

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Topics discussed in this episode

  • Detailed small business insights from Olympia, Washington
  • Small business resiliency and adaptation during COVID
  • Doubling community outreach during the pandemic
  • Opportunities for small business loyalty programs

Watch Spark Loyalty’s Small Business Success Channel

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:01] Welcome to Spark Plug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology brought to you by SnowShoe, your smarter loyalty leader. Spark Plug is really happy to have Jasmine Glasheen on the podcast today. She’s a writer, she’s an influencer. She’s done marketing throughout the retail industry, and she’s going to start, I believe, this week at Sure Front as well. She’s been influential at the Robin Report, at Retail Wire, IBM customer engagement, Retail Minded and a lot of other great industry publications in retail. Jasmine has worked with IBM and Payment Depot and many other companies, and we’re very excited to hear her perspective on the retail world as it comes back post-pandemic.

Jasmine Glasheen [00:00:47] Thank you so much, Ned. I’m so excited to be here and talk with you guys today. 

Ashley Coates [00:00:51] Thank you, Jasmine. We’re thrilled to chat with you as well. And I’m and Ned just gave us a nice overview of your career, but maybe we could have you chat a little bit about your career as well. Specifically, you’ve had a long career as a contributing writer for top retail publications. What first drew you to writing about the retail industry? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:01:09] I love this question, so I actually got my start in the retail industry as a catalog model in high school, Fleet farm, Kmart, smiling behind the cameras in my camo T-shirt. That was me. I already had the back of the scenes perspective, but then during my undergrad I worked in retail cosmetics for a year before I got my breakthrough role as publishing editor of Off Price Retailing magazine. So that was really, really interesting to me because I grew up during the Abercrombie era. That was what was happening when I was in high school. So everybody was paying and investing to conform, to blend in. What I see next Gen is doing now is they’re paying and investing to stand out. That’s what excites me about the retail industry right now. 

Ashley Coates [00:01:56] Very cool. And what do you love about having a career as a writer? What are the wonderful things about it and what are the challenges? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:02:03] I’ve always written, even when I was a child, I always carry little notebooks around with me and I would rather sad face I was having a bad day. That’s always been a big part of my life, but I love the fact that it’s creatively driven, and I love the fact that when I was working in front line retail, I was considered quite a know it all. I had a lot of opinions about how things should run and now I get paid to have those opinions. So that’s a beautiful thing. So if you’re a know it all highly recommend a career in thought leadership. Great path. 

Ned Hayes [00:02:34] Well, you’ve worked with a number of great publications like Retail Wire and Retail Minded, and so could you tell us the story of how you ended up writing for them? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:02:43] When I was working in Off-Price Retailing magazine, I really enjoyed the role. I got to go to a lot of big trade shows. I got to see what was happening behind the scenes, meet very fancy people. For the first time in my life, I’m originally from Wisconsin, so it was quite a revelation to me. But I was working in an office every single day and eventually the creative wellspring began to run a little bit dry. So from there, Nicole Rila from Retail Minded had noticed my work. We had met very briefly at tradeshows before and she reached out to me directly when I left Off-Price and began my freelancing career. She was looking for a writer at that time, so I came in as content lead and working with Nicole, I was able to do trade show video content. We did a morning show at ASD. They had cardboard cutouts of us when we first walked in the doors. That was a highlight for me for sure. And then Retail Minded reached out to me about the same time because they saw what I was doing with Generational Thought Leadership. So when I first came into this industry, there were a lot of people talking about how Millennials and Generation Z like to buy, and none of them were Millennials or Gen Z. None of the writers had an understanding of hipster culture, and that was home to me. So I started writing about that because I knew it. It was interesting to me and also nobody else was saying what I was seeing at that time. So it was an interesting way to break into an industry that so few people end up in. 

