Unifying Marketing Channels: ‘How I Work’ EP32 with Zeze Peters (Beam.city)

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Zeze Peters is the founder and CEO of Beam.city, a unified advertising automation platform that uses artificial intelligence and  algorithms to help businesses plan and optimize their ads, automatically.

How I Work, Episode 32 with Zeze Peters (Beam.city)

Zeze Peters is a rocket-scientist turned CEO who joined Josh Becerra to share how marketing truly is like rocket-science. He’s got over 20 years of experience in software, robotics, and applied AI and he has used it to gain a better understanding of what is missing in the Martech landscape – consolidation. Plus:

  • Testing and automation: The marketing and rocket science overlap
  • How industry change may be one of the only constants in marketing
  • The overwhelming choice due to the explosion of MarTech tools

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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 32 (Zeze Peters, Beam.city)

Josh Becerra: Hi, everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. Welcome to this episode of How I Work. I am here with Zeze Peters, founder and CEO at Beam.city. Thanks for being here, Zeze.

Zeze Peters: I’m superbly excited to be here, Josh. Thank you.

Josh: You have an amazing background. A Master’s of Engineering, Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Cornell University. Kind of blows my mind. How do you go from that type of a career to building Beam.city, a platform for marketers to unify their marketing channels?

Zeze: People say marketing is not rocket science, but I beg to differ. My background is in aerospace robotics. I’ve built all sorts of robots, land, sea, and space. More than that, I’ve also released about 11,000 products, physical goods, consumer electronics, applied AI systems, apps, e-commerce platforms. Whenever you wanted to get any of those things out– Engineering and building products is hard, but making customers see it and like it is also super hard. That’s literally where I decided to fit in. We’ve literally built a platform that helps you to unify your ads, email, social in one place, and then AI and automations streamline a lot of your workflows and help you to maximize results.

Josh: When we were prepping for this, you talked about how all of those things, all those different channels you just mentioned are super intertwined. You also said that you didn’t really think marketers are sure how to use that stack together. Why do you think marketers aren’t figuring that out yet?

Zeze: I wouldn’t say all marketers. There’s always that 1% of super experts like yourself, Josh, who figure it out, but the majority of marketers, whether in teams or even in agencies, sorry to call some of the agencies out, I won’t call your name, don’t worry, they don’t have any dashboard or mechanism to take a look at the actual effects of running a campaign in tandem to an email campaign, that’s an ad campaign with an email campaign.

They can’t see the value of those extra impressions, that extra customer knowledge to get to increasing your conversion rates yourself through your lead generation that’s ultimately the source of all your revenue. Without putting that stuff together, you’re not getting there. How do you put it together? In the physical world, there’s not enough ways for you to put up a billboard and see and tell the outcomes. Nobody’s got a billboard calendar that tells you, “I put it up on Monday. I got 1,000 visits on Tuesday,” but a platform like ours can help you to do it digitally and with some physical media as well.

Josh: Why do you think it’s so difficult to bring all those pieces of data together and derive insights from it?

Zeze: You got to basically be a programmer at some point. A lot of these platforms now have APIs that you can write software to take a look at and listen to pull it together, unify it. We wouldn’t say we’re the only company doing aggregation. If you go out into the world looking for advertising or marketing aggregators, you’ll find a few different kinds and different flavors. Most marketers that I meet aren’t even at that step. They don’t even have well laid out sites with data integrated. They don’t know how to read the data that comes out of these platforms. Most people can’t look at a Google report or analytics report and know what to do with that info. That’s a big challenge.

You take a look at it, you’re like, “It’s not working, but I don’t know where to go next.” That’s the problem. Without the knowledge of what to do next, which usually for a super expert, comes from experience, comes from learning from someone who knew and really just a crap ton of experimentation, if you’re not one of the people who is doing those experiments, who had the good mentor, who’s had the privilege of helping lots of customers, you’re at a huge disadvantage. We think it’s a good idea to help those super experts to move faster, but also those people who are not super experts to not fail immediately.

Josh: I love that. I think that part of what’s happened is this explosion of MarTech tools, that marketing technology landscape from martech.org. They’ve got 10,000 some tools.

Zeze: I think your 4x lower than the real number. It’s like 80,000 tools.

Josh: That could very well be. I think that because there’s this proliferation of tools, marketers are cobbling together a tech stack, and then they don’t actually know where to trust data or how to bring those sources together. Shifting gears a little bit, I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts about this whole MarTech space and where you think it might be going because is it just going to keep proliferating and proliferating? I just feel like at a certain point, marketers are just going to, they probably already do, feel overwhelmed with the choices.

Zeze: Absolutely, they’re overwhelmed with the choices. We just talked about 80,000 tools. Can you imagine if you had 80,000 unopen emails in your inbox? That will blow my brain. That’s the issue. There’s a lot of money in marketing. Without some form of marketing, most businesses never work. There will always be a need for marketing, so there’ll always be a need for tools, but we do have too many tools for too many verticals doing too few things. I think the space is open for significant consolidation, either at the enterprise tier, mid-market, low mid-market, SMB, mom-and-pop stores, e-commerce, lead gen, B2B, even on the app stores.

