"Some people want to be a Suntory man, and other people want to be a Johnny Walker, and the reality is you just are what you are, and if that’s what you like, it’s awesome. But we see ourselves a certain way, and that’s a big part of our job as marketers is to recognize those behaviors and move them along."
Kicking off Intempt's Faces of Growth series is an interview I did on the real-real with marketing and eCommerce veteran, Jeremiah Andrick. He gets raw about his personality challenges, the strengths of his success, and what's worked to help grow into his current self as a cutting edge marketer.
Listen to the audio version here (video is below):
While steeping himself in the product side, working on a computer engineering degree, Jeremiah Andrick got a double education working for Noble and Associates, an ad agency for food promotion. While there, he built out their digital marketing operation, serving brands like Tyson Chicken and French’s Mustard. Afterwards, he went into Microsoft, again dabbling in both the product and marketing worlds with a strong emphasis on analytics and laying the groundwork for the early days of SEO mastery. He went full in with marketing at Logitech, starting as the senior manager of online customer acquisition and finishing his time there as the General Manager of Global eCommerce and Marketing. Today, he’s pioneering a new path for the realm of virtual reality, as the Executive Director of Global eCommerce VR (look for more details on this in Part 2!).
No "I" in team
With all of his stellar experience, I was curious as to what he thought has most led to his growth and success as a marketer. He was quick to assure me that nothing has been easy. For him, the way he builds his team pipeline is directly related to the way he connects with his users, and this solves so many problems.
“When I think about successes, I think a lot about the people that I’ve worked with. You have to recruit for the people you want to sell to, and I want to sell to everybody.”
Virtual reality is breaking into mainstream society, not just that of hardcore gamers. One of Jeremiah’s main goals is increased user acquisiton. “Everybody” for him includes the non-typical gamers - women.
The number of women working in the gaming and tech industry are slowly increasing. While at Logitech, his marketing organization was comprised of 70% women when he left. “I try very hard to build an organization that supports different types of folks. One of the things I have been happy with is I’m on my second team now that is almost entirely made up of women.” "Almost entirely" means his entire team at HTC are women, except himself. The wake of his influence is impressive.
Such a large focus of women on his marketing and eComm teams made me wonder if he felt there might actually be a gender bias against men in the marketing world.
“Empathy isn’t tied to gender, it’s about understanding your customer,” he said.
He further explained that men are often stereotyped for not being as empathetic as most women, and are assumed to not “know how to put ourselves in the shoe of the audience we’re trying to sell for, especially if we’re trying to expand our audience from whatever the corps for the product is.”
Expanding that reach is so vital. A product’s user base must have a life pulse to it, constantly evolving.
“I think this is why the gaming industry has struggled a little bit, you know, if you’re a hard core gamer yourself, it can be very easy to build your product for other hardcore gamers, but if you’re trying to sell your product outside of the hardcore gaming space, it might be harder to put yourself in those shoes. And so i think there’s a challenge there for this industry, just in getting to that place where you see other people and the potential for where they fit in it.”
How does Jeremiah form his team to circumvent this kind of bias? It starts with the recruiting process.
While working for Logitech, he realized that the candidates he was getting weren’t as rich of a pool as he wanted, especially in Europe, where the candidates often included on their resume their age, marital status, and number of children they had. Being realistic and honest about the kind of bias that information might have on the interviewer, he instituted changes with the recruiters to have that kind of personal info removed during the interview process. This put the focus on finding the match for best skill set.
He foresees the future of marketing being deeply rooted in behavior and data analysis. Gender and other biases will fall more to the wayside because analytics are purely objective.
Aside from realizing he is not an island, that he is only as successful as those with whom he surrounds himself, he went a step further in his philosophy, and brought up how important it is to understand oneself in order to understand your user, and therefore be able to successfully progress them along the funnel.
Jeremiah comes from a Scandinavian immigrant family in North Dakota - he says the typical Scandinavian personality tends to be stoic, direct, and can come across as deliberate and a bit harsh, admitting that it’s “not easy to develop a natural sense of empathy for your customer, nor how to get things done.”
So how does he connect with his customers and those around him?
He recommends two things:
1. Seek out mentors and do of self-work.
He found that doing self-work and seeking out mentors who would challenge him, especially as he was moving up the C levels, were instrumental in his growth. “Go listen to peers in the industry. Go talk to other people and find out what they’re doing.”
He told the story of when he took over the role of one of his bosses, during their last 1:1 meeting, Jeremiah asked his boss what would be his greatest challenge, and his boss replied, “You’ll never be a great coach.”
Jeremiah confessed, “It really hurt my feelings at a certain level, But having worked with him for a very long time, I also understand that he knew me well enough to know that if he told me that, I’d spend the rest of my life trying to be a great coach. ‘You can’t tell me I’m not gonna be a great coach. I’m gonna be the best coach ever!’”
