VP of marketing for digital marketing vendor Performance Horizon, Erik Mikisch, speaks to CMO about how to be a more intelligent technology-led marketer in today’s fast-paced digital marketplace.
With a long-standing career spanning 30 years in international marketing and sales both in Germany and the United States, Mikisch has seen it all. In the early 2000s, he began working with a publishing company, then switched to marketing tech. Prior to joining Performance Horizon in June 2015, Mikisch worked for programmatic marketing vendor, Rocket Fuel, as senior director of solutions marketing, where he ran pre-sales support and marketing.
At Performance Horizon, Mikisch said his team is trying to apply lessons learned from his time at Rocket Fuel - including what not to do.
“What really fascinated me about the space was when you look at Rocket Fuel’s value proposition, it is about using technology to replace affiliate networks,” he said. “It’s a very similar digital view positioning and very much aligned with the expectations of large advertisers.”
According to Mikisch, it is very easy in a startup organisation to get side-tracked. As a big believer in focus, he is trying to propagate that attitude within the culture of Performance Horizon.
“For instance, this morning we had a session where I explained my philosophy but more importantly, how narrow our focus really should be,” he explained. “Because with that perspective, you can make much better decisions, and spend more quality time on those marketing activities.”
Philosphically, Mikisch draws inspiration from books such as Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, which argues there is a chasm between the early adopters of a product (the tech enthusiasts and visionaries) and the adopters (the pragmatists).
“I agree there is a gap between the early adopters and the pragmatists,” Mikisch said. “And how to cross that chasm can be very difficult for companies, unless you have clear messaging, clear product messaging and clear pricing.”
One of the things Mikisch said Performance Horizon did last year was to stop and analyse the verticals and geographies in which the company operates.
“We made a conscious decision not to invest outside of those verticals and those geographies, which makes it much easier,” he said. “It’s quite challenging because there are always sales opportunities that need support, but before you know it you could be supporting 20 different countries, six or eight different verticals and you start losing focus. That was a big step we’ve taken and we’re making sure we stick to that philosophy.”
Globally, Mikisch said the company’s focus is on large brands like British Airways, Google, Barclays Bank, Santander, Emirates and Expedia. However, for smaller marketers like Australia, there is a need to adapt.
“For a lot of those organisations here in Australia, even if they’re subsidiaries of big brands, they tend to be smaller and their target audience is also smaller,” he said. “Australia is a very advanced country, but in terms of GDP it is not that big.
“For example, Westpac and Westfield are some of our customers here and we need to understand a lot of our clients here are being supported by agencies, which is not as true in other parts of the world.”
Think about marketing as long-term sales
Mikisch sees marketing is in many ways as long-term sales. And given the long sales cycles, a lot of pieces marketers put into place now should probably start generating results sometime in the next year or so.
“As an organisation, I will have to ensure that our positioning and communication with the market is not just appropriate for what we currently do, but is going to be of interest to clients in a year or two years from now,” he said.
Mikisch noted a lot of companies are interested in measuring performance in much more detailed levels and across multiple channels.;