How to Effectively Market Trust on Your Platform
Founder of Ganghut
July 30, 2019
How to Effectively Market Trust on Your Platform
Marketing an online platform is all about establishing trust through customer education. In this episode of Platform Players, Ganghut’s Founder, Elle Tucker, talks about how to win user trust with a few expert marketing hacks.
Yapstone presents Platform Players. The sound of Platform innovation at work.
Marketing an online platform is all about customer education. And today, Ganghut’s Founder Elle Tucker, is going to educate YOU about how to win user trust through a few expert marketing hacks.
But first, here’s a little Platform Player FLASHBACK!
Elle and her sister, Roz, were best friends but had vastly different jobs. Roz was a doctor who treated hundreds of patients each year – a noble and understandable profession. Elle, on the other hand, was a little harder to pin down.
Every Friday, the sisters would meet for a glass of wine and after they’d had a couple, Roz would inevitably say:
“I really don’t understand your job, Elle.”
“I run a marketing company for online platforms.
“I don’t get it.”
It’s pretty cut and dried.”
“Why is marketing an online platform different than marketing any other business?”
Elle poured another glass of wine as her mind flashed through all of the intricate marketplaces she’d worked on. One example, in particular, stuck in her head.
“So, I recently got a call from this one founder and he said:”
“We need you to help us market our horse sharing platform.”
“Did you say horse sharing?”
Elle’s sister leaned forward. “So how’d you help him?”
“Well, we did some market research and found that the target demographic –“
“The horse renters…”
“Yes. They – most of them – don’t have a computer. And don’t even use the internet. “
“And that would be a problem for an online business, wouldn’t it?”
“It would. So, we work through these problems. And figure out how to get the audience to engage. Technology has certainly changed our world, but not everyone uses it at the same level.”
“So do you understand now.”
“Yes. You’re a doctor, like me. I may assess and treat the human body, but you assess and treat these…digital bodies.”
FLASH FORWARD! Through her company, Ganghut, Elle has successfully marketed over 30 marketplaces - from gig economy platforms to peer-to-peer rental marketplaces – and everything in between!
Let’s get down to the Nitty Gritty. Take it away, Kurt Bilafer!
Welcome to the Platform Player Podcast where I'm excited to announce Elle Tucker, joining us from GangHut, where we're going to talk about marketing for marketplaces. Elle, welcome to the show.
Help me understand a little bit about GangHut. What was your purpose? What was your compelling event to start GangHut? And talk about the services that you provide.
I wouldn't have said that was a road-to-Damascus moment where I realized that this is what I should absolutely do because nothing is ever that simple, especially for quite a complex niche business like this. I don't think you're ever going to wake up one morning and think, "I need to set up a marketing agency that specializes in a two-sided marketplace." That would be odd.
But lots of paths led me to this point. I think sometimes you can feel everything starting to come together. So, I had worked in advertising. I'd changed career path and worked as a journalist, which I loved, and found myself writing stories about this space, but not even almost realizing that I was writing stories about this space because at the time it didn't almost didn't have a name.
I had written about home sharing, and I had written about sustainability, and these types of things. I knew that something was pulling me in that direction. Then in its early incarnation, we focused on PR, and we worked with a range of very small sharing economy startups, sharing things from handbags to horses – really quite unusual niche startups where everyone was trying out that sharing model.
Then people started coming to me and asking what else we could do. I realized that a lot of the marketplaces that we were talking to were getting bigger and having more marketing budget, and wanting a bit more than PR. To me, that made sense because PR is important, and it's a brand touchpoint, but it doesn't just work on its own. It's great to cover a launch, but you can't put all your eggs in that basket. You've got to be doing other things as well.
I think because this is a brave, new world, you've got to do a lot of testing when it comes to marketing. So, you've got to have lots of channels working so that you can turn up the volume on some and down on others and test and learn as you go along. You've got to be agile.
So, we wanted to do more than just PR, and it all came together, and I have a huge network of really talented marketeers that I work with here at the Hut as we call it. It all came together, and this specialism and this passion came together.
When you're engaging with a marketplace, a new customer, a new client, one of the things you talked about is taking them through a brand workshop. Do you ever help to do an assessment of their trust in what oftentimes we call brand reputation, how they're perceived in the marketplace?
Yeah. That would probably take the form of exploring their customer journey and the barriers that people have and points where people actually drop off along the journey and the reasons that they do that. So, when you're actually planning your marketing strategy, you've got to be able to look at points where you're like, "I did not engage very well with people," or "People are actually dropping off."
