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Ep. 104 – Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe – “I focus on understanding customers’ needs and not just coming in with an overarching strategy. I also pull my sleeves up and help them execute and implement on that strategy.”

Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe

Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe Show Notes

Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe, Principal and Founder, Social Espionage

Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe was born in New York City to French and Italian parents. Her father’s passing caused her family to move to Europe, where she became somewhat of a nomad. She has lived in Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Dorothéa is a strategic digital marketing executive who is fluent in 4 languages and specializes in developing business through digital, influencer and social media marketing for the world’s most memorable brands. Dorothéa teaches marketers and business leaders how to increase value and develop strong relationships between brands and fans.

There are 4 distinct areas of her business:

  • eCommerce: Deep understanding of taking Big Data to inform and implement UX, CRM, iOT, and AR/VR programs to assist in buyer decision making
  • Personal Branding: For c-suite executives, recruiters, legal and medical professionals, entrepreneurs and celebrities
  • ESN (Enterprise Social Networking): Creating integrated customer & employee engagement for communities.
  • Marketing Strategist: Digital Transformation, Social Media, Influencer and Content Marketing Strategy

Additionally, Dorothéa has appeared as a social media strategy subject matter expert on CBS and CNN.

Dorothéa is an avid skateboarder who tweets to relax. Follow Dorothéa on Twitter & Instagram @socialespionage

Most passionate about

  • Today, I’m heavily involved in marketing strategy in the four areas of my business: digital transformation, e-commerce, influencer, and content and social media marketing, as well as personal branding. The moment I’m done with our interview, I’m heading to a client’s.
  • I work just about every day, I take Saturday afternoons off. People always ask me, Why do you work so much? And I say, well I don’t really consider it work because I love what I’m doing, so to me, it’s not really work! And when people say to me, But you don’t have much of a weekend! I answer: I’m an entrepreneur! There’s no such thing as a weekend.

Digital Transformation

  • Digital transformation, when you think about it as a whole, is the transformation of a business, and even the organizational activities, the processes, the competencies, the models of the business, to really fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies, and also their accelerating impact across the future of societies in a strategic and prioritized way. A lot of that sounds like high level stuff, but really, digital transformation isn’t just about technology.
  • I read a recent survey in Harvard Business Review, it was of directors, CEOs, and senior executives, and they found that digital transformation was their number one concern because they felt their companies were at risk of not keeping up the pace in their industry. 70% of all digital technology initiatives unfortunately do not reach their goals, and a lot of that is because it has to always be with people first. I think that part of that is communication failure; I think that they get so excited about a new technology or a new way of teaching their employees or certain departments within their organization that they wind up losing sight of the fact that it’s really about people.
  • So, it’s really important that you understand and figure out your business strategy before you invest in any kind of technology.
  • Digital transformation, when you think about it, is understanding how to design the customer experience from the outside in. In order to improve customer satisfaction, you have to have some intimacy with the customer. There has to be some sort of diagnostic or surveying phase, where you’re listening to the customer, you’re understanding: what are the things we’re doing that work well, what are the things that maybe we’ve failed at, what are the strengths and weaknesses of our product, service, or solution, and understanding that our customers are also stakeholders in our business. If you go in a totally different direction from what their needs are because you want to follow the industry, you may lose a customer and it’s really important that you design that customer experience from the outside in, that you take them on the journey with you and I also think that it’s important that there are certain employees that I call them the ‘front line.’ People talk to customers everyday, customer service reps, people in sales, they’re bringing back information, not just from the customer but potential competitors and it’s important that you put them on your team as well, if you’re creating, let’s say, a digital transformation team, that they are also part of the conversation. It makes them feel like they also have ownership, but you’re also creating the opportunity to give them the feeling that they too are stakeholders in the process.

Who are your customers?

  • While I’m not a ‘Jacqueline of all trades’, I feel I’m very good at understanding the customers’ needs and not just coming in with an overarching strategy. I also pull my sleeves up and help them execute and implement on that strategy. What happens more often than not is customers might not have the staff in place, so I’ve done things like write job descriptions, recruit employees, train employees, and I think that my customers appreciate that because I’m not doing something as, oh look, I’m a big, great strategist, I’m now a partner to them. I’m almost a member of the family.
  • I think the most important thing there is that I really understand their plight. If their plight is hey, we’re trying desperately to create the type of community where our customers feel comfortable coming to us with problems before they leave for a competitor, then I’ve done my job. So, I think it’s really important to partner and not necessarily make your clients feel like you’re just the one providing answers.

