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Natural Curiosity Leads to Comprehensive Marketing with Jeffrey Nicholson, CEO, and Co-founder, Tracer

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Do you notice the minutiae details in everyday life? For example, have you ever recognized the way that other people hold their cell phones? If you do, your mind works similar to that of Jeffrey Nicholson, the CEO, and Co-founder of Tracer. This level of attention to detail has helped him throughout his career, particularly when it comes to picking up some of the latest trends, which he told me about in this episode of Marketing Trends.

“I start with natural curiosity. I still, to this day, will do my own research and Google brands, and go through their experiences, and understand what other people go through. When you look at the consumer research on people, they use eight apps or less; they [have] very specific behaviors. I used to look at people’s phones and [could] tell very quickly just on their layout, how they operate with phone position and thumb position. You have to start with curiosity, no matter who you are, from analysts all the way to CEO. You’ve got to know what’s going on.”

Under the tutelage of media giant, Gary Vaynerchuk at VaynerMedia, Jeff and his co-founder Leighton Welch, built Tracer with the plan to launch separately once the development was complete. Leighton developed the structure of the software while Jeff was operating the customer-facing side, servicing Vayner clients and using the software. VaynerMedia is still a client of Tracer and more companies every day are realizing the value it offers in solving complex data equations. Excited for you to glean some real nuggets of wisdom from this marketing leader. Up next on Marketing Trends. 

Main Takeaways: 

  • Developing Good Talent on your Team is Exponentially Beneficial: As your team grows, the more people you have that are closely aligned with your business mission, vision, and execution expectations, the better that will help everyone stay on the same page. Scaling a team up in the right way might take a little extra time, but the investment upfront will pay dividends later. 
  • Curiosity Leads to Excellence in Business: As a CEO being curious is critical to keeping a good view of the big-picture. Developing a natural curiosity around your work can lead to you discovering some basic but important ways you can improve your business operations. As you go through the customer-facing experience of other brands and products, notice the sticking points, the areas you could improve upon, and learn some potentially hard lessons the easy way. 
  • Designing Teams around Individuals with Various Skill Sets: Every member of your team brings a vast array of talents and skills to share with the company. Think about who you already have on your team and what other roles you could use support for when hiring to build out the most complementary team. 

Key Quotes:

“I start with natural curiosity. To this day, [I] will do my own research and Google brands, and go through their experiences, and understand what other people go through. When you look at the consumer research on people, they use eight apps or less; they [have] very specific behaviors. I used to look at people’s phones and [could] tell very quickly just on their layout, how they operate with phone position and thumb position. You have to start with curiosity, no matter who you are, from analysts all the way to CEO. You’ve got to know what’s going on.”

“I’m a big believer in talent and making sure that talent breeds talent and I think about it as a pyramid. Typically you’re starting with your co-founders. The reality is that every level of that pyramid is imperative to the success of your business. I’m a big basketball guy. You need a power forward, you need a shooting guard, you need everybody to have different skill sets. That’s going to be complementary to make you win. So you’re a good communicating and functioning team… I’ve spent probably more time than most of the people I know in regards to just recruiting and retention because I do believe that, you know, people are the difference between winning and losing.”

“I underestimate how difficult it is to be responsible for other human beings. As an early manager, I got some good advice and bad advice and you’re just learning on the fly. I think now I feel a lot more comfort in being a leader in dealing with things.”

“I spend a lot of time on [my work] because I care and I want to win. And honestly, I want to make sure I don’t let anybody else down on the team. It’s an easy motivation to keep yourself motivated, to make sure that we make the right decisions and spend as much time as I can researching and recruiting and, and doing the things.”

Bio: 

Jeff Nicholson is the CEO and Co-founder of Tracer. Nicholson has been innovating in the media and tech space for 15 plus years. Before joining Tracer, he was the first Chief Media Officer at VaynerMedia, where he spent five years scaling the business globally. He has also served as the Head of Ads at SocialCode, which was the largest spending agency on Facebook in North America. Prior to that, he was VP of Ads at LeadKarma, which sold to BankRate for $30MM. Currently, he sits on the advisory boards of Roku, Pinterest, and NextDoor. He teaches at universities including Babson College, New York University Stern School of Business, University of Virginia, and Miami Ad School.

Marketing Trends podcast is brought to you by Salesforce. Discover marketing built on the world’s number one CRM: Salesforce. Put your customer at the center of every interaction. Automate engagement with each customer. And build your marketing strategy around the entire customer journey. Salesforce. We bring marketing and engagement together. Learn more at salesforce.com/marketing.

Episode 266