On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
As the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Equals 3, from a day to day standpoint, my job is to lead Sales, Marketing and Partner Development.
My background is as an entrepreneur in marketing services and ad tech. Equals 3 is my fifth venture and I’m fortunate that the prior four had successful exits that did well for shareholders and employees. I guess it’s just in my DNA to do this.
As for the inspiration for Equals 3, we learned about two years ago that IBM was opening up Watson as a platform, enabling partners to leverage the billions invested into cognitive. This got our wheels spinning about what we could do if we had access to that kind of capability and what we could do for marketers.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
The initial barrier to entry has become so low – at least from a standpoint of building an MVP or testing a concept – that it really enables entrepreneurs to try things and in greater and greater quantities. While many will try, and fail, the M&A market has handsomely rewarded the winners, creating further motivation for entrepreneurs to try and try again. Successful entrepreneurs create alumni who have role models to follow and the operating experience to try their hand as well.
All of this supports an ongoing trend towards more and more start-ups and more tech innovation in the field. And that proliferation will continue.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Artificial Intelligence. AI is going to dominate for the foreseeable future, in this market and beyond. It’s going to increase productivity; it’s going to put automation on an entirely new level of performance; it’s going to cause a shuffling of the deck chairs in terms of roles, responsibilities and expectations for performance (of people and companies).
The cool thing, I think, is the opportunity for AI to “augment” intelligence – to provide a resource that enables the individual to achieve a massive boost in productivity based on automation.
People are afraid of AI, and to a degree they should be – we are venturing into the unknown.
To what extent will automation allow us to harness our data better and make better decisions?
To what extent will automation create expectations that people / companies deliver so much more?
To what extent will automation change the composition of talent at an agency or a marketing department?
To what extent will there be in time a change in staffing levels?
These changes are inevitable. There is no going back; you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. So we need to start grappling with these changes for our industry and, even more broadly, our society now.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
The CMO has more data and tools available than ever before, but getting that data and those tools to work together in a comprehensive fashion is a huge challenge.
Unfortunately, in so many organizations these systems and data are siloed by specialty. The Search team has the search data; the Analytics team has the website analytics data; a different team has the marketing automation data. Organizations license amazing data from third parties and too few of their people use this information as extensively as they should – they build decks or pay for output from agencies with strategic plans / marketing plans that sit on the proverbial shelf and are quickly lost in time.
How can the CMO generate effective omnichannel results? How can the CMO get the entire company to use this valuable data to make better decisions that drive better yield from media, more effective lead gen / traffic generation, etc.?
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
They are a bit beyond start-up stage, but When I Work (wheniwork.com) is a favorite of mine. They are so smart about the development of their products and their use of digital media to create awareness, demand and ultimately successful conversion to purchase.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Powered by Watson at its core, Lucy lives in the IBM cloud and is built on top of best-in-breed technologies. Our stack also includes HubSpot, Google AdWords, AdRoll and BrandpointHUB.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Our target audience is well defined: senior marketing leadership at Fortune 1000s and leadership at the large agencies that serve them.
To reach that audience, we’re pretty big proponents of marketing automation – making sure we have a regular cadence for emails, social ads and then using re-targeting so that we can stay ever present. It’s a great way to have a big presence for a small / well-defined audience.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
The easy answer would be to “read” and become well-versed in the tech that is emerging.
But this is easier said than done, as we are still at the dawn of this era and the tech is still just emerging. For the marketing executive, it’s not like they’ve bought significant AI solutions in the past nor can they turn to consultants and / or hire people with significant applied experience.
I will say, the thing to watch for is this: does the technology solve a problem and is there an opportunity for competitive advantage? Buying AI for the sake of AI or for results that yield incremental gains is not likely to yield competitive advantage.
THIS IS HOW I WORK
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My MVP is probably UberConference. I give demos every day (sometimes as many as five or six) and so many of these are with remote audiences. I’ve worked with GoTo Meeting, Hangouts, WebEx, Joinme and a bunch of others, but UberConference is the easiest to use, has the best audio connections, the best screen-sharing and the fewest problems / issues.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m a zero inbox type. No special tools… I’ve developed the habit that for every email I do one of three things: respond, delete or file. It really helps with efficiency and responsiveness!
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m between books at the moment and mostly read whatever matches my filters that show up in Flipboard. That and, in the morning, I get caught too often reading Quora … it knows my interest so well.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
In the early days of my career, I was at the HQ of NeXT Computer (Steve Jobs’s company before he came back to Apple) and I had the opportunity to meet in a small group with Steve. He said, “If you are going to launch a new product, it needs to be 10X better than what it is replacing to be a breakthrough success.” He then went on to talk about the advantages that incumbents have and how hard it is to displace the status quo.
That has stuck with me through my entrepreneurial ventures, as I’ve always pushed to make sure 1) that in whatever we are doing there is a strong and clear value proposition to the audience; 2) it’s critical that we offer a level of differentiation and competitive advantage that makes it easy to choose us versus an incumbent or stay with the status quo.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I’ve been told that I have an ability to breakdown complex issues and explain them in ways that are easy for an audience to understand. This has served me well, whether in sales, as a strategic advisor or as a business leader.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Over the past 20+ years, I’ve had the good fortune to have been involved in building some extremely successful businesses from start-up to successful exit events and along the way, work with some of the worlds most amazing companies in solving their marketing & technology challenges.
As entrepreneurs, my partner Dan Mallin & I have been proud of our work from building Imaginet Inc., selling the business to 3M spin-off Imation, partnering with Skip Gage and buying the business back in 1998, relaunching Imaginet LLC, selling the business to JWT / WPP Group plc, running one of the worlds largest digital marketing agencies (connect@jwt) and then later selling our Spot Buy Spot business to Comcast. Most recently, we completed the sale of Magnet 360 to Mindtree, a digital transformation and IT leader from India.
Along with my commercial ventures, Dan & I founded the Minnesota Cup which is the largest state wide business competition in the country. We also joined a talented group of local leaders to create the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund, the largest state wide organization of its kind that has raised over $14 million to provide “Thank You” grants to Minnesota Service members and their families who sacrifice so much in defending our freedom.
Introducing Lucy, built with groundbreaking cognitive intelligence to make your team smarter than you ever imagined. No matter how complex the question, no matter how much data she needs to crunch, Lucy is ready to help. LUCY, POWERED BY IBM’S WATSON Understanding audiences, segmentation, and media planning are her specialties, and she’s ready to tackle them with mountains of industry data, and your proprietary information at her fingertips – because she’s just another (super smart) member of your team. With more information available than ever before, not to mention more platforms to place your messages, you can’t rely on the same old ways to weigh data and make marketing decisions – and that’s where Lucy steps in. So why assign a whole team of experts to do your research, segmentation and planning, when you can have Lucy do it? RESEARCH Lucy digs through mountains of unstructured content with lightning speed, accelerating breakthroughs by making connections and drawing relationships between different sources of information. SEGMENTATION Lucy combines the best of manual research and automated tools, developing segments from research that’s based on insights through cognitive entity extraction – a completely new concept that leads to deeper insights and new discoveries. PLANNING Lucy analyzes social, research and YOUR data to find the right channel to deliver your message. She’ll recommend the right channel, whether traditional or digital, and she’ll use various analytical and visual approaches to help you explore the pros and cons of each alternative.
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.