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For over 15 years, Matt Kerbel has studied, built, evolved, and meaningfully grown some of the most beloved consumer brands in the world, such as Lyft, Call of Duty, and MeUndies. The common thread between them all is that they are community-powered and add value to culture. Today, Matt leads the charge in making Turo, the world’s largest car-sharing marketplace, a household name. His role encompasses cultivating in-depth customer empathy, modernizing Turo’s brand strategy, and clearly articulating and executing a path to tremendous gains in brand awareness, brand equity, and cultural relevance. In doing so, he and his team seek to overhaul a highly traditional and antiquated car rental space, providing amazing experiences to guests all over the world. 

Matthew Kerbel, Director, Strategic Brand Planning, Turo

Every marketer should read… Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect” by Will Guidara. It’s full of profound, applicable insights regardless of industry, level, or business maturity. Give it a read, and get your highlighter ready.” 

What gives me energy outside of work

My kids and traveling to new places I’ve never been. For me, those are two things that make life worth living.” 

Future of Marketing

Q: What one thing coming down the pike for marketing are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about Generation Z coming into their own with some buying power. Gen Z is just different, from digital nativity to consumption patterns. They have a pronounced social compass while being more skeptical and determined to enact change. The implications of Gen Z becoming the most significant generational cohort are far-reaching, including how and where we reach them and what will actually work versus brands being called out for lack of authenticity or action. Aside from AI, this is the next great evolution for marketers.

Q: What’s something you see evolving in Brand Marketing within the next five years? 

The ways and places we reach Gen Z. The next generation of consumers only want to hear from brands if they put action behind their words. The next-gen prefers to hear from creators, friends, and even strangers within their online communities because trust is priced at a premium for them.

That means you should find brands investing in the tools, channels, and relationships that appeal to Gen Z, such as TikTok, AI, AR, social commerce, online communities and messaging platforms, and creators, as well as bringing Gen Z from URL to IRL through unique, in-person stunts, pop-ups, and retail experiences. Agencies can get a head start by advising their clients to start seeding experimentally in these spaces to test and learn before rival brands.

Q: What’s a widely accepted “marketing truth” you wish marketers could do away with?

The belief that anyone can be a social media marketer couldn’t be less true. The social landscape is complex, competitive, and dynamic, and it takes tremendous energy and understanding to achieve meaningful success. Unfortunately, not enough brands put a premium on social media management, content development, and community moderation.

For any company, social has the potential to be a force multiplier, providing unbridled access to your community and potential customers. When it comes to social, hire slowly, partner wide, and make it a strategic anchor and priority.

Marketing at Turo

Q: What’s something innovative or exciting you’re currently working on?  

We recently partnered with The Jonas Brothers to have them list their actual cars on Turo for fans to book in five different cities and use as transportation to that night’s show. Nick, Joe, and Kevin became our newest Turo hosts, adding to the more than 175,000 active hosts who list their cars on Turo across the globe. Each package includes the car, two VIP tickets to that night’s show, a parking pass, limited edition Jonas Brothers merch, and, most importantly, an in-person key handoff from the brother whose car you booked! These experiences are virtually always off-limits for celebrities, but the brothers are big fans and users of Turo, so the organic nature of this partnership made it possible and a win for both sides.  

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

Once guests try Turo for the first time, they will likely have a wonderful experience. Our net promoter score, an industry benchmark for customer experience, is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. That said, car sharing remains a burgeoning industry, so continuing to raise awareness and category understanding is paramount.  

To do so, our team has gone on a highly deliberate learning journey to determine what customer groups are most predisposed to car sharing and most likely to evangelize on behalf of Turo and the category. That new level of comprehension and empathy has sharpened strategy, processes, tools, and partners to get after our goals faster and with more staying power. We’ve seen extremely promising results, and this is just the beginning. 

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice you’ve ever received?

Always look for ways to help others without asking for anything in return. 

Q: What’s one new leadership muscle you see as the most important for marketers to exercise?

It has to be empathy, with a close second being accountability. Marketers must be willing to speak with their customers and become students of psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology. It’s one thing to know what may or may not resonate; it’s another to recognize patterns, artifacts, and rituals in culture that can help to inform what might infiltrate our minds and impact how consumers think about an entire industry or category. Always keep an open, curious mind and use what you learn to take informed risks that can drive outsized results. 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, click here.