Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to write a book?
The journey into Marketing Technology was an accident. When I left AOL in 2002, I started a marketing consultancy. About a year into the business, a good friend from Nextel reached out and asked for help with their digital results reporting. What started in Excel resulted in feeling there was a better way to manage marketing data. That lead to starting MSIGHTS in 2004. I didn’t realize at the time that we were one of the early companies in MarTech.
The book concept was from a conversation with some colleagues that all started in advertising/marketing around the same time (1992/1993). We were talking about how the skill set has dramatically changed in the past 5 years. I jotted down some notes that night and the book concept about Modern Marketing was born.
Why did you pick Cuttlefish to personify the role of a modern Marketer?
I have always disliked the expression ‘be like a chameleon’. Basically, you’re saying that you want to blend in the background to not get eaten. To be successful in today’s modern marketing world, you have to be on offense and not on defense. I had a professional writer help me with the book narrative and she had one paragraph in Chapter 1 about a cuttlefish.
Once I read it, I called her immediately and said, ‘We’re changing the book concept. It’s now about being a cuttlefish marketer’. They are fast, adaptive, smart, proactive, and use their entire ‘toolset’ to be successful and to survive. This is what marketers need to personify to survive and yet thrive today.
What is MSIGHTS and what does your Ideal Customer Profile look like?
MSIGHTS helps marketers better leverage their result data to make high-impact marketing decisions. We do this by automating data collection, integration, and transformation into datasets ready for reporting and analysis. Clients can leverage our cloud reporting platform or use third party tools like Tableau to connect to prepared ‘system of record’ datasets.
We work with advertisers across the globe who have complex data needs, whether it’s the number of data sources, the size of the sources, or that their sources are distributed across several systems. And, these clients want data ownership and data neutrality, so they bring in MSIGHTS to manage this end-to-end process rather than their agency partners.
What new MarTech platforms are you keenly following and why?
I’m watching those systems that streamline the overall marketing process, from ideation, to plan creation, to plan collaboration and approval, to trafficking/distribution. As more clients move to the in-house parts of the value chain, ‘marketing operations’ will become more important to drive efficiency and more streamlined communications.
How do you see new marketing technologies will impact business in the future?
MarTech should continue to drive more efficiency to give the marketers more time to make decisions. As technology gets better, and, friendlier within the overall ecosystem, marketers will be able to focus the majority of their time on human-driven decisions and allow machines to manage those decisions and analyses that can be driven by rules and guides.
What are the key skills that are needed to better adapt and leverage Marketing Technology? How can your book help?
There are a few traits from my book specific to a marketer’s role when it comes to technology. Trait 2 is ‘Direct Your Technology’. You don’t have to be the tech expert — but you do need to understand enough to be able to set the direction and lead. Trait 3 is ‘Activate Data’. Have a data sensitive culture. Data is what allows you to be transparent and accountable to what really works. And, Trait 5 is ‘Build A Different Kind of Team’. Bring new skill sets to the table, like hire an engineer who specializes in databases and teaches her the marketing side.
Which latest trends in data management and analytics could impact Marketing Technology strategies?
Over the past year, I am hearing more and more clients talking about the importance of transforming and normalizing their data. In fact, they are placing great importance on this versus reporting. And, this is great news. Reporting and analysis are only as good as the on-going data that fuels it, and this is why it’s so important to focus on getting the most cleansed, accurate, and, transformed datasets possible.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology for 2019-2020?
It’s going to be those platforms and systems that provide greater autonomy to clients to drive their own marketing operations, Data Management, and reporting/analysis. The other critical area is connecting different systems together within the client’s tech stack. I call these systems ‘Data Translators’ because they allow data portability between different stack pieces. This gives the clients a lot of flexibility to use different stack systems versus having to use one massive system.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
These companies are not really start-ups but I like what they are doing. I like Cloud Elements and, the concept of a universal API connection. Zapier is another company I like to watch because they help bridge the tech system communication gap.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing researcher?
Marketers need to see AI as something good, not necessarily a threat. AI will automate low-value tasks allowing marketers to spend the majority of their time in high-value, high-impact areas. There will be a continued need to upskill ourselves (including myself!) and, the allow machines to automate those tasks where we probably shouldn’t be spending time anyway.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
The only way you will learn technology is to jump in and use it. Sometimes changing behavior is extremely difficult to do. But the only way you will benefit from technology is by using it as much as possible. But, I also share that technology isn’t necessarily the answer; it should be just the enabler.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I have a few tools that I can’t live without. I am on LinkedIn throughout the day, looking up former colleagues, as well as attendees for my upcoming meetings. I also like to read while traveling, so my Kindle app on my iPad Pro is a must-have tool. I also use my iPad Pro to take notes, so GoodNotes is my app of choice.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I get frustrated when my notes – scribbles on paper, Post-It notes, notecards, etc. – are all over the place. I use the GoodNotes app on my iPad, iPhone and Mac so, I always have my notes wherever I am.
What are you currently reading?
I’m finally reading ‘Frenemies’ by Ken Auletta. I am halfway through and it’s a fantastic read. After it, I have in queue, ‘Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model will Be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It” by Tien Tzuo and Gabe Weisert.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over again.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Being an entrepreneur for 16 plus years, I have been fortunate to bring on our team some exceptional work colleagues. One statistic I am proud of is that more than 25% of our team members have worked at MSIGHTS for five years or more.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Scott Brinker, of course!
Thank you, Scott! That was fun and I hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Scott East, co-author of The Cuttlefish Marketer: The Five Essential Traits of the Modern Marketer is CEO and Co-Founder of MSIGHTS, which provides cloud-based marketing data integration services to some of the world’s most sophisticated global advertisers. MSIGHTS services make marketers more efficient and successful by providing a single view of overall marketing performance with actionable insights on what works and what doesn’t.
Founded in 2004, North Carolina-based MSIGHTS provides cloud-based marketing data integration services to some of the world’s most sophisticated global advertisers. As marketing channels proliferate, so do the data sources marketers must examine in order to quantify results and guide strategy. MSIGHTS services make marketers more efficient and successful by providing a single view of overall marketing performance with actionable insights on what works and what doesn’t.
The MSIGHTS cloud-based platform automatically collects and reconciles disparate data, making it immediately available to fuel a wide variety of analytical and visualization tools.
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.