Sramana Mitra: What are the key inflection points? What strategic moves have you made that led to this?
Sean Dawes: For us, it was being able to offer similar content generation that we were used to working with when we worked in-house. We launched our own content video series where we’d purchase vehicles and show the customer what they could do to the vehicle.
We created a series of videos saying, “This is the type of performance or styling products that are available.” There are ways to measure the performance output of the vehicle with a certain product. We were able to demonstrate that through videos and were getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
When the customer comes to you looking for answers to their questions, they want to know that they’re talking to someone who does it themselves. It added a personality to our service. That was a turning point in terms of building customer trust.
Sramana Mitra: You did that through YouTube? What was the delivery model?
Sean Dawes: The video hosting was on YouTube. These videos go on to product pages. They go on to email marketing.
Sramana Mitra: Did you have your YouTube channel?
Sean Dawes: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: How much of a following did you get on the YouTube channel?
Sean Dawes: I think we have a couple of thousand followers but the videos, in aggregate, have a couple of hundred thousand views. For us, it’s more about embedding the videos on the product page on the website to get to people.
Sramana Mitra: We’ve done some stories where the entire product was sold with some level of video marketing, but they developed the YouTube channel. That became the content marketing strategy for the company. You almost had infomercials on a per product basis with videos that gave in-depth understanding of the product to the people who were trying to buy them.
Sean Dawes: Correct.
Sramana Mitra: At what point in the history of the company did you start to do that?
Sean Dawes: I have to guess, but I believe around 2017.
Sramana Mitra: That’s how many years in now?
Sean Dawes: 2017 would be about three years into the business.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of lift did you get by doing that?
Sean Dawes: Our growth rate historically is anywhere between 30% and 50%.
Sramana Mitra: That didn’t change when you introduced this content marketing?
Sean Dawes: Correct. We’ve been growing at hockey stick growth rate for quite some time.
Sramana Mitra: Any other strategic moves worth discussing?
Sean Dawes: It is a marketing strategy, but it’s also a strategic inflection point. Once you start reaching large enough numbers in terms of purchasing power, you start to be able to have strengths and benefits with your manufacturers.
Once we started purchasing inventory, we were able to make changes in terms of providing information back to that manufacturer in terms of how to improve their business. You’re able to work together to grow sales. One of the biggest things in online retail is customers are used to sales. We’re able to provide them with information saying, “This is a good time to run a sale.”
We can’t share any secret information, but we’re able to work together with our partners to say, “Why are you going to run a sale when everyone else is running one? Here is, strategically, a good time that you should consider.” A lot of manufacturers operate in the dark because they don’t see the full picture.
Sramana Mitra: That gives you negotiating power.
Sean Dawes: Exactly.