MarTech Interview with David Grossman, CMO at Backstage

David Grossman, CMO at Backstage talks about the common challenges that content creators and marketers face in today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving online media and ad space:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat David, tell us more about yourself and your role as CMO at Backstage…

Thank you so much for having me!

I started my marketing career with The Economist on their website,, where I worked on building out one of the first premium, subscription-based content websites. Not many other publications were really focused on generating subscriptions at the time, and that’s when I began to really build my marketing toolkit, and also learned the importance of having a strong brand. After about two years, I moved on to become the head of business development at Inc. and Fast Company, where I helped grow their online businesses, including expanding the Inc. 500 to become the Inc. 5,000.

Today, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for Backstage, a membership-based platform where creators connect with talent to staff creative projects including film, television, and branded content and advertising. My focus now is on growth, as we expand our platform into new verticals and markets across the globe. Our goal is to make Backstage a one-stop-shop to fully staff and manage your creative projects, from inception to completion.

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What are some of the MarTech tools that you have relied on in your role as CMO now and other marketing roles in the past?

Our stack has evolved over the years, but we were early HubSpot customers, which has served us very well as a two-sided platform, in that we leverage it as both an ESP in a B2B context, but also use their CRM and database in a more B2B context. For analytics, we leverage Amplitude, Looker, and Google Analytics primarily. We use Singular for attribution. There are myriad other platforms we use! We’re a very data-centric organization.

In a media business like that of Backstage, what are some of the top priorities and struggles common to marketers? Through the pandemic, how have you seen marketers in the media/publicity world adapt to meet changing needs?

Our top priority right now is updating our brand story to reflect the massive changes to our product over the past 10 years. We started out as a magazine designed to help artists; actors looking for work, directors looking for a cast, productions looking for a crew. Today’s creator economy has changed everything – there’s a massive demand for talent from voiceover actors to production professionals  to influencers and beyond. So, as we continue to evolve to accommodate all these new kinds of projects and talent, it’s important to us that people understand our new focus and capabilities. Updating our brand story, messaging and information architecture has been an exciting challenge as our platform continues to expand.

When the pandemic hit, the shift in advertising accelerated. Social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and streaming platforms make the need to create huge volumes of creative at scale and constantly test everything more important than ever. Most of the projects we now see on the platform are for staffing branded content creative projects designed for distribution across social media and OTT streaming, so expanding our platform to help creators staff these types of projects, while driving growth on both sides of our marketplace globally is an amazing opportunity. I think the fundamental challenge for marketers today is how to create and test high quality content at scale across a variety of platforms and modalities.

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As B2B marketers and advertisers start adopting a few strategies from B2C to stand out from the crowd, what are some of the thoughts you’d share for them to keep in mind?

Today’s consumers are smarter than you think. When it comes to creating a powerful campaign that really connects with audiences, sometimes the best move is to find someone from within that world to create the content that works best. I think we’ll see more influencer marketing used in a B2B context.

Also making creative not just informative but exciting, and creating content to keep an audience engaged, beyond the job to be done or “point value” of your product or service is a lesson B2B marketers can leverage from B2C. White papers are fine but nobody really gets excited about a white paper.

A few thoughts on today’s changing social media and influencer marketing landscape, how will this redefine the relationship between influencers-brands and media businesses?

Influencers are called “Influencers” for a reason, and the sway they have over their audiences should not be underestimated. Just look at Dunkin’ Donuts: their campaign with TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio gained the brand a 57% increase in mobile app downloads and a significant sales lift. The number of job posts on Backstage looking to hire influencers for branded content campaigns has skyrocketed over the last year, and we see no signs of that stopping. At the same time, influencers are evolving from single platform creators to essentially multi-platform media/production companies, and are beginning to offer much more sophisticated solutions for advertisers, and are often hiring creative staff including actors, models, and voice over artists for their projects.

Some last thoughts and takeaways for business leaders and media content creators?

I think it’s amazing that many people don’t really have a fundamental understanding of how their business grows – every leader should build a model to understand their growth, and look to make each step of the flow stronger and more efficient. Of course this comes down to testing, as well as incorporating your growth model into your product’s DNA. Also understanding what your audience wants, and finding the best way to communicate with them, in a noisy, chaotic media landscape is essential. And the best way to discover this is again through testing and rapid iteration. 

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Backstage has long been the leading resource for actors and other theater professionals across the industry looking to secure auditions or jobs worth adding to their resumes. Now, Backstage has introduced new ways of connecting today’s creatives with brands and advertisers in order to help teams create content that excels. The platform’s suite of workflow tools provides creators with the opportunity to execute at the speed, quality, and efficiency needed for the rising content demand.

David oversees Backstage’s digital products and strategy — prior to joining Backstage, David worked as the head of business development at Inc. and Fast Company. In his spare time, David enjoys playing Nintendo with his kids, road cycling, skiing, cooking Chinese food, and being a closet Metalhead.

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