What's Working in Marketing™ is a podcast where we uncover what’s working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world’s best data-backed research and through candid conversations with industry experts. Join us if you're ready to learn what's working when it comes to your marketing efforts.
On this episode, we spoke with Andrew Rosch, Director of Acquisition and Retention Marketing at Trek Bicycle. We discuss the how Andrew got his foot in the door at Trek as a communication assistant in 2011 (a job now known as a social media content strategist), and how his role in marketing has evolved by leaning into discomfort, staying open to change, and learning about customers. He also unpacks what it was like to work at Trek while the bike industry first halted, then exploded during the early months of COVID. It's a case study that underlines the importance of agility in your marketing efforts.
Charlie Grinnell: Welcome to What's Working in Marketing, a podcast for marketers that uncovers what's working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world's best data-backed research and through candid conversations with industry experts. I'm your host, Charlie Grinnell. On this episode, I'm joined by Andrew Rosch, director of acquisition and retention marketing for Trek Bicycles. I'm a big bike fan. So I'm really excited to talk to Andrew today. Thank you very much for joining me.
Andrew Rosch: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, Charlie. I've been looking forward to this.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, likewise. So I always open up these episodes by going back to the beginning. Working in the bike space, I'm sure you've had an interesting journey. So why don't we kind of start there because I know you've been at Trek for a long time, but I kind of like to learn how you got your feet wet in marketing and kind of how it's progressed into where you're at today.
Andrew Rosch: Absolutely. I first got into bicycles actually. That's kind of where it started for me. I raced mountain bikes as a teenager. I raced in college for a few years, a little more seriously after college. And when it became really clear I was never going to be a pro biker, it was time to get a more serious job. And so I went to university for English lit and creative writing and studied a lot of like cultural studies sorts of things. So really interested in like sociology and how people communicate with each other and how they failed. At the time I was looking for kind of the next career step. I was working at a bike shop that Trek actually owned in Madison, Wisconsin.
Andrew Rosch: And that kind of got my foot in the door and I joined the communications team at Trek's world headquarters in Wisconsin. Did really basic comms work. Back then most social media was on comms teams. It was in a very early era of big social and then got my feet wet with email and lots of writing and lots of branding kinds of stuff. And so just got a well-rounded intro to marketing and was really lucky to have great mentors early on, a lot of who I still get to work with every day.
Andrew Rosch: So started out doing that and then I had a really unique opportunity that Trek decided to purchase their Tour de France pro racing team and run it as an actual business unit of the company. Traditionally, a bike company sponsors a team with equipment. We went straight up ownership. And the first two years of that, I was lucky enough to do a ton of marketing work with them, travel the world, get to experience a lot of the places they race, but also learn things like how do you build a fan base? How do you understand what gets them really excited? And then also understanding how something that you might think is the same like it's a team and it's a roster of riders, how do people in different cultures interact with them and enjoy it? And so that's also been really fascinating to me.
Andrew Rosch: After I worked on the racing team for a few years, went back to Wisconsin and really dug on things like paid social media and working with our independent bike shop owners that sell Trek products and got like a partner marketing program up and running. And over the last couple of years now, I've been leading a team that focuses on anything in the Google universe, anything paid media display, email, lots of lifecycle stuff, still working on the partner marketing, and then Trek has also moved into direct owned brick and mortar retail in the last couple of years. And so my team's been helping out with that and really trying to keep that moving along from the digital side. So lots of great experiences. And I think some of the key things have been getting that global exposure and kind of understanding what some of those differences are. I'm sure that you got to see plenty of that with Red Bull.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, definitely speaking my language. It is fascinating how many things that you have kind of touched in that world that are all linked together by a bicycle, right?
Andrew Rosch: Yeah.
Charlie Grinnell: But it is so fascinating to see like all those kind of different avenues that you've gone down with that business. I want to talk a little bit about like the bike industry as a whole. When I reached out to you to invite you on the podcast, you kind of mentioned that it was already like a funky place in terms of digital and that COVID has kind of turned that into a bit of a rodeo. Could you just give like a little bit of context into like what normal funkiness is like and then like how that has kind of been turned on its head or turned into a rodeo?
