“Prioritize and execute. It’s such a simple concept that it seems overly obvious, but our world is filled with distractions, competing interests and things are always changing”
How does the complexity of our data-first world necessitate businesses to possess deep expertise, data, and technology for success in digital marketing, and how does your technology facilitate collaborative relationships among partners to provide businesses with an “easy button” and level the playing field?
All modern, highly-performant marketing today is built on the backbone of data. It’s truly a “garbage in, garbage out” situation. If you go about your digital marketing with bad input data (such as creative, audiences, channels, etc) and you do not have the ability to rapidly act on output data (performance, optimization, etc), you’re not going to get good results. The situation and challenges faced by the local marketers our technology serves are 1) they need the results of digital marketing in order to drive and grow their business 2) they do not have the time or the expertise to properly manage their marketing and 3) they don’t have access to the right data, at the right scale, in order to achieve optimal performance. Interestingly enough, it’s common that the corporate partner of those local marketers, such as a restaurant franchisor for franchisees or a real estate brokerage for real estate agents, DO have access to the right data at the right scale, but they are unable to easily activate and deploy that data across their local network to enable local marketing in an easy and secure way without spending a lot of resources. Our technology bridges this gap by allowing corporate and local partners to collaborate together through a single platform.
One way we achieve the “easy button” via our platform’s blueprints. These are templatized programs that users buy which drive toward specific marketing objectives, such as promoting a limited-time offer for a restaurant to drive in store traffic. In our blueprints, we get to decide what is exposed to the end user as they set up their marketing program, and what we “bake in” behind the scenes. This allows us to crystalize best practices to drive performance while keeping things incredibly simple for end users to set up and launch. They can tweak a limited number of things to help put their local “stamp” of knowledge in their marketing while not needing to worry about all the important decisions that optimize performance but are esoteric in nature to non-marketers, such as bidding strategies, optimization goals, and more. This all comes together in our platform to allow smaller marketers access to the power and performance of the big guys, in a manner that saves them a ton of time.
The other way we provide an “easy button” is through our automation capabilities. We provide the ability for our partners to manage their digital marketing instantaneously through triggers based on their location-specific data. Any data from any source can be pushed into our system, allowing us to automatically publish or manage ads across multiple platforms, without the local operator needing to lift a finger.
Through our blueprints and automations, our partners’ teams spend significantly less time managing marketing, while achieving better results and focusing their time on other aspects of their business.
What does Evocalize do, and how does it differentiate itself from other companies in the same space?
At Evocalize, we automate local ads on on Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube based on location-specific data. We find many multi-location businesses wish their marketing could have an immediate impact ON REVENUE at the location level. That’s why we created a magic button that automates digital ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube that does exactly that.
Picture this: You’re a restaurant General Manager. It’s Wednesday afternoon in your Denver location and weekly sales are trending low. No problem, your pre-approved awareness ad on Google just goes live and you didn’t even have to push “go”. In fact, you didn’t even need to know sales were off track. Your POS knew and it triggered the ad you created weeks ago inside of the budget you set. Voila…you’ve got foot traffic. … All this while you were getting a coffee.
Not magic enough? We can automate any ads or programs based on any business data, and give you and your franchisees visibility into where the marketing dollars are spent. And, we even give franchisees tools to manually launch their own ads in minutes, so they can hit their goals without a marketing background.
Full automation across multiple platforms — on-brand and at scale. That’s what sets us apart from our competitors.
Nick, can you tell us about your professional background and your current role at Evocalize.
I have an education in business and marketing and have been with Evocalize for the past 8 years. I joined initially as a part of our Client Success team, working as an analyst, client success manager, and eventually running the team as director. Throughout those early years, I gained deep knowledge of both our product and partner businesses, illuminating my interest and passion for product management. I switched teams to work as a product manager and was then promoted to director of product management, which has been my role the past two years. I hold responsibility over the launch of new products and features, management of our roadmap, and refinement/execution of our product strategies and product management practices.
As a Director of Product Management, how do you balance the short-term goals and priorities of a product with the long-term strategic vision? Can you share an example from your experience where you successfully managed this balance to drive overall product success?
“Balancing” might be 80% or more of my job and the job of most product managers and leaders. It is a role of continuous tradeoffs and ruthless prioritization. At Evocalize, we employ a practice of scoring all of our proposed features/products against a few business drivers aligned with our team and company goals (largely around activation, retention, and monetization). We assign calculated weights to these scores that are then compared with the level of effort to develop and launch each initiative, based on input from engineering. This prioritization exercise helps us plan what to tackle, in what order, in context of their alignment with our goals and strategy. The goals should almost always align or be correlated with the longer-term vision. If you’re finding that’s not the case, you have bigger problems and should consider revisiting your existing goals to ensure they align with your vision.
In early 2023, we introduced an AI-powered ad copy writing tool in our platform. This was nowhere on our roadmap until the consumer AI application explosion that occured post-launch of ChatGPT in November 2022. We had to quickly re-prioritize in order to fit it in. While the new goal of “introducing an AI writing assistant” emerged quickly and had to be balanced, it still aligned with the part of our product vision to make sophisticated digital marketing push-button simple for non-marketers.
How can the integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and AI marketing automation empower brands to become formidable digital marketing powerhouses in the future of intelligent marketing?
The emergence and proliferation of consumer-facing AI and ML applications represents a seismic shift in marketing. Things continue to change rapidly, and likely will for the foreseeable future, but cutting edge brands and marketers are already employing these technologies to dramatically increase productivity and unlock capabilities that simply didn’t exist a year and a half ago. A few areas where we are seeing tremendous growth and change are:
- Personalization at scale: AI and ML enable brands to analyze vast amounts of data in real-time, understanding individual customer preferences, behaviors, and needs. This allows for hyper-personalized marketing strategies, ensuring that customers receive tailored content, product recommendations, and offers, significantly enhancing customer experience and loyalty.
