Interview with Robert Carroll, Chief Marketing Officer at Protagonist

interviwes
Robert Carroll
Robert Carroll
Chief Marketing Officer at Protagonist
protagonist

On Marketing Technology


MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.

I’m currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Protagonist, a Narrative Analytics company. The executives approached me after becoming familiar with some of my past work. I have been in the marketing business for over 20 years now, with roles at both start-up level companies and Fortune 500 businesses in software, media, and cloud infrastructure. In addition to holding executive positions at GoGrid, Clickability, AOL, Ziff-Davis (ZDNet), Ofoto (now Kodak), and Wind River, I was a founding team member of GNN, the world’s first commercial website back in 1995. Since then, I’ve focused mostly on SaaS applications sold at the enterprise level. Protagonist fascinated me when I learned about it and about Narrative Analytics, because I truly believe that its work is both unprecedented and paradigm-shifting.

MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years? What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

Right now, there is a lot of money being spent on marketing technology. I still think there is a big sense of dissatisfaction among CMOs, around how much budget they spend and how little data they can leverage. Marketers have access to  a lot of data sources right now, but oftentimes, they don’t know what to do with it– which essentially renders it useless. I see Narrative Analytics being the future, because it brings clarity– marketers and brands will be able to use data to understand and activate target audiences in ways that were never before possible.

MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?

In addition to receiving too much data without proper insights, another challenge I see is CMOs struggling to find quantitative resources to back up their efforts, highlight their successes and prove their value. Marketers are always straddling the fence between art and science, and it’s not easy.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

Right now I’m a big fan of a company called Engagio– an account-based marketing analytics and sales automation software that orchestrates human connections at scale. I think a lot of companies struggle with this and don’t know how to do account-based marketing, so this company has a ripe opportunity to disrupt a market.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?

Of course, first and foremost,  we use our own Narrative Analytics Protagonist Platform for most of our efforts, we also use Pardot, a marketing automation tool by Salesforce. I am also a big fan of using agencies and third-party service providers, because when working at a smaller startup, it’s easier to operate like a large company if you leverage outside talent.

MTS: Could you tell us about a stand out digital campaign?

We recently did a joint Narrative Analytics project with Nielsen. The target audience was CMOs at consumer packaged good companies, and we successfully got them to download the corporate background content and schedule meetings to discuss next steps. Content that drives true value and resonates with one’s target audience is always a major asset in business success.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

As a marketer for Protagonist, I’m always thinking about  humans and their beliefs, behaviors and ways of thinking. I think that AI is very interesting and is a good tool to use for certain purposes, but I firmly believe that the human mind is irreplaceable. The depth and complexity of the narratives that surround us can’t ever be automated. So while marketing leaders might want to use Siri for scheduling calls or taking notes, I don’t think there’s cause to feel the true work of marketing is likely to feel the effects of AI any time soon.

THIS IS HOW I WORK

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.

Collaboration– it takes a village. This gets back to my point earlier about being a startup, yet acting like a big company to be perceived as a big company. It’s really important that you can collaborate with others and work with partners.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

One app that I really like is called “Headspace,” which guides me through a daily meditation. It’s really great for people who are busy and struggle with developing a practice.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

Collaboration– being able to engage and build rapport with third parties in order to operate at scale.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I do like to read a lot. Right now for pleasure, I’m reading a biography about Walt Disney.  For my own personal development, I’m reading a couple of books; one called Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss and the other titled, Speak like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, by James C. Humes.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Play offense. Don’t play defense.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Storytelling– my ability to truly listen to others and take in different opinions or ideas, then distill those ideas down to its essence and retell that story in a way anyone can understand.

MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

The Dalai Lama.         

MTS: Thank you Robert ! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

An accomplished and charismatic marketing expert with a consistent track record of building high-performance teams, profitable brands, and successful marketing strategies for both public companies and start-ups.

New Ventures/Start-ups
Turnarounds
Valuation Maximization
Category Creation
Brand Development
Sales Enablement
Lead Generation
Product Strategy

Personal Branding
Information Products

An accomplished and charismatic marketing expert with a consistent track record of building high-performance teams, profitable brands, and successful marketing strategies for both public companies and start-ups.

New Ventures/Start-ups
Turnarounds
Valuation Maximization
Category Creation
Brand Development
Sales Enablement
Lead Generation
Product Strategy

Personal Branding
Information Products

protagonist

Protagonist is a high-growth Narrative Analytics company. We mine beliefs in order to energize brands, win narrative battles, and understand target audiences. Protagonist uses natural language processing, machine learning, and deep human expertise to identify, measure, and shape narratives. The Protagonist platform was built on 10 years of narrative science that was initially developed to improve the American brand around the world for the US Government. Today, it’s used by dozens of the world’s leading CMOs, business leaders, and foundations.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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