Brandi Starr from Tegrita talks about how technology is taking over marketing and how martech can help marketers in the Post-COVID era.
“Spend time listening to your target audience. If you let your audience drive your product development, you can’t go wrong”
1. Tell us about your role in Tegrita?
As the Chief Operating Officer, I wear multiple hats. As a consultant, I am responsible for our strategic service offering and lead some of our client projects. As a leader within the organization, I am responsible for both our Operations and Marketing departments.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I’ve been in marketing for twenty years. My career started in design and campaign execution, which has included marketing database management, marketing strategy, and marketing automation. Early in my career, I was doing lead generation through fax marketing.
As time went on and things went digital, technology became a key driver and I strived to be an early adopter. I have been an Eloqua power user since Eloqua was a start-up (long before the Oracle acquisition). As my last company matured, modern marketers got deeply involved with the power of automation and how technologies fit together. After five years with my last company, I was ready for a change and wanted to get more involved in marketing technology. Consulting appealed to me because there are no limits; I knew I’d have the opportunity to work with a variety of clients and technologies, so I jumped the fence from client-side to consulting and I’ve never looked back.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing Sector?
Technology isn’t “upgrading” marketing; it’s taking over.
The types of things that marketers are able to do today were unfathomable when I started my career. The most effective marketers understand technology. They are able to build a strategy that aligns with the technology’s vast capabilities.
4. How has data-driven approach empowered marketing professionals?
I’ll give you an example: when I needed a new travel backpack, I wasn’t finding any options that I loved. I wanted something unique, professional, and feminine without being girly. Instead of continuing to search, I went to the two most popular travel bag sites and just clicked a bunch of bags randomly. I waited an hour, then opened Instagram and Facebook. Both were filled with ads for travel backpacks made by small companies I had never heard of. Within 15 minutes, I had purchased a bag.
These small brands leveraged data (both profile data from my social accounts and digital body language from my browsing behavior) to target me with viable products. Without data, they had a 0% chance of making a sale, since they didn’t sell through major retailers and I had never heard of them. Marketers who understand the data that they have at their disposal–and who are able to make some educated guesses about what the data means–are able to place their messaging in front of their target audience at the right time. Although my example is related to a consumer purchase, B2B marketers can achieve the same level of empowerment from the data available to them.
5. What tips would you give to our audience to strategize marketing post-COVID?
In the United States, we have faced a global pandemic that forced a digital transformation, mixed with challenging economic conditions topped off with civil unrest. Every assumption that we have about what our audience wants or needs has to go out the window. Everything has changed; trying new things and testing has always been important in understanding what works and what doesn’t for your audience. Now, it’s not just important. It is critical. I encourage all marketers to challenge the status quo and adopt a culture of consistent testing and optimization. Try new tactics, aim to connect with your audience on a more personal level, find ways to listen to what their needs are.
6. What are your predictions about the future of Martech?
I wrote a byline in the 2020 State of Marketing Technology report on this topic. I believe that companies will continue to invest in technology, but I feel they will do so more critically moving forward. Organizations will begin to assess what they have and really identify the technology that supports their use cases and refine their MarTech stack. I also predict that beyond marketing automation and CRM, the smaller, nimbler tech providers will holistically be more successful than the powerhouse organizations. Smaller companies are more agile and tend to have a better understanding of their customers’ unique needs.
7. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Spend time listening to your target audience. If you let your audience drive your product development, you can’t go wrong.
So many companies use their competitors as the measuring stick; they spend precious engineering time focused on adding the bells and whistles that their competitors have, that they miss out on the valuable enhancements that their ideal audience really need. My analogy is: if you are a car manufacturer, it doesn’t matter if you add heated seats and speedy window defrost if your ideal customers all live in southern Florida.
8. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
I spent time analyzing myself and what my most productive work environment is. I have adjusted my work schedule to align with my productive hours. I don’t start my workday until 10am to give me time to wake up slowly, exercise, and enjoy my morning with my family. I take a long lunch at 12pm, then end my day by 5pm. That probably makes it sound like I don’t work much. But I am most focused and productive at night, so after my family goes to bed, I’m back online around 10pm and will usually work 2-3 hours. I often accomplish more in that 2-3 hour period than I do during the day.
I also discovered focus music. My music preference is R&B, gospel, and country, but when I’m working, I listen to EDM (electronic dance music) with no or few words. I don’t know exactly how this works with the brain, but when I crank up my playlist, it sends my productivity into overdrive.
9. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
We’re already here, so it’s too late to prepare. AI is built into so many different types of technologies that at this point, it’s impossible to avoid. As marketers, it’s our job to understand how AI can help support our business objectives and then tap into its power.
10. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
We’re onboarding new technologies and releasing a book.
TegX is our big initiative. It’s an innovative way of combining organizational change with powerful technology in order for organizations to achieve visible revenue acceleration. As a part of this initiative, we are starting to support marketing technologies that our team feels can drive exponential growth. In addition, we’ve added HubSpot as a third marketing automation platform that we support (in addition to Oracle Eloqua and Responsys).
The most exciting development is our book; it’s been a true labor of love. It’s titled CMO to CRO: The Revenue Takeover by the Next Generation Executive, and is written by me, our CTO Mike Geller, and our CRO Rolly Keenan. We show readers how to bring revenue to the forefront and make every team’s number one objective a seamless customer experience. It’s tentatively scheduled for a November launch.
11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
We have the most amazing team! At Tegrita, we are a family of consultants who have fun together. We’re experts who are flexible with our clients and bring integrity to all of our work every day. We’ve structured our organization to minimize hierarchies and eliminate many of the typical hurdles that larger companies struggle with. This allows everyone to focus on the things that make them amazing and that they enjoy doing. What this really means for me is that I have a group of people who always have my back, who I can be transparent and authentic with. Whether it’s brainstorming a client solution that I’m stuck on or strategizing how to navigate distance-learning Kindergarten, there is always someone with a listening ear and more than a few ideas.
12. What movie inspires you the most?
Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts has definitely inspired my love for international travel. Prior to watching it, I had traveled quite a bit domestically and to a few of the typical Caribbean destinations, but my vacations had always been the typical “touristy” vacations. That movie opened me up to the idea of true international travel and trying to experience the people and the cultures. Soon thereafter, I had the opportunity to see Ireland, South Africa, Germany, and France. I was hooked. A few weeks in Bali is still my dream vacation, thanks to this movie.
13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
One of the more unique (and enjoyable) things that we do is take a “workcation” together each fall and attend a conference together every spring. These photos show us in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Las Vegas. In Vegas we hosted a 1920s themed party and went skydiving as a team building exercise. It’s a blessing to have so much fun with my team and my role at Tegrita allows me the opportunity to travel for work and for work/fun with the team.
14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
I have the apps on my phone organized into categories. In the business category Slack is the most valuable app. It allows me to keep connected with my team even when I’m on the go. Quite often a quick response keeps a project from stalling or allows a timely decision to be made. In the entertainment category Words With Friends is my go to. I’ve been playing this game since 2011 and never go a day without playing. The Delta app is my most used Travel app. I’m a loyal SkyMiles member. Finally, Samsung Health is my most valued health app. It helps to keep me on track with my goals and reminds me to move throughout the day.