Andrew Rosch: Absolutely. So the bicycle industry, it's passion industry. Lots of the people that work in it ride a bike, huge mountain biking nerd myself, and Trek is a massive company. It's definitely a long tail industry. There's like four or five huge companies and the small ones. In terms of the business reality, Trek has built a lot of its success on being mostly a B2B business. We sell our product through independently owned local bike shops. And so when you're a digital marketer in this space, a lot of the very pure play digital or e-com oriented tactics, you can't always close the loop on the sale, right? And so you're learning how to like move up funnel. You're dealing with a lot of the challenges I think some people are dealing with iOS 13 right now where you can't see absolutely everything that's going on.
Andrew Rosch: And so a lot of what you do then is you're really building on brand and you're building on that brand equity so that what you deliver keeps it on brand and you're trying to build some sort of feedback mechanism. If you can't say this performed well because it sold a lot of product, we can look at some engagement metrics or we can actually solicit feedback. So that's like the normal situation. And we do sell some product through our website. It's not a massive amount though. And adoption hasn't really caught on, especially in the US, people like going to bike shops. Then spring of 2020 hit, everything kind of went sideways. And being a digital marketer specifically in the weeks that COVID was rolling into the US, we started to see these really strong signals on just sort of our health check metrics like web traffic overall just took a nosedive. And it is one of those business health metrics that like we share with the finance department and the forecasting team.
Andrew Rosch: And everyone I'm sure no matter what your job was or who you are, you were asking a lot of questions like what's actually going on right now and what's going to happen next and how do I plan for it? And so it's one of those really uncertain situations where our team could help provide some insight on what's happening with consumers and try to associate some human behaviors with it. So we're really seasonal business. People buy bikes in the springtime. And COVID hit right when that should have been happening for us. And so we basically... I remember a conversation with our CFO where he was like, "Okay, nobody's looking at bike stuff right now. What are they doing?" And it was kind of this heartbreaking conversation about people are really freaked out. Now the economy was really weird for a few weeks there. And so, as marketers, we could really bring some empathy to the situation, and then maybe a month into it, we started to see all of those digital metrics immediately start moving in the other direction.
Charlie Grinnell: Come roaring back.
Andrew Rosch: And wow. It was such a strong rebound that we are double-checking that pixels were installed the right way on the website. It was-
Charlie Grinnell: Like unprecedented.
Andrew Rosch: Totally unprecedented. We were one of those industries that got very fortunate. So many places considered bike shops essential retail in early COVID. It is a safer alternative for transportation than taking public transit. Parents are at home with kids. They got to get the kids outside in a safe way so they can exercise. Go buy them a bike. People can't go to gyms. There's just this massive, massive demand for bicycles and we call it the bike boom.
Charlie Grinnell: Bike boom. I like that.
Andrew Rosch: And it's on and we are sort of off to the races. And so that was also a time where we went from having to deliver a really stark reality to the business from our perspective as marketers, to bringing a lot of really good news to the point that we really had to make sure we were on top of everything. And so that was really interesting.
Andrew Rosch: And so basically what has happened in the bicycle industry like lots of industries have experienced is the demand has grown for bicycles around the world. It's grown so much we don't even know how much it has grown. Like my gut is that there's maybe 3X the demand that there was prior to COVID. And the bike industry usually grows, we're looking like 10%, 20% a year. And so now there's so much demand for bicycles because it solves for something that everybody needs right that our whole business approach of really having to drive the growth has shifted to we need to figure out how to fulfill the demand, connect consumers with product wherever it happens to be. We can talk about supply chains and how fun that is for digital marketers in a minute.
