Teem Insights is a way for key stakeholders at Teemo to share their feedback and insights with the rest of the world.
The Digital Marketing Trend Line
I’m here with Courtney Stuart for Teem insights. Courtney, you’ve been in the digital marketing space, essentially your whole career since its beginnings. There’ve been many changes since you first started. What does that trend line look like from then until now?
A great question, Richard. Thanks for having me today. I think in my career in digital media started with surprise and delight in the early stages during the dot com boom. Then there was this sort of a reckoning of the rapidly expanding industry. There was a correction. And then, I think, since the correction, the ecosystem has gotten much more balanced. But one of the things that has always been consistent through the peaks and valleys has been the requirement for accountability.
When it first started I remember out in California and Yahoo’s headquarters, we were all talking about how we’ve shot ourselves in the foot because this medium is too accountable, right? And we were holding ourselves to exact page views and exact click through rates, whether it was good or bad. And now I think the level of optics an advertiser or an agency or brand has is probably on parallel across any advertising medium, which I think is a good thing.
Yeah. It sounds like that trend is moving in the same direction nowadays, but if you were to look forward to the future, what do you see happening in this industry in five or ten years?
I think there are going to be a lot more challenger brands establishing themselves in the direct-to-consumer space. Whether it’s a mattress company, or a toothbrush company, or a personal hygiene company, a lot of these people are manufacturing and distributing on their own. They’re not going through a large company or a third party distributor. So I expect that trend to continue.
I also think the consumer is getting a lot savvier. They have a lot more tools at their disposal to help them make a decision, whether they’re buying a car or a home, or a book, or vacation. So I think that’s going to help both ends, whether you’re a consumer buying something or a vendor selling something.
I think the level of transparency in the market is going to become an equalizer within the ecosystem. For better or worse, I think the agency model will have to change. Relationships might be a bit strained now.
And then I think brands themselves are becoming much more savvy. And their ability to control their own destiny in digital media has increased. Not that they don’t need an agency to help them make decisions. But I think their ability to do that on their own has gotten much more sophisticated.
Breaking in with the Big 4
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You mentioned direct to consumer brands that aren’t necessarily using big companies or third party vendors to run their business. But at the same time we’ve seen companies like Google and Facebook go and buy up any competitors that impede on their space. How do you feel about the consolidation of power at the top.
Within the digital ecosystem you’re seeing some very big players running the board. You’ve got Amazon. You’ve got Google. You’ve got Facebook. They are able to see into the ecosystem and see pockets of opportunity. They can stifle any development because they’re able to buy their competition or mimic them. You can see the example with Facebook, which owns Instagram. Zuckerberg saw Snapchat come along and applied all of the company’s resources to make sure that Instagram would suffocate or remove all the air out of the room preventing Snapchat from growing. When Snapchat first came on the scene, Zuckerberg applied all this pressure to make sure that competitors would not be able to compete on a level playing field.
Of course there’s healthier competition. But whenever you’re dealing with the big 4 tech companies, there’s always a huge barrier to entry for companies trying to break into the industry in a significant way.
What does that mean for a company like ours, a small company that really specializes?
It’s a good question. I think that we’re a little small to be on those companies’ radars right now. I think in order to differentiate yourself, you need to specialize. And, you need to have a deep expertise in one discipline, in order to either set yourself apart or compete. These big guys do everything. Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon may specialize and make their money from social, search, or consumer products. But they also have these shared budgets which allow them to explore any topic they want.
So if they want to do something, they either build it in-house, partner with a company that will do it from them, or buy up the next best competitor. So what does that mean for a company like us? I think it is exciting to go toe-to-toe with those guys. But it is also pretty nerve-wracking. If we fill a void or we compliment a large solution like a Facebook or a Google then that is mutually beneficial.
A Global Perspective
So you’re tasked with leading all of US business for Teemo. But, Teemo has its roots in France. So, how much does the international background of our company play into our sales pitches?
I think that’s a great question. Having an inherent global perspective gives you and your employees a much broader view of business. And in today’s world that’s absolutely a positive, because you’re US-centric.
The downside is that US business is distinct from French business. If you bring a case study from French McDonald’s to the US, they don’t really care because they are concerned with what’s going on here.
That being said, the French engineering talent is excellent. I would put that toe-to-toe with an engineer from MIT or Stanford any day of the week. In particular I appreciate the directness of the French culture. And obviously having a different mindset but the same goal has its benefits. It tends to broaden our scope and broaden our receptivity to other ideas, which I think is really good.
Explain it to Your Dad
Whether I was explaining what Yahoo was or I’m explaining what Teemo is, I pretend that I am trying to explain something to my dad or my mom.
I want to talk to you about what Teemo does in terms of merging old world KPIs with new world mindsets. So we measure visits, which is the original performance indicator, but we use digital media. And, as a salesperson you must be dealing with both industry veterans and young guns. So how do you bridge the gap there? How do you explain that same thing to anyone, despite their experience or technological events yet?
That’s a great question. I use a pretty simple discipline. And this applies now more than ever because the landscape has gotten so bifurcated. But even back in 1997 when I jumped into the industry and people didn’t know what the Internet was, what digital media was, I used the same principle. Whether I was explaining what Yahoo was or I’m explaining what Teemo is, I pretend that I am trying to explain something to my dad or my mom.
So I think if you distill your offering down into something that’s very easily digestible, and you lay out what you do and you have a couple of good use cases say, you can captivate your audience. If you know your audience, I think it gets really simple. If you’re trying to be too many different things to too many different people what you’re offering gets watered down. And it’s very hard for someone to understand how to use you, let alone how to buy you. So I think to answer your question directly keep it simple: know your audience and understand your limits.
Thank you so much for joining today. I have one last question before we sign off. What’s the one thing that you want the team and the rest of the world to know about you and what you do?
Well, I hope that people that I work with understand my work ethic. And I hope they know we also like to have some fun while we’re all working together. You know, we’re all pushing this rock up the hill together.
Courtney is an expert digital sales leader with two decades of experience. He likes to alpine ski in the winter and body surf in the summer. Find him on LinkedIn.