It’s more of a place you can come in, see product, buy it. But then how are you competing with these big-box retailers that offer a lot of incentives? You don’t. And the communities and marketplaces already have massive customer bases coming to them for other reasons.
Matthew Zehner is the Founder and CEO of Zehner, a full-service digital agency that connects brands with consumers through strategic design and technology.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Zehner shares his insights on growing a business, digital branding and ecommerce strategy.
Core competencies (1:49)
Niche and focus is the core. A lot of times there are shiny objects that make people extend and say, “I’ll take on this, I’ll take on that.” We did that about five years ago and that was the only time in our organization that we were ever flat for two years in a row.
If two-thirds of major companies will fail in the next 25 years, it makes sense for businesses to find a specialization and move away from a generalized focus. Becoming an expert in your field leads to a higher perception of authority and higher sales conversions, according to Forbes.
Zehner has been lauded for transitioning from a digital product incubator to a fashion/lifestyle and CPT eCommerce that focuses on brands and storytelling as well as the creative and technology of their client’s business. In 2019, Adweek named the Zehner Group one of the fastest growing agencies in the world.
Build a brand (3:23)
Have a story to tell. They’re really solving the question of why from a sales perspective. Why are we creating this product? Why do people want it? How’s it making the world a better place?
Zehner pins his success on working with brands who have a story to tell. Some key criteria Zehner looks at when working with a client: Do they have a track record? Do they see success with what they are doing? Do they believe in their product and does it align with our mission and our values?
When Ghost Flower’s founder had a vision but came up short with how to execute, Zehner joined Ghost Flower as their digital partner to build the brand and launch their eCommerce experience on Shopify Plus. This work ended up earning a Gold W3 Award celebrating digital excellence in the General Website-Fashion for Websites category.
Personally speaking (9:36)
Being able to really own that customer, own their experience, you can increase average order value. You can increase the lifetime value of that customer, you can now re-market and curate. You can personalize. You can create a much better experience to continually improve their lives with the products that you offer.
In today’s age, where personalization for customers is one of the biggest trends, having everything funnel back to a company’s own website is crucial. Companies can pay other platforms to collect their customer data, but that’s not really their customer at the end of the day.
According to MarTech Advisors: “A well-defined customer data management framework can help ensure that valuable customer data is not locked up in silos, but rather flows freely across the organization, not only providing a single source of truth to marketing and other customer-facing functions such as sales and service; but also enabling real-time, data-driven responses to customer actions.”
Give them what they want (10:39)
Personalization, recommendations, and those technologies leveraging your data to then create better customer experiences and get them what they want faster. I think it is where people can get a lot more value than what they’re getting right now. And people aren’t really leveraging that data to the extent that they can.
One of the brands Zehner has partnered with is Rachel Zoe Box of Style. Her well-known brand had an established business and customer following but was looking for help in developing their technology infrastructure. Ultimately Zehner re-platformed Box of Style and built a solution to improve customer experience which resulted in an increased average cart value.
Learning from doing (13:23)
There’s so many patterns in history. I think all the strategies, patterns and principles out there aren’t new, unique things that we’re going to come up with tomorrow. It’s how do we apply those to the technologies, the platforms and the opportunities that we have today to then differentiate and excel these brands.
Zehner finds inspiration from podcasts, in particular the podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz. How I Built This interviews founders on the companies they built and lessons learned along the way. Zehner finds it important to take note of how these companies built their brands—even those who were established 10, 15, or 20 years ago—as it is still very much applicable to today’s business world.