Developing Smarter Marketing Programs


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Gone Fishing

Marketing is both constant and evolving all the time - while some practices are tried and true, others must always adapt to ever-changing climate. For better or worse, media sources often cite millennials as changing the landscape of businesses and how they function - be it through new digital processes or "killing" businesses that fail to compete as time goes on.

Regardless of what the cause is, it's crucial for brands to always be implementing new strategies to increase both their awareness and ROI. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded examines how brands can effectively develop smarter marketing programs through the expertise of Futurety's Sam Underwood.

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A Little Background On Sam

Sam is the VP of Business Strategy at Futurety, a data analytics and CRM agency out of Columbus, Ohio. His experience at Fathom Marketing as an account manager gave him expertise within digital strategic planning and social media content strategy. Ultimately, this led to his position as the Director of Business Strategy where his skills in marketing, online and consumer research, communication strategy consulting and business development, helped Futurety's clients derive insights from data to predict customer behavior and deliver smarter, faster marketing programs. 

Sam sat down to chat with our CEO, Stacy Jones about his two rules of fishing- You can't catch fish where there aren't fish, and don't leave fish to find fish, and how these rules can be applied to marketing and business, product or service.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: Can you tell us a little bit how long you've been doing what you do, a little bit about your background, where you were at, and what got you to where you're doing what you're doing today?

Answer: Prior to joining Futurety I worked with a large organization called Alliance Data, again here in Columbus, Ohio working with over a hundred different credit card brands to do a lot of data analytics around their marketing program, looking at what the best demographics, psychographics, behavioral predictors may be for someone to be a really great customer, a loyal customer for a credit brand and for a retail brand. 


Question: So one of the things that really caught my attention were your two rules: you can't catch fish when there aren't fish and don't leave fish to find fish. Can you share a little bit more about that for our listeners?

Answer: Absolutely. I grew up spending a lot of time camping and traveling to a family place that my family has in northern Ontario and what we found was there's a lot more to fishing than just having the right bait or going to even the right spot of the lake. It all depends on the weather, it depends on the time of the day, it depends on the time of the year. When you find, just speaking of fishing, you find the spot where the fish are biting, you wanna learn something from that. Likewise if you are out there all day and you get stunk and you're coming in, you're sunburned and all the beer cans are empty. At the same time, you definitely learn something there to.

So as we take an annual trip up to the family cottage up there in Ontario, it kind of occurred to me that a lot of the things that I learned, for better or for worse, on the fishing boat apply pretty well to both, more of my focus here in the marketing world, but also on product development, service development that sort of thing.


At a high level, you can't catch fish where there aren't fish. This kinda goes without saying that, for us as marketers I think we've all probably had that project or that client or that initiative where maybe we worked on it for a few weeks, did a lot of outreach, did a lot of marketing campaigns whatever it may be, and finally just looked at ourselves in the mirror and said "I'm not sure that there's a buyer here. I'm not sure that there is a market here.

In the same way, the counterpoint to that's the second rule there: don't leave fish to find fish. We've all again been a part of something where we're marketing or we're developing a product and we roll out the campaign or we roll out the product and we say to ourselves "Wow, there is really a hot market full of buying here." In the same way that you might be fishing and you toss the line over the boat and you have maybe not so great bait on there and the fish go crazy. Sometimes you just have the right spot at the right time of day, the way the sun is striking the water, whatever it is. You've just really hit on something special.

We apply these rules of fishing in our personal lives, over to the marketing and product development world, has seen a lot of benefit from thinking about things and simplifying things in both of these ways.

Question: You mentioned the fact that a lot of us will go and spin a lot of wheels trying to make something happen that there's just absolutely no market for. At what point do you find that people need to take a step back and say "okay, this is defeating, this isn't working, we've given it our all.". When should they actually find a new fishing hole?

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Answer: Something that either you've worked for on the marketing side in the campaign or even as a product owner worked to develop a product over months and years. Its pretty easy to say either "Oh, I rolled it out a month ago, its been enough time and it's just not gonna work." And likewise it's easy to say "No, I've spent three years of my life on this so I'm gonna spend ten years of my life trying to push this." To take a step back and look at the data you have available. The great benefit to again both product development and marketing campaign development these days is there's so much data available and sometimes there's almost too much data. Wading through that data, looking at what are those most important data points that can help you make an informed decision is definitely the direction that we almost always advocate for.

Our view shared amongst our team is that for us as marketing, for us as the folks who are at the front lines I guess you could say. Where the consumer meets the product, the product meets the consumer, we're in the best position to diagnose any kind of mismatch between the product and the consumer. We're talking to consumers sometimes literally every day. We're putting campaigns, we're printing wording, imagery, all kinds of campaign variables in front of that consumer and seeing what works.

So for us as marketers it almost can be easy sometimes to get a little bit arrogant and say "This product is never gonna work. We've done the testing, we've done the campaigns, it's not gonna work." I think that the way we can position that a little bit better is to say "Yes we are in a great position to help our clients understand when a product is or isn't going to work but how can we be more of a partner to them." Use the campaign data that we have to say "This isn't working but here's a way that it would work. Here's a way that we can all be successful together. Let's change the size or change the color." Or maybe there's a market here , we're marketing to an older demographic or a different geographic area than we should be or something like that. How can we use the data, in short, that we have available as marketers that our consumers have told us by their behavior, and use that to inform product development or whatever it may be.


Question: With all of that data that you put together, is that something that you as your team will actually strategize and come to the client and say "Hey, you're not seeing the results that you're looking for, our team put together some thoughts around this. This is where we think you should be going, this is the direction we think you should be doing," in general is that something that you do all the time?

Answer: Absolutely yeah. A lot of us here on the team, you could say our roots are in the straight ahead marketing execution. Like Facebook campaigns and Google Ads and that sort of thing, comfortable there. What we almost love to do even more is to say "Okay, lets develop a campaign that's really excellent, but lets also apply the learnings from this campaign over to whatever it is that we're actually marketing."

One of the things, like I think I may have mentioned before, one of the things that we really really enjoy is almost looking at our marketing channels as if they are essentially a live, updating focus group. If we're running an ad campaign, we're putting an ad in front of thousands of people a day, whether they click or don't click or call or don't call from that ad, that tells us something about that product. That informs a ton about: did they like the color that this image was versus the color of this image? It would be an exaggeration to say we don't need to do product research because of course we absolutely do, but that is an excellent supplement to a really dynamic product research strategy.

When we can put an ad in front of thousand of people, millions of people a day or a week and say "this is what works, this is what doesn't. When we use this color, this wording, they click or they call. When we don't, they don't," that tells us something there. We absolutely love doing that and that is definitely a direction for the marketing community as a whole, that we have seen has a ton of growth potential.

To learn more about marketing strategies from Sam's expertise, you can listen to the full interview in our podcast.

What's Next?

Want to learn more about effective strategies in marketing and different case studies of success? We've written plenty of other blog posts on the topic as well for you to check out!

Want to learn more from experts across various walks of the marketing landscape? Subscribe to our Marketing Mistakes Podcast and learn tips, strategies and suggestions from the pros!

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