Episode 37

Going Head to Head with Amazon and Thriving

John Fillmore - Chegg.com
November 22, 2017
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In 2009 Chegg was one of the leaders in the online college textbook market.  They offered college students the ability to rent textbooks online for a fraction of what they could pay at the campus bookstore.  Word of mouth from delighted students and strong online marketing efforts fueled rapid growth…Then they had an unwelcome competitor enter the ring – AMAZON.

Most companies would shrink in terror, get angry, cry about the world being unfair and potentially leave the space altogether. Chegg had been anticipating this move by Amazon and had been working feverishly for months to try and prepare. In this podcast, I interview John Fillmore, Chief Business Officer for Chegg.com. We dive deep into how they responded initially to Amazon and how they continue to innovate and stay relevant.

Chegg’s best move (and they’ve had a LOT of great moves) was understanding that their best asset was not an offer on cheap textbooks. It wasn’t their website. It wasn’t even their SEO value (that was immense at that time). They’re greatest asset was the trust and relationship they had with college students around the country. With that they were able to pivot and go beyond textbooks to helping college students perform better in school. Their growth using content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and some wicked smart display marketing has been fun to watch.

Here’s what we dive into:

– What it was like in the months leading up to Amazon entering the textbook market and then after they entered the market. See how John and team “war roomed” regularly and came out with some powerful innovations.

– How Chegg innovates and stays relevant continually in the face of pressure from Amazon

– How they view the textbook side of the business now that Amazon continues the “race to the bottom” with lower prices.

– Chegg’s wicked smart, campus-specific display marketing strategy….I’m still geeking out about this use of data.

– How Chegg knows their customers and markets accordingly

– What services they offer to “get students in the door” so to speak and then get them to stick around as customers.

– Brilliant content marketing plays

– Plus much more!

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