Asa part of our series about “Marketing Strategies From The Top” I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Vardon. Eric has more than 20 years of experience in the marketing, advertising, and digital industries. His areas of expertise include brand development, digital strategy, communications, entrepreneurship, leadership, and growth. Eric is currently serving as CEO and Co-Founder of Morphio, an advanced AI platform for digital marketers.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, or readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Iwas attracted to computers and “the web” since I was 15. This was when coding an HTML rollover was a big deal. I jumped with two feet into the life of an entrepreneur right after school and never looked back. One thing that was consistent throughout all investments and businesses I am part of is that marketing, analytics, data and creativity were required for scale. Morphio is a culmination of a lifetime of failure, also-rans and success.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The first memory that comes to mind is a massive client overspend. I am not sure any mistake is funny but that could also just be my personality. A member of my team left on vacation and even though we discussed that the campaign needed to pause before they left — it was not. So, when they returned after 2 weeks, we found out that we overspent by $15,000. Something we had to eat. This loss came from the owner’s pocket, damaged a client relationship and caused stress within the team. Unfortunately, the current digital marketing industry is still plagued with mistakes. We just finished polling 300 other agencies to ask about other mistakes they made and the findings are somewhat funny, but in a scary way.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
For me, and I would say for many entrepreneurs that I know, success is always the carrot in front of our nose. It’s never really obtained, and when it feels like success is within reach, we find a new carrot and start all over again. But to answer the question about lessons, surrounding yourself with like-minded, hard-working, problem-solving type people will always create a gateway to success. Empowering your team, and communicating through positive reinforcement while guiding the vision, will almost always lead to a successful recipe.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Morphio’s most significant competitive advantage is the time and cross-functional effort that was put into our algorithm and technology while being incubated inside our large agency at the time. In combination with digital marketers and analysts experts, accountants, business leaders, owners, etc., we were able to form Morphio into an agency solution with data that would almost be impossible today. This was not a strategic move at the time, but it was the best thing that we could have done. Now, we have realized that all of the pain points we were trying to address are now prevalent across all marketing teams, both agency and brands.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are just about to roll out a new feature inside Website Anomalies called Page Health. This tool helps time-starved digital marketers protect revenue at the bottom of the funnel with automation. It works by monitoring the health of the top-performing organic and referral landing pages — in addition to — all destination (or final) URLs for paid ads. If a page goes down or is redirected, Morphio sends an alert on Slack, email and in-platform. In addition to this, and because we are integrating all Google, Facebook, Microsoft & LinkedIn data, we are automating ‘smart’ KPI-based reporting with real-time access. Something that’s hard for many software companies to accomplish, especially at our low price-point.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
We all have to find a new way to work. There is too much data to analyze and no time for strategy, thinking and creativity. We have to employ automation to remove the repetitive and mundane tasks and wait for the data to be sent to us for human collaboration and creative problem solving.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
100%, the amazing partners and great friends that I share ownership with across our investments. John, Bryan and Tony — so many stories, great times, laughs and a few tough times, we always get through it together and I can’t wait for what’s next.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much?
Corny answer but first shown during the 1984 Super Bowl, the Ridley Scott-directed Apple ad revolutionized the way the world was talking about computers. I am a huge Apple fan, but this is my first memory of an ad campaign.
If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.
A successful campaign needs to be integrated across the appropriate channels that will drive ROI. Creativity is still a subjective process, but when anchored in analytics with a solid business case and tracking — it will be successful. You have to accept that it may change 100 times when launched, but that adaptability is what will create a winning campaign.
Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?
The future isn’t about advertising a product, it’s about being smart enough to know when a customer needs your product or service before they do. With tracking and data access where it is today, there is no reason why any brand can’t own this process. As a consumer, it’s a level of customer service where I don’t need to do as much searching and finding — just accepting and decision making.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Share more
- Ask for help
- Be confident while accepting you can be wrong
- Trust your gut
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?
Slack for cutting down on internal email, Zoom for collaboration and conferencing, Gmail of course, and for some early adopters: Morphio — it’s the AI version of the ‘check engine’ light in a car to protect digital marketing performance.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I am a massive fan of Medium, Reddit and Quora. Fantastic content, writers and smart humans who are sharing their passions with the world.
Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?
It’s all the other small business owners, grinders and entrepreneurs driving our economy and taking chances to live their dreams.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I wish that we would all understand that through fitness, organic nutrient foods and a positive mindset, our bodies and minds can all do amazing things we never thought achievable. That if we empower AI to solve the problems of our world, we can omit any and all chemicals and live freely as intended.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.