Andrew Rosch: But we're also really trying to learn more about people who maybe weren't interested in owning a bicycle prior to COVID, but now they are. What is it that this is fulfilling for them? And if we can't get someone a bicycle right now and the lead time for them to pre-order something, how do we keep them engaged enough that they still want to go with Trek over a competitor? And that we can communicate clearly with them like how long it's going to be before we can get them a product. If there isn't a bike in stock near them, how close is it? Like if you're willing to drive four or five hours, go get exactly what you're looking for. There are all kinds of digital marketing tools that we can employ. So we definitely shifted a lot of where our energy was going in terms of like channel tactics and then the tools we provide to consumers.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Super, super interesting. Like taking a digital solution and applying it to a supply chain challenge or problem, right? I think about a lot of we do a fair bit of business in the outdoor space and in talking to some brands specifically, they're like, hey, yeah, we don't need to generate more demand right now. We just need to fulfill the existing demand because it is crazy, while at the same time, not letting themselves take their foot off the gas. So a lot of it are kind of... A lot of the mentality or the conversations that we've been having at least are all-around kind of like, okay, how can I like swap out a couple of engines on the plane while the plane is like continuing to fly there, so to speak, without like doing it in a panicked way because we have more than enough gas and we have the extra... Continue the metaphor there. We have the extra engines already on the plane. It's just a matter of like how can we kind of do like a pit change on the fly?
Andrew Rosch: I love that.
Charlie Grinnell: And so it's a fascinating time in business. I just think back to the pandemic of just kind of what you said, like when it first kicked off how the economy was kind of holding its breath and consumers collectively were holding their breath, right? So yeah, it's just fascinating to watch like how that's played out two years later and then what this is going to mean, like to your point about the industry potentially 3Xing or whatever that is like that impacts supply chain, that impacts manufacturing, that impacts like so many pieces where it's like our factories weren't even set up to deal with this type of volume and like how are we thinking about things through that?
Charlie Grinnell: So it's like you start kind of pulling the thread so to speak and then you're like, wow, there's a lot here. I nerd out about that stuff and can go on a full tangent, but I kind of want to bring it back to the whole title of this episode is really around like agility and kind of leaning into discomfort, specifically in marketing. I feel like marketing can be generally uncomfortable most of the time within organizations. Could you share an example or two of like moments over the last couple years where you faced a ton of discomfort or some kind of complete unknowns and like what was kind of your mentality? Like what was the example? And then how did you kind of think through that or approach that just from a problem-solving perspective?
Andrew Rosch: A couple of things. So if we go back to like that early COVID time, we had a great plan for how our season was going to go. We really had our act together. We're really ready to drive growth. And so we put a lot of energy into driving growth. And I think I'm fortunate to be part of the team at Trek because when you hit really uncertain times, that's really going to show off what your culture is like. And so we had this huge campaign planned and ready to go that was about really driving like replacing short car trips with bike trips. And we're like, we think we can really connect with where people are. We had a whole bunch of like influencer messaging ready to go. We're reaching outside of the cycling space, talking to families, that sort of thing. And so it was a much more accessible sort of initiative than a passion industry like the bike industry might normally do.
Andrew Rosch: And then COVID hit and we really had some time where we had no idea what was coming next. I'd say that we're lucky to have the company culture that we do because everyone was really good at communicating about what they were seeing. What are the trends in your performance metrics? What do you see happening? Even though they're very severe, how do we say, okay, this is for us CPMs like got super cheap because everybody just killed their spend-
Charlie Grinnell: They were just pausing to stop the bleed.
Andrew Rosch: At everything. And when it picked back up again, we were already on top of, okay, let's keep the drama low. Let's just say what we're seeing and what the recommendation is. When everybody was pausing the spend and website traffic was drying up, we paused our spend and we're like, okay, we just got to dial it back. We had a lot of really tough conversations with our team about what we're actually seeing in the digital signals, right? That's the great part of digital marketing. It's all kinds of input from consumers about what's going on. And because we were really good at paying attention to those signals, we were also able to see the bike boom right before it hit. We were able to see that increased interest. We were able to see things like just top-line website sessions go through the roof. Like crazy growth.
Andrew Rosch: And so the project that we'd spent a lot of time preparing for spring, we had to just shelve them and say, look, this is everybody's baby. And I was very personally emotionally invested in it and we had all worked really hard, but we just had to say, this is not the world now. And one of the sort of Trek-isms that a lot of established companies have like you have your own mantras and one of them is that we're fun and flexible. And we try to find the fun when we need to be really flexible. And I think back to what we did in the first couple weeks that business really just skyrocketed and there was so much consumer demand that we had people from other business units going and doing backup in customer service just to keep things going. And some people on the customer acquisition side of my team were jumping in on the retention and reporting side and learning how to use tools they'd never dealt with before.
