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Tim Peter

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December 3, 2019

The Biggest Risk to Your Business? Becoming a "Hidden Intermediary" (Thinks Out Loud 267)

December 3, 2019 | By | No Comments

Intermediary being bypassed: The Biggest Risk to Your Business? Becoming a Hidden IntermediaryLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


The Biggest Risk to Your Business? Becoming a “Hidden Intermediary” (Thinks Out Loud Episode 267) — Headlines and Show Notes

In business, there are suppliers and intermediaries. And both face serious competition over the next few years. Google, Facebook, Amazon and others continue to create competitive pressures even in industries where they're not a primary player. But the biggest risk your company faces is if these powerful competitors turn your business into a "hidden intermediary." What is a hidden intermediary? Why is becoming a hidden intermediary so dangerous for your business? And what can you do to stop it from happening to you?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud explains what it means to be a hidden intermediary, why it's such a threat, and how you can differentiate your brand and business to triumph against this powerful threat.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — The Biggest Risk to Your Business? Becoming a “Hidden Intermediary” (Thinks Out Loud Episode 267))

    Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

    Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

    Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

    You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

    Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

    Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

    Running time: 17m 35s

    You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

    The Biggest Risk to Your Business? Becoming a "Hidden Intermediary" (Thinks Out Loud Episode 267) — Transcript

    Well, hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 267 of the big show, and thanks so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. It means so much to me. So I think we've got a really cool show.

    There was a post on Seeking Alpha. And Seeking Alpha talks about whether or not people should invest in stocks or not. And I want to be really clear. This is not intended as financial advice. I'm not a financial advisor. I don't make stock picks. So please, please, please don't make, don't make investment decisions based on what I'm about to tell you here.

    But this blogger on Seeking Alpha basically said people should sell their shares in Expedia. And he listed a few reasons why that was so. First, he talked about the fact that that functionally they have no moat. There's nothing that prevents others from entering Expedia's business.

    And he gave a bunch of examples of people who have [entered Expedia's business], among them Airbnb and you know, companies like Marriott focusing more heavily on getting people to book directly with them to make reservations directly with them. And he, he said that this is a real problem for them. And of course he said another huge problem for them is the fact that Google is increasingly getting heavily into the space of letting people find and choose and book hotel rooms, which by the way, that's where Expedia makes most of their money.

    You might think of them as a travel agency where you book your flights or you book car rental or things like that, but about 70% of the revenue comes from actual hotel reservations. So they don't have a big moat. They're facing huge competition from Google, and this makes them an unattractive stock to this blogger.

    Now, I've talked for many, many episodes of the show about the fact that Google is a real threat to lots of companies, and clearly Expedia is one of those, and it's not just Google, right? Facebook can enter these types of businesses and Amazon can enter these types of businesses, and I will link in the show notes to, you know, past episodes where you can hear me talk about that. I don't want to beat that to death.

    What I do want to do is take a step back and talk about why Expedia is in this circumstance that maybe they're in big trouble. And maybe they're not. Maybe this blogger is wrong. But I think he's getting at something that is fundamentally true.

    Which is that one of the things digital does is it exposes what I like to call "hidden intermediaries." You know, we all know what intermediaries are: They're people who facilitate an exchange between a supplier and a purchaser of some kind. But on the internet there are all sorts of hidden intermediaries, and I'm going to explain what that is in a moment.

    Expedia clearly is a traditional intermediary. They connect the sellers of travel — so hotels and car rental companies and airlines — with people who actually want to consume those products, people who need a hotel reservation, people who want to rent a car, people who want to book a flight. So they're a clear intermediary.

    And one of the traditional things that digital has done is created this, this reality of disintermediation, a place where because digital allows for the rapid integration of value chains, it also allows for the rapid disintegration of value chains. You know, we often talk about, we as business people often talk about, you know, integration being this really cool thing, but we don't always talk about the disintegration part where things can be taken apart really easily.

    You know, Google has entered travel in a fairly meaningful way, in a reasonably short timeframe. You know, they've gone from someone who directs traffic to people like Expedia or Booking.com or TripAdvisor as a for instance, to being a place where you can find a hotel or you can find a flight, or you can read a review right there without ever leaving the search results.

    And obviously that's a big challenge for companies like Expedia. But, but there's this idea of the hidden intermediary. And to me a hidden intermediary is somebody who offers something that either is so generic or lacks differentiation so much that they can be disrupted in pretty substantial ways.

    So to give you an example, if you think about real estate agents, I used to think that real estate agents were intermediaries. You know, they got between the seller of the home and somebody who wanted to buy the home. But they provide a very real value in that most people don't know how to sell a home and most people don't know how to buy a home. And yes, you can have for sale by owners. Those all exist. I get it. But that's not how most real estate is transacted.