Think about, is that to do with a trust issue, and how at that point on the customer journey can we use marketing to fill that gap, and to bolster that trust at that crucial point. That could be through having some sort of – I don't know – some sort of accreditation seal or trust stamp on the website of that crucial point. It might help them or a testimonial from someone, or it could be just that some of the copywriting needs a change of tone and a bit more reassurance.
It's almost like you have to do a diagnosis and work out through research and focus groups depending on at what point they are on their journey. If they're prelaunch, then you need to test the messaging because it could be that nobody has ever done anything like this before.
We get marketplace entrepreneurs coming to us with ideas. Literally, there's nothing like that. Nobody's ever done this thing. That is amazing and exciting for us. But it's not like you can just look at another company and compare what they're doing and have a look at that and do a bit of research.
Sometimes, the idea is brand new, so when it comes to trust, you're really starting from scratch. You've got to do the research. Find out what people would think of this idea and at what point they might be losing faith in it and be concerned. Work your marketing strategy around that and make sure that you are doing everything you can to make sure that the person doesn't lose trust and walk away.
This fascinating conversation is brought to you by Yapstone, the premier payments provider for the platform economy. As Elle's story suggests, the platform economy is significantly impacting the way marketing is done. Recent studies certainly support that. So, let's pause here and look at your Five Fast Fun Facts.
1. According to Forbes, the sharing economy has created 17 unicorn businesses with revenues over one billion.
2. TechCrunch predicts that the sharing economy will ultimately make marketing better, placing niche marketers in niche industries for greater impact.
3. According to Marketing Insider Group, building trust is one of the most important factors of marketing sharing economy materials.
4. Fast Company says that social media is a huge marketing driver for the sharing economy, and some companies spend up to a quarter of their revenues on marketing alone.
5. Research by Demly found that the majority of sharing economy conversations are happening over Twitter.
And those are the facts. That was fun. Now, let's get back to our conversation.
What's interesting about the platform economy is that if you explain it in the right way, especially to people of an older generation, they can relate to it and understand it a lot more than you would think, simply because what technology has enabled us to do is to connect with people in a way that's actually quite age-old and people have been doing for years.
So, when I explain it in those terms, that technology has allowed people to rather than just go to companies for their goods or services, it allows them to go to the people around them, their neighbors, their peers. When I explain it like that to my mom who's in her 70s, she sees the value in it because what you're doing is, you're creating virtual communities by your phone, or your laptop, or whatever platform you're using. That can then translate into a community on the ground, so to speak.
By using a carshare platform or carshare app, I'm actually probably going to end up borrowing my neighbor's car or a car nearby. That's what people used to do in the old days anyway. So, for my mom, actually, it's quite an accessible concept because it's almost winding back the clock to do the things that we used to do well, but doing them even better now because they're enabled by technology. So, there's a bit of forward-looking, but also a bit of retrospective in there as well.
I agree. I think one interesting thing is marketing has gone through this transformation of being primarily focused on demand-generation and building the brand and those sorts of things to more of like storytelling, and assisting with user adoption and return visits while reducing churn.
Do you think platforms or marketplaces really understand that, or do you still think they're like, "Hey, I'm going to focus on the demand side, and I just need to send out emails to people saying, 'I have the app, and here's what it does at a high level.'" Do you think they really understand levels of sophistication, especially when you're undoing or changing a set of behaviors as fundamental as like owning a car?
What's interesting is, I have an 18-year-old daughter and many of her classmates don't have a driver's license yet. When I was growing up, on your 16th birthday you were at the DMV wanting to get your license. So, as you said, there are some fundamental cultural changes. Do you think marketplaces really understand how important and impactful marketing can be?
I don't think many of them do, and I think in a way that's how we sort of set ourselves really as problem-solving this. I've got a step-daughter who's 20, and none of her friends are interested particularly in driving. Their attitude toward ownership of assets is similar to the whole Netflix idea, isn't it? It's more of a rental concept in their heads. They're not so interested in buying things.
But back to what you were actually saying there, I think that just simply by pushing out messages to get people to build up a provider infantry is really not enough. That simplification of the marketing side of it using these simple growth techniques that you might use for other types of business, it's not enough when you need to educate, and you need to build trust as well.
