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Top 3 Marketing Rules for the Collaborative Economy

By Christopher Skinner


Businesses in the Collaborative Economy, like Ebay and AirBnB, are especially interesting to me. By challenging existing business models, often at the expense of higher profits, they change the way we live and work. They have certainly changed the way I do things; Uber alone helps me save $40 on my near-weekly taxi ride to Chicago O’Hare while removing the uncertainty, and anxiety, around getting a cab.

Because of this personal interest, and this belief in their model, I like to work with these companies. Over the last few years, I’ve amassed some lessons-learned for the marketers and C-level executives heading them up.

So, here are the Top 3 things you need to understand to increase revenue and show significant progress to employees, investors and customers:

1.  Understand you are likely reaching a niche audience first  
Dont try to appeal to everyone, everywhere. Land the plane and get traction on your core. Too much distraction and attempting to appeal to everyone results in a lack of clear voice.

You’re in a low margin, efficiency-innovation business which means that while you are innovative, you are also just improving upon an existing means of doing something. And that existing way is a well-organized, bureaucratic company with the money to stop you. If you are working off of 20% margin or less, you can’t make big mistakes and you can’t risk inefficiency so mass marketing is out— save it for later when you have household recognition and go after your niche in the mean-time.
2.  Understand you are solving a problem
Very few collaborative economy companies hit it big. Why? Too often they focus on what they can build and not what the customer is trying to solve. You’re not selling a drill, you’re selling a hole. You have to get into the customers head. Think about McDonalds. They’re not selling food, but convenience and consistency.

Solving for what people really are trying to do is difficult but worth the effort.  
3.  Understand your potential market share
This is a big one: in order to determine how big your business can be, you need to quantify the addressable market. Doing this combines point one and two above: first, determine what the job is, then discover how many people have this need. This takes quite a bit of third party data, but also uses what you have in stock: your existing customers. Profile them, then go looking for how many people look like them. How many of them are you currently capturing vs. how many you should be?

Where does all this understanding get you? Decent growth and proof for your investors that you have a predictable and profitable way to scale.  

Posted October 22nd, 2014 in Uncategorized,


Can DMPs Roll With Change?

By Christopher Skinner


As an increasing number of marketers shift budget to more accurate means of reaching their audience, cookies are likely to become a thing of the past. But what does this means for the ad technology and analytics built around them?

One recent article suggests that the cookie’s inadequacy is “starting to cast a shadow on a DMP landscape that has placed all of its chips on the third-party cookie.”
A timely example of the proliferation of person-based data is the re-launch of Facebook + Atlas.  This is a great technology that will link online impressions to offline purchases. But it still has shortcomings, specifically in its audience composition.
Bottom line is that DMPs that embrace the shift towards one-to-one marketing, and provide measurement that integrates the CRM data with third party data will continue to be a valuable tool. The question is, how many will survive the transformation?   

Posted October 20th, 2014 in Uncategorized,


What’s Your Marketing Worth?

By Christopher Skinner


Marketers have always been plagued with proving the direct impact of their spending.  As pressure mounts from the higher ups, CMOs still aren’t confident they can provide quantitative proof of their efforts.
As I’ve said before, to make an impact on a company, and provide measureable ROI, you must talk about how you can grow the business.  You must offer a compelling marketing framework for drilling into new markets and uncovering areas with the greatest potential for profit.

Posted September 22nd, 2014 in Uncategorized,

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