There’s going to be a need for consolidation so that people can learn one language, learn one way to get stuff done and not get confused when they go from Google to Facebook and have to change all the terms that they know, go from social media and TikTok to Pinterest and nothing seems to work. They don’t know how the metrics relate to each other. They’ve got to consolidate significantly. I think that’s part of why we exist, because we can’t go from 80,000 to 800,000. That’s just going to be 10x worse. I think we should go from 80,000 to more like 80 in the next 10 years.

Josh: The other thing you’re seeing is Universal Analytics is going to go away and GA4 is now the new thing. It’s not just that new tools are coming out, it’s existing platforms that everybody uses and understands are now completely being overhauled and there’s just going to be this huge new learning curve.

Zeze: Oh my God. The learning curves are all the time. Last year, everybody talked about how the changes in Facebook blew up all their profits. It was a huge thing last year. A lot of people are still dealing with that problem this year, but it’s not just Facebook. It’s not just Google. With all the stuff going on in Twitter right now, some people hate it, some people like it. They’re experiencing a crap ton of growth, but you know all of that is going to show up in their ad manager and how all of that works in their targeting and the accuracy, attribution, all of that stuff.

Whether it’s Taboola, Trade Desk, or any of the big platforms, there’s a lot of stuff going on all the time. This does not even include in Europe with the GDPR stuff and with the privacy laws coming in in California and so on. Change is going to be stability in the marketing space forever. You’re not going to be able to rest on your laurels for more than two or three years before someone pulls the rug. Do you want to be constantly going back to school? Sure, but I think that’s literally where the experts come in.

Josh: I think you’re right. One of the things I know that you recently did is you conducted a survey of over 2,000 growth executives.

Zeze: That’s right.

Josh: I know you’ll be sharing a lot more about this in the weeks to come, but can you give the audience a little bit taste of the insights that you got from that survey of those growth executives?

Zeze: Yes. Absolutely. I won’t give the full gamut because for people who we surveyed, we already sent a three-pager just telling them, “Hey, these are the brief results.” I’ll talk about some of that now, but we also have a full-on white paper that’ll be coming out at the end of the month that goes into more of the details, including in our words, and in some of those people’s words as well, how they grow. The survey was about how do you grow as a mid-market executive?

A lot of the people we talked to were in the space of e-commerce so there are some obvious things like 98% of them saying they don’t care where the customer lives, but we found some other really key things. People think demographic, demographic, demographic, the perfect customer persona. While that is true, it only matters if they’ve got familiarity with your brand. We actually found that about 20% favored familiarity of these executives, knew that familiarity mattered more than about 15%.

It might seem small, but that’s because a lot of people still think it’s persona, persona, persona, but when you dig deep into the data, you look at the cohorting, it always ends up being the people who’ve heard about you that buy or register. It’s very infrequently the cold calls. It’s very infrequently the cold visitors that do anything at all. You want to keep that in mind. It helps you to set expectations. It helps you to set up budgets. Helps you to set up tests because unless you’re experimenting, like I said, many people don’t know it, but marketing kind of is rocket science. One of the key things you do in rocket science is test and experiment. You got to do it here, too.

Josh: Oh, man. We could probably dig into testing and experimentation all the MarTech tools or how [crosstalk] [inaudible 00:10:18] combine data sources. We’re running a little bit short on time. Normally, what I do at the end of interviews is I ask one question that’s out of left field a little bit, which is just what’s piquing your interest right now or challenging some of your beliefs? Or is there somebody out there that you’re paying attention to like a thought leader or podcaster? Anyway, what is it out there that’s trending in your head right now that you think this audience should hear about?

Zeze: It might seem like a left-field thing, but I’m really into the topic of ethics and artificial intelligence. I actually even released an article on ethics and artificial intelligence last year. I did a webinar. I was at a marketing AI conference and talked about it with a lot of thought leaders in the space. That’s a thing that I’m really, really concerned about because we have different ideologies of building software, but I think we need to put ethics back into the AI, not just so we don’t build Skynet and kill everybody in the world, but more importantly because if we build software in the wrong way, then you have this effective accumulating power to too few people.

Really, the world is always better when more people have freedom, when more people can use machines to get work done. I see machines and AI as a form of machine, as a way of wealth creation, wealth expansion for companies small, medium, large. I think that ethical AI question is something that needs to be resolved. We’re doing a lot of stuff on that, too, but to me, I think it’s really, really important for the future.

Josh: I can tell you that I was with a couple of friends, we were having a guy’s weekend and there was a three-hour drive from Chicago, Illinois to Bloomington, Indiana. I swear we spent probably two hours of that drive talking about ethics and AI and the robots. There’s half of us who are thinking the robots are going to take over and Terminator is a real thing. Then there’s the other half that says that in the right hands and doing it properly with the right ethics, this could be just a huge win for humanity where humans don’t have to do the really laborist jobs and things. That’s a whole nother podcast.

Zeze: I’ll give you my end liner on that. What we want is the AI to be more like Star Trek and a lot less like Terminator.

Josh: There you go. Love that. Zeze, this has been an awesome interview. I really appreciate your time.

Zeze: Me too. Thank you. This was great.

Josh: I wish you the best of luck with Beam.city and look forward to hearing more about that survey of growth executives. Thanks for being here today.

Zeze: Thank you so much, Josh. I appreciate you getting me on the podcast.

Josh: Bye.

Zeze: Bye.

[00:13:21] [END OF AUDIO]


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