Andrew Rosch: And we have a lot of people who've been at Trek for a long time. We have really high employee retention. There are people who were like, you know what, I haven't worked in a lot of our data backend systems in eight years, but I did at one point, and so people's jobs really shifted for a while just so that we could keep things going and meet the moment. And that was really encouraging because it was scary for everyone, and especially leading a team where I can't guarantee for my team what it's going to be like over the next couple of weeks and the plan we had is totally gone. Having a team where you've already built that trust, you already have great communication is just wonderful.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Well, it's funny you say that. The thing that comes to mind for me is, I don't know who quoted this. Maybe this is some old sports quote is like, everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth and then like the plan can go out the window and it's like, yeah, you had this plan and you were doing this thing. So it's cool to hear that everyone kind of rallied around like just what needed to happen, right? And I think back to after I was done working at Red Bull, I worked in women's fashion actually. And like that time of the year when there was these kinds of big things whether it's Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or holiday sale or whatever, there were people taking shifts in the warehouse filling orders, like picking and packing orders because it's just like, hey, this what the business needs to do.
Charlie Grinnell: And it was a big business. And so, yeah, I don't know. I love that. Like rolling up your sleeves and just getting after it, that's super cool that you guys were able to do that and that like you have the culture that that's like a normal thing because like some people will be like, yeah, that's not my cup of tea and like off that, but I think to your point, I always make the joke most mountain bikers as I grew up mountain biking here in the North Shore of Vancouver and like a lot of friends of mine, they're all super nerdy. So I'll say you probably agree with that. Like most mountain bikers are pretty nerdy or bikers in general. And so it's cool to see that they kind of like rolled up their sleeves for the greater cause I guess, so to speak.
Charlie Grinnell: I want to kind of like just continue down that rabbit hole a little bit. One of the things when I found you on LinkedIn actually was that you posted about how the team was rewriting job descriptions and kind of reviewing it. And so I'm wondering if you could kind of like talk about that a little bit and yeah, where did that come from and what have you learned from that? Did you like it? Did you not like it? Just kind of everything around that because I think some people listening might hear that and be like, whoa, whoa, rewriting my job description? That's a little extreme. So, yeah., I'd love to kind of dig into that a little bit.
Andrew Rosch: Yeah, for sure. So there's kind of two parts to that with revisiting our job descriptions. One is when your organization goes through a ton of change like every company has had to go through a ton of unprecedented change and people are willing to pick up small things or adapt how their job happens, it's really nice to have those guiding principles for your organization as a whole. And so everybody can say, okay, this is how I know how to do my job and how I fit into the bigger picture. So as an example, at Trek, the company overall at Trek, we are here to only make products we love, providing incredible hospitality to our customers, and make the world a better place by getting more people on bikes every day. That's what we do. And you can ask anybody at Trek like that's what we're going for.
Andrew Rosch: And as COVID has changed and as the reality and context for our customers has changed, everybody has shifted a little bit what they take on. And being flexible to take on responsibilities that are not normally on your plate... I trust my team to make good business decisions. And so I'm not checking in on every little thing. And we did this super fun exercise earlier this summer that I'd encourage any team leader to do every once in a while. It's a great team-building exercise. And what you do is you get the group together if it's on Zoom, if it's in-person, whatever you can do. One person goes first and says they're your website merchandiser. And everybody else on the team gets to add one thing to a shared whiteboard that they think that person's responsible for. And you go around the room and everybody except the person answers.
Andrew Rosch: And then when you're done, that person gets to say, okay, I actually do items A, B, D, F. It's great team-building because it's fun and it's funny. And then that person who sort of went first, they get to add the other things that were missed. And it helps you identify who's really overloaded in a sort of a fun game positive sort of way. It helps you identify the gaps and it also helps you avoid the conversation turning into no, you are responsible for this in a finger pointing sort of way and it just turns it into something fun and everybody can kind of laugh about like two people both think that they're responsible for something. So they've both been checking in on it. It's just a total blast.
