I’ve known Olivier Amar for years now. He’s one of the most brilliant marketers I know, and one of the few who can claim expertise in both the emotional, softer side of relationship / content marketing and the cold hard analytical side of SEO and PPC.
Most marketers prefer one to the other. A week ago I was in a meeting with him where he described the real issue in running marketing for an organization – which would be where to put resources and how to adjust on a regular basis to maximize marketing on a holistic level. I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since, and that’s why I’m starting with him on our new Interviewing Marketers series.
How would you describe Olivier Amar to someone who doesn’t know you? Could you please give us some personal and professional background?
On a personal level, I’m a married father of 2 amazing children. They are what drive me to succeed to improve and to improve on a professional level. Without them, I might still be happy tending to clients as an account manager. That being said, wanting to always provide more for my family has made me a pretty solid professional. Since I moved to Israel 7 years ago, I went from managing clients as an online marketing manager, to working on search for the WSOP and Harrahs, to being VP marketing in the Forex space and as the immensely successful startup that’s raised 30 million dollars, GetTaxi. Today, I am founder and CEO of a startup that helps people regain control of their information online, MyPermissions.
According to your LinkedIn (since I’ve only known you from your days at CompuCall) you’ve been doing marketing since 2005 – when you switched from being an Account Manager at Insight.com to Marketing and Sales at Sites & Photos. Why did you make the switch initially? What was it about marketing that you found interesting?
Actually, Insight was a segway for me when I moved back to Canada. I was freshly married and needed to work and Insight had just moved to Canada and fit the bill paying needs. Marketing was always my one true calling. The problem was that after I left university I didn’t find anything in traditional marketing which inspired me. It was all done and redone. It was all textbook stuff that I hated and caused me to walk away. It’s only once I moved to Israel and fell into Internet Marketing with S&P’s and Compucall, that I once I fell in love with Marketing again. So many possibilities, so much creativity and best of all the ability to properly measure and text via analytics.
Compucall gave you experience in a wide range of Internet marketing tactics. I know that once upon a time your focus was on SEO, but it isn’t anymore. Why is that?
SEO, at the time, was a great channel. Google was very porous at the time, and it was relatively easy to promote a company via SEO alone. That being said, Google soon filled the holes and I realized that there were multiple channels to properly promote companies and lead them to revenue. Moreover, that it was a mistake to focus on one channel as they were never consistent on a month to month basis. That it is critical to always optimize your channel mix to make sure you’re hitting goals and objectives.
How does a company determine what the right mix is? Have you found any general rules?
The rule is simple, know what each channel is producing, and if one channel is underperforming, compensate with another. I’ve had cases where we got busy and weren’t paying attention for a couple of days and just because of those two days missed targets. You need to not over commit to one channel and always be ready to cut back and increase your efforts in another if needed.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in marketing now?
Don’t get too focused on just one thing. If you’re in online, first, learn how to measure via analytics properly. Then learn how the different channels like SEO, Media, Affiliates, PPC work. What makes them tick. How they apply to different verticals and demographics. AdWords is very different than Facebook ads yet they’ve both worked for me at different times in different respects. Same goes for media. That being said, if you’re spending money, make sure you know exactly where that penny went and how it came back to you. If you can track well, you’ll succeed.
After all of these years in marketing – you’ve switched directions from VP Marketing to CEO. How are the skill-sets for each position different? What did you need to learn to make the transition?
The truth is, the skills have mostly been the same with me. It’s people management. The difference is the amount of people and responsibilities that fall on your plate. Where once I managed 23 people in a department and tended to their needs in order to enable them to succeed, and hence I succeed, now I manage a select few, the same way, with the added logistics of raising money ☺
What’s different about marketing for MyPermissions than any other company that you’ve worked with?
MyPermissions has incredible karma. It helps the end user regain control of their information online. As soon as people use the product once, they seem to love it and pass it on to their friends and listeners. As such, instead of investing huge amounts of money and resources into paid traffic and push marketing, users are coming in by themselves. The only active form of marketing we’re doing at the moment is content marketing where we’re publishing content and informing users of privacy issues. Users are seeing us as a resource and trust us.
Who do you consider to be the best marketers out there today and why?
That’s an interesting question. I actually think that the best marketers out there are ones that we haven’t heard of because they’re too busy doing their work. I’ll leave it at that.
Apple or Android?
Android. Hands down. I got an iPhone 5 and iPad mini as gifts this year and gave them both to my wife.
Ok, why Android?
Apple constrains you too much. They’ve decided that they know the best possible experience for the user and that it’s the same for everyone. Android says, hey, we like what we’re doing, but if you want to run your own launcher, then go for it. That being said, I only use Nexus devices.
I know MyPermissions is for people who want to manage which apps have access to their personal information – which apps do you allow? Your top five and why, assuming that there are more than five.
I’ll stay away from the top 5 and leave it at apps that trust my information like they entrust their money ☺
Granted, this is a silly question – but it begs to be asked… The video on the MyPermissions homepage has voice-over from a male with a British accent, yet you’re Canadian. Why not use a sweet, unassuming, trustworthy Canadian, eh? Do you think Brits sound more trustworthy? Or was this the only good voice-over person available that day?
Haha! He’s actually one of the founders’ fathers. He was in the office that day and we liked how he sounded. That being said, we’re testing a new voice for a new video we’re making!