I met Kirk Crenshaw ten years ago. We ran into each other as we individually pitched our martech companies to VCs (Marketo and Demandbase, respectively). Commiserating over our trials and tribulations in raising money for marketing technology at the time, we quickly developed mutual respect for each other.
Over the years, we’ve carved our own paths but have shared a vision of wanting to change the world of marketing through technology. We’ve shared time on stage at a number of marketing events and have both (with the help of Maria Pergolino) changed the marketing landscape around such events such as Dreamforce. We’ve bounced crazy ideas off each other and learned a thing or two along the way.
I recently had the chance to reconnect with Kirk, sharing our Q&A for your enjoyment below. We talked about his new role as CMO for Traackr--and why martech is ready for the next big wave.
JM: Why did you make the move from Amazon AWS to Traackr?
I have a track record of seeking out the latest trends in technology. I’ve gone from marketing automation (Demandbase) to Cloud (Appirio) to IoT (2lemetry/AWS), and now to influencer marketing (Traackr).
Influencer marketing struck me as the next big innovation in marketing. The practice solves a common pain point that impedes all marketing organizations: the inability to rise above the noise and deliver authentic communications to their customers and prospective customer. Even more interesting, influencer marketing was always core to the marketing strategy that I’ve executed in all of the organizations that I’ve been a part of. So when I heard about being able to productize and build tech around the process, I was intrigued.
JM: What do the next 12 months look like for you at the helm of the Traackr brand?
We have a lot of great customers, both B2B and B2C brands, that are successfully executing and scaling global Influencer Marketing programs. Furthermore, I think our team has done a great job in terms of building an enterprise ready, robust technology. A lot of my effort will be around telling those stories and getting the world to understand what we have to offer...and how it can transform and drive innovation in your marketing and in your company.
JM: What does Traackr have to offer?
Traackr builds Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) technology. Our platform helps brands effectively manage, measure, and scale influencer marketing, while remaining authentic.
Think of IRM as you would CRM: you can manage influencer relationships at scale and, as a result, rise above the noise to impact buying decisions that matter.
JM: What are the top questions asked by your customers?
How do I do influencer marketing at scale? How do we drive real ROI from influencer marketing? And, most importantly, how do I do all of the above and remain authentic?
JM: Why is there a current market fit for IRM (Influencer Relationship Management) technology?
Today’s marketing organizations are having a tougher time getting heard above the noise, with things like banner ads, paid search and promoted social content screaming for attention, it has come to the point where many are actively trying to avoid being interrupted by this noise. And since many marketing organizations have basically decided that creating more and more content was the way to rise above the noise, the noise has become even louder. There’s a lot of content being created (much of it mediocre), and being pushed out through a variety of channels, with tons of focus on using paid means to disseminate that content. In the end, there is so much din, that no one stands out, and consumers have basically become immune.
Companies of all sizes have this struggle. By taking on influencer marketing as a strategic component of the marketing mix you are able to drive visibility in a way that is authentic and trustworthy. Rather than just screaming louder than everyone else.
Furthermore, as companies take on influencer marketing as a strategic component to their marketing and start to scale their efforts, IRM technology helps them most efficiently and effectively execute their influencer strategy. And when you are a global company, such as SAP, L'Oréal, or even Capital One, having a system of record in place to manage, measure, scale and apply governance to influencer programs, becomes super important.
JM: How can brands leverage IRM to bolster their Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies?
Account Based Marketing and IM are tied at the hip. The fundamental notion behind these two practices is strategic focus. Our ABM strategy is designed to get us on the radar of a select group of highly relevant accounts. These are companies we have researched extensively and determined are very likely to be experiencing the pains our solutions solves.
Once we’ve identified the key target accounts, the next step is to understand the individuals within those organizations who we need to reach. We approach our prospects in our key target accounts, the same way we approach the analysts, social influencers and industry insiders who shape the conversations that matter to our business. Our ABM prospects are influencers within the target account. Knowing them and nurturing relationships with them is the foundation for a successful ABM program.
We use Traackr across the ABM and ABS process to:
- Research influential members of the buying committee
- Determine who and what influences each persona within a key account
- Surface insights about their organization we can incorporate into our personalized messaging
- Power our social selling practice by identifying opportunities to engage and build relationships between our team and our prospects.
JM: Looking out 3 to 5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change for enterprises?
Every year, enterprises want to get closer and closer to their customer. That one-on-one connection is becoming easier and easier. It’s becoming highly measurable--but the piece that has been missing for so long is authenticity.
You can’t market to customers as a large group anymore. You have to be more singularly focused. Going beyond influencer marketing, our imminent future is the advent of virtual reality (VR) experiences, and tying these into content creation and measurement. And it will drastically change our relationships. VR brings in a whole new level of experience.
JM: How would you describe yourself in one word?