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Plated exec: Integrate mobile outreach with customer experience, brand values

NEW YORK – An executive with meal-delivery Web site Plated at Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders said the key to success in mobile commerce is insuring the outreach is integrated with the desired customer experience and supports the core brand value proposition.

The session, “Doing More with Less (or Nothing): Marketing Lessons from Disruptors,” aimed to give marketers bogged down in budget battles and bureaucracy an opportunity to learn from lean and mean startups which have achieved rapid market penetration and instantaneous name recognition with no marketing budget and almost no marketing staff.

“Our product is a box of perishable food arriving into your house and the consumer transforming that into a meal,” said Nick Taranto, co-founder and co-CEO of Plated, New York. “It’s a deeply emotional thing and our whole mobile experience is constructed around supporting that customer experience.

“So don’t think of the mobile application as just a patch, as just an addition to the business, but how it can fundamentally support your core value proposition, whatever you’re trying to do,” he said.

Budget battles
The discussion, which also included Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO of AirPR, and Laura Holliday, CMO of Zola, also examined cultural and leadership foundations that drive rapid execution and the key technologies and platforms that fuel growth in upstarts on mobile.

Mr. Taranto, third from left, at Forrester forum with moderator Jenny Rooney, editor of the CMO Network, Forbes, left, Laura Holliday, CMO, Zola, and Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO, AirPR.

“That kind of real scrappy person who can get it done at whatever cost – that is the true entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr. Taranto said. “We don’t have resources, but I don’t care, we can do it anyway.”

Plated’s fulfillment centers throughout the U.S. deliver ingredients in kits from regional farmers to customers. The meals cost less than what it would cost to prepare one from ingredients purchased from a supermarket.

It is important for brands to promote a culture of candor rather than politics – attacking ideas and not people, Mr. Taranto said.

Mr. Tarano emphasized the need to prevent bureaucracy in big organizations such as the United States Marine Corps, in which Mr. Tarano served as a commissioned infantry officer, and investment bank Goldman Sachs, with whom he was part of a private wealth team managing assets of more than $3.5 billion, from dulling an ambitious organization’s scrappy edge.

That said, Plated, cofounded by Mr. Tarano and a Harvard Business School chum in June 2012, received a much-needed boost early on by buying 25,000 Facebook likes at 2 cents apiece.

“Building up that kind of social proof was really, really important,” Mr. Tarano said.

In October, Plated brought its service to the streets, by launching a food truck that offered the same packages to curbside customers as were on its Web site.

Significant sales jumps for food and beverage delivery applications point to the rich opportunity for retailers and brands to engage in partnership opportunities, as experts believe that they will help drive in-store commerce rather than detract from sales.

As food and alcohol delivery apps attempt to broaden the options and services they offer users, more opportunities for cross-partnerships with retailers and brands will abound.

Drizly, Seamless and Saucey are among the delivery apps garnering wide fan bases due to the sheer convenience and amount of options they offer consumers. However, while they are enjoying high levels of mcommerce, the apps are also driving awareness of local retailers and restaurants, suggesting that food and beverage marketers should attempt to work with these apps instead of against them.

Supporting campaigns
Plated has weathered Facebook’s introduction early this year of tighter controls on promotional posts by turning to a chief marketing officer to build a marketing infrastructure to support advertising campaigns.

Offering fresh ingredients for gourmet meals.

In the past year, Plated has raised more than $20 million in venture capital and now ships to more than 90 percent of the U.S.

“Mobile does not sit in a silo,” Mr. Tarano said. “That’s very important. We are on the verge of seeing majority of our revenue coming from mobile. We still need to re-orient our business to capture that.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York