Interview with Augusto Marolla

How has the relationship between brands and customers changed?

I believe we now live in a world of niches. Internet has been the force that transformed the world from a place of scarcity, to a place of abundance. Thanks to technology and connection, the availability of means of high quality, low cost production has increased significantly; there can be unlimited offering because there is no physical limitation for stocks, distribution and buying; and new means of communication & marketing are accessible to any advertiser, where more and more important is how effectively, efficiently and genuinely digital tools (content, social networks, micro influencers, organic brand ambassadors, etc.) are used vs. big budgets. This has enabled the spur of niche brands and products that thrive within narrow but deep communities of fans, and then grow beyond these fans into more mainstream consumers, effectively reaching a higher critical mass. So now consumers are empowered and enabled to get more specific and higher needs solved by a wider array of products and brands vs. being forced to choose among a limited, more average offer that appeals a bit to a lot of people.


How can brands become more human and approachable?

People behind the brand have to be human and approachable, be personally committed and deeply moved by what their brand solves. The only way is to recover the founder’s hunger to solve a real problem, believe it with your full body and mind, and live it in a way you really are the brand embodied. Otherwise, it will be perceived as fake, not genuine, and corporate. A very hard thing to pull off.


Which digital transformation trend is the most impactful?

For sure it will be the application of machine learning, same as electricity and internet were forces that changed everything and were not evident to people while the changes were happening. Making products, stuff, process, cognified (‘smart’) will have impacts way beyond what we understand because they will be exponential, and our minds work in linear ways. In particular smart assistants will be extremely disruptive once technology is improved and adoption really reaches a tipping point. Already 40% of US households use a voice assistant, and the power assistants will have in controlling what’s available for consumers choice set (as there is no more searching or shelf scanning) will be unprecedented.


What are the specific marketing and sales techniques that are working the best?

Broadly speaking, the technique that works is truly solving a consumer pain point in a way that is better than others. All tactical techniques are ways of delivering what will come and go, usually get harder and more competitive as more people use them (‘law of shitty clickthrough rates’), but more and more, the key is to actually solve something meaningful in a better way. The best technique then, to achieve this, is excelling at empathy.

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