“CMOs have more data than ever and while marketing technology has made it easier to distill into actionable insights, CMOs are tapped into multiple marketing technologies giving them hundreds of data points”
Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
We didn’t set out to start a martech company but my career went full circle. I started out as a marketing director for a B2B publication focused on Latino entrepreneurs, Hispanic Business. There I learned about how important Latino, African-American, and Asian entrepreneurs in the U.S. are to our economy. After several years on the marketing side of things, I transferred to the market research side of marketing at a company, Garcia Research, where I became VP of Online Research after building what became the first nationally representative Hispanic online panel in the industry. This led to the company being acquired after two years of launching the panel and at that time my business partner and I decided to not go along with the acquisition and start ThinkNow.
ThinkNow, since its inception, has always been a technology-focused company. Founded in 2011, we applied innovative methodologies being widely used in the general market and introduced them to minority audiences in the U.S. As market research began to evolve from survey research to behavioral research we saw the writing on the wall that our business model was changing. In 2016, we set out to build what has become ThinkNow ConneKt, the first martech tool focused on the U.S. multicultural market. We combined our years of survey research with our behavioral passive mobile tracking app, ThinkNow knowy, in an on-demand easy to use SaaS platform.
Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
We are starting to see a rise of more specialized marketing technologies focused on specific audiences, such as ConneKt for multicultural audiences in the U.S. As marketing becomes more focused to audiences built on behaviors, marketers are seeking more niche martech products. With this focus will come a slowdown in the amount of marketing technology companies being started as venture capital has begun to shy away from this market due to oversaturation.
What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
As overstated this has been, machine learning is the most important technology trend that will impact us. With that being said, marketers must understand that the data we feed our machine learning algorithms now is critical to the success of martech in the future. Marketers have the false idea that machine learning algorithms are infallible and rely on them to make decisions. However, algorithms are built by humans with biases and faults like everyone else. Being aware of this and ensuring that the data we give our algorithms is representative of our target market. With ConneKt, we want to ensure that machine learning algorithms are taking multicultural audiences into account as the U.S. will be a minority-majority country and will be critical to marketers’ success.
What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
The biggest challenge CMOs are tackling to make marketing technology work is where to put their attention to make impactful decisions. CMOs have more data than ever and while marketing technology has made it easier to distill into actionable insights, CMOs are tapped into multiple marketing technologies giving them hundreds of data points. Focusing on what is going to drive customer satisfaction and ultimately revenue is critical for CMOs, bridging the gap between data and impact in their business is the biggest challenge CMOs currently have.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Calendar reminders. I live and die off of calendar reminders. Everything from tasks to follow up emails goes into my calendar with a 15-minute alert reminder. It is easy to get into your day and just spend it responding to emails. Reminders get me on task and allow me to focus on activities that are impactful to my business.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
I’m preparing for an AI-centric world by focusing on how we can make AI more ethical and fair. Approaching AI with caution and skepticism is needed in a world where marketing professionals are accepting the adoption of AI at face value. Being aware of AI’s shortcomings have made me have a deeper understanding of AIs potential while being cautious of its development and importance in marketing.
What is the core marketing technology capability which as a firm you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer life cycle?
Our core marketing technology capability brings strategic planning guidance to marketers looking to reach multicultural audiences. Many marketers don’t know where to start when it comes to marketing to multicultural audiences. Our tool enables marketers to input what they do know about their consumer ranging from demographics to brand affinities and the output is a comprehensive data guide to multicultural consumers across categories ranging from social media to retail.
Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
Our current dataset is comprised of first-party proprietary survey data, behavioral mobile data from our knowy app, and panel demographic data. We will be adding several new data sets in the next six months including real-time purchase data and website usage data.
What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?
We see an opportunity to be the go-to martech solution for companies serious about reaching the multicultural market. We see opportunities to integrate with platforms that are looking to add more robust multicultural datasets to their marketing technologies.