Hey everyone! I’m here again with our new guest for the interview series.
About David Berkowitz:
David Berkowitz is Chief Marketing Officer at agency MRY, where he spearheads marketing operations, directs the agency’s communication strategy, and gains visibility for its clients such as Visa, Johnson & Johnson, and Adobe. Since joining in 2013, he has launched pilot programs such as Mobile Week and the world’s first Vineathon, and MRY has been named Mashable’s Digital Innovator of the Year and MediaPost’s Social Agency of the Year.
Previously, he spent seven years at agency 360i, ultimately serving as Vice President of Emerging Media. He was focused on ensuring his Fortune 500 clients stayed ahead of the latest trends in media, marketing, and technology. The co-founder of his agency’s social media practice dating to 2006, he contributed to the marketing strategy for Coca-Cola, Oreo, Smirnoff, Bravo, and Oscar Mayer. He also led 360i’s Startup Outlook initiative.
David has contributed more than 400 columns to MediaPost, and he currently writes regularly for Ad Age’s Digital Next and his own MarketersStudio.com, which he has published since 2005.
He has spoken at more than 250 events globally, including Cannes Lions, SXSW, CES, and iMedia, along with guest lectures at Yale, MIT, Google, and Coca-Cola. In December 2013, he delivered the keynote address at his alma mater Binghamton University’s Fall Commencement. His featured talks around the world include events in Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Israel, Singapore, Spain, and Turkey.
You can follow him on Twitter @dberkowitz.
A) The role of the CMO should always be changing. Marketing has changed dramatically over the past decade. Marketing automation, social media marketing, and mobile marketing were nascent a decade ago, and now they’re thriving. I’m not sure how many marketers knew the acronyms “SAAS” (software as a service) or “API” (application programming interface) a decade ago; now they’re common parlance, to some extent. A decade ago, YouTube had just launched (to relatively little fanfare, compared to startup launches today) and Netflix was still a DVD-by-mail company with no streaming option; now both have led to massive disruption of the broadcast and television cable industries, which in turn disrupts how many marketers reach consumers.
My role has its own unique changes. I’m a marketer’s marketer – part of a team that’s supposed to market a company that does marketing. Not every CMO shares such a privilege or challenge, so there’s something a bit different about my role in particular. CMO roles in general should attract people who love change and unpredictability. But isn’t that so much of the business world today?
Q) How hard is it to manage personal branding as you share your name with the “Son Of Sam”?
The downside is, of course, that unless I found a trillion-dollar company or go on a killing spree, it will be very hard for me to bump the Son of Sam out of top search rankings. And given that my name – especially in New York – is pretty memorable, people tend to remember my name far better than I remember theirs.
The upside is that I can wear my name proudly. My namesake was a hero who, with his true love working with him every step of the way, fled murderous persecution and survived in hostile climates all to keep his family alive. There was no Google or Facebook then, and he’ll never be famous for his life-saving efforts, but his photo sits framed on my dresser, and he helps me remember where I come from. That’s more important to me than personal branding.
Q) What do you think is the biggest opportunity and the biggest hurdle for content marketers in 2015?
A) The biggest hurdle for content marketers is that the economics of content marketing are shifting. In previous years, you could build up an audience and then create content targeted to them. The costs were in strategy, creative, and production – so, overall, on the creation side of it.
Now, across social platforms, marketers typically need to pay to distribute any of that content, so a media buy is increasingly a necessary part of the costs, where before such a media buy was optional. This necessity is especially pronounced on Facebook, followed by Twitter, but that’s where other platforms are heading, including Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
The biggest opportunity for content marketers is that there are so many exciting ways to reach audiences that weren’t easily possible or scalable before. One such route is through multi-channel networks (MCNs), where brands collaborate with video content creators that have their own audiences built in.
It’s also possible to partner with some such influencers and producers directly. And then the means of content production keep changing. In the past few months, mobile social streaming tools like Periscope and Meerkat gained attention, and Periscope should have some lasting utility as part of Twitter. Meanwhile, drones are becoming increasingly accessible to deliver the kinds of footage for thousands of dollars that could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before. More importantly, it can give marketers’ audiences an entirely new view of the world.
Q) What type of marketing strategies work for you today?
A) For marketing a services firm, through B2B marketing, the two best options I have for marketing is promoting my agency’s work or ur people. Now, with the work, we’re dependent on what our clients are open to promoting at any given time, and we of course need to be respectful of that. Our business is all about trust. And of course, it’s not every day that the work we’re doing is meant to be front page news.
With our people, we have more opportunities. We have hundreds of bright minds and fascinating personalities acros the agency. There are constantly ways to share their perspectives, or to create something with them that they’re excited about. During my tenure at the agency alone, some of my colleagues have come up with some amazing ideas we’ve been able to produce, including: the world’s first Vine-a-Thon event series to create Vine videos on the fly; hosted events for Community Manager Appreciation Day; well read blog posts such as one from a creative who was a finalist on a reality cooking show about how her varied pursuits make her better at her job; a stunt where we were the first business to accept payments via Snapchat; a humorous video about drones coming to work at the office; and a funny video asking moms of some of our team what they think we do all day.
We also put a lot of trust in our team too. Last year, we had more than 20 people represent MRY in the press, and a lot of them were not those with the most senior titles.
Q) What are your thoughts on the future of digital marketing?
A) It’s hardly original to say that all marketing is becoming digital, but that’s the case. There’s less of a need for digital specialists and more of a need for everyone in marketing to fully understand how digital works.
Everything is in flux right now in terms of media. There are a few constants. Live events are bigger and bigger deals – people still want to have that water cooler conversation about something. But now, people could be getting their news at any minute of the day from their TV, phone, tablet, watch, voice-activated assistant, or augmented reality headset. No one has to remember when a TV series is on.
When I grew up in the 1980s, not everyone had cable (my own family got it relatively late), but everyone knew what MTV was. Now, practically everyone has internet access, but not everyone knows about Snapchat or Vine or YouNow. Even the biggest stars for a 20-year-old could be people that someone as young as 30 has never heard of.
But we are social animals. We find new ways to connect with each other and stay together, and it’s now easier than ever to connect with people outside of those with whom we grow up, study, or work. Maybe those connections are over seemingly frivolous pursuits like watching other people play video games (see Twitch) or reading fan fiction (a la Wattpad), or maybe it’s a Chicago restaurant owner going on Kiva to help a collective of Kenyan women buy sheep to raise for wool and meat.
The technologies change, but the human needs are constant, and digital marketing will follow marketing fundamentals – making emotional connections with people to motivate them to want what you have to offer.
Thank you for your time, David!