MarTech Interview with Rick Kelly, CPO at Fuel Cycle

1. Tell us a bit about your role at Fuel Cycle?
As the chief product officer, I oversee all product areas, from development to strategy to distribution. My passion lies in positioning Fuel Cycle as a leader of innovative product solutions in the insights platform space. In doing so, I believe tech plays a pivotal role in creating forward-thinking products, and I use it to influence, improve and learn how the world works. That way, the products we create change the world for the better.

2. How would you describe your journey into the marketing space?
Unconventional. I was initially on a completely different career path, so it wasn’t a journey that began with marketing. After receiving my master’s degree in political science, I expected to find a job in that field, but the recession made it difficult. As a result, I pivoted into marketing after a professor connected me with a market research technology company. My journey took several turns, but I always found myself returning to this space.

3. What are your perceptions about customer purchasing patterns and their effect on marketing efforts?

With hundreds of digital touchpoints available now, customer purchasing patterns are more varied and unpredictable than ever.

There’s no straight path in today’s customer journey; customers take detours; some go through their journey faster than others and vice versa. To keep up, marketing has had to be everywhere at once to maximize its impact. But what marketing should be doing is leveraging a customer-centric approach to target customer bases more effectively. This can be done with customer journey mapping.
Customer journey mapping lets brands learn more about their customer base from the customer’s perspective. The map provides a view into the customer-organization relationship starting with the initial contact, moving through the engagement process and continuing through a long-term relationship with a brand. Customer journey mapping focuses on an overview of the customer rather than trying to be in multiple places at once, which can get convoluted.

4.How important is customer experience to keep brand loyalty intact?
Brand loyalty is contingent upon customer experience. If customers aren’t satisfied with a brand, don’t trust a brand and don’t respect a brand, then their loyalty to a brand will be nonexistent. All of those factors come back to customer experience.
Building an optimal customer experience starts with delighting customers with quality products and services, impeccable customer support and continual innovation. Then, it’s ensuring that there’s little friction during pivotal points in the customer experience and customer journey.
Customer experience is also about constantly assessing how customers feel in order to get firsthand knowledge of what a brand needs to change and improve. This means asking them questions like how is our product better or worse than our competitors? What aspect of our customer service do you like the best? What words come to mind when you think of our brand? By prioritizing customer experience, brand loyalty will come as a result.

5. How do Agile’s Brand Marketing tools help in building strong brands?
The tools within Fuel Cycle Ignition’s platform use advanced analytics to provide actionable intelligence for brands to optimize their presence. Each category within the methodology suite is equipped to assess the quality of a users’ brand, uncover areas of improvement and offer recommendations on the best courses of action, thanks to those analytics.

6. Can you highlight the salient features of the Agile Insights Platform?
One of the most critical features is that research expertise isn’t required to use it. It gives users in a wide array of experience levels and positions — such as brand managers, UX researchers, consumer insights managers, etc. — access to the proper analyzes and methodologies for their business questions without knowing how to use them.
Another important feature is the suite of methodologies available: Market Insights, Product Experience, Advertising Insights, Digital Experience and Brand Experience. This range allows brands to have an all-in-one solution to accelerate decision-making.

7. What are the marketing technology developments you are planning lately?
Brand Health Tracking is a new product we’ve developed for users to continuously assess their brand’s health instead of the standard annual check-in. The increased testing frequency enables brands to identify and react to the latest market trends, changing customer mindsets and new entrants in the market — helping them keep products up-to-date and gain market share.

8. Can you tell us about your team and how do you support it?
Fuel Cycle’s product team is a diverse, talented group of researchers, designers and product managers. I’ve found the most effective way to manage ambitious people is to give them as much autonomy as possible. The best way to support them is to ensure they have the training and resources to deliver on their objectives.

9. Would you like to share your all-time favorite motivational quote with us?
“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” – Steve Jobs

10. Which is the movie that inspires you the most?
Life is Beautiful, which depicts a father doing all he can to keep his child’s spirits up, despite overwhelming negativity and the worst of humanity around them.

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