Interview with Jeff Sammak, President, Strata Company
“Your company needs to identify gaps in different data points and choose the best solution for its needs. When choosing a new solution or platform, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s going to meet all requirements and if it will integrate with existing systems.”
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of a technology innovation company?
As Strata has continued to evolve, so has my role. I see myself less consumed with day to day operations and more focused on long term strategies to grow and improve the business. At the same time, my role is transitioning towards mentor/consultant of our future leadership with less emphasis, in my mind, of being “the” leader.
As far as technology goes, I have long perceived technology as being ahead of most companies’ capacity to fully adopt and utilize, so that gap has always interested me as an opportunity. We first really exploited that gap in developing some custom software to resolve a challenge big Pharma had. That experience prompted us to start exploring custom software solutions to resolve process and execution bottlenecks faced by many large companies. Our particular focus is in the marketing and communications space, but recently we are finding opportunities to go beyond that and into the business management space.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of engagement with online customers, how do you see automation technologies driving ROI for CMOs?
Strata Company’s automation technologies are less focused on engaging online customers and more focused on streamlining business processes for our clients. In terms of our software, the return is on the technology investment because our solutions automate internal workflows, allowing employees to spend less time fulfilling tasks and managing back-and-forth communications, and more time on initiatives that drive revenue for their organization.
MTS: How should marketers adapt to the evolving data asset management and programmatic capabilities to scale the B2B landscape?
Technology takes center stage here. It’s important to strategically build your marketing technology stack so that you have seamless integration of systems that can transfer and standardize data. Your company needs to identify gaps in different data points and choose the best solution for its needs. When choosing a new solution or platform, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s going to meet all requirements and if it will integrate with existing systems. Having well-managed, user-friendly and accessible systems in your stack will serve as a foundation for you to better manage and scale your businesses.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make their customer data work effectively and accurately for workflow automation?
It often comes down to having standards and processes in place and getting everyone who has direct as well as indirect customer interaction (advertising, sales, call centers, etc.) on the same page. It’s about enabling them to identify data that is available but not currently being captured or properly utilized. It also means showing them how to effectively manage and collect that data or putting systems in place that automate all elements of data collection and transfer, taking the burden off employees and eliminating the margin for error that is higher when humans are too integral a part of the process.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?
- Marketing automation – HubSpot
- Project management tools
- Proprietary in-house system for managing development projects and cloud-based applications
- Basecamp for internal collaboration with external team members
- CMS – WordPress
- CRM – Salesforce
- Online reporting of client marketing campaigns – Proprietary system for response tracking and analytics
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?
We worked with a leading industry media partner to create a custom eBook that provided executive insights, best practices and specific use cases that would educate our target audience about the importance of “cleaning house” from an internal operations perspective – which directly impacts a company’s ability to improve the customer experience and gain competitive advantage. We targeted marketing and communications executives at mid-sized through enterprise businesses. We leveraged multiple channels and touchpoints, utilizing social media, email, landing pages, media partner advertising and social advertising. We measured success by the number of “quality” downloads and form conversions, as well a the progression of leads through the pipeline.
MTS: How do you prepare for an artificial intelligence-centric world as a marketing leader?
The potential application of AI in marketing and communications is diverse and nearly limitless, however I believe we are far away from the point of true AI application in our field. We’ve been in business a long time. I’ve seen the cycle from concept to buzzword to the hype stage to where concept sometimes becomes reality and finally, wide scale adoption. It’s generally a long cycle. With AI, the progress will be incremental. I think it is important to be skeptical of loose marketing talk while at the same time staying on the “true” path to the potential of AI. In other words, separate the contenders from the pretenders and understand the difference between what true AI is and the volume of noise we are going to hear.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can you not live without?
I’m not much of a tool guy, and as a user, I’m not in the trenches. I stick to the basics in my personal use of technology but I’m often thinking about our next process automation, for me those are the most important apps/software.
MTS: What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Skim, it will sometimes get you into a bit of trouble, but you cover a lot more ground
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I flit. Whatever comes across my view from any channel I briefly look at and kind of pass/fail. What I pass these days, I typically direct to others in the organization for a closer look and analysis, as they see fit.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received – your secret sauce?
The specifics of the best advice I ever received are probably a bit too long and obscure to relate here, but in essence it was about resource utilization. Running an organization is about getting maximum utilization of all of your resources. Obvious I suppose.
MTS: Thank you Jeff! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Jeff has been a leader in the advanced integration of marketing, data and emerging technologies for more than 20 years. A natural entrepreneurial and critical thinker, his expertise in business strategy, process management and technology has helped propel Strata to the forefront. Jeff has the ability to take our clients’ complex business challenges and translate them into technology-driven solutions. He is adept at anticipating clients’ evolving needs and pioneering innovative tools and resources for them. His quick-wit and clever nature make him a pretty fun guy to be around too. Jeff attended Monmouth College, where he studied Business. Jeff enjoys scuba diving, skiing and spending time with his family.
Strata Company provides marketing services and technology solutions that enable companies to increase effectiveness and revenue for their business. By leveraging industry expertise and relevant technologies, we deliver solutions that resolve process, execution and logistics challenges for our clients.
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.