- Enhanced creativity and content generation: Generative AI in particular has been a game changer. It started with text generation but has quickly expanded to image, video, audio, and more modalities will come over time. The advancements in image generation have been astounding, with services like DALL·E 3 and Midjourney capable of creating and editing images within seconds. These solutions can not only increase quality of content, but tremendously improve efficiency of creation and allow for multivariate creations, which make great fodder for marketing split tests to help improve performance.
- Analytics and insights: Modern marketing outcomes generate a lot of data. Large companies employ entire teams of analysts tasked with cleaning data, creating reports and extracting insights. AI is disrupting this space given its ability to process vast amounts of data, drive predictive insights, and actionable intelligence. Everything from sentiment analysis to campaigns analytics can be facilitated via AI. Instead of spending time building out reports, folks can now use natural language querying on top of their data to get to actionable insights faster.
At Evocalize, we’re working hard to incorporate these technologies into our products in an easy-to-access manner, so that less sophisticated local marketers can tap into the same power and benefits that the largest and most successful brands are driving today.
Considering the dynamic nature of technology and market trends, how do you stay informed and adapt your product strategy to remain competitive? Can you share a specific instance where your proactive approach to market intelligence led to adjustments in the product roadmap and resulted in a positive impact on the product’s success?
Overall, I try to take a balanced approach to keeping up with trends in the market. There is so much going on in the marketing and technology industry and things change all the time. It is easy to over-index on trying to stay up-to-date, and if you’re not careful, that will cause unnecessary distraction and eat into time that you should probably spend talking to your customers, working with your team, and executing. Personally, I block off time in my calendar each week that I use to engage with industry news, reports, newsletters, podcasts, etc, to stay updated on the latest trends. Another tactic I recommend is to create weekly Google News using competitive keywords. You can do this at https://www.google.com/alerts and get timely competitor updates dropped to your inbox. Lastly, but most importantly, talk with your actual users as much as you can. Your product is not what YOU think it is, it’s what your CUSTOMERS think it is. I find that the most valuable insights which result in product changes or a shift in thinking/direction tend to come out of conversations with real customers.
An example of market intelligence leading to adjustments in our roadmap was with our integration with TikTok as a connected channel. One advantage of our platform is that we have a very flexible and powerful publishing system that allows us to scale to new marketing channels easier than a lot of our competitors. A couple years ago, TikTok ads were just starting to gain traction but the market perception from our supported verticals was that it was just a channel for dancing teenagers and not for extracting real business results from paid marketing such as leads and revenue. Partners were not asking for TikTok but we were monitoring the trends of how the channel was growing and demographics changing, especially amongst 30 – 45 year olds, which at the time was the fastest growing demographic on TikTok. This demo has strong real estate purchasing power (an important vertical to our business) and the channel aligned with a lot of existing programs offered to customers today. We made the decision to expand into TikTok and did a full API integration with their marketing ecosystem, allowing us to be early adopters of a channel where our partner’s target audience was rapidly growing. This also created a competitive differentiator for us as most of our competitors cannot say they offer Meta, Google and TikTok for paid digital ads placements.
What advice would you give to other leaders which helped you personally?
Prioritize and execute. It’s such a simple concept that it seems overly obvious, but our world is filled with distractions, competing interests and things are always changing (at what seems to be an accelerating pace). There’s always going to be a number of “important” things to do, but it’s critical to prioritize the most important thing that you think will move the needle, and drive yourself and your team to the execution of that thing, then move on to the next one. If you try to do too many things at once, you’re likely to create a chaotic and unproductive environment for you and your team, with a higher propensity to fail.
What is the biggest problem you or your team is solving this year?
We continue to have a strong focus on AI and how best to incorporate these proliferating technologies with our platform to improve marketing performance, simplify or reimagine workflows, and hopefully surprise/delight our users. Additionally, we are working hard to increase the breadth of our integrations. The marketing ecosystem is vast, with digital marketing being just one facet. Integrations with tangential systems such as CRM, POS, content providers, etc, allow us to have a more robust offering and also simplify implementation needs on behalf of our partners.
Is there anything that you’re currently reading, or any favorite books, that you’d Recommend?
I’m an avid reader and a big proponent of balancing non-fiction and fiction. On the non-fiction side, “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott is a great one about communication and the ability to better handle difficult conversations, both professionally and personally, in a productive manner. “A Thousand Brains” by Jeff Hawkins for anyone interested in AI and human intelligence in general. On the fiction side, I’m a big SciFi fan. I’m currently reading the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series by Cixin Liu (starts off with “The Three Body Problem” – soon to be a Netflix series). I read the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown last year. I highly recommend both for anyone that likes SciFi.
Nick leads Product Management at Evocalize, a Collaborative Marketing Platform where AI and machine learning are at the heart of marketing transformation. With expertise in automation and artificial intelligence, Nick is pioneering efforts to empower local marketers and small businesses to thrive in an ever-evolving market.
Evocalize‘s Collaborative Marketing Platform is used by multi-location brands, technology platforms (like CRMs), and online marketplaces to equip their locations and users at scale with sophisticated, push-button easy digital marketing that drives real business results and revenue. Evocalize is a Meta Business Partner and a Google Business Partner. Evocalize’s technology supports businesses across industries, including real estate, mortgage, insurance, financial services, restaurants, franchises, travel, and more. Evocalize is backed by Madrona Venture Group, Move, Inc., Second Century Ventures, and Habanero Ventures.