    And there's all kinds of reasons why real estate agents continue to have some market dominance. You know, they control the access to the multiple listing systems. There may be legal, you know, hurdles, legal barriers in some states or some jurisdictions that make it harder for people to sell homes directly or require more specialized knowledge. But at least the real estate agent fulfills a useful function. They know how to market a property. They know how to reach buyers so they can bring some real value to it in addition to controlling access to the MLS or controlling access, you know, to some of the legal stuff.

    But the hidden intermediaries have been the real estate brands. You know, if you think about the brands, if you think about the agency you go with, most people don't care about that as much as they used to do.

    They don't care that you're a Re/Max real estate agent. They care that you got good reviews on Yelp or you got, you know, good recommendations from friends of yours who've used them. And that's why you're seeing companies like Redfin or Zillow enter the market and be very effective very quickly.

    They've exposed these hidden intermediaries, the brands between the agent and either the buyer or the seller. Now maybe someday technology will knock out the agent too. We're seeing examples of that, you know, companies that are buying real estate and just marketing it directly, buying it directly from the seller and selling it directly to the buyer with no agent in the middle.

    So that's certainly a possibility of another disintermediation that will occur. But the hidden intermediary was the brand. And we're seeing many of those brands really struggle to attract new agents because of this. So for many companies, you need to think about whether you're a supplier, whether you're an intermediary, or whether you're a hidden intermediary.

    And being a hidden intermediary being one of the most dangerous ones. If you're an intermediary, you already know you have problems, right? I don't think I'm telling you something you don't know, that Google can come along or Facebook can come along or you know somebody else, Amazon can come along and knock you out of the picture. If you're a supplier though, you need to ask whether or not you offer something truly exclusive, something that your customers can get nowhere else.

    You know, if you're a hotel, if you're a restaurant, if you manufacture a product, you're probably a true supplier. There are other examples, but I mean, you know, just using those as for instances. But if you're a hotel or you're a restaurant or you're a manufacturer and customers have a lot of other options, if you're fairly generic, you may be more of a hidden intermediary than you think you are.

    Because your customers may be able to get what you offer from someone else.

    So what do you do about this? Well, if you're a supplier first, it's good to be a supplier. You need intermediaries and intermediaries need you. And if you think about marketplaces like Etsy or eBay or Zillow, they seem to have some value add because they work for the person who's creating that listing. They offer them ways to make that product and service available to more people more easily. But that could change over time. Facebook's Marketplace offering shows one way that eBay or Etsy could be in trouble in the longer term. Alibaba's Taobao platform could also represent another long-term threat. But the reality is any supplier could be disintermediated because they're just too generic.

    So the first thing you want to do is you want to differentiate. You want to think about "what separates me from my competition?" and actually I'm going to use a buddy of mine's terms. My friend Mike Moran always likes to talk about the fact that differentiation isn't just what makes you different; it's a difference that's so valuable to your customers that they're willing to pay extra for it. You know, to put it bluntly, your customers would have to be stupid not to buy from you. So you want to think about how do you look at what separates you in such a way that people would absolutely pay a premium for it.

    You also want to diversify your offering. You know, the channels where people can find your product or service. If you're a supplier, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't assume that because you get good amounts of business from — pick the intermediary of your preference — that that's the only way customers can find you. You know, if you're getting a lot of business from Google, look and see, can you get more business from Facebook? Can you get more business from Yelp? Can you get more business from TripAdvisor? Can you get more business from, I don't know, FindMyDoctor.com? Think about all of the different ways customers can find you and, to use an old, you know, platitude "don't put all your eggs in one basket," but instead use multiple baskets to spread the risk.

    Think about the value-adds that you can offer that make your product or service more valuable to your customer. What makes it special?

    And I think there's a fascinating real-world case study that we have seen in recent years with bookstores. Now, bookstores aren't suppliers. They're an intermediary, right? They were for a long, long time a place to simply buy books. And when Amazon came around, they were the original example of companies that got disintermediated. See Borders bookstores, for example. What bookstores have done a tremendous job of, especially independent bookstores, is making themselves a destination unto themselves.

    They're not a place to buy books. I mean, you get books there, but they offer curation and communities and cafes and all sorts of other things. They've become a service offering, not just a seller of merchandise. And that service, that experience is something beyond just what you're going to get anywhere else. And that's something that an Amazon or a Google or a Facebook cannot easily replicate.

    This is what I mean when I've talked in past shows about how "customer experience is queen," because it can be a thing that sets you apart and is very hard to duplicate. You need to think about how can you become a destination unto yourself?

