William Mullan graduated from Digital Marketing at General Assembly New York’s campus in 2015. Since joining Raaka Chocolate, he’s developed the company’s marketing efforts and advanced from an intern into the Director of Marketing. Now, William blends his passion for chocolate with marketing skills and techniques to share Raaka’s unique brand story in a way that is honest and engaging.
What were you doing before you came to GA?
I was working for Raaka as a sort of departmental helper with mostly marketing-related tasks like preparing materials for the sales staff (wholesale sheets, press kits, etc.), teaching chocolate making classes, and giving tours or doing social media.
How did you hear about GA?
You started off as a “jack-of-all-trades” at Raaka. How did you evolve into your current position as Director of Marketing?
I think my skill set and interests naturally gravitated toward the storytelling side of Raaka. I come from a film production background, and I tend to think in visuals first.
I reached out to Raaka for an internship. After two months I was hired full-time. I guess the team was pleased enough with my ability to “tell the Raaka story” that I was gradually given more marketing-related tasks.
When I Googled what I do on a daily basis back before signing up for GA, it fit the “Marketing Director” description. I figured it was time for me to learn real technical marketing skills on top of soft skills.
Tell us about Raaka Chocolate.
Raaka is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Red Hook, Brooklyn specializing in making delicious chocolate without roasting. Traditionally, cacao beans are roasted to make chocolate for that classic “chocolate-y” flavor that consumers expect.
At Raaka, we skip roasting in favor of preserving the natural flavor of the cacao bean. Instead of roasting, we source the best tasting cacao we can find and look for other ways to bring out the flavor such as aging, and combining cacao with teas and spices.
Our Bourbon Cask Aged 82% bar won a Good Food Award in 2013 and we offer a variety of both innovative and classic chocolates, like Mint & Nibs, Pink Sea Salt, Ghost Pepper, Smoked Chai, and Coconut Milk. We also offer a monthly subscription called First Nibs.
What should people consider as they’re exploring which kind of chocolate they like? Is the process similar to that of finding your favorite wine?
Percentage and flavor profile. Do you like a dark chocolate? If so, how dark? Super dark is 85%. Light dark is like 70% or 60%. A good start is to begin with a 70% bar and go from there. It’s the sweet spot between bean and sugar. From there, you can explore flavor profiles.
Pay attention to origin and flavor combinations. Do you like your chocolate to be fruitier or nuttier? By being mindful of the bean origin or flavor combo, you can start to see patterns in what sort of bars you tend to favor!
How do you keep track of marketing trends and tools? What do you read? Who do you follow?
Honestly, I stick to fairly traditional channels for now: Mailchimp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. From there, I create content like photos, videos, and printed materials. I like to stick with what is true to Raaka and relevant to our customers rather than try to put things out for the sake of being noisy.
A24 is a company I think does an incredible job on social media. They are magic. I’d like to model our social media after theirs. They know their audience and themselves. It feels like a living, breathing, singular, life form through their social channels.
So what content stays true to Raaka while keeping your customers interested?
Our Instagram is dope. I say that with great pride.
A lot of brands seem to keep their Instagrams squeaky-clean, like all photoshopped and what not. Chocolate isn’t really like that, though. It’s messy and fun and the whole process is visually interesting. I think that puts some customers off, but this is what it looks like! It’s not all wallpaper and gold foil.
Also, I have never seen a chocolate maker just stick their hands in a bag of beans the way they are pictured in many publications. Maybe they all do this when I am not looking. But I don’t think it’s a real thing, so you won’t find this kind of photo on our Instagram.
What advice do you have for people for transitioning into a marketing career?
Push for honesty. Don’t just speak to be heard. I see so much stuff that is tailored to sell rather than be true or unique and I find that troubling. I see a lot of brands that seem to just be marketing companies now. I wonder if they will survive.
I doubt I could do marketing if I am not passionate about it. I learned marketing for Raaka because I care deeply about what we do.
How has GA been a resource for you since you graduated?
Both my professors, Emily and Jon, have been super helpful in giving me more feedback since I graduated. Anytime I have reached out for advice, they’ve been there!
Start something you’re passionate about.