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An Interview with

Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive

February 20, 2008

Zeta Interactive is comprised of five firms which deliver to their clients complete, cross-media, multi-channel marketing solution. Mr. Al DiGuido, recently you have occupied the position of CEO. Could you please tell more about yourself and your vision for Zeta Interactive?

I’ve been in the marketing industry for more than 20 years – in that time, I’ve developed a keen understanding of the market, what companies want and how they can best achieve those goals. I feel my greatest strengths lie in the interactive and direct marketing areas. Before I joined Zeta Interactive in 2007, I was the CEO of Epsilon Interactive. Prior to that, I served as CEO of Bigfoot Interactive. In the earlier days of my career, I held sales and marketing positions at a variety of companies, including Expressive Engines, Ziff-Davis and Sports Inc.

The vision of the new company is based on serving the growing need by marketers for integrated digital marketing services capability. Today’s marketer is challenged to grow their business in a cost effective and efficient manner amidst changing consumer media consumption patterns and a highly competitive arena. The Internet provides marketers an incredible new platform to acquire new customers, retain existing customers, and create more effective upsell and stronger relationships. Marketers are challenged by the fact that there is a wide variety of tools and companies who provide elements that leverage different aspects of the Internet platform – and until now, no single company has been established that can provide marketers a one stop shop for these integrated capabilities. The vision of Zeta Interactive is to deliver against this market opportunity. A company that provides marketers a suite of technology platforms that, when leveraged as part of an integrated solution, work together to optimize the entire power of the tools. Here, the power of search, messaging, email delivery, web analytics, blog mining and creative work in concert to actually provide the customer with a much more efficient means of achieving their goals of growing sales in a cost effective and efficient way. No one comes close to Zeta Interactive’s best-of-breed technology and consulting solutions.

What has changed since November 2007 when Zeta Interactive was formed as a response to the growing demand of full-service firms that help businesses to achieve significant business results?

What has changed is any question that we had about the acceptance of our business proposition. In the last 90 days, we have had client after client come to us with their specific needs - and the level of demand for our services has been tremendous. It seems as though Zeta Interactive is uniquely positioned to provide services that are in the sweet spot of what marketers want NOW. In addition, we’re becoming more and more excited about our ability to help marketers than we were when we formed the company.

How is Zeta Interactive going to stay ahead of the competition?

Staying ahead of the competition is not something we spend a lot of time focusing on. Rather, our focus has always been to understand our customer’s need today - and anticipate their needs in the future. Each day we work to make sure that we hire great people who are very focused and enthusiastic about exceeding the expectations of our customers. Beyond insuring that our technology platforms are best of breed, our business relies on the quality of our customer service. Customers come to Zeta Interactive because they want help in navigating thru the complexity of leveraging interactive technologies to accomplish business goals. We will continue to grow as long as we continue to have a strong set of tools, outstanding technologists and strategists who can configure and leverage these tools and services to exceed client expectations in terms of results. As a result, we will stay ahead of our competition simply by always being a professional and hard working team for our customers.

Zeta Interactive announced the appointment of eleven senior management team members. Tell us more about them and what are your expectations?

The announcement of our senior team was a great day for all of us at Zeta Interactive. You can see from the folks that have been selected that all are proven leaders and professionals in their respected areas of responsibility. Each leader has had extensive experience in both the offline and online media platforms, making them the perfect team to work with our clients. The challenges that our customers face are mission critical to their business. As such, it was important for me to have an executive team that is tenured in their experience level. This team has been through many challenges and truly and is enthusiastic about sharing their insight and experience to help our clients.

What is your preferred management style?

I have been working with teams for nearly 30 years and my management style has certainly evolved over the years. I am excited when I am surrounded by a group of passionate, focused and hardworking professionals. When we are all united in our focus and mission and when we share common values around the vision of our company, incredible things can happen. I am always looking for a high degree of commitment from my team and those that work for the company – a commitment to do their best thinking and work in pursuit of the company’s goals. It is an environment that puts a lot of emphasis on the creative thinking that each employee has within their mind to help us solve problems and challenges. We want everyone to be thinking like a CEO, sharing ideas on how we can build a better company for our customers and our employees. I am not big on layers and hierarchy within a company – rather, we run a pretty flat organization where every voice counts. Managing a global organization with teams around the world can be challenging and I am very excited about the team that I have around the world and their ability to create a shared community where all of us operate as one team.

How will the new management team and company changes affect the digital landscape?

Since we are a new team with a new business model, our executive team will be trendsetters and evangelists for the integrated strategy. You can expect to see all of us on the road in front of customers and other venues espousing the virtue and benefit of thinking in a new way. We’re very passionate about our belief in this new model and can’t wait to share our success stories with others. I would also expect that from our team will come a large number of creative ideas on solving some of the industry’s most challenging issues. Many of us have been in the marketing arena for many years and we plan to debunk some of the old thoughts and biases – we won’t be shy about breaking with the old and adopting new ideas and strategies.

Do you plan to continue the expansion policy by merging companies into one unique body?

Zeta interactive is already one company and we are fully integrated. We feel as though we have the exact suite of services and technologies that we need to provide marketers the best opportunity to win the Internet challenge. We aren’t acquiring companies for the sake of acquiring. Rather, we continue to pursue a strategy that listens to our customers and ensures that don’t need to look any further than Zeta Interactive for their solutions partner.

How many employees do you have now and what is your employment strategy?

Zeta Interactive currently has more than 300 employees worldwide. Our recruitment strategy is focused on hiring individuals with passion, creativity, solid work ethic and experience in providing customers with excellent service and insight on solving problems.

Would you share some practical ideas and recommendations that our readers could use to boost their web-based businesses?

One of the most practical ideas that I can share for the readers of PromotionWorld.com is to stop thinking of promotional work as an event. A promotion can drive customers and prospects to take a desired action. The real secret to any promotion is the ability for the marketer to convert the promotion driven activity to a valued customer profile. Think beyond the actual promotion to the dialogue that you are going to have with everyone who has expressed interest in the promotion. What does your ongoing dialogue look like with the promotional visitor post promotion? How do you leverage promotional interest into a more relevant ongoing dialogue? How can you nurture this interest into a more long-standing and profitable relationship with the customer? Too many of us see promotions as isolated events. Think about the long term dialogue and use data on what folks did and didn’t responded to when shaping email dialogues going forward. At Zeta Interactive, we push our customers and ourselves to always be thinking about “what’s next” – we hope the readers of PromotionWorld.com are now able to do the same.

 

                




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