Disruption is a motif that constantly reappears in the tech industry, but what should a company do if it builds a new product that disrupts its own core business?
That was the dilemma for Limelight Platform Inc., a Toronto-based experiential marketing agency – and it solved it by scrapping its old business model and setting up shop around a totally new platform.
That was back in September 2013, when Limelight was still called Immersion. The company had been around for more than a decade and had earned its revenue by working as a boutique digital advertising agency, serving brands like Rogers, Mercedes, President’s Choice Financial, Sears, and Rexall with offerings in both experiential and digital marketing.
In doing their day-to-day tasks, like helping businesses brand and analyze their events, the agency found it took up a lot of time and resources to set up new apps and sites every time a customer wanted to hold a branded conference. So Immersion’s developers sat down and created a platform where everything could be fully customizable, and done through a drag-and-drop template.
“We kind of had our aha moment when we realized the digital platforms and marketing automations that powers these experiences is nonexistent in most cases, or highly custom and overpriced,” says Jonah Midanik, founder and CEO. He adds that his team built Limelight, then codenamed Tembo, as an internal tool.
“It was only when we realized that we had a market that wasn’t just our agency and our customers, but all agencies and all brands that are performing experiences live or online, that we expanded the business … We realized that we had disrupted ourselves, and some of our developers and UI and UX guys had basically innovated themselves out of a job.”
So Midanik and his team thought out a plan. They decided to stop solely providing agency services, turning their attention to expanding Limelight and making it into a full-fledged, standalone product. Roughly a year after its initial design, they officially launched Limelight after a beta phase, testing the platform with customers like Autotrader at an annual trade show.
What sets Limelight apart is its ability to help brands plan and track activities for their conferences and events. Without requiring any knowledge of code, marketers can use a content management system to put their own branding on websites, microsites, emails and email opens, on-site mobile apps, and track all incoming data from a single dashboard. Keeping all of this information stored in one place in the cloud also ensures there are no data leaks, especially when marketers no longer have to rely on poor Wi-Fi connections at a conference centre, Midanik adds.
The analytics arm of Limelight also allows marketers to follow their customers and attendees throughout their journeys. For example, there’s the online component, which lets them track basic metrics like sites visited, time spent on those sites, bounce rates, and so on. Then there are analytics for customer relationship management (CRM) marketers, who typically want to know which customers opened specific emails and clicked through to landing pages.
But one of the most powerful analytics features in Limelight is the ability to track what attendees do once they’re on-site at an event – for example, how long they spent in one place, and what sessions interested them most, based on whether they’ve downloaded the event app at the conference centre.
Essentially, everything brands need to run their own events is right there, and there’s no need for an agency to be in the middle and to make reports and presentations on an event’s performance. What’s even more important is that by integrating all of the data within their ecommerce, CRM, and mobile platforms, Limelight can help brands track customers throughout their entire purchase journeys. What typically took six weeks and four employees to accomplish can now be completed within two weeks by just one person, Midanik says.
He adds that in the future, the company will be looking at adding integrations with tools like Apple’s iBeacons or near-field communication technology, giving it even more power to track consumers’ activities, as long as they opt in.
For now, Limelight is planning to expand further into the U.S. While it already has a few U.S. customers, the company will be working with two accelerators at once – Incubes, based here in Toronto, as well as Acceleprise in San Francisco. The programs have already started, with Limelight delivering a pitch earlier this month at Going Global, an Incubes event showcasing startups from Toronto and Chicago. Limelight has currently earned more than $200,000 in revenue from signed contracts to date.