MarTech360 Interview with Jason Hemingway, Chief Marketing Officer at Phrase

Start with the people. Hire good people with energy and drive. Don’t feel you have to be an expert on every marketing topic, you just need good people around you.

Jason, could you summarize your career highlights in B2B marketing, emphasizing your strategic leadership contributions to the success of the companies you’ve worked with, especially during your tenure as Chief Marketing Officer at Phrase?

There are several highlights I’ve had over the years and the landscape has changed a lot recently, particularly in the area of marketing technology. Although I think the main principles of marketing remain the same. In my career I’ve been lucky to be part of a lot of tech innovation, the adoption of cloud and SaaS, the explosion of martech and CX and now Localization technology – which is also undergoing a transformative change right now based on AI/MT and LLMs. All of which has made leading various marketing teams really rewarding.

In terms of my contributions to the success of the companies I’ve worked for, it’s really been about building marketing functions that focus on driving the strategy and growth of the business forward. That’s always about crafting a mix of both the short and long term marketing plans and activity. At Thunderhead I was part of the executive team that defined a category (Journey Orchestration), developed a completely new brand  and grew the business from scratch to a successful sale in 2022.

Most recently at Phrase, it’s been a series of highlights since I arrived in 2022. Bringing two brands together under one unified brand (Phrase), coupled with launching a unified product Platform for localization was the first highlight and it’s grown from there. Now we launch new capabilities every quarter that drive our pace of innovation and as a result we’re being recognized by analysts in our space as a world leader in localization technology innovation. All that said, the main thing I’m proud of is how marketing, as part of the wider Phrase team,  is really contributing to driving our growth at a fantastic rate, really outpacing the market.

How important is storytelling in modern marketing strategy, and what are some effective ways  to incorporate storytelling into your marketing messages?

I think storytelling in modern marketing is a very important aspect of marketing strategy. Really it needs to be infused into pretty much everything you communicate (and not just marketing). From why you’ve built your products and set up your business, to how you construct your marketing messages and how you build customer stories. It’s especially true in the field of technology, where often complex technical solutions have to be explained clearly and succinctly through storytelling, in the form of how customers use and derive value from the product is key.

However, one of the things to really keep in mind when developing storytelling, in whatever form it takes in your marketing, is to ensure that it’s first and foremost there to help explain how you meet customer needs and deliver value. Understanding what your customers care about and getting that right is vital. Start with customer research, talk to customers, talk to the other parts of the business, then it’s easier to build stories that resonate with your audience.

Jason, can you tell us about your professional background and your current role at Phrase. Also tell us how does Phrase differentiate itself from other companies in the same space?

I’ve been a B2B marketer for over 20 years, the last 10 or so in CMO/senior leadership roles. My current role is at Phrase and I’m responsible for a team of 20 marketers around the globe covering all aspects of the marketing mix to help drive profitable growth.

There are several points of differentiation between Phrase and other companies in the space. Firstly, we’re a technology company, not a services company. Some of the providers in our space offer human-based translation services as a core part of their offering – Phrase is firmly tech only.

Secondly, we’ve focussed exclusively on developing enterprise-grade software. This means that anything we produce has to be robust and capable of delivering to meet the needs of enterprise customers from a scalability, security and connectivity perspective.

Thirdly, we’re the only company in the market that offers a superset of localization products in a single platform for a single subscription. This means that if you’re an enterprise customer from the outset you have access to all our capabilities and you essentially pay for usage/capacity. This means customers can access one place for every possible use case for translation/localization across a business. From apps and website localization to user generated content like customer reviews and marketing or service information.

Fourthly, our tech is supported by a global team of experts in transformation and localization best practice. Which means our customers can quickly implement and see value, as well as expand as their needs increase.

Finally, our  integrations and vendor agnostic approach means our platform can connect with tools and systems our customers use everyday, making it easy to include localization capabilities in the existing tech or application they use.

What are the prominent features and advancements in your most recent localization software release, driven by cutting-edge AI technology, and how do they play a pivotal role in influencing the future of localization?

There are three broad pillars of our product development, namely  AI, Workflow and Scale. In our most recent releases we’ve been focussing on how we can automate more of the localization process using Gen AI and Machine Translation. As the global landscape changes due to generative AI, we anticipate companies will produce more and more content, much of which will be personalized to the individual customer. This will lead to a vastly increased demand for more localization. What’s clear is that without the effective use of Machine Translation and AI to manage the production and process of localization, companies will not be able to meet this customer-driven demand. So we have been firmly focussed on how we can incorporate more AI capabilities to accelerate the production and assessment of machine translated content and coupling this with workflow automation tools that ensure the process is streamlined and human resources are only used where they provide the most value.

