MarTech Interview with Teresa Aprile, CEO and Co-Founder at Brandcrush

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“AI technologies can drive effective customer engagement by creating that personal connection for each user.”

Hi Teresa, please tell us about your journey into Marketing Technology. What inspired you to start at Brandcrush?

I have a background of more than 15 years of experience in developing and executing business growth strategies in both FMCG and B2B industries. Over this time, I saw first-hand the power of Experiential Marketing and business collaborations for effective and relevant customer engagement. I recognized that, in this digitally saturated marketplace, hyper-targeted and contextual connections between brands and consumers were only going to become more valuable. I had also seen first hand many of the logistically-complex and cost-prohibitive processes typically involved in these types of opportunities.

I recognized a clear opportunity to use technology in a way I’d seen it done in other areas: to create a tech-based platform to enable marketers to simplify and scale the discovery, booking and running of experiential and hyper-targeted activations. I also saw this incredible and untapped opportunity for businesses to leverage and monetize their customer reach.

Modern marketing relies on personalization, relevance and collaboration and Brandcrush provides a seamless way for businesses to cut through the clutter and connect with a hyper-targeted audience through a network of influential businesses.

What are the biggest milestones for Brandcrush?

We make an effort to acknowledge all the milestones – big and small. The ones that have definitely stood out:

  • 500+ Brands using the platform including international brands like Mondelez, Ferrero, Garnier, Asahi, Coty, Uncle Toby’s, L’Oreal, Red Bull and Covergirl
  • Launch into the US market, attracting premier fitness studios, cafes and co-working locations to the platform such as Bluestone Lane Cafes, Project by Equinox, SLT, Row House and Unplug. This milestone was a huge validation for Brandcrush and the problem our platform solves.
  • Raising 1.1million
  • Being a part of the 2019 Startmate accelerator program.

As a woman CEO in Activation Marketplace, what message do you have for young female professionals in the B2B technology industry?

The main challenges of the B2B technology industry are not gender-specific — they are the same for women and men alike.

You need to be really clear on the problem you’re solving. One of the biggest challenges of any marketplace platform is delivering immediate value so that users don’t go around the marketplace. Our constant focus is to deliver a stand out product and build a network where users find incredible value  — where users “come for the tools but stay for the network”.

If I could offer one piece of advice to female professionals, in general, it would be to not strive for perfection – it will just slow you down, hold your back, have you second-guessing yourself. Recognize the opportunities that arise when you take the imperfect steps forward.

Customer Success + Product DevOps

What kind of team and technology do you handle at Brandcrush? What is the size of your Marketing Sales and Customer Support teams?

We have a core team that we then scale-up/down with a network of partners and contract suppliers. We have always maintained an agile approach to both development and our team, which has been a huge advantage, especially in difficult times like we are currently experiencing. We can scale back where needed and achieve cost reduction quickly.

Which marketing and sales technologies and tools do you currently use at Brandcrush?

Do you measure the effectiveness of these tools? Customer Success and Account Management are closely linked. What factors do you focus for customer acquisition and retention?

Each tool has its unique purpose and is used by different functions in the business. Tools that have enabled global communication have been hugely valuable as they have allowed for remote work. This has meant that the transition to work from home for our whole team in recent weeks has been seamless. At a high level, we have collaboration tools and communication tools that focus on driving continuous value and sharing that value.

Factors we focus on for customer acquisition and retention:

  • Stickiness: we want to see our brands and hosts showing repeat behavior and increased user engagement
  • Satisfaction: driving activation success for brands and activation hosts through improved user experience, responsiveness and
  • Scale: We are always focussed on how we can build in virality and a one to many approach for our brand and host acquisition through partnerships and strategic targeting.

Tell us more about your interaction with Brandcrush’s Product Development team and how you leverage their feedback to improve your current Sales and Customer Services?

We focus on two key areas to guide our development: our vision and continuous listening.

There is a new role in startups and it’s called the Chief Product Officer; as a young startup, I am both CEO and CPO  — as a business Co-founder, it is important not to lose sight of the vision and continue to lead the product development to realize our vision.

It’s also important to listen to our users. We have a Product Feedback channel that we review and consolidate user feedback and feedback from across the team. That has a direct impact on how we assess and plan our product roadmap. We also have beta partners on both sides of the platform (super users) that we obtain deep feedback from as we consider and plan for new product feature developments.

We’re seeing a rampant adoption of AI, Blockchain, and RPA in the SaaS and Cloud businesses. What approach should MarTech and MarOps teams take in digitally transforming their functions and operations using the AI ML, and RPA techniques?

Mass marketing is no longer an option. Users want to be treated as individuals and receive personalized experiences. AI technologies can drive effective customer engagement by creating that personal connection for each user. MarOps teams need to embrace technologies that enable them to take their Engagement Marketing from the persona right down to the person.

Social Message + Connections

COVID-19 has been the biggest disruptor in 2020. How’re you dealing with the chaos? What preparedness have you built to lead and sustain your company into the future?

With our initial focus having been on physical media opportunities, COVID-19 had an immediate and direct impact on Brandcrush. However, our vision for Brandcrush has always been to evolve and expand the types of media spaces offered through the platform — offering Brands a holistic, multi-channel approach to hyper-targeted consumer connections. This global crisis has not caused us to change our path, we just have to get there a bit quicker!

We have been excited to see our Brandcrush community rise to the challenge. We have seen many of our Host spaces pivot quickly in the face of this crisis, finding new channels to stay engaged and service their customers such as fitness studios now streaming classes online, and hospitality businesses offering new food delivery and takeout options.

We are doing everything we can to help support these businesses, offering them tools to promote their services and connecting them with brand partners for paid collaborations and sponsorships.

We have also seen a number of our existing “low social contact” media partners like rideshare services, residential towers, home food delivery boxes,  and online retail boxes continue to grow. These media spaces are connecting with more consumers than ever, and we continue to promote these to our brand networks for sampling and brand messaging opportunities.

At Brandcrush pre-COVID crisis, we had just launched amplification to enable our Activation Hosts to further monetize their digital and social reach, as well as amplifying their physical activations. We see this as an area for key growth in the current climate, giving Host businesses another way to make extra revenue from the invaluable connections they have built with loyal customers and followers online.

One Superwoman character/Literature idol you would like to emulate in real life –

Wonder woman – she is a true global citizen. Is highly self-educated. Can speak all languages and connect with all cultures. She is a compassionate and empathetic leader. Believes the impossible is possible. And makes shit happen!

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

@NickyJackson, CEO and Founder at RangeMe – she disrupted the retail industry and scaled RangeMe to be the leading product discovery platform for retail buyers.

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

Teresa Aprile is the CEO and Co-Founder at Brandcrush. Teresa is a dynamic a creative marketing expert with nearly 20 years of experience in developing and executing growth strategies for B2B and B2C brands and with her extensive knowledge of startup life and martech.

Brandcrush_Logo

Brandcrush is an Activation Marketplace.

We connect brands with people, in the real world. In this digital world, consumers crave physical experiences. They want shareable interactions with brands that are genuine and highly personalized. Marketers, now more than ever, are turning to proven experiential and sampling strategies to engage with consumers, drive purchase, and deliver on ROI.

Brandcrush is here to make those real-life connections between brands and people easier and more effective.

We’re cutting through the clutter and giving marketers an easy to use platform to find and book spaces to activate their brand and connect with their audience.

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