Mariya Nikiforova is a Wharton MBA focusing on management strategy. Her background is in lead generation online marketing. We’re proud to publish extended interview with Wharton eClub:
What is your role with Betillion? What recent projects have you worked on?
As the online marketing manager with Betillion, a social betting and trading gaming site, I am responsible for a three-prong strategy encompassing paid, owned, and earned media. Paid media refers to traditional direct-response channels that include search engine marketing and other forms of paid advertising (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, FacebookAds), aimed at purchasing traffic with a keyword-, context- or lifestyle-targeted approach. Owned media comprises branding, positioning, search engine optimization, social media representation, and any activity that grows Betillion’s presence organically (in the “free” environment).
Finally, “earned” media can be best described as the viral component of the overall online marketing strategy. Earned media is arguably the most unpredictable component, and near impossible to fabricate, as the brand can inspire the word-of-mouth, but not control it in the traditional sense. At this stage of Betillion’s life, I am primarily focusing on the paid and owned factors of the media strategy. My last project involved several Google and FacebookAds marketing campaigns in conjunction with an A/B testing initiative that allowed me to determine the best positioning for Betillion.
In the future, I would love to explore viral marketing, as this is my secret passion, and an area that I am interested in exploring further.
How do you address competition as a small startup?
Betillion is entering a highly competitive market of online gaming. As we introduce this social betting and trading game to our audience, we will focus on awareness, education, and customer analytics with the ultimate goal of competing with the likes of Zynga. That said, we monitor the practices of our peers closely. For example, we keep track of their social networking and organic content; we also follow their relationship with other brands. As we build our reputation, we must maintain a certain unspoken standard that comes only through consistent research of the market and its top and rising players.
How do you adapt and innovate online marketing strategy as the startup grows?
It is important to continuously seek the next big trends in not only advertising, but also in internet user behavior across the board (be it rage comics, memes, top tweets, or trending Google searches). I am also very interested in following the new media of expression, new devices, and new platforms. Now more than ever, it is important to stay flexible and to follow the preferences of users, rather than to target any specific outlet just because it may be the most popular at the moment. With Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple encroaching on each other’s core competencies, it is anyone’s guess where advertising, media, and ecommerce will go next!
My advice to startups is to really think about the main vision of the company and define it in terms of milestones on a timeline. With every milestone, you will find that your online marketing strategy will have to be adjusted. The worst thing to do is to rely on one approach for every situation based on past success – fluidity is key.