Julie Roehm, Marketing Thought Leader

You don’t make the nomination list for the Top 100 Marketer Award by playing it safe. Julie Roehm, Party City’s Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, is living testimony.

Source: JulieRoehm.com

In a consumer landscape newly reshaped by a pandemic, firms were faced with two choices: adapt to evolving needs, or disappear. Despite the uncertainty of the moment, veteran marketer Julie Roehm embraced the former, implementing strategies that kept her organization humming. When traditional marketing tools were upended by the changing policies and practices of 2020, she upended her marketing tools right back. She took a scary moment and found the silver linings—for both her organization and her customers.

Roehm deployed a few key policies to ensure that Party City found a way to connect with consumers under less-than-ideal circumstances. First, she expedited a few initiatives that were already in the pipeline for 2020, among them Party City’s curbside pickup and same-day delivery offerings. In implementing these strategies, Roehm forged key partnerships with transportation professionals and ensured that safety practices were followed end-to-end. Additionally, once Party City’s brick-and-mortar stores began to reopen, Roehm used customer feedback to create safe environments for hesitant shoppers. Sanitation kiosks, plastic barriers, and a “scan and go” app became part of the new normal.

These pandemic-era strategy shifts reflect Roehm’s supernatural prescience: she’s always anticipating pain points, smoothing out customer journeys, and finding ways to, as she once put it, “make the whole thing happy.” Managing a party store in a world that had to stay six feet apart should have been a nonstarter. But instead of bowing to the pressure of this almost comical paradox, Roehm pivoted. She recognized that people at home were still looking for ways to celebrate big moments and small, and that her firm was uniquely positioned to meet this need. An impending graduation or birthday invited an opportunity to drop off balloons via contactless delivery, and long days at home made gardening and wine tasting kits the perfect gift for those looking for new hobbies. And for customers who felt nervous about in-person gatherings of any type, virtual celebration experiences became the new go-to. Roehm saw that real customer needs still existed underneath the pandemic’s frightening veneer, and she found a way to serve.

Party City’s successful pandemic pivot is a testament to Julie Roehm’s bold vision. Instead of hunkering down to wait out the storm, she asked her customers to go with her on a journey that was bound to be a bit bumpy. She knew that the introduction of big changes like same-day delivery and virtual experiences would be difficult in any environment, but the addition of high-stakes safety challenges and a generally anxious feeling in the air made it even more complex. But these bets paid off—many of the practices she implemented during the peak of the pandemic have remained, and even expanded. Now customers who prefer to order their party supplies straight to their home never have to walk into a store again, and customers who like to walk up and down the aisles of their local Party City can still grab a pump of sanitizer at the door if they’d like. Those in between are not far from being able to experiment with experiential digital shopping tools in a Party City metaverse. There’s something for everyone.

Roehm embraced omnichannel marketing and hybrid experiences in a time when others were still reeling from the blow to traditional marketing. She did this by building trust with her team and her customers in a particularly trying time, and articulating a vision of joy and enthusiasm that effectively counteracted the precarity of the moment. By thinking long-term and taking smart risks, she successfully piloted Party City through treacherous waters. Her status is clear: Julie Roehm is a thought leader.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top