Ned Hayes [00:04:12] Right. So it sounds like you brought a lot to them in terms of that knowledge of hipster culture or millennial culture. I’m curious what you learned from them as well. 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:04:21] Starting out with Retail Wire, Retail Wire is very facts oriented. So I learned how to do my research, which in my opinion is one of the most important things that a thought leader can do. I cannot form an opinion that’s worth it salt, without researching everything that’s been written on that topic. So I really learned how to create a basis for opinion, form a good idea, and share that with an audience at Retail Wire. Retail Minded, I got to see a female entrepreneur who knew how to hustle and build a business in an incredibly competitive industry. And I got to work with her one on one and see how it was all done. So that was an incredible opportunity, I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for taking that role. 

Ashley Coates [00:05:06] That’s really cool. So I’m also curious, Jasmine, to hear about your process for coming up with content. We all know that content is so valuable, but how do you think of content ideas? Where does your process begin? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:05:18] It starts with research and this to me is the missing link because I’m not going to sit there and try to form an opinion without seeing everything else that’s been out there or been said in the industry. So there’s 2 to 3 hours of research in every article that I do, and I honestly believe that to create something worth creating worth talking about is really worth it for your audience. The research has to be the absolute foundation. So usually I’ll do my research, I’ll find my backlinks and find my quotes, and then I’ll build up the article from there because the backlinks in the quotes are actually what help me inform my perspective to bring my expertise into it. Without that, it’s just somebody talking in the wind. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:00] You founded your own company back in 2019, and what led you down that path of creating your own brand and your own consulting company? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:06:09] I had seen what was being done in the industry and I saw that there was a gap not only in speaking to generational differences, but also in creating the highly researched content that I believe that the industry needs. So there was a lot of thought leadership without foundation, and I wanted to create something that was based on the foundation of research and industry knowledge, because that’s what I think that all content should help. It’s great to work with an agency, a lot of writers that agencies can produce great content, but you’re not going to get the niche expertize of somebody who actually lives the industry, breathes the industry, it’s what they do every single day. 

Ashley Coates [00:06:49] So can you tell us more about what your services are and who your client base is? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:06:53] Sure. I do a lot of content strategy, as we mentioned, so that essentially looking at a retailer’s existing offerings, their tone of voice, what they want their tone of voice to be and trying to create alignment with that. So I’ve done that for, as we said, Retail Minded, Retail Wire, IBM, the next brick, the list goes on. And then I also speak about generational differences in purchasing behavior. So this is something really cool. I was traveling to a lot of tradeshows before COVID and building up my business in that arena, which was really exciting. And then COVID happened and the world shut down. So since then, I’ve been doing a lot of digital speaking, such as this for brands like the Ohio State, a lot of colleges have been reaching out NYT, a lot of companies like that. 

Ned Hayes [00:07:42] So the key for retail success is customers out there. So how does your targeted content really help to build relationships with consumer customers? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:07:52] I talk a lot about backlinks. I think that that’s one of the most important things out there. So it’s not just creating the content that posits a new opinion, posits new information, creates interest. It’s also creating a funnel for sales and consumers trust brands that have established themselves as thought leaders in their field, just like I believe everybody should trust writers that have established themselves as thought leaders in their field. So coming from that angle, I think that that’s very important. 

Ashley Coates [00:08:23] Yeah. You talked earlier about your personal process for coming up with content ideas and you said it begins with research. I’m curious at your consulting agency what your process is there as you’re working with clients and learning about them? How do you start to lead them towards a content strategy? And then I’m also curious what areas of content strategy are usually overlooked? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:08:46] Oh, that’s a really, really good question. Okay. First and foremost, one of the things that I ask brands to do is to send me three or four websites that they love the tone of voice, that that’s how they want to sound, because I need to know what I’m shooting for with the content. And that can help me create content standards for that individual company, which is very, very important because if different writers are coming in with completely different tones of voice, different perspective, and it doesn’t actually align with that end client, that’s not going to be actionable content. Then I’m writing for me and not the client themselves. So I would say creating content standards is one of the biggest things that I see overlooked in this industry. And I think the reason for that is just that it takes time. There’s a lot of communication to make sure that every single writer has those standards. But let’s say there’s writers out there, there’s no content standard, so they’re creating backlinks to articles that are 15 years old, not relevant. Most publications, Forbes or publications in that vein have a three year or less content standard. Do you write the word percentage or do you use the percent symbol? Even little things like that when there’s dissonance between different branches of the company and different voices, that can create dissonance for the end consumer because they want to know who you are. That means making a commitment to a certain tone of voice and a certain brand. 

