Don’t tell Josephine Hardy an introverted English literature major from Australia can’t make a great American retail technology marketer.
The 28-year-old founder of InboundMate finds her background fitting — after all, marketing is essentially storytelling, she said.
Hardy earned a degree in creative writing and English literature from the University of Melbourne before moving to Arkansas to be with her new husband in 2014.
“When I left Australia, entrepreneurship didn’t exist,” she said. “They just got Amazon [in December], and there is no Walmart. People there have a more limited view of what they want and what they buy.”
Hardy waited eight months for a work permit, then took an entry-level job writing blog content for the Fayetteville startup DataRank. She was its sole marketer. The job gave her an introduction to retail and branding, and was a good fit. With no budget, she delivered $130,000 worth of inbound sales, and she created content that led to the company being acquired by Simply Measured in 2015.
“It was exciting,” she said. “My education had made me a strong analytical thinker, and I found I could apply those skills in a professional sense, but outside of traditional advertising.”
After the acquisition, Hardy served as director of marketing at Acorn: The Influence Co. before making her entrepreneurial leap in June 2017. Her business largely serves retail technology companies whose clients are retailers and retail brands.
Startups often don’t require degrees and specific experience as larger corporate organizations do, she says. Now she’s drawn to startups as customers.
“Startups have limited resources and marketing. And many feel marketing is optional, but it isn’t,” she said. “Consumers are doing their research, and if your information isn’t fresh, that’s a negative.”
Hardy prefers inbound marketing: providing readers with expertise, so they return to a website to learn more and eventually become customers.
“Don’t be annoying. Be educating and inspiring. Draw them to you,” she said of her style.
Hardy uses Google Drive, Adobe InDesign (for publishing software), and design programs such as Canva and Adobe Spark (for video).
She’s a heavy networker. Her favorite events are through Women in Networking, the Gig Community and Startup Junkie. She started the NWA Professional Women’s Book Club, which has grown to more than 250 members.
Hardy is involved with GiveCamp and NWA TechFest.