Recently announced as part of Adweek’s Women Trailblazers council, Rachel is charting new paths for the customer purchase journey by way of the mobile swipe-up. From her prior stint at Gap Inc., at a time when brands were just starting to plant their stakes in social marketing, Rachel saw an opportunity for brands to capitalize on the new wave of mobile eCommerce. See how relentless focus and not waiting for permission helped Rachel build a wildly successful (and growing) eCommerce platform.
Tell us about your background and why you chose to start MikMak?
I’ve been at the intersection of content and commerce for the majority of my life — at 13 years old, I became an eBay power user. Before starting MikMak, I ran global digital and social media at Gap. While there I saw the rise of video, the demise of owned and operated channels, and eRetailers become the new walled gardens. I decided to quit my job at Gap to build MikMak, the next generation eCommerce platform for brands that are sold everywhere. Our clients are brands where the majority of their eCommerce distribution is at major eRetailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sephora and Ulta. Brands like Campbell’s, Estee Lauder, LEGO, L’Oreal, P&G and Unilever license MikMak’s software to make all of their media and creative shoppable at eRetail and DTC. The value MikMak delivers to clients results in driving incremental eCommerce revenue, building qualified shopper audiences, and optimizing creative and media channels for conversion.
What’s currently happening in marketing that most excites you?
"It’s no longer about creativity rooted in “the big idea” but actual content that drives bottom of the funnel conversion."
Selfishly, it’s that shopper marketing has become sexy. Folks who grew up as CPG brand marketers are now being tasked with performance marketing that was never in their lexicon before. It’s no longer about spray and pray awareness-based impressions. Now media platforms, publishers and agencies are being held accountable to drive the bottom line. It’s no longer about creativity rooted in “the big idea” but actual content that drives bottom of the funnel conversion. Don’t get me wrong, you have to build the brand and drive performance all at once. But today, the mobile feed has inverted the shopper journey. It starts with product consideration, and brand building happens after the initial purchase. The game has changed.
What are the biggest changes in your industry and how are you staying ahead of them?
There’s about to be a mega-tension in the market between marketers demanding attribution, seeking new audiences to acquire and GDPR-like restrictions entering the US. Marketers can’t expect partners to do sophisticated audience matching, share audience pools, in a highly regulated market around first-party data. For MikMak, we’re already solving for this today directly with our brand partners.
What defining Challenger Brand characteristic has made MikMak successful?
We have earned a reputation as a trusted eCommerce advisor. When you get a license to our software MikMak Attach, it comes with an expert in eComm and customer acquisition. We train brand marketers and agencies on how to convert customers that live in the mobile feed first. And our software is eye-candy, it’s designed by the social video generation.
What are you currently working on that’s unique or innovative?
Our partners are literally using us everywhere. They use us in all social channels, programmatic, search, branded content, in-app. Our goal is for MikMak Attach to become a brand’s default product details page that can connect to any eCommerce cart. And even more forward-thinking this year, you’re going to see a lot rolling out around MikMak’s eCommerce grocery, same-day delivery, click and collect support.
Tell us about the big learning moments you’ve had along your career path?
I pivoted my company’s business model from a consumer app to an enterprise software platform end of 2016, going into early 2017. It was the hardest moment in my career, I had to restructure my entire business. You have to will your own success. You can’t be married to your own ideas. You have to change course as soon as you see warning signs. For me, it was that the app boom was declining, 70% of all app usage happens via top 200 apps. To succeed as your own destination shopping app, you needed to achieve the scale of eBay. And to do that, you have to pay to play. Moving to an enterprise software model was the right decision. MikMak has been profitable for a year, that’s unheard of for a venture-backed company like ours.
What one leadership trait do you think is most critical to making a Challenger Brand successful?
Focus. Focus on personally only doing tasks that you are the best at. Focus on hiring people who do everything else you can’t do, better than you. Focus on the product that will deliver the most value to your buyer. Focus on the market your product resonates with. Focus on the steps you need to take to get your end goal. Focus on saying no to everything else.
What advice would you give to other marketing pioneers?
Don’t wait for permission, bring work to market and ask for forgiveness after the fact.