Interview with Thom Gruhler, CEO And Founder at Fjuri

Thom Gruhler- Fjuri

“Brands that leverage data, analytics, and AI to better understand customer needs and reduce the lag between insight and action are going to win out over those who don’t.”

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Tell us about your role at Fjuri and how you got here.

The launch of Fjuri was directly shaped by my experience working as a CMO at Microsoft, and prior to that as marketing leader with global brands.

The challenges companies face in applying data to improve the customer experience are real. I knew if I was experiencing these challenges at Microsoft, one of the world’s largest tech companies with a tremendous focus on being data-driven, then without question, there were other marketers facing similar challenges who were in need of a resource to help.

Today, Fjuri helps brands across categories to improve their marketing strategies and customer outreach by leveraging data, analytics and automation. Our focus is on working with CMOs and senior marketers to solve for some of the toughest challenges marketers face today – by tapping into data intelligence in a more impactful way.

The name Fjuri comes from the furious change of marketing — what’s happening with digital disruption — and inspiration from the fjords in Scandinavia, the calm and tranquil body of water. We wanted to bring that energy to the furious pace of change — calm and peace and clarity.

How big is your team? How does technology drive them to succeed in meeting organizational goals at Fjuri?

Since launching, Fjuri has grown rapidly grown and now employs a mix of employees and consultants based in Seattle. Technology is at the heart of how our team works and collaborates. In addition to using a variety of marketing cloud and automation platforms with our clients, we use data analytics, project management and workflow automation software to enhance our own performance.

The efficiency of any team today depends on technology and automation. The better you define your core processes and the technology that support them, the more efficient the team becomes. Pair that with rigorous prioritization, positive teamwork and a continuous improvement mentality, and you’ll be on a strong path to effectiveness. Ultimately, technology and automation enable the team to focus on high value, creative intellectual work.

Tell us more about the work Fjuri is doing. What services do you offer CMOs and marketers?

We work shoulder-to-shoulder with CMOs and marketing teams on the ground to improve their marketing strategies and customer outreach by tapping into data analytics and marketing automation.

This includes the use of analytics to understand how current and potential customers behave and make choices and decisions in different contexts, as well as the design of demand generation programs to increase marketing performance and ROI.

In addition to offering digital and content marketing services, Fjuri excels at helping brands to apply first-party data and third-party data and programmatic machine learning to prioritize leads for sales and marketing.

What do you view as the biggest challenges facing CMOs and senior marketers today?

Today, the customer experience is the new brand. And yet, identifying the right data to model, predict, and improve CX is one of the toughest challenges facing CMOs and marketers today.

In an increasingly noisy marketplace, it’s difficult to find and connect with prospective customers. Adblocking, email management systems and new opt-in privacy rules are also giving more control to customers over how companies market to them.

We are also witnessing explosive growth in the marketing technology landscape, with the number of vendors growing from roughly 100 in 2011 to more than 6,000 marketing point solutions today. Marketers are faced with the complexity of choosing the right marketing technology tools for effective, end-to-end digital marketing.

At the same time, CMOs are under incredible pressure to drive measurable change in a rapid period of time and show how they’re moving the needle. Often they’re also being asked to drive revenue growth.

Fjuri helps CMOs and clients to navigate these challenges and create a custom MarTech blueprint for their company and make smart technology and design decisions around marketing processes, systems and tools, while also looking at the organizational capabilities required to effectively create value and drive ROI for technology investments.

How do you think young sales professionals should train themselves to master MarTech skills?

Customer preferences today are constantly changing, so one of the biggest areas of focus for young professionals in my opinion is learning how they can experiment, learn, and optimize customer engagement and experience in real time.

To successfully apply MarTech to their processes, professionals need to fully understand the customer journey, or various customer journeys across channels and touchpoints. The next step is to understand the challenges or gaps that exist – at the customer level – as well as identifying opportunities to improve.

