Archives For Airbnb

For the past year and a half, I have enjoyed reading Bernadette Jiwa’s Brand Marketing Blog “The Story of Telling”. Bernadette’s blog focuses on the importance of storytelling in brand marketing. Her posts are short, simple and inspiring.

Bernadette is a brand storyteller and strategist who challenges traditional approaches to marketing. She recently published a new book titled “Difference”. I highly recommend “Difference”. It’s a must read book for innovative marketers. Difference challenges you to re-think your approach to marketing. Many people view marketing’s role as creating demand for existing products. Conventional wisdom advocates developing a product and then creating a big marketing funnel in order to sell it.


Difference redefines how successful brands will be marketed in the future. In Bernadette’s view marketing is not a department, it’s the story of how we create difference for our customers. The businesses that succeed tell a better story because they have learned to recognize what’s true for their customers and then create solutions that matched their worldview. As Bernadette points out, “the truth is that people don’t fall in love with ideas at all. They fall in love with how those ideas, products, services and places makes them feel”. People don’t buy features they buy promises.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Bernadette shares her story of growing up in Dublin, the storytelling capital of the world. Bernadette describes how her little brother Johnny never greeted her by saying “hello” or “how are you?” The only question Johnny ever asked was, “what’s the story?” This is a common way to greet people in Ireland. It’s an open ended question that asks people to tell everything that’s important right now. Many great stories flowed from that simple greeting.

Difference thinking is more than the ability to connect the dots, though. It’s about seeing the truth, recognizing the opportunity in that truth and then acting on it. It isn’t the person with the best idea who wins; it’s the person who has the greatest understanding of what really matters to people.

The Difference Model outlined in the book flips product development on its head. Instead of starting with the idea, it begins with an examination of people’s current reality and explores what’s possible in a world where the problems and desires of those people are solved and met. A fundamental premise of the difference model is empathizing with your customer and asking questions to better understand your customer.

The Difference Model is consists of the following elements:

  • Principles – What’s the truth about us, the industry, the market and the people we want to serve.
  • Purpose – Why do we exist?
  • People – Who are the people we want to serve? What do they value? What’s their current reality?
  • Personal – How can we change how people feel?
  • Perception – What do people believe about you? What would you like them to believe about you?
  • Product – What do people really want?

Difference cites examples of many brands who have taken this approach to solving customers needs. Examples include Apple, Uber, By the Way Bakery, Warby Parker, Airbnb and The Rubix Cube.

Bernadette has created a Difference Map to help guide you through the process. You can download the map at It is a wonderful tool for planning innovation.

Read Difference and experience a new way of thinking about marketing.


I am always and open to learning about new ways of marketing and business building. I recently became aware of a new approach to marketing called “Growth Hacking”. The name intrigued me and I decided to dig deeper to find what it is and how it was different from traditional marketing. I also wanted understand what brands had done it well and what can be learned from this approach. Most marketers that I spoke to were not familiar with the term.


In his book “Growth Hacker Marketing”, Ryan Holiday states that Growth Hacking is rewriting the rules of marketing. He offers examples of companies that barely existed a few years ago such as Dropbox, Zynga, Pinterest, Instagram and Airbnb. These brands were built using the marketing principles of Growth Hacking. In the absence of a big marketing budgets, startups used growth hacking to build their company. According to Holiday, “a growth hacker doesn’t see marketing as something one does but as something one builds into the product itself”‘ . Growth Hacking is a mindset. A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable and scalable. Their tools are e-mails, pay-per-click-ads and blogs instead of commercials and publicity. Growth Hacking is a mindset as opposed to a specific toolkit.

Growth Hackers are marketers with technical skills who understand the principles of direct marketing, testing and offer optimization. Growth Hackers are on a constant quest to get more customers for their product. Their ultimate goal is to achieve product marketing fit through lean business practices and ongoing testing and optimization. They run experiments utilizing A/B Tests, Landing Page Optimization and Predictive Models. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. Once product marketing fit is achieved businesses will grow because their product or service provides a unique solution to their target audience.

Growth Hacking started in Silicon Valley on technology products but can be applied to any business. For those interested in finding out more about growth hacker marketing, I highly recommend Ryan Holiday’s book. Additional resources include:

Will Growth Hacker Marketing go Mainstream?

Airbnb is an online community that helps travelers find cheap and unique places to stay by connecting them with locals looking to rent out their homes, apartments, and even spare bedrooms. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and is based in San Francisco, California. The company has grown rapidly. Airbnb has booked over 10 million guest nights. As of September 2013, the company had over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point. Travelers can book an apartment for a night, a castle for a week or a villa for a month. Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to millions of users.

Airbnb has evolved to meet the needs of their users. Airbnb realized that their customers needed more than just a play to stay. They learned that their users are looking for interesting experiences in the neighborhoods where they are renting property. They’ve done this by utilizing content marketing and featuring a range of interesting and useful information designed to increase engagement. Airbnb introduced Neighborhood Guides in 2012, a series of travel guides, that help travelers determine where they should stay in a city and once they’re there, and how to get the most out of their home away from home.

Airbnb Neighborhood Guides combine stunning photography, local editorial perspective, and practical information to let you discover the neighborhood for yourself. Airbnb hopes that customers are able to make better decisions around where they’d like to stay, are more aligned with their tastes, and have a better experience overall.

Airbnb just released an innovative short film directed via Twitter and shot entirely on Vine. The story centers on the journey of a white piece of paper. The initiative, dubbed Hollywood & Vines, instructed users via Twitter on what to film, including paper airplanes flying and a boat on rough seas. The result is a four-minute short film, which debuted on the Sundance Channel, that not only captures immense creativity, but the adventurous spirits that embody Airbnb users. The film extend’s Airbnb’s roots as a socially connected innovative brand.

Have you booked a property through Airbnb?