Michele Marzan is Chief Strategy Officer of MainAd – a global display and retargeting company – with offices in Bloomsbury, London and Headquartered in Pescara, Italy.
We caught up with Michele to find out what an average day looks like and if he has any advice for marketers just starting out.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of MainAd, a bespoke digital advertising company that specialises in display and ad retargeting, powered by our Demand Side Platform – Logico.
As CSO, I am involved with several aspects of the business from client acquisition and business development across Europe, Asia, the Americas and the UK, to designing the product roadmap and marketing operations. I’m responsible for planning the long-term strategy and identifying client needs and incorporating them in the process of product development. I also advise the rest of the C-suite on the best strategies to further scale up the business and ensure we keep adding value for our clients.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I’m part of the Chief Executive team reporting directly to the company’s three co-founders, Piero, Marco and Marino. I work side-by-side with a number of executives managing a global team. Personally, I like to work closely with the whole team, I don’t follow a top-down leadership structure, I believe that by working within a more linear structure you can achieve more creativity, better collaboration, and ultimately more productivity. At MainAd this leadership style is part of the company culture, which promotes a cosmopolitan and inclusive workforce.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
A key skill is the ability to have a 360-degree view at all times. This allows you to identify the factors that lead to success, as well as those that may lead to challenges. It’s important to remain open minded, as this role requires you to constantly monitor what is happening within the company and the industry, while always keeping one eye on future possibilities – this skill usually comes with experience. Curiosity is also an advantage; the way to look at it is that you are never fully accomplished, you can always learn more and improve. In my experience, with this attitude, you find solutions to many problems, while always keeping a fresh perspective.
Tell us about a typical working day…
My approach to a working day is divided into two parts. The first part involves high priority tasks such as, aligning with the team, taking stock of where we are and planning activities accordingly. The second part of the day is dedicated to less urgent but equally important tasks, like in-depth research, study, and more long-term strategy planning. In general, I spend half of my time building and nurturing relationships with clients and partners, and the other half travelling – so my working day varies greatly depending on where I am.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love working on product development because it is a concrete aspect of the job. As a marketer, you spend a lot of time developing ideas, planning, researching, coordinating teams of experts. I love to see an innovative product taking shape, testing it and witnessing the wave of benefits it brings to our clients. I worked on our proprietary technology, Logico, since its inception. Logico allows our clients to achieve their specific marketing goals in terms of campaign performance, based on real-time optimisation and decision making. Powered by machine learning, Logico ensures the right ad is seen by the right person at the right time. It’s a long-chanted mantra, but essentially it means you are delivering relevant messages in an effective way.
Working for an international company is exciting and comes with many benefits such as travel, but at the same time, it presents some challenges such as keeping company targets and messaging aligned globally, which can be difficult when you are managing relationships remotely.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
The ultimate goal for both myself and MainAd is to grow and develop Logico as the go-to solution for brands and other organisations that are employing programmatic advertising. As a company everyone contributes to this goal in their own specific way, each using their unique skills to ensure the success of Logico – this goal is the driving force every day. It guides my decisions and inspires me to be ambitious.
How do you measure success?
Generally business growth in terms of number of clients is a good indicator of a company’s success, however I believe that client satisfaction is the most important factor. It shows that what you do – that could be your product or service you provide – is effective and meets your clients’ needs. Success is not one dimensional, it’s a combination of several factors: the client, the team, respective goals. When they are all aligned, you have a good metric to measure your own success.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
I am passionate about communication, being able to share ideas, opinions, ask questions and receive answers, so my favourite tools are communication tools. I use Skype for remote meetings and keeping in contact with global clients, Whatsapp for quick team updates, Google docs for sharing content and ideas. But, at the risk of sounding anachronistic, I prefer face-to-face communication. There is no substitute when it comes to discussing important matters, aligning with your team, and developing strong relationships with your clients.
How did you end up at MainAd, and where might you go from here?
When I was Head of Awin – one of the most renowned affiliate marketing agencies – for South Europe, I worked with MainAd. I was inspired by their ambition to bring innovative solutions to the market and create tools that make digital advertising better, faster and smarter. When the opportunity presented itself I decided to join their team so I could be a part of something revolutionary.
In the future I hope to be an even bigger part of the company’s growth, as we expand into China and the US, continuing our mission to deliver transformative technology globally. As a person passionate about on-going development and learning, my current and future efforts will be focused on helping my team grow professionally and as individuals.
Which brands have impressed you lately?
Despite recent news reports, I continue to be impressed with Farfetch’s ability to reinvent itself constantly, bringing a unique proposition to different markets and launch a new brand from scratch in an extremely competitive ecommerce space. Its multichannel vision is a sign of a business that understands what customers wants.
Do you have any advice for new marketers?
One piece of advice that I always refer to is to work on your brand reputation and positioning, as it’s something you can always rely on. During periods of positive market trends it allows you to grow, while during periods of market volatility it will ensure stability.
Finally, be open minded and adaptable, one easy way to do this is to allocate 10% of your budget to test and innovate. The industry is evolving constantly, for new marketers it’s key to tap into new resources to engage with their customers and stay competitive.