2. Connect with the world around you.
Photography is Jeremiah’s method of learning how to better connect with his world. He photographs the mundane around his office, the hard life of addiction and homelessness that he passes on his way to work, sights from his travels, neighborhood regulars, his dogs. It’s an opening into his view of the world (Instagram plug: @jandrick).
“As a photographer, one of the things you learn is to look at your subjects with a certain kind of empathy. If you don’t have empathy for your subjects, especially with street photography and taking pictures of people around the world, you can really erase a person’s personhood very quickly. [Photography] forces you to see the world.”
“If you don’t have empathy for your subjects...you can really erase a person’s personhood very quickly.”
This is the meaty part. Empathy came up over and over again in my talk with Jeremiah. Merriam Webster defines it as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”
Know yourself so you can connect with others. Golden nugget of a life lesson that’s been taught since Plato (and far earlier, I’m sure), and is just as true when applied to the marketing funnel.
“I think maintaining a sense of perspective is really key. So often, whether you’re working in Silicon Valley, or just working with tech in general, we’re often disconnected from our users and from the way the rest of the world works. It’s really important to go out and understand what it is that our customers are thinking and doing.”
Knowing ourselves ever more deeply and honestly helps us be able to relate to others, and therefore empowers marketers to make sure moves. Jeremiah gives the example of using exclusivity and inclusivity in a marketing funnel to give people the versions of themselves that they want to be.
“Our emotions are a big path to how we create consumers, whether that’s creating a sense of belonging on purpose, or whether you’re creating a sense of exclusivity, ‘You don’t belong.’ It’s interesting how emotion drives want.
No-one is immune to being advertised to or marketed to through our emotion or desire to connect with others or to be seen a certain way. I like to tell people that people don’t buy products, they buy a better version of themselves. That’s what we use to get people move forward in the purchase cycle, through the funnel. You’re creating a vision of what your future could look like.
Some people want to be a Suntory man, and other people want to be a Johnny Walker, and the reality is you just are what you are, and if that’s what you like, it’s awesome. But we see ourselves a certain way, and that’s a big part of our job as marketers is to recognize those behaviors and move them along. …The fundamental underlying motivations of human behavior are still the same, which is the need to see yourself in a certain way. So trying to capture that in the process is a huge opportunity.”
Continued from Part 1, Part 2 audio version of my conversation with Jeremiah Andrick resumes here (video below):
Jeremiah talks with me about being customer obsessed - and how to effectively develop that obsession. He says that heritage brands do personas, but they don't segment the marketing against it, nor interview or survey as much as they could to understand how to adapt their marketing to their customer.
On the other hand, emerging companies shouldn't focus on personas, but rather should focus on the general audience of the here and now and also the audience they want to have further down the road. For these companies, his recommendation is to start broad with persona, and with time, narrow it down as you learn your audience.
Customer equity involves moving people along their lifetime journey (interest to purchase, advocacy (or customer service problem), and then getting them to repeat. The goal is to get customers into the loop. Brand equity is an outpouring of your customer equity. For marketers to successfully do this do this, they need to focus on the customer, not focus on their channel or vertical.
Getting from A/B Testing to Machine Learning
Once the persona is identified, Jeremiah stresses the importance of A/B multi-variate testing to find out what people are interacting with once they're on your site. To do that, he asks himself what tools he has on hand that progress customers through each step of his funnel, and what tools he needs. "I want to put as many dollars as I can towards customer acquisition," he says.
This media buying should be done in-house, not through agencies. If done via an agency, you get the data, but lose the tools that got you that data. Finding affordable tools for small to medium sized companies is the challenge, he says.
"If you're not doing A/b testing, then getting to multi-variate testing is really hard," he says. The process starts with the integration of A/B testing, then makes multi-variate testing a cultural norm, adds personalization based on your tests and sense of audience, and finally moves into machine learning and AI since using the data to feed the engines.
"If you’re not using some of those tools, you’re probably waisting marketing money. I think there will come a point where people feel the same way about the machine learning stack, and the personalization stack, or a portion of that stack, because there isn’t a full understanding of how that will benefit them in the long run, but I think it is necessary. There isn’t as much personalization as there should be in the gaming space, today.”
Seeking inspiration outside of your norm
Jeremiah encourages marketers to gather inspiration from other people’s marketing techniques - even if they're in a completely different vertical - because you can learn to see the patterns that are prevalent in any given industry, and learn the different techniques they're employing to deal with them.
For example, Jeremiah is in the virtual reality gaming space, and he listens to "Business of Fashion" by Osman Ahmed because he learns things like how the fashion retail space is dealing with direct commerce vs. direct to consumer commerce.
He also talks about Ian Rogers from Apple and Beats music joining Louis Vuitton because "They have huge challenges, and those challenges are an unbelievable opportunity for growth and experimentation, and to take his knowledge about how people buy in this industry, to how people buy in this industry. To look at it with the fresh face of we were part of the disruption process in the music industry, how can we disrupt fashion?"
Being multi-faceted as a marketer will advance a career.
"A big part of having a growth mindset is understanding what value you create."