Best advice for entrepreneurs

  • I think that it’s very important that they meet the customer where they are. As an example: communication is very fragmented, you may call a potential customer but then they may come to you and connect with you on LinkedIn or go to your website and sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media; they may begin the conversation on another channel.
  • I’d like to use our communications as an example, if I may: We met as Social Media Marketing World, through Mark Schafer, a loved, trusted, and admired friend of us both. We began to connect, as people do, on LinkedIn and other places, to give each other insight into our lives and what it is that we’re about. Well, guess what? If you’re a brand or an entrepreneur, how people are finding out about your company? They’re not just going to your website, they’re just like you and I, to set up this call today. The conversation first started at the event, face to face, then we followed up very professionally on LinkedIn and through email, then the conversation moved to Whatsapp, where we were already connected, then you asked for some information that I provided over email, then again over Whatsapp, and now we’re talking over Skype. So think of all the different places to communicate with people.
  • We live in a world of pan-communication, where customers may decide the channel with which to speak with us, and it may be multiple channels, but we need to be able to, 1: listen and 2: establish our voice, so it not only has integrity and authenticity, but also that our voice is the same throughout. Though, you can’t do that without having a good communication strategy and really knowing who you are, so if I could offer any advice to an entrepreneur, it’s meet the customer where they choose to communicate with you. So, you may not think, oh I don’t need to be on Instagram for my business, we sell widgets. Guess what? If your customers are on Instagram, and that’s where they want to communicate with you, you bloody well better be on Instagram! So, my first thing, if I was to give anybody advice, it would be to meet the customer where they are, and the second thing, and this is for everybody really, listen.

Biggest Failure

  • In the marketing world, we like to use the phrase ‘failing forward’, meaning you’ve learned something that has transpired in your journey. So, I was, at the very beginning of my business, I was engaged with a very large brand that was highly political, they had a very interesting infrastructure in that they were a very political organization, fiefdoms there were siloed they didn’t really understand how meaningful social media could actually be for them. Part of what my role was to spend time with people in director and VP level roles to educate them, specifically listening tools, because marketing technologies is one of my areas of expertise. What ultimately happened is I allowed myself, because I was new to entrepreneurialism, I allowed myself as a consultant, to be ‘brain-raped’. That is a term for when people get as much information out of you as they can, then they don’t hire you.
  • I was so young, and so wanting to inspire and empower people and teach them that this one individual, and it’s so funny because I was talking to someone about him yesterday, this one individual at this very large, very political brand, he got as much information out of me in our meets then decided not to hire me and used some of the information I imparted in his presentations to other folks within the organization.
  • Luckily, some of the people who were in that organization had known me, I’d worked for them, they knew about my methodology, they knew some of the terms I liked to utilize, and they immediately saw it for what it was, so that did get back to me. I felt, to some degree, vindicated, but I think when you work as an entrepreneur you so desperately want to get the business, you so desperately want to do right by the customer that you lose sight of the fact that you also have to protect your IP, your intellectual property. I was so young in my business, and was so excited to meet with this person, I was so honored to have an audience with him that ultimately what happened is that I allowed that person to take advantage of the fact that I was so new to what I was doing.

Biggest Success

  • I’ve been involved with a brand at L’Oreal that is all about skin cancer prevention and my late George, at the end of his life, had an undiagnosed melanoma on one of his lymph nodes and that’s what ultimately caused the Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the cancer got into his lymph system and was gone in only a matter of days.
  • So, I made it my mission to protect and take care of my own skin and the skin of my family and others because I feel like if I could tell that story over and over again. My dear friend said to me, Oh my god, you’re living your mission! If George were still here today, he would see that you’ve helped created products to prevent what happened to you from happening to other people, but you’re also living your mission in that you’re sharing with people that they can prevent losing a loved one by educating themselves on skin cancer prevention.

