Q&A with Marketing Leaders: Tamir Jerby, VP Growth at Lemonade

As the journey of providing you with the latest and greatest insights continue, it’s time for another interview with one of the big guns – Tamir Jerby.

Tamir is the VP Growth at Lemonade, a fascinating insurance company offering homeowners and renters insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. By replacing brokers and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, Lemonade promises zero paperwork and instant everything.

Tamir has been leading growth and marketing teams for over 11 years, covering B2C and B2B, both at large global brands to rising startups. Besides serving as the VP Growth Lemonade, Tamir mentors startup companies at Microsoft and Google Accelerators.

What is your biggest challenge today as a brand in terms of marketing?

One of our biggest challenges (which is very interesting) is how do you reach and convert users who were never exposed to insurance before. This means that we actually need to educate a new market that isn’t familiar with insurance and what it involves. The thing is, many do “know” that it is a “bad” industry that everyone hates.

In addition, we need to reach people who heard about insurance but aren’t sure what it’s all about, or even to some who hate insurance because they’ve had bad experiences. By the way, that’s part of the reason why the name “Lemonade” was created – taking a lemon (“sour” experience) and making it into a lemonade. That’s what we are aiming to achieve, making insurance a social good instead of a necessary evil.

An interesting fact is that almost 90% of our users never had insurance before, so we are their first experience in the insurance world. Shai Wininger (“Chief Lemonade Maker” and Co-Founder of Lemonade) said it very well: millennials prefer companies that were created after they were born than those created before they were born.

Millennials prefer companies that were created after they were born than those created before they were born.

What is your biggest challenge in terms of marketing planning?

I think this is not just our problem but rather the challenge of any company focusing on growth – a difficulty in making an effective decision that will enable efficient scale.
From my experience at different companies, I’ve seen how difficult it is to change from a company that spends $X to $1000X, or from a company that works in one country to 50 countries, and from a company that spends budget on one channel to 300 channels.

One of the difficulties is to implement a growth process like this without increasing the “overhead” significantly to avoid disrupting the ROI. In growth stages, an organization should choose how much it is willing to invest in the growth team. How many people to hire for the team? Do you support the team by channeling resources from other departments such as product, development, design and marketing? Where to put the line? It is clear that with the fact that the company wants to grow, it must, in parallel, deliver a specific service for existing customers.

How often do you adjust your marketing plan?

I prefer to not make forecast presentations and plan a year ahead, but to acquire and investigate as much data as possible, learn from it, and use it for short and long term execution.

For me, a marketing/growth plan is about, first and foremost, setting the points (beacons) you want to reach (which can be very different from each other), planning the minimum possible, starting with the execution and adjusting it based on data. We are very dynamic, and it can work only in companies that move very quickly. I want to get to a point that if I wake up in the morning with an idea for an amazing campaign or an interesting collaboration, I can launch it within 2 days max.

There is no other way. Today, users are bombarded with information and becoming blind to everything. No attention. You don’t have the ability to ‘catch’ the user if you aren’t super relevant. And to be relevant, you need to use a lot of data and be up-to-date with events that happen, hours of the day, news, etc. And most importantly, creativity.

There are a few examples of companies in the tourism industry that you can learn a lot from their growth/marketing culture. Those companies use technology and data to manage millions of landing pages and tens of millions of banners, all in real time, all personalized. That is admirable.

I want to get to a point that if I wake up in the morning with an idea for an amazing campaign or an interesting collaboration, I can launch it within 2 days max.

What are your top 2 tips for start-ups to get started with their marketing planning?

1. Make sure the product is ready for growth. At Lemonade we call it  Minimal Wowable Product – make sure that the product can achieve the wow effect because there is only one chance to WOW the user when you meet them.

2. Truly understand your audience. Companies constantly must ask themselves – Who are my users? Where are they? A company must characterize its target audience, investigate competitors, and then tailor the product to potential users (even before the product is ready). After a company has defined its audience well, it must understand where and how to “meet” them.

To do this, a company must build its marketing strategy through the point of view of the users – with the help of a preliminary data, build a story for each buyer persona, and from that persona understand how to build the marketing mix (through the story you can understand where that persona is and how to reach her marketing-wise). Then, execute the plan, measure performance with various tools, and optimize on an ongoing basis with new data until you understand the story that is closest to the reality.

I would be happy to share an example I encountered during consulting for a start-up company. As we worked to figure out where our customers were, we performed a lot of testing and discovered to our surprise that most of the users didn’t even search through Google as we initially thought; they actually searched through Bing. All the budgets were channeled from Google to Bing, which became a significant marketing channel and the results were excellent.

Such examples happen quite a lot, and companies that are not in constant pursuit of understanding exactly where their customers are, by being curious to explore new channels, question assumptions and constantly improve their growth strategy, may be left behind.

Which marketing channel do you think is the most underrated?

It’s hard to think of a channel that suits all companies, but overall I believe YouTube is one. In my view, YouTube is a much more significant channel than it used to be. Google has invested huge resources in the last years to enrich the data that enables companies to “meet” the user in more places.

In addition, YouTube as a video marketing channel has a few more advantages. Its reach is very high (dependent on building the correct advertising strategy), and thanks to Google (which only gets better over time), you can reach a very high level of accurate targeting.

Many companies rule it out because it is not cheap (it is also not frenziedly expensive). But the point here is the measurement capability. If a company has the right attribution capability and is able to evaluate its performance (usually not as the last touch point) and its impact on the company’s metrics, not only in the trivial way that a user watched the video and went directly to the website, YouTube could be a very significant channel in the mix.

Make sure that the product can achieve the wow effect because there is only one chance to WOW the user when you meet them.

What is the most common marketing mistake you see?

Marketers don’t give enough time to test a channel to decide whether it is meaningful to them or not. For example, a marketing team that chooses to invest in Facebook – they start a campaign, and after a few days, they see very high costs versus low conversions and close the channel in panic – that’s a mistake.

Many times, I try to give the confidence to my team that it’s ok to take the time because, sometimes, even an expert in a specific channel isn’t ROI-positive since day 1. Most advertising platforms need time to learn from the data and it’s perfectly fine. Therefore, each company must build a clear data-driven methodology for analyzing the effectiveness of channels.

What’s the best marketing advice you got?

It was from one of my previous supervisors, who was also my mentor for many years and he first heard it from Steve Jobs. It’s not necessarily marketing advice, but general advice- A people hire A people. B people hire C people. from there the way to Z is not that long. It’s something that guides me in almost everything that I do.

The secret here is that when you’re a leader in a company, core hirings are critical because when scaling, mediocrity can seep down – you hire B people who hire C people, and it doesn’t get any better… Building such a culture of excellence will also make sure that people will feel confident hiring A people, they are not afraid to lose their job.

In addition, when Im hiring an A player, the challenge is mutual. It makes both of us become better. If you do not continue to be an A player, they will leave. Thats a very healthy loop.

What tools are essential in your marketing stack?

For me, everything that gives me data on one resolution or another is essential. It can be web analytics or BI tool and it can also be a market research tool. At the end of the day, the more I have relevant data, the more I can connect it to understand the big picture better and faster so that I can get insights quickly and easily. Almost every decision my team or the management team should be based on data.

A people hire A people. B people hire C people.