The fateful realization of how important it is to track marketing results came early in Alex’s career, while working at IBM. This lightbulb moment would drive key decisions in the rest of his career, including grad school and founding his new venture, Klearly.
What was the biggest a-ha moment of your marketing career?
Hi I'm Alex Krawchick, founder and CEO of Klearly. The biggest ah-ha moment in my marketing career was nearly 20 years ago. I was working at IBM, on the ThinkPad marketing team and we were doing some pretty large scale direct response marketing like newspaper and magazine ads with 800 numbers. It was the first time ever in my career we were measuring marketing responses and I'll never forget the conference room that I was in at the time. My brain immediately went toward:
If we can measure marketing's responses, we should also be able to measure marketing's contribution to the business.
And that moment was just an a-ha moment for me. Frankly, it's been almost 20 years now, and I haven't been able to shake that that moment since.
When did taking a risk in your career pay off?
The drive to understand the ROI of marketing activities led Alex to take a couple of major risks - that have paid off in a big way. The realization in an IBM conference room would even lead to starting a company that solves the very challenge that had been plaguing for decades in his marketing career.
So I've definitely taken some good risks in my career. I have two parts to answer this question that are definitely closely related. One: At nearly 40 years old, with young children and already working a full time job running a demand marketing team, I obviously didn't have enough to do. So I enrolled in grad school at Northwestern to earn a master's degree in predictive analytics. And the reason that I did that was
I really wanted to mathematically and technically understand how we could measure marketing's contribution to the business using all the data that we have, but more importantly, what actions we need to take moving forward.
It was a huge risk because I was not great at math. I didn't really know how to write code other than a little bit of HTML. I had never written any data science code in my life, and I already had a lot on my plate. But I just had this, really intense curiosity and ambition, and I needed a strong foundation for understanding how to make it happen.
So I went back to school, and then the second part of this, in terms of risk was part answer 1b, which is after school I started a company called Klearly, and our mission is to help B2B marketing teams take action and advantage of their data by understanding how they can contribute to their businesses. So no more dashboards, no more vanity metrics. We're helping marketing teams focus on the things that really matter. And I've had this pain in my marketing side for nearly 20 years, and I'm finally in a fortuitous position to be able to help solve that pain, and that risk is definitely paying off now.
What advice do you have for marketers trying to take their career to the next level?
I think the first thing is just be curious. Ask questions. Don't settle for the status quo. Constantly ask questions.
Embrace an insatiable appetite for continuous learning. Because one thing I've learned in my marketing career is that what I know today likely will be obsolete in five years.
Just keep growing, keep pushing yourself and a corollary to that is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and people that will challenge you both professionally and personally. The last thing here is don't be afraid to ask why. You know why? Why, why. Principle thinking goes deeper and deeper into people's insights. Really try to uncover the roots of what people are asking for and saying. Some people refer to this as principle thinking. For example, if you're developing a new report working to build a new report in your CRM or marketing automation system, ask yourself why? Why am I doing this? What's the real reason behind me wanting to create this report dashboard. Do even really need it or is it a means to actually achieve something else? Principle thinking has really helped me in my career.
Tell us about the impact of a successful campaign that your team recently executed.
Specifically for marketing and B2B marketing and sales teams, one of the things that's been affected in a big way is trade shows and conferences, which are typically just a huge staple for B2B revenue teams. And, these activities are basically gone for a while. We don't know when they're gonna come back, so there needs to be this sort of re balancing of go to market activities, of revenue generating activities
What do you see as the role of video in marketing going forward?
We're doubling down on video to help marketers understand how we most effectively utilize it and all the other activities that they're doing and channels at our disposal.