Being successful with MarTech starts with understanding the customer decision journey and designing marketing processes to support delivering the best experience at each step of that journey. How do you deliver content and experiences at the right time, on the right channels, at the right moment? It’s about understanding the effectiveness of your engagement at each and every touchpoint and creating solutions at a larger scale. Technology should support the process and not the other way around.

Given the changing dynamic of data intelligence technologies, how do you see the approach for omnichannel marketing evolving by 2020?

Without a doubt, AI or machine learning will be the most transformative technology for marketers as we head toward 2020. High performing marketers are already leveraging AI to better understand the customer journey and make predictions about how customers are likely to interact, and then optimizing CX to shorten the sales cycle, driving stronger engagement and ROI.

As CMOs and marketers look to evolve in the future, they need both art and science, left brain and right brain skills. You need the science that data intelligence provides you and the art of knowing who your customer is and what motivates them. From there, you can use marketing automation or AI to personalize experiences and offers at scale.

How do marketers close the gap between automation, customer experience management, and B2B selling? What role do intelligent audience targeting technologies play?

For CMOs, this means bringing higher quality leads into the funnel and using lead nurturing and lead scoring to prioritize what expensive enterprise sales teams act upon. Revenue planning in close alignment with sales is important, as well as understanding conversion rates to create marketing actions that generate the necessary pipeline to support sales quota attainment. Ultimately, organizations need to have a single version of the truth: common metrics that represent the full marketing and sales funnel, allowing them to quickly make adjustments while maintaining synergy.

At Fjuri, we work with clients to evolve their marketing and sales approach to bridge this alignment gap and improve business performance.

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

There are a number of things that marketing leaders need to keep in mind:

First, you need to make sure you have the right people, with bandwidth and empowerment across your organization to get strategic alignment around what business objectives you seek to achieve with AI.

Second, you need to make sure you have the right data, particularly behavioral data, to train machines to find value. Marketing automation already allows marketers to deliver personalization and relevance at scale. With AI and machine learning, marketers are able to take it several steps further to predict future behavior, identify patterns among customers that provide insight into the best way to approach them at each stage of the customer journey. AI and ML also allow us to optimize how we target and design marketing with much stronger ROI, which is absolutely critical for CMOs today, who are under increasing pressure to drive revenue growth.

The last thing I would stress for marketers is they need to develop a data-driven, performance-based culture that’s constantly experimenting to optimize the customer experience quickly.

In the long run, the brands that leverage data, analytics, and AI to better understand customer needs and reduce the lag between insight and action are going to win out over those who don’t.

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

Thom is the CEO and founder of Fjuri. Prior to founding Fjuri, Thom led marketing team for Apps and Services Marketing Group at Microsoft, for commercial and consumer including Office/O365, Skype, Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote. In his role as one of three divisional marketing VP’s Thom led a cross-functional team of 400, accountable for business planning, product marketing, brand and integrated marketing, demand generation & CRM, sales & partner-channel enablement.

Prior to his role as Office Marketing leader, Thom was the Corporate Vice President and Global CMO of Microsoft’s Windows Division, where he led all division marketing, working closely with product engineers and field partners to ensure customer satisfaction and to drive revenue and market share in the highly competitive sectors of PC, Tablet and Smartphone. Thom also led US and global marketing for the new Windows Phone as Corporate Vice President and Global CMO of the Windows Phone Division.

Before joining Microsoft, Thom served as President of McCann NY, where he led the transformation of McCann NY, readying it for the digital age. He reset the leadership team, defined and recruited new agency talent, redesigned key work processes, and coordinated a multimillion-dollar redesign of the agency’s physical space. In 2008, Thom was recognized for his high-profile leadership, earning the advertising industry’s highest award—induction into The American Advertising Federation’s prestigious Hall of Achievement for professionals under age 40.


Fjuri is a cutting-edge marketing consultancy arisen from decades of collective experience within marketing organizations. We work with our clients to enhance marketing strategy and execution to harness the latest approaches, world-class technology, data science, and the right analytics architecture to optimize marketing performance and deliver more significant and consistent value from your marketing investments

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

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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