How does Phrase leverage automation and artificial intelligence to provide high-quality and scalable localization solutions, and what impact does this have on opening doors to global business for individuals seeking content in their native languages?

At Phrase, we are entering an era where a great deal of content can be managed through AI and machine learning workflows. This next-level automation allows for high-quality translations with minimal human intervention, focusing human efforts where they add the most value. This is what we’ve called  hyperautomation in localization

We achieve results through multiple workflow steps, reducing the need for human involvement in many tasks that can be automated. This approach gives our enterprise customers control over cost, speed, quality, and risk management, as well as allowing them to effectively manage much more volumes of content, without incurring the costs associated with traditional methods. It’s a much needed shift, as the proliferation of content generated by AI is only going to mean there is more to do for localization teams, so they need to look at how to respond.

Our vision emphasizes the future of personalization. We foresee much more AI-generated content enabling dynamic, highly personalized user engagement. To support this, we are building a scalable infrastructure capable of handling the overwhelming volume and speed of content production, which is impractical for humans to manage alone.

Hyperautomation is essential for operational efficiency, enhancing customer experience, and facilitating market expansion cost-effectively. By strategically deploying AI solutions, we ensure the most effective use of resources, preparing our customers for a future of personalized engagement and growth.

What are the key strategies and approaches you have found to be effective in driving growth and results in marketing over the years?

Understand the customer and their needs. Conduct research and test what resonates with them. When selling to enterprise customers use this insight to build narratives and storylines that are relevant to those audiences. In terms of growth there is no single silver bullet, it’s a mixture of knowing  customers, developing the right messaging and positioning, leveraging the right tools and technologies to deliver your message and iterating/learning/optimizing that over time.

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Kathy Klingler, Chief Marketing Officer At Brightcove

How can marketers leverage localization solutions to enhance their global marketing efforts and establish deeper connections with audiences around the world using their preferred marketing tools?

Think about the customer journey from a multilingual point of view. Ask questions about how the marketing function can launch new products and services in markets more quickly and easily by leveraging new tech and tools (that can be integrated into current martech systems)  – not relying on the old way of using human services to translate, which is slow, cumbersome and costly for most day-to-day marketing needs.

Having the right localization technology ensures fast, accurate translations that enhance customer engagement and satisfaction across diverse markets. This is particularly important with the growth of user-generated content (UGC), allowing businesses to leverage this content for better customer engagement. For example, making reviews available in multiple languages can significantly enhance customer interaction. This is just one example but imagine a future where every part of a business can make use of high quality affordable translated communications. By utilizing these advanced tools, businesses can improve the overall customer experience and deliver personalized content that resonates with a global audience, fostering deeper connections.

What advice would you give to other Marketing leaders which helped you personally?

Start with the people. Hire good people with energy and drive. Don’t feel you have to be an expert on every marketing topic, you just need good people around you.

What is the biggest problem you or your team is solving this year?

We’re in a market that is transforming, which comes with its own challenges and people look to adopt more and more technology to solve wider localization problems. That’s both a challenge and where the opportunity lies. In addition, I think every business is looking at how generative AI will alter their day to day working practices. I actually think this is not a problem, but an accelerator for growth and competitive advantage, if you get it right.

Is there anything that you’re currently reading, or any favorite books, that you’d recommend?

Firstly read Mark Ritson’s articles on Marketing Week, they are an excellent source of marketing thinking. Also if you want to really deep dive look at the Mini-MBA in Marketing Course that Marketing Week provides – it’s excellent.

Read Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk – in fact anything you can get your hands on from the Ehrenberg Bass institute. Also look at the B2B Marketing Institute that LinkedIn runs. For the martech tech enthusiasts follow Scott Brinker and also The Martech Weekly by Juan Mendoza

Some other marketing books I thought are excellent are: Eating the big fish by Adam Morgan, Eat your greens by Wiemer Snijders, Disruption and Beyond Disruption by Jean Marie Dru

Thanks, Jason!

Jason Hemingway, a seasoned B2B marketing expert with over 20 years of experience, serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at Phrase, a leading cloud-based localization technology provider. A former Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and CIM qualified, his marketing journey began at Dow Jones Newswires, where he spent several years in the complex arena of trading room systems and real-time news. Jason then made a move to IntraLinks, where he spearheaded the European marketing department, contributing to the company’s success until shortly after its IPO in 2010. Joining marketing technology provider Thunderhead in 2011 as VP Marketing, he took charge of the EMEA and APAC regional marketing teams, becoming CMO in 2015. He applied his expertise to strengthen the brand’s presence and drive growth across the globe until the sale of Thunderhead to Medallia in 2022. His career is marked by strategic marketing leadership and a passion for innovation and data, which continues to drive results and success.

Phrase is a platform that provides localization and translation management solutions. It is designed to help businesses and developers manage their translation workflows more efficiently.

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