Andrew Rosch: And then I also think that in times of great change, really clear, consistent communication is just critical. It's hard to over-communicate. So we've been having a lot of fun now in sort of one-on-ones just going through and just listing off what are the things that you're responsible for? What is your primary business? I kind of have three pillars of my team. We've got acquisition retention and then we have retailer partner marketing. And it's really fun to go through it and say, okay, what is still business-critical after all of this change? What is maybe not as important? And to give people the freedom to say that, to say what they think maybe doesn't really matter anymore, especially in digital when there's usually-
Charlie Grinnell: Totally.
Andrew Rosch: -not enough inventory. So it's a super fun exercise. I found it somewhere on the internet. It was somebody else's idea, but it's great because it creates a lot of clarity, it helps you identify gaps, and it's fun. And if you're trying to lead a team remote over Zoom right now, everybody's a little fried and it's a fun team-building thing to do.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Well, I'm going to steal both of those. Anybody listening, steal both of those things. The sticky note thing I'm like, yep, that is such a fun way to do that. And I think back to probably previous jobs I had where I'm like, oh man, I wish we did that because yeah, I think it can be a really great exercise to go through. So love that out loud. I want to kind of switch gears here a little bit and talk specifically more about digital marketing. With digital channels kind of becoming more and competitive with more people spending more time online and more brands, therefore, investing efforts into earning that attention and capturing some of that attention, where's your head at in terms of like it's now getting day by day, harder and harder to compete to earn someone's attention. What should marketers be kind of thinking about to stand out?
Andrew Rosch: So in terms of getting people's attention and really being valuable for your customers, I go back to some super foundational marketing things that I love to pull out like empathy first. You really got to understand what it is your customer is trying to do so that you can remove the barriers from them. This is something that I got a decade ago from Rand Fishkin and I listened to your episode talking to him. And he brought it up again-
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, Rand is a genius.
Andrew Rosch: Yeah, he brought it up again that you have to really understand what people are trying to accomplish. And that is a principle that we apply in our digital marketing. So being found in search absolutely matters. That is a business-critical aspect. It doesn't matter what you are selling or what you're trying to promote. You got to be where your customers go when they're trying to solve something. And so you want to understand where do they go? Probably Google, but there's a lot more nuance to it.
Charlie Grinnell: 93% of the time Google, 3% Bing.
Andrew Rosch: Unless you're in Japan where Yahoo is still actually a really highly used search engine, right? And so understanding those things. So empathy first. Like really understand what it is people are trying to accomplish, understand where they go to try to answer those questions, and then also understand, and this is a really fun thing working in the bicycle industry, you got to understand what they're trying to ask even if they don't ask it in the way that you think they would. So a really good example for people who aren't into cycling. The bike pedals where your shoe actually attaches to a spring mechanism on the bike, those are called clipless pedals. And there's a lot of history to why it's called clipless, but to a normal consumer, there is a clip on the pedal. And so that doesn't necessarily make sense.
Andrew Rosch: And so you need to understand that your customer doesn't know the lingo. You need to really lean into what they're not familiar with yet so that you can create the content that will answer their questions. So like our SEO pages about pedal options for bicycles, we speak to both the proper terminology and the descriptive terminology that someone might use. And so that just goes back to the empathy thing. I also think in digital marketing right now, if you want to stand out, you can't get caught up in a lot of the FOMO or looking at other brands and assuming that they know what they're doing necessarily. A big thing that we talk about on my team is we see another brand that we know is a competitor, we know they're competent and they are doing something. We want to ask, what do we think they're getting out of it? What kind of business situation are they in that they might be trying this? And how could we find out if it's actually working for them?
Andrew Rosch: Digital marketing is increasingly opaque and you can see the front end of it so much that if you really want to stand out and you really want to do something that's effective, you need to move with intention. You got to have a really solid plan for it. And then I think the third thing that if you want to stand out beyond what's in your digital toolkit, beyond how you optimize, beyond how you target people, your brand is the thing that will always exist. And there's going to be new channels, there's going to be new ways to do things, but you need to always take your brand with you as a digital marketer to stay true to that. And that's ultimately what's going to help you stand out more than some of your like, I don't know, in-channel optimizations.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, it's interesting I've been on the receiving end of that when I worked on the brand side where it was like, oh, look at this other brand, look at what they're doing. I'd get an Adweek article sent to me being like 80% of American teenagers are on Snapchat. What are we doing about Snapchat? And I'm like, okay. So I would go, I'd look at the Adweek article, it would be a survey with 500 teens, and then I'd be like, okay, so for us to spin up Snapchat, for us to program it, for us to show up there, like the amount of investment and what we're going to base that off of a survey from 500 kids who probably did it for like a gift card to McDonald's. Really is that what we're going to do?
