Entrepreneur, Author, and Speaker

Alistair Croll is an entrepreneur, author, and sought-after speaker on marketing, business model innovation, and startup acceleration. He has written four books on technology and entrepreneurship, including the best-selling Lean Analytics. An early and active advisor to Quiver, he lays out his thoughts about marketing platforms, social media, and the need for direct control over marketing engagement—all factors behind the Quiver platform—in this guest post.


Growth marketer Andrew Chen has pointed out that, “over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates.” That’s because what at first seems novel—a banner ad; an email invitation; a Facebook post—gets old fast if it’s only about novelty. This is why an investment in the latest advertising model or social media craze looks great at first, but doesn’t yield the ROI (return on investment) marketers hope for over the long term.

Towards audience engagement

In business, the only sustainable competitive advantage is branding. Coca-Cola can charge more for sugar water than others because a better brand means higher margins. In marketing, the equivalent of branding is permission. When a customer gives you permission to engage with them, your cost of acquisition is lower. You can move how the market behaves. It’s agreed to pay attention to you. So today, rather than jump on the next hot platform, or buy into the latest ad craze, smart marketers focus on true engagement with their target markets.

Unfortunately, in the rush for engagement and attention, modern marketers fell into a trap. The platforms on which they established contact with their customers—Linkedin, Facebook, Medium, Snapchat—are walled gardens. And the move from web-based interfaces and native apps has only made those walls more impenetrable. Try, for example, to export a link from the LinkedIn application to elsewhere. The app is literally designed to prevent this.

Platform owners become rent-takers

Decades ago, when the Internet was young and optimistic, Doc Searls proposed the notion of Vendor Relationship Management, or VRM. Rather than a marketer-initiated push of messages from vendor to audience, he envisioned a world in which consumers solicited messages for the products or services they were after. Want a hybrid SUV? Tell the world about yourself, and let SUV manufacturers bid for your purchase.

Searls’ vision hasn’t exactly come to pass. The Internet is filled with push advertising, and rather than voluntarily choosing to whom they’ll share their personal information, users leave a tantalizing breadcrumb trail of their identity and buying preferences—mined by the garden owners.

Those owners can now charge for access to consumers. They can introduce competitive advertising (where your competitors are placing ads on your prospects’ walls) and search results. They can hold marketers ransom, extorting access to their own markets.

It’s often been said that if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. In the case of modern social platforms, marketers have little control over the fate of their relationships with their customers, as Facebook demonstrates each time it changes its rules for pages, messaging, and post ranking.

Grow your own garden

This kind of engagement already happens between individuals in mobile apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Wechat. It happens in collaboration chat services like Slack. But those began as messaging tools, with little thought about what was needed to engage and respond to customers at scale while still remaining personal and genuine.

But there’s a better way. To thrive, marketers need to grow their own gardens. What would such a garden look like?
It would require a way to engage customers on their own terms, maintaining detailed conversations at scale.
It would need to be able to create multi-faceted campaigns based on geography, demographics, time, and sentiment.
It would need management of sustained connections to customers who’ve given them permission.

The pendulum has swung towards rent-taking social platforms, and smart marketers seeking a more prolonged dialogue with their customers are going to start taking back control.

– Alistair Croll

Quiver Messenger + Quiver Enterprise

Quiver is at the forefront of consumer marketing’s new connection with customers. Its context-aware, direct-engagement communications model blends the best of mobile messaging and customer interaction with tools for promoting, rewarding, and understanding a market.

To consumers, Quiver is a fun, intuitive way to connect with a brand, and to one another. To marketers, it’s a powerful messaging and campaign tool that delivers tailored, programmed marketing automation in personal ways, right in the pockets and on the screens of their target customers.