MarTech Interview with John Pedini, Chief Marketing Officer at Brierley+Partners
Journey into Tech
Hi John, tell us about the major milestones in your career as a Marketing professional?
I started with Brierley in 1995 when I was working at a Brand Advertising shop in Dallas. I met Hal Brierley who was looking to transform his company from a database marketing firm into a full-service loyalty and CRM agency with technology capabilities that would allow Brierley’s current and future clients to expand loyalty to the online world. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to serve in several roles at Brierley that has afforded me the ability to help many brands get closer to their customers.
We saw some of the biggest M&As in Martech and Adtech in 2019. What cue did you take from these tech M&As to build a roadmap at Brierley for 2020-2024?
The market is changing rapidly and both providers and needs are very fragmented. There are many smaller shops that are focused on market share and larger brands that are looking to expand their portfolio. Our key takeaway is to be very clear about what our positions is in the market: augment where needed, and resist the temptation to chase off-strategy trends at the expense of our core business.
What is Brierley and what does your Ideal Customer Profile look like?
Brierley is a global leader in the design and execution of loyalty and customer experience programs. Because we’re program architects at heart and not a “platform-first” company, our ideal customer is a brand that is looking for a unique program that is designed with their customers’ operational realities and strategic goals in mind – as opposed to an off-the-shelf, “me too” solution.
Having said that, we’re able to satisfy smaller companies that are looking to walk (or crawl) before they run. The unique aspect of our loyalty solution, LoyaltyOnDemand, is that a customer can start small and grow into more advanced features as the needs arise.
You have been part of the Marketing and Sales industry for more than 2 decades now. How much have Marketing practices evolved through the internet, dotcom and now social media and AI era?
Quite a bit. When I started the brands were in charge of everything. The message, tone, cadence, channels, products, etc. Now the customer has a strong voice that brands need to pay attention to at all times, and the brands that understand and incorporate digital innovations into the customer experience are the ones that will ultimately win the day.
Brierley is in a great position to help brands understand this since we enable direct relationships and dialog with their best customers. So, we’re able to know and react in a relevant and meaningful way that we can measure in terms of loyalty and profit.
Which tools and technologies do you currently use for Marketing, Sales and Communications? Which of these are must-haves for a modern CMO?
Our team utilizes all social channels to ensure we’re getting our message out, but more importantly, we make sure we’re developing and cultivating strategic partnerships around the world. We tout the importance of relationships with our customers and when it comes to marketing ourselves it’s no different.
Brierley was at NRF 2020. Tell us about the most prized learning you earned at the event. How would it benefit your Customer Loyalty platform gain more attention from brands and retailers?
This past year was our first time at NRF, and it was eye-opening at how engaged the technology and operations retail community was for innovations in customer engagement. Many of these events are interesting education opportunities but rarely are brands there to do business – NRF was a great exception.
We hear that Amazon and Facebook are almost unbeatable in the Advertising industry. Google (though its Search and YouTube) recently announced its revenue break-down. How are these tech giants impacting your business and changing the nature of consumer behavior across physical stores, mobile and online shopping platforms?
Most of our clients are already doing business with the major MarTech players and we love it. Our strategy is to ensure that our platform is able to quickly and easily integrate with these solutions to ensure we’re able to add those data points to the overall loyalty profile. For us it’s an element of the overall picture so it’s critical that we can integrate with those players.
We’re seeing a rampant adoption of AI, Blockchain, and RPA in the Voice and related tech businesses. What approach do you take in digitally transforming your operations with AI ML and RPA techniques? Have they borne you satisfactory results?
AI and AR for sure. Our position is that any innovation that adds to the customer experience should be easily integrated and extensively measured. The numbers don’t lie – if we think a new technique will work then we’ll test, learn and either deploy or drop. Our clients’ customers let us know quickly if we’re right or wrong.
What are your predictions for “Customer Loyalty Technologies” for 2020-2024? How do you prepare yourself and your Marketing team for these events?
If we were to bet on a single word that will define the next 3-6 years in Loyalty tech, I think it would be “seamless”. We continue to see an increasing desire for every customer interaction to be easy, frictionless, and simple and without sacrificing the ever-increasing demands of the market.
The same can be said of our clients. They want solutions that they can easily deploy and use to execute their marketing initiatives. They don’t want to hear about development, sprints, or QA. So, the job is to develop tools and capabilities that are to some extent, “futureproof”.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?
By hiring the smartest PhDs and consumer insights talent you can find and incorporating those insights into our programs. We’re a data-driven business so making use of the latest (and proven) AI techniques is critical.
This Is How I Work
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
By not starting with technology – our mantra is that technology enables strategy so it’s there to bring a vision to life, not take over the vision.
One word that best describes how you work.
One superhero character that you idolize or profoundly connect with in your life and at work –
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
No one company, but I think wearable AR will be a huge game-changer over the next 10 years. We’ve done some cool gamification with AR, however, there are some amazing applications beyond fun and games.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Listen to the customer. It’s something Hal Brierley instilled in us from the beginning. There are countless examples of when simply knowing how to ask and act on the right answers can make a difference.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.
Thank you, John! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
John joined Brierley+Partners in 1995. Throughout his career he has been a leader in the development and implementation of numerous customer loyalty and CRM initiatives. Prior to joining Brierley, John was a member of the technology solutions team at Relationship Management Programs Inc., developing online marketing strategies and solutions for United Airlines.
In his current role, John leads the sales, marketing and new client engagement teams responsible for launching and supporting customer loyalty and engagement programs for all Brierley clients. Over the years John has managed several client relationships including 7-Eleven, Allstate, American Eagle Outfitters, Blockbuster, GameStop, Godiva, Hard Rock, Neiman Marcus, and Nokia, in addition to many other key agency clients.
Brierley is transforming loyalty around the world, turning client challenges into successful and profitable loyalty program solutions. We bring together innovative thought leadership, unparalleled expertise, and advanced technologies to help brands win customers’ hearts and minds.
Brierley offers the full breadth of services to drive unprecedented loyalty success: program design, strategy, research, analytics, customer insights, creative, and digital solutions. In addition, Brierley’s intuitive platform — LoyaltyOnDemand — empowers everything a loyalty program demands to engage customers across every channel and touchpoint. It represents a powerful evolution in loyalty technology, continuously evolving with new features to keep programs on the leading edge.