Charlie Grinnell: And so I think that's interesting in terms of looking outside of your own four walls. And it's funny, like that's our entire business is actually kind of going past that front of house and being able to dig in deeper to be like, that's the actual business impact. There's the data point there. So when we're unpacking something. So it's interesting to hear you talk about that. And we could nerd out about that for hours, but we're not going to go down that rabbit hole. Speaking of that, like you've obviously been in Trek's business for a long time, in the bicycle business for a long time, obviously learning a ton about digital. Do you kind of have any like tips or tricks or things that you kind of swiped over the years that you kind of have learned from looking outside and being like, ah, yeah, like that's something awesome? Like here's kind of what I was looking for and boom, I was able to take that and kind of redeploy it within the business.
Andrew Rosch: Absolutely. There are a couple of really big things that have stood out to me. So one is that humans pay attention to other humans. And this is like an ad creative optimization sort of thing. You try to make eye contact with people. And so you got to keep it human in your creative. That's a really big one that I've learned from lots of other brands. I learned that by sort of optimizing our social media creative into the other direction where I was like, you know what, a picture of a really expensive bike with a super bling paint job just on its own gets a lot of engagement, but what actually gets people to interact in a meaningful way is people having fun on bicycles because that's what they're trying to accomplish themselves.
Andrew Rosch: So that's a really good one is humans pay attention to humans. Owned audiences, overborrowed audiences is maybe my number one or number two digital marketing soapbox. Anytime somebody freaks out because data privacy stuff changes, you should just be saying to yourself, how am I actually building a relationship with my customers in a way that they want to get messages from me because they know that I'm there to help? So that's my big one. And I love the super boring, not at all sexy channels like email. Email is like my favorite.
Andrew Rosch: And then if we go kind of back to that creative side of things, in terms of like copy and messaging, you're always trying to learn the balance of cleverness in your creative and just being super straightforward. And so with us, we can have really clever headlines and subject lines and that sort of thing, but we can also say lots of people want to know what they should eat on a bike ride. Here's what you should eat on a bike ride. Click. And you're always trying to learn that balance. And I think oftentimes, performance marketing and brand marketing get pitted as being opposite, but I think they're-
Charlie Grinnell: A pendulum.
Andrew Rosch: It's a pendulum. And they're critical to each other as a feedback loop. So that's kind of my other one is you got to have your performance marketing be a feedback mechanism that is always helping your brand understand itself and its customers better.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, that's the age-old kind of I guess dilemma in marketing, right? Is that pendulum of brand and performance, art and science, whatever you want to call it. I'm like every area of marketing there is that divide of like the scientist, which is more performance-driven and the more artistic person, the touchy-feely person who is more brand-driven and you need both. And they're equally as important and getting them to fit together nicely is a hard thing to do in a lot of organizations. And there's a lot of change that happens and a lot of education that needs to happen. So that's super, super interesting.
Charlie Grinnell: I want to kind of take a step back, like we've kind of talked about like the digital piece of it. Just in general, like either inside or outside of the bicycle industry, what gets you the most excited just in general about marketing? Like to your point, there are so many shiny objects out there around. Like there is an abundance of shit out there to choose. What's the thing where you're sitting there and you're like, this fires me up. And you could say metaverse, you could say like whatever you want, but like yeah, what gets you fired up?
Andrew Rosch: Okay. So as a performance marketer, the thing that I get really excited about right now is the industry regulation of data privacy and tracking. And this I've had some healthy debates with a lot of people about whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I think that we see more and more brands, Patagonia quit doing paid social, Lush Cosmetics entirely ditched social.
