OfferUp (www.offerupnow.com) is a start-up that focuses on buying and selling items locally in a safe, easy, and very fast way. It’s the modern-age equivalent of craigslist on mobile phones that is also lightning fast and very easy to use. Users can literally post an item for sale within 30 seconds! I spoke with Ian Fliflet, their VP of Marketing, to learn more about their marketing strategy and how they acquire customers. Ian joined the team 5 months ago, and has helped me understand what OfferUp is doing to market their cool new product. The most surprising part to me was how much reliance they have on word of mouth, which must speak volumes of how great the user experience must be, if they’re depending on that for customer referrals without the need for paid referrals. Right now the offering is entirely free, but sooner or later OfferUp will need to start thinking about how to monetize this solution.
Ian stated that their target market is everybody with a smart phone that wants to buy and sell items locally in a secure environment. While Ian did not mention any demographics or behavioral segment that they are targeting, I would guess that they might be targeting younger tech-savvy individuals/professionals that either don’t have the time to invest in lengthy/complicated processes such as posting items on eBay then having to deal with shipping and such, or are weary of using sites such as craigslist and eBay to buy/sell things from/to strangers. OfferUp gives these users a way to do that quickly from their mobile phone, and know who they’re buying from, so they can feel safer about the transaction. While there is no ‘buyer protection’ program like in other major sites such as Amazon or eBay, it’s something that they’re thinking about, but for now de-anonymizing the buyers and sellers seems to be sufficient. To help with de-anonymizing they have a feature called TruYou that verifies a user’s identity and awards them a badge on their profile as an indication of trustworthiness.
Offer up is providing an improved way of doing things, so they’re not creating a new market but are aiming to improve on an already existing market with some innovative disruption in the way people sell and interact with others during that process. To accomplish this, they’re positioning themselves as the ‘simple, safe, smart’ way to sell things. To reach their customers, OfferUp are focused on creating and nurturing a relationship with users on their phones. To do this, they are using all the usual social media channels but with a heavy focus on mobile specifically. For example, they pay mainly for mobile ad placement. They also have a twitter account that they use to communicate with users, and more importantly a Facebook page where their fans can learn about the latest and greatest. To acquire new users, they continue to use paid acquisition channels, but they rely heavily on word of mouth. The idea there is that they make the experience so pleasant and so much better than the competition that users will tell all of their friends, and this seems to be working quite well for them so far.