Ashley Coates [00:10:15] Absolutely. Well, I know at the top of this interview, Ned mentioned that you’re moving to Sure Front. 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:10:21] Yes. 

Ashley Coates [00:10:21] Why Sure Front now? And how will Sure Front use your great skills? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:10:24] So I’ll tell you what, I have been doing this for eight years and there’s a lot of hustling involved. I love writing. I love thought leadership. And I get really, really passionate about the brass tacks and things. So thats the stats, the product, things like that. So at this phase of my career, I was really looking for a company that I could partner with and just grow. I wanted to put all of my force behind something because since I’m somebody that has a lot of interests, it’s very easy to feel a little bit scattered or out to sea. So I wanted to put my full force behind the company that I believed in to create measurable impact that I could then point to. And that’s the opportunity that I have at Sure Front. 

Ashley Coates [00:11:08] Congratulations. 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:11:09] Thank you. 

Ned Hayes [00:11:10] You’re continuing to create fantastic articles and articles that have a lot of depth to them. So I’d love to talk about some of the trends that you’ve seen in recent content you’ve written. For example, you wrote for the Robin Report. You wrote about shoppers wanting to balance sustainability with affordability. So could you speak a little bit to what you discovered there? 

Ashley Coates [00:11:34] It was a really fascinating topic to write about, because one of the things that I had seen is all of the data that I was seeing about next generation shoppers, my generation, Gen X, everything was saying that we favored sustainability over all else. In the same vein, the fast fashion market is booming, never been bigger. So I wanted to write about reconciling those two. One of the things that I have seen that’s actually really exciting is a lot of fast fashion retailers that are coming out with sustainable lines. I’m actually working on another article for the Robin Report right now that talks about that. But then there’s also that counter message that saying, look, buying secondhand isn’t actually saving the environment. You’re still shipping, there’s still all of these aspects that are going into it. So there’s a lot of conflicting narratives around that. And one of the things that I’m trying to do is actually find the truth. How can someone buy sustainably at a low price point that actually benefits the world? 

Ned Hayes [00:12:34] Well, I think one of the other articles I found really fascinating was your recent coverage also for the Robin Report on the cannabis industry and how cannabis and retail, a phrase that we wouldn’t have said ten years ago or even maybe five years ago. Now, cannabis is part of the conversation at retail stores. So you must have been really fascinated to dig into that market and learn how this market is growing and how retailers can take advantage of the opportunity. 

Ashley Coates [00:12:59] Yeah, absolutely. And one of the interesting things to see is how subversive of a topic cannabis used to be. It used to be considered very rebellious even five years ago to talk about anything cannabis related, and that’s completely changed. So global cannabis sales are actually predicted to jump 22% this year alone. 

Ned Hayes [00:13:18] Wow. 

Ashley Coates [00:13:19] It’s going to be intense. But one of the things that I wanted to focus on in my article with that is the fact that the market is no longer considered subversive. It’s no longer rebellious. Cannabis manufacturers or growers and packagers are now becoming the man. So that’s when I started to talk about psilocybin at the end of the article, because one of the interesting things that I’ve been seeing is every single brand, every brand from cloth to Levi’s, everybody has implemented little mushroom patches, little mushroom necklaces into their offerings. And I would say psilocybin is the new cannabis, which is just fascinating to see in this lifetime. 

