Trevor is a startup consultant who works with early stage and mid-market companies in CPG, eCommerce and SaaS. He helps companies across a range of needs including product development, pricing, positioning, marketing and developing/scaling revenue.
He is unique in that he not only develops their strategies, but is often hands on, stepping in to hire teams and execute the strategy. He has worked with over 25 brands ranging in revenue from $5M a year to $500M.
We caught up with him to learn about one of his current exciting clients, SearchSpring, and to see if we can pick up some tips & tricks on building a strong product, brand and scaling revenue.
Q: Tell us about Searchspring (who's it for and how's it work?)
SearchSpring is a site search and merchandising platform for mid market and enterprise retailers. We work with retailers ranging between $15M and $250M+ in annual revenue, in industries like apparel, home decor, automotive and B2B.
Our Relevancy Platform helps retailers increase conversion and revenue by creating personalized shopping experiences. We also help retailers operate more efficiently by automating time intensive tasks like merchandising and analytics.
I've personally managed teams of up to 50 people in five retailers. I've seen how much time is spent merchandising products on the site along with constantly optimizing the shopping experience. Our platform solves those two main issues by personalizing the products that are displayed across search, category and product pages and provides an easy to use dashboard for merchandising and marketing teams. Retailers generally see an increase of 10% in conversion within 90 days of implementing our platform on their eCommerce site.
Q: You’ve run marketing & ecommerce for small startups & some big brands like Hallmark. What are the biggest differences in the experience of working for companies of different sizes?
The two biggest differences come down to resources (both financial and human capital) and company dynamics.
In smaller companies you have limited resources, but you can move and iterate much faster. In large companies you have, in some cases, infinite resources, but you're limited in the speed you can move due to the scale and internal processes that come with larger organizations.
The key in both company sizes is being able to set realistic expectations and starting by making small, forward progress. This builds confidence and momentum towards your larger goals.
Q: You’ve been doing this marketing & ecommerce stuff for over a decade now. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson I can give is to focus on product.
Marketing and sales can scale a great product. But if you have a product that is not ready for market or hasn’t found the right fit, nothing you can do will scale it.
You'll spend a lot of money on marketing, when you should have gone back and fixed what was wrong with the product or find what the market needed. This applies for both tech companies and retailers. For retailers, they need to have the right product mix and the right customer experience.
I have seen too many retailers try to sell the same product mix to different customer segments year after year. It doesn’t work. You're just wasting your hard-earned marketing budget.
Instead, find the right product mix for your customers and grow that mix to encourage repeat purchases.
Mobile now accounts for over 50% of retail traffic. For younger generations, it's their go to device. But mobile is still one of the lowest converting channels due to two reasons: the customer experience is generally poor and a good deal of customers are using mobile for the research phase of their purchase.
For the first problem of poor mobile shopping experiences, Apple Pay, voice search and visual navigation are helping retailers close the gap. The shopping experience cannot mimic the desktop site, it needs to be catered to the context of the shopper. Too many retailers assume they can mimic their desktop site, forgetting that the contexts are very different.
The second problem is more of a philosophy change. The key is to see mobile as both a conversion channel and an assisting channel. The buyer's journey will often span across desktop, mobile, in-app and stores.
Retailers need to adopt the thinking that consumers can buy and research. So if a customer does not convert on mobile, they might convert in store. Retailers need to have strong analytics to piece the customer journey together across all devices.
Q: You’ve been working remotely since you moved to Providence last year. Any tips for how to get the most out of a remote work life?
Two tips: First, make sure to spend at least a couple weeks on-site when you start with a client to get to know the team and the key stakeholders. This helps people put a face to your name, establishes relationships and builds credibility.
Second, use hangouts and web conferencing as much as you can. If you rely on email and phone, you quickly can lose the credibility you have because people can’t see you. Being visible on Google Hangout, Skype and other tools provides that connection with the team you are working with and that goes a long way.
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