Also, they say that people will act when they've been supplied messages from several touchpoints. You've got to understand that the nudge might come from a direction or channel that you don't really necessarily anticipate. So, it could be that somebody has read about a marketplace in some editorial or in some media coverage, and that's helped them to build trust.
And they've read something online through an inference of a blog post or something. That might not be enough to make them actually act. So, they've got to be reassured and educated in several ways before maybe they're actually going to click through on that social ad or whatever it is that actually converts them and gets them to sign up.
I think more than ever you need that multichannel approach to marketing with marketplaces because there's quite a big job to be done there, much more so than just selling a product.
What's interesting is, in my role and for the last couple of roles I've had, I run both marketing and sales, and what I hear a lot of what you're talking about seems to be coming from your journalism roots of really understanding the story and what are we selling for lack of a better term? What's the story behind what I'm putting in the email or on the website? How has your journalistic background really influenced how you're approaching these problems?
Yeah, that's interesting actually because I think that there has to be a story to tell about a brand, and I think it goes right back to quite often the reason that the brand came about, the why of the brand. We run brand workshops here at GangHut, and we're really interested in the story that a brand has to tell.
Quite often, entrepreneurs will come to us and say, "You know, the reason that I came up with this idea was because one time this happened, and I realized that I wasn't a this, or I was in this situation where this." To me, that's an amazing thing that you would actually create a marketplace because of something that happened to you when you realized there was a space for this and a need and something that you wanted, or you felt inspired to do.
So, right from that beginning of a brand, there's a story to tell. That goes right through the marketing journey and right through the relationship with us here because I think if you can communicate that story and that comes into your creative approach and your overarching, maybe your creative theme that you might be using for your marketing materials. That will be your differentiator, and it will set you apart from other brands if you really have a story to tell.
You see so many brands just not doing it very well and not really getting their why across. People act on emotion, and people need to feel something. It's just not enough. I have brands that I talk to, marketplace brands, and sometimes they'll say, "Yeah, we're doing these testimonials on our social channel. Yeah, we've got a creative theme out there." I say, "What is it?" They're like, "We're using testimonials." I'm like, "That's not it. It's got to be something, as you say, tells the story.
I think that is really important to me from being a writer for most of my working life in various forms. I feel that you have to tell a story. That goes right through to the actual, more obvious use of a story, which is when you're selling in the marketplace to the media, and you're actually getting other journalists to write about it. There has to be a clear story there and a hook and something that's readable and interesting.
So, when I'm talking about the brands that we work with, I love taking it right back, and telling people about how it came about, and taking that story right through, and showing people how far they've come, and how the people that are using that marketplace have changed their lives.
I suppose that's where I kind of little [strap plane / strat plan] comes from. Let's tell the world how your marketplace could change it because I wanted to get across that there's a story for every marketplace, and your marketing needs to tell that.
Platform Players is brought to you by Yapstone, the premier payments provider for the platform economy. Ohhh, it looks like we're speeding toward the end of our show, but we have just enough time for Tick Tock where Kurt gets up close and personal with our player. Kurt, your time starts now.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My husband often says to me, and I don't know if this is something that is a quote from somebody or just a good piece of advice, but he often says to me, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." I have to remind myself that every day. Having a startup is not easy, and there are twists and turns.
I have to remind myself that the journey is not meant to be straight and smooth because like he says, everyone would be doing it then. People drop off along the way on the startup journey, and I think if you can hang in there and just treat your failures as learning events, then you'll be okay.
Absolutely. What's your favorite smell and sound?
It has to be a baby's head, surely, for smell. I mean, what's better than that? The smell of youth, that sort of milky baby head smell. You can't beat that. Sound, well, I think being a mom and an entrepreneur, I would just say silence really. It kind of has to be at the moment. I might be ready for noise again soon when they're a bit older.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
I would probably have continued to work as a journalist because I think that I really feel a connection with that world, and I think that's one of the things I really bring together is that I love the media and storytelling. So, I don't think that I have yet to write my last story. I don't think so. I think I still have that in me. I still sometimes feel that I see myself as a writer above all things. I would probably have continued to do that if this amazing opportunity hadn't come my way.
Elle, thank you again for joining us on Platform Players Podcast. I really enjoyed that conversation, and I expect the founders who listen to this podcast have a better understanding for how marketing plays a role in marketplaces in gaining trust.
I hope so, Kurt, and I've really enjoyed it. So, thanks very much for having me.