Ashley Coates [00:13:59] Yeah. Well, just to chat about some other trends, too, I’m very curious to hear your perspective on customer loyalty programs these days. And what role does customer loyalty play in today’s economy when shoppers really value convenience and speed and saving money? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:14:17] One of the things that I’ve seen that I would really caution you so I’m going right to a cautionary tale is say be very, very careful about your influencer marketing program outreach, because what I’m seeing, even on my own Instagram, is being bombarded with companies looking for influencers that reduces the credibility of the company. It creates dissonance. I no longer trust this company because they want me to be an influencer for 5% off of the next product. And I think that’s something that retailers have to be really, really careful about. Plus, a quick follow up. If anybody messages them about said programs with this outreach, it’s definitely a blind spot for a lot of retailers right now. So I would say to monitor that very, very closely. Another thing that I’m seeing is companies investing in Facebook and Instagram ads that are not targeted for that consumer. So I would love to be able to fill out a set of standards on social media platforms that adjust the ads that I get. The reason for that being, I’m a vegan. I have steak advertised to me all the time. Beef jerky, this new non-vegan collagen product and all of that is more of a turnoff than no advertising at all and allowing somebody to find the company in their own time. So I see advertising and the loyalty initiatives going awry is a really big part of the problem for a lot of retailers because that’s creating dissonance instead of trust. And one of the things that I tell retailers is be more transparent, be more open. Suit up and show up. And that’s something that I’m not seeing in a lot of these. 

Ned Hayes [00:15:55] Right. So what about technology usage in retail? Do you see that retailers are using technology in productive ways or not so much? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:16:03] I see retailers using technology in productive ways when the technology is catered towards reducing shrinkage and opening the lines of communication. One of the most exciting things for me is reducing top down communication in the retail industry because like I said, I’ve been on the front lines. I have seen companies make moves that were shocking to me at the time and the ability to actually interact with the front lines here. What’s happening? That to me is one of the most exciting uses of technology. 

Ashley Coates [00:16:36] Any specific emerging technologies that retailers are using that really excite you? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:16:42] Well I’m going to say product lifecycle management technology is very exciting to me right now because that’s what we’re going to be working on with Sure Front and that’s actually going to allow retailers to eradicate a lot of that top down communication when it comes to individual products. 

Ned Hayes [00:16:56] As we look at the future, I’m curious if you see any new technology changes in retail or if you see retail moving in certain directions, like where are we going to be in 5 to 10 years? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:17:08] What I don’t want retail to become is a social media numbers game. I don’t want retailing to be about buying followers. I don’t want it to be about automatic messages. What excites me about retail is the level of transparency and values driven retailing that we’re starting to see in the industry. So that’s really exciting to me because next Gens are actually spearheading this movement. They’re demanding that retailers adhere to their values. They’re not shopping places that don’t. They’re voting with their dollar. And this is something that we haven’t really seen before. So what I want to see is increased transparency. I want to see the CEOs being the spearheads of the company actually interfacing with consumers. And I want to see brands actually take action that aligns with their values, because right now, there’s so many social media platforms and individuals just out there researching, making sure that brands actually walk the walk. 

Ashley Coates [00:18:09] Absolutely. Well, I think that sounds like a great vision. Jasmine, thank you so much for joining us. It’s just a pleasure to chat with you and hear your perspectives on so many areas of the retail industry. We do have one last question for you, which is what do you want your legacy to be? What would you like to be remembered for? 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:18:26] That is such a great question. I would love to be a part of the movement that spearheads the change that’s happening in the retail industry. I would love to be the person who spoke out about generational purchasing behavior and allowed a lot of retailers to update their current strategy to reflect that and to remain relevant. I want to be associated with the good guys. 

Ned Hayes [00:18:50] Well, great conversation. Really appreciate all of the insights that you shared and best of luck at Sure Front as you move forward. 

Jasmine Glasheen [00:18:57] Thank you so much you guys have a good one. Thank you so much for having me. 

Ned Hayes [00:19:01] Spark Plug is a wholly owned property of SnowShoe. All content and copyright 2021 Spark Plug Media.