Charlie Grinnell: They've ditched except for YouTube and Pinterest, I believe. Yes.
Andrew Rosch: Yeah. So they're in some of it. And I know they also play in the Google space. We can scrutinize them all we want. I think that the conversation about data privacy will help marketing step away from the approach of I need to get customers to do a thing and step closer to the approach of I'm helping people do something they already want to accomplish. And that is a thing that I think leads to more like authentic and responsible marketing. And I also think just like, at least in the press release that Lush put out, I think it's in the press release, they said something to the effect of, we wouldn't put one of our stores down a dark, scary, dangerous alleyway and expect our customers to meet us down there just to get our product.
Andrew Rosch: And so ask a lot of digital marketers you know who actually has a personal Instagram account who uses social themselves. People are feeling a little uncomfortable about it. And so I think for me as a marketer, I get excited. I don't know where it's going to end up or what's going to happen next, but I think talking about regulation is a healthy conversation to have because there's some stuff that we're getting along with these amazing tools that is not so amazing. I think another thing that really excites me and I've said this plenty of times before, are more the web 1.0 marketing tools that have lasted this long.
Charlie Grinnell: Like email.
Andrew Rosch: Owned audiences like email. Oh man, I'll celebrate email all day long. Any kind of owned audience and any sort of digital audience where the context or what you're talking about is really obvious. So I love Reddit as a communicator because in every subreddit, you know what you're talking about in there. And a major challenge with social media platforms where everyone is talking to everyone, there's no context. If you want to Google it, there is an academic study area called context collapse where when I talk to you about digital marketing and all the people that are listening to this podcast, we can talk about it in a certain way because everybody kind of knows what's going on. If I'm talking to my parents, that's a totally different context. I'm not telling John and Cindy about what our row has is on our latest ads.
Andrew Rosch: And so context and creating context for customers is really important. They're also receiving a lot of our communications in really noisy spaces like we talked about earlier. And so anything that creates context, especially like if you're in someone's social feed and you're serving them an ad, they were just looking at a post from this kid they went to high school with and they haven't talked to in 10 years and the next post is a rant from their neighbor who they try to not make eye contact with when they go out to the farm and your brand is right in between. You can't really control that. And so context really matters.
Andrew Rosch: I think specifically in the space of the cycling industry, we call COVID the worst best year ever because it has been the best opportunity for people to discover cycling and for it to help them in their lives, live a healthier life, accomplish what they're trying to accomplish, but for a pretty rough reason. And so I'm really optimistic specifically about bicycles. Electric-assist bikes are a huge enabler for people who maybe were turned off to the idea of bicycles previously. And so I'm excited at the opportunity as a retention marketer to really keep the people that have bought products from us, still keep them using it, keep them enjoying it, keep them exploring it. Maybe instead of sitting down and watching Netflix in the evening with their family, they'll just choose to go out for a bike ride because that's a thing they've discovered during COVID is that they can go do that. So I'm really excited about the future of the bike industry.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Well, building those habits, right? That's I think one of the things that I was thinking about from like a human psychology perspective when this all started was like, okay, yeah, going under the lockdown, interesting. A month, two months, as soon as we hit three months, I'm like, now we're not talking about a blip in the radar, we're talking about reforming habits, right? And so we saw connected fitness takeoff, we saw food delivery, delivery groceries takeoff. We saw entertainment, Netflix, like all those different things. And so it's going to be interesting to see on the backend of that looking back like how much of that stuck, right?
Charlie Grinnell: And I think as like a data nerd myself, I'm like, yeah, that's going to be interesting. We've seen Peloton, for example, like their growth has like significantly plateaued kind of, right? That's been widely reported on. So that's interesting thing because 12 months ago, everyone's like, this thing is massive, not to say that it's not a massive business, but like was it kind of like right place, right time on the up and up. Now is that company worth as much as it was 12 months ago? Maybe not. Not saying it's not a valuable company, but like very interesting thing. So I feel like we're going to look back on this and there's going to be so much to learn from this. I kind of tend to take a step back and look at things through almost like the economy, right? Like we think back to the economy kind of collapsing in 2007, 2008 there. We didn't have the level of sophistication as digital marketers back then. It was in its infancy.
