"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends." - Walt Disney
Pluris Marketing celebrated its 15-year anniversary earlier this year and CEO and founder Michael Caccavale is the first to admit it’s been an awesome journey. Meeting clients’ needs has always required strong leadership, and a keen eye for what’s on trend, and what’s coming next. So I sat down with Mike to take a trip down memory lane and to talk about what lies ahead.
What were you doing when the idea for Pluris started?
I was taking a few months off between ventures, and some folks from former lives of mine were looking to do something fun and exciting. So I originally started Pluris as a consulting firm to help clients maximize their marketing investment. At the time, we were purely on the service side, but eventually we started to build products to help solve the problems our clients were facing.
What was the climate like at the time?
Tools were non-existent for the most part and the few platforms that were on the market were being exploited in ways that confused the customer. Soon, everyone was talking to the customer, with conflicting messages, offers, or creative. Once people started integrating campaign tools into their customer communications, lots of different departments could reach out to the same customer without talking about when and how they planned to do it. They weren’t thinking about who owns the customer relationship, how the process can integrate across departments, and best practices and furthermore, as the mobile channel grew, how the channel proliferation was impacting their business. Understanding and bridging this gap was really the birth of omnichannel as we know it.
With cluttered communications plaguing many organizations, what kind of work were you doing for your first clients?
At first, we are consulting on everything from marketing strategy to technology deployment and expansion. And we were looking at existing models. We’d look at their database and say, “here’s how you can organize this better.” This worked at the time, but as channels grew in number and more departments were integrating into the customer journey, it made sense for us to just custom build better tools for our clients. As our clients’ needs shifted, so did we.
So that’s how you landed in the current services/product model?
Exactly! We were a small firm – about five of us – for the first five years but as some consolidation occurred within the media industry, we had a chance to pick up some operations and great team players. So we started to expand. And the shared services/product model is really exciting. We run ourselves like a consulting firm but the reality is that we’re also providing software licensing on a SAAS model. The consulting services are inherently part of our process, from strategy down to execution. Clients need and want the help to bridge the gap from platforms/tools to strategy/execution.
Tell me about the team.
Since our team does everything from marketing and business strategy consulting to data analysis and software development, that’s a diverse cross-section of skills and personalities. We are essentially running across departments and across channels ourselves, and that blended model calls for some unique leadership and business skills – you have to be hardworking, yet empathetic. It definitely keeps my job interesting. But I get a lot of excitement after seeing the results from a new program, or when a difficult problem is solved for a client and something is achieved that simply could not happen a few years ago. When innovation meets operations, it’s really exciting.
What are some of the key challenges you’re seeing marketers and brands face now?
A lot of discussion is around media spend. Folks are struggling to compare spends across media and make intelligent budget decisions. Clients are overanalyzing the direct channels they have data on, instead of broadening their understanding and measurement of other media and behaviors. So this is where we’ve found success in pulling it all together in one place, into a single model, to analyze. And we have to customize significantly for each client. Even with our platforms, we take a framework and customize it based on really specific needs to understand media ROI, for example.
With omnichannel being ever-present and, in many ways, a moving target, what’s the most important consideration for marketers?
I always tell people – my team included – that measurement is more important than action. It’s like in construction – you measure twice, cut once. Accurate measurements inform your next action, and if you’re off in your measurement, everything that follows will be unstable. And now that consumers are more informed, technology is everywhere, and channels are expanding, it’s important to be calculated and make each interaction count.