Tool recommendation

  • I’m not going to name the name of the tool, but I’ll tell you the types of tools; I have to be vender agnostic. There’s no one tool that’s a magic bullet. But I will say, if you are an entrepreneur and you really want to understand your customer, get your hands on a listening tool, some solution that will go out and provide you with:
  • In order to get an idea on where you sit against your competitors, and we use this term sometimes, not just in social media but also in public relations, called Share a voice. Also, secondarily, your reputation. It’s also good to listen because you can see what are people saying about you that are and aren’t customers? What is the feeling that you are leaving them with when they do business with you? I say this all the time in personal branding and branding in general. When you think about branding and your net promoter score, or what people are saying about you, it’s the perception or emotion maintained by somebody other than the people in your company, meaning your customers, of describing what it’s like to have a relationship with you, to have an experience with your brand. So, it’s really important, from a brand reputation perspective, that you listen and then finally, sentiment. What’s the sentiment? What’s that net promoter score? What’s the final result when you look and listen carefully to what people are saying, what’s your share of voice, is it positive, negative, or if it’s neutral. So, by implementing something as simple as a listening tool, you can gain and gauge some idea of what’s being said, how it’s being said, and what that might mean to your brand.
  • If they want to follow me at Twitter ad Instagram, and direct message me, I’ll happily take a short call with them, whether it’s over Skype or what have you to ask them a series of questions and then lead them down the path of what the right tool might be because no two listening tools are alike. Some of them are very easy and are starter level, some of them go even as far as to listen to the influencer population and what they’re saying about a brand and if you are a brand that markets yourself a lot to consumers that might be more important to you. I don’t want to ever make the mistake of not listening first to what he needs are and the goals are and understanding someone’s business before I go willy-nilly and recommend something.

Following SMMW19, in terms of social media for entrepreneurs, what tools you recommend focusing on?

  • If I were an entrepreneur and just starting out today, I’d be all in and focused Instagram. I really would. That’s where I’d be pushing all of my clients. Even B2B clients. You’d be amazed the conversations that are happening there, and also how easy it is to utilize. I think Instagram, in my humble opinion, is where everything is happening, and I would recommend to everyone to spend some time getting to know how to utilize that specific social platform.

Key Success Factor

  • For me personally, the thing that’s kept me going is that I really want to inspire other people. If I can open up their mind or teach them something, maybe something that didn’t exist in their business before, create an efficiency so they can make more money, or help them understand their marketing, return on investment or opening up a new door for them so they can build a community around their product, service, or solution. If I can boil it down into one word it would be: inspiration.

Dorothéa’s Mountain

Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain; I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed.

  • I grew up around mountains in Italy in an area called Abruzzo, which, if you are familiar with the books of Ernest Hemmingway, it’s mentioned in the book, For Whom The Bell Tolls.
  • So, my relationship with mountains is somewhat romantic, but also when you think in a literal sense, I’ve had my fair share of them in my personal live. First, the first mountain was losing George. And that was the Mt. Kilimanjaro.
  • And then, 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That was a big mountain as well because as an entrepreneur, it was very difficult for me to take that kind of time away from my business. I couldn’t square that; really understand that I had to do this because if I didn’t, I may not survive. In each instance, I think the thing that got me through was the thing that I love the most and that is work. My work is the stick I use to climb my mountains.
  • Something I want to say to all entrepreneurs when it comes to mountains or obstacles, don’t give up. Never give up. Anything is possible. I’m the perfect example of somebody who came from a completely different industry and had this idea, had this someone beside me that was willing to give me the courage to do it. Don’t give up; that’s the most important thing.


The Best way to contact Dorothéa:

More links related to Dorothéa’s professional activities:

  • –  The TED talk that shares my journey from law enforcement strategy to marketing & business strategy.
  • –  An interview with Billy Boozer of Coffee Shop Talks. You can view that here.
  • –  The Canadian BOILING POINT podcast where we discuss the ‘customer’ as it pertains to business growth for owners in North America.
  • –  HOW LIVE podcast where she describes socio-technographics.
  • –  HOW DESIGN LIVE keynote in front of 6000 audience members.


Dorothéa recent iOT projects for L’Oreal (see below) has just sold 500,000 units:

We did a soft launch at CES this January 2018 but as you know I have been working on this for a couple of years now – I wanted to share that my product  launched with L’Oreal and we landed in Vogue and Wired and I just did a video on my Instagram account: Dorothéa’s Instagram describing what it does for the skin.


More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest postHow these three successful entrepreneurs build their market leadership
  3. Former interview: A special episode from the SMMW19 conference in San Diego with Bea Pole-Bokor – from a professional diplomat working in UNESCO to a social media successful entrepreneur


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