Charlie Grinnell: And so we haven't lived through as marketers what that looks like and how that changes things there because the tools that we use were, whatever. The iPhone had just come out, Facebook. They were like in the crib. So I think about that, like looking back, it's going to be fascinating to be like, what are the learnings that we take from this so that if there's another economic correction, collapse, whatever you want to call it or something else, there's going to be at least some sort of a kind of playbook to be like, okay, well, here's kind of what we can base this on. Whereas I remember when it first started, we were talking about like, this is like the flu of... Back in 1900 or whatever, it was like the flu of 1918 or Spanish flu or whatever you want to call it. And it was like the comparisons just weren't realistic. So super, super fascinating.
Charlie Grinnell: So as we start to wind down the episodes here, I always ask about this. So I dropped out of university. I never went to university for business, I didn't go to school for marketing yet I work in marketing. One of the ways that I've learned over the year is reading, consuming information, and nerding out. So I always like to ask, how do you stay up to date on marketing in business? Who are you following? What are you reading? Who are you listening to? Like, break that down a little bit.
Andrew Rosch: Oh, for sure. So kind of the way that I interact with marketing business is actually mostly on Twitter, building up Twitter lists. Twitter as a platform has been really good in terms of following people. So like Christina Garnett I think is her last name who like kicked off the hashtag Marketing Twitter thing. If you are not following that thread, get on it and just pay attention to people. The tweet is just over a year old now. And that's basically where anybody can start out to start plugging into really valuable people. We mentioned Rand Fishkin. For sure, I agree with you, that man's a genius. And I actually love his blog on SparkToro now.
Charlie Grinnell: SparkToro is amazing.
Andrew Rosch: Love that tool. Scott Galloway, who I think is still an NYU Stern professor. Just lots of hot takes, but also a lot of just this is the reality of what he's seeing. He's got a consultancy. And then Ross Simmons who-
Charlie Grinnell: Yep, I just had Ross on as a guest actually. Yeah. So another brilliant mind.
Andrew Rosch: Yeah. And then like for people who are kind of interested in the bike industry, there's a woman named Arleigh Greenwald who has been around for a super long time as Bike Shop Girl. And before the bike industry really humanized and really came to embrace the casual cyclist, Arleigh's whole thing was talking to normal everyday people about their normal everyday uses of bicycles. And she's just such a smart content marketer and someone who I always looked to as like, okay, what's Arleigh thinking about next in terms of what's really good? So those are some of the people.
Andrew Rosch: And then in terms of like other stuff that I've got going on, LinkedIn Learning is super valuable. That's a fantastic tool. I follow some marketing strategists like Zoe Scaman who does just insanely smart things and helps me kind of not get stuck in the bike industry bubble. And then I also think for any marketer, it's good to follow industry news and then adjacent industry news. So I'll give you a really fun SparkToro example is we're looking at some media outlets that our consumers pay attention to that are not specifically bicycle-related. And so it's like running and camping and all the, I'll call it the REI collection of industries.
Charlie Grinnell: Sure.
Andrew Rosch: I started following other media news for adjacent industries. That's a super good spot to do it. And then especially... So at Trek, we're a company of readers. We have books that the entire company reads every two-ish months. Some really good books that I've read recently are The Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson, really about building trust with your team and in an organization. And I think that's super important, especially in really crazy chaotic times where everybody's stressed out. We just got done reading Rethinking Success by J. Douglas Holladay. It's not explicitly a business book, but it is a book for business people. I'll put it that way.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, interesting. I'll have to check that one out. That has not been on my list, but holidays are just around the corner and that's where I kick back and read hard. So I will definitely add that to my list.
Andrew Rosch: Awesome. Yeah.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Well, okay, last question. You've kind of shared a wealth of knowledge. The most important question is where's the best place for people to get ahold of you online?
Andrew Rosch: Twitter @andrewrosch. Twitter is where I mostly talk about marketing stuff. Sometimes I talk about bicycle things and sometimes I post pictures of my cats.
Charlie Grinnell: Love it. Well, Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time. I really enjoyed chatting with you and happy, happy trails, my friend.
Andrew Rosch: Thank you so much. Take care.
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