    If you think about the companies that compete well with Google or compete well with Facebook or compete well with Amazon, they're places where people go because I know that that's what they do when they do it really well.

    So they've differentiated in a very specific way. Think about, think about Indeed.com if you're doing a job search or LinkedIn if you want to connect with your professional network. They're really just intermediaries, but they're so specialized that it makes it simple for people to choose them.

    So is Expedia in big trouble? Maybe. I don't really know. I'm not going to make a prediction about that one way or the other. I'm going to say that, if they cannot differentiate — if they just become another place where you can book a hotel room or find a rental car or book a flight — without adding something beyond that, then, yeah, they're probably in real big trouble.

    The thing you want to avoid is being like them. What you want to do regardless of whether you're a supplier or an intermediary or especially a hidden intermediary, is you need to differentiate. You need to become a destination. And you need to diversify the channels through which customers can find you. Because that's how you're going to compete in the long run. Today, you may feel like you're a supplier, but I guarantee you there's somebody out there who's trying to turn you into an intermediary and more important the person they're trying to hide that from is you.

    Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast just look for episode 267. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week.

    You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Stitcher radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for "Tim Peter Thinks," "Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud," or "Thinks Out Loud," we should show up for any of those.

    While you're there, I'd also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating and review. It gives other listeners a window into the show and helps them understand whether it's something they'd like to listen to too. It makes it easier for new listeners to find us, and it would mean a ton to me. You can also find "Thinks Out Loud" on Facebook by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates.

    You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@TimPeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

    I'd also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

    With that. I want to say thanks to you so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a great rest of the week, a wonderful weekend ahead, and I'll look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time.

    Until then, please be well be safe and as ever take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

October 29, 2019

Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too. (Thinks Out Loud Episode 263)

October 29, 2019 | By | No Comments

Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too: Google Search Query improved by artificial intelligence.Google keeps wining in the marketplace. You see this everyday. If you're like most businesses, you rely on Google for 40% to 60% of your traffic or more. They're the beast that scares your industry's 800lb. gorilla. And they keep getting better… and bigger. But they also provide a clear example for how you can win in the cutthroat competitive digital environment you live in every day.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at why Google keeps winning and the playbook they provide so that you can win too.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too. (Thinks Out Loud Episode 263)

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 41s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

May 28, 2019

Digital Gatekeepers and the Death of Organic Traffic (Thinks Out Loud Episode 247)

May 28, 2019 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Digital Gatekeepers and the Death of Organic Traffic (Thinks Out Loud Episode 247) – Headlines and Show Notes

Digital gatekeepers and the death of organic traffic: Picture of locked gate

Does your company rely on organic traffic — whether from search, social, or something else — to drive your business? Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and the other major gatekeepers in your industry are working towards the death of organic traffic.

Fortunately, the latest episode of Thinks Out Loud offers some good news too: What you can do about it for your brand and business.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR40 Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 40s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

June 29, 2017

OK, Google, After the EU Fine, is Google OK? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 198)

June 29, 2017 | By | No Comments

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OK, Google, after EU fine, is Google OK? Image of Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads

OK, Google, After the EU Fine, is Google OK? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 198) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 30s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

June 4, 2017

7 Can’t Miss Hospitality Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

June 4, 2017 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


7 can't miss hospitality marketing insights

Hey, everyone! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. What do you say we close it out with these 7 can’t miss hospitality marketing insights. Enjoy:

  1. Tony Loeb writing at The Blog of Experience Hotel asks “Is Guest Experience the Future of Hotel Marketing?” The answer, as you might imagine, is “yes.” But you should read the whole post for Tony’s great insights. It makes a great companion piece to this recent episode of Thinks Out Loud, our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast that explained why “Content is King, Customer Experience is Queen.”
  2. Tnooz explores the “What, When and Why of Downloading an App for Travel.”
  3. Net Affinity looks at “Attribution Models: The Secret Ways Guests Discover Your Hotel.”
  4. Skift has a great episode of their Backstage Podcast that’s all about “Travel Search, Bargain Hunting and the Future of Booking” that’s worth a listen.
  5. Koddi says that “Google is Testing A New Mobile Experience for Hotel Ads” that you’ll definitely want to know about.
  6. With all the changes going on in digital for hospitality marketers, it’s reasonable to ask, when it comes to “Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?” I’d argue “no.” But be sure to read the whole post to see why.
  7. Finally, you won’t want to miss these “7 Sensational Posts for Hospitality Marketers” and this set of “5 Must-See Hospitality Marketing Hot Topics” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including: