Interview with Arron Shepherd, Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller, The Goat Agency
Tell us about your role at The Goat Agency and how you got there. What inspired you to start the company?
I am one of the co-founders of Goat and the Chief Storyteller here. My two co-founders and I founded Goat after working together to promote an app, we had spent thousands and thousands of pounds on every marketing channel imaginable. From sponsorships to celeb endorsements, we’d spent money everywhere. However, influencer marketing was the only channel to deliver real ROI, and it was outperforming every other channel. We looked for an agency to support us with it, but couldn’t find one that delivered results, so we founded Goat and haven’t looked back since.
What’s the most fascinating aspect of leading a tech-centric Influencer Marketing team?
We don’t work with a tech-centric influencer marketing strategy. The use of bots, AI and automation in influencer marketing diminishes the authenticity that is so desperately needed in this industry. We practice human-centric influencer marketing strategies because we are dealing with humans that deserve to be treated as humans – not robots.
How can marketing serve Influencers as the “focus group” for branding and social media promotions?
Brands focusing their marketing efforts on influencers are some of the first and most innovative companies we work with. We have certainly seen the importance of influencers increasing in the past 2 years, with more and more brands dedicating budget in long-term strategies. We predict it will take 20% of the global marketing budget by 2023, so perhaps not a core focus, but a significant contributor to an integrated strategy.
Tell us about the core tenets driving your personal and work-related digital experiences?
Goat has segmented audiences and what drives their purchase decisions – authentic and relevant content. Also, timely content that ties into key trends/events/human calendar dates of the year. For example – if it’s around Father’s Day, I’m looking for a product for my Dad I won’t look twice at something that is selling me something to buy for my Mum. That is a small but true example.
Given the changing dynamic of social media intelligence and audience analytics, where do you see Goat fitting into a CMO’s tech stack?
Goat is totally separate to a tech stack as we are not a software or programme. We are dealing with real people and have a human-centric approach. We use technology and our own CRM database to drive this and support our analytics, however, this is an internal process. CMOs should be working with influencer agencies on a personal level if they want to get the highest ROI, software and platforms do not provide the understanding, insights or results that a human-centric approach can. That’s why Goat is the leading agency for this.
Which types of content are best suited to engage audiences? How do you curate content for the desktop audiences on social platforms and mobile audiences on social platforms?
This varies depending on vertical, brand and platform. We curate content by using our CRM database to find influencers who are the highest performing, we then approach them with a brief and they create the content. The most effective influencers have built their following slowly through creating amazing content that resonates with their engaged following, we find it is best to trust the influencer to create content for their own channel. Content that resonates with the audience is the most effective, whether that is in video form, an ephemeral story or text post.
What are your thoughts on the future of ‘AR/VR/Video’ influencer marketing in 2018-2022?
I am yet to see any format of VR or AR actually disrupting our daily lives. Ten years ago they said this technology would be everywhere and changing the world, yet it’s still just a fun gimmick, reaching its peak only with games like Pokemon Go. Video, on the other hand, is swiftly rising as one of the most effective ways to tell a story and engage your audience. Social platforms are adapting to be video first and we’re seeing more and more content being produced as videos.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Banking for sure, apps like Monese and Revolut. I think the one place where technology hasn’t disrupted properly yet is mainstream banks. Mainly because they all have legacy problems, like branches which are a huge drain on resources which could otherwise go to consumers.
What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
We use very few. We’re a business that fundamentally believes that good things cannot be automated, as soon as something is automated it’s average because you can’t improve it. Having someone oversee everything and cast a human eye is what pushes content to the next level.
Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign/customer success story at The Goat Agency?
The Goat Agency was hired to create and implement an influencer campaign to drive TV viewership and grow interest in the sport, particularly among non-motorsport communities. The campaign needed to work on two levels – a macro global approach for general awareness and interest, and targeted, local market activity in host countries. Global ambassadors were selected for each race to drive fame and create engaging, universal content. Each global ambassador was tasked with getting behind their favorite driver to increase participation in the FANBOOST feature that awards the three drivers with the most votes – a power boost during the race. The global ambassadors create an incredible YouTube vlog wrapping up their weekend with Formula E to grow brand awareness. The campaign ends on 29 July but we will let you know the results when they are through 😉
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
I genuinely do not believe there will be an AI-centric world. We’ve been talking about this technology for years, but it honestly has not disrupted my daily life at all. The technology is pushed on us more and more, but I have yet to see it actually drive change and make people’s lives substantially better. Once again, it seems like a fun gimmick than something that is changing human life. For now, we will focus on the growing sophistication of platform algorithms and leave the promise of an AI-centric world on the pinboard.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
The Goat Agency has an average age of 24, so with a largely millennial workforce, we don’t need much inspiration. Having a team that is so passionate about social media and technology means that they are always questioning how to create new applications of the technology. Whether its a new format of Instagram stories or how to best use Facebook Live to showcase an event, our team is always inspiring and challenging each other to use technology in new ways.
What is one word that best describes how you work?
Hard. Efficiently. Smart. Result-focused.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
WhatsApp – we use this to communicate quickly across the global team 24/7.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I get a lot of my information from social platforms and online news sources. I have two young children so I’m currently reading more Roald Dahl than Sun Tzu.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
We deliver results. There are so many agencies and cowboys out there that are promising huge creative campaigns without actually delivering business value in return. At Goat, we operate with a results-focused mindset.
Thank you, Arron! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Arron is a serial investor and entrepreneur with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.
At 23, Arron moved to Dubai and became global director of Business Development at The First Group, where the company increased EMEA revenues from $25m to $350m in just 3 years. By 2012 Arron co-founded Sportlobster; he built a team of over 60 staff, on-boarded over 2 million users and completed successful partnerships with Cristiano Ronaldo, the NBA, Crystal Palace, Sky and many other major sports brands.
Having raised £17.5m at Sportlobster, Arron exited the company in early 2016 to join forces with former Sportlobster colleagues Nick Cooke and Harry Hugo to establish Goat. Arron’s industry experience has not only given him insight into what is required to deliver fast UX, but with his experience as an Investor, (VC funded) Founder and Agency Director he is uniquely positioned to offer insight on all aspects of entrepreneurship.
Goat is a tight-knit and fast growing team largely made up of influencers from a variety of verticals, with an average age of just 24. Our co-founders (30, 28 and 23) have built the business by hiring based on attitude, knowledge and potential rather than a CV.
In a burgeoning industry, Goat’s happy to take risks and lead the way. They’re a team of innovators, making decisions in real time based on algorithmic changes and last minute calls from clients. Their ethos is to deliver performance-driven guaranteed results to legitimize and professionalize a disjointed industry. We always deliver, or you don’t pay us.
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.