Masters of Marketing Series: Josh MacCarty – Data Scientist, MARC USA

To kick off our Masters of Marketing Series, we sat down with Josh
MacCarty, a data scientist with Marc USA to hear his take on some of the industry’s trends. He also let us in on a few little marketing secrets. Special little nuggets you’re going to want to hear about!

Welcome to MARC USA

MARC USA is an advertising agency headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with full-service branch offices located in Chicago, Illinois and Boston, Massachusetts. They also partner with MARCA Hispanic in Miami, Florida. They’re a small company with really big kick, as their clients include Rite Aid, True Value Hardware, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, and the Pennsylvania Lottery.

They’re a full-service, integrated marketing agency that uses Decision Science to go deeper to get extensive insights that can become the fuel for creative ideas that drive results.

MacCarty made the move to MARC USA when his mentor at his former employer moved there. He was offered a position, and it seemed like a good fit. “I was drawn to the variety of clients and industries there,” he shared. “They offer a variety of consultative services, and they’re a smaller company. That really attracted me.” MARC USA employs roughly 250 employees, while MacCarty formerly worked for companies with over 50,000 employees, or companies doing over $15 billion in revenue.

Changing Focus Drives Success

In order to keep up with shifting needs of clients and their customers, companies are having to shift their focus. Those that do, are finding success. Those that don’t remain innovative in future-proofing their businesses are failing. Take the juggernaut toy company, Toys R Us. After decades of business, they struggled to keep up with online and big-box competitors, filing for bankruptcy in September of 2017. Instead of investing in their own e-commerce development, they had instead, entered into a deal with Amazon (which Amazon did not honor) to be their exclusive vendor of toys. They sued to end their contract in 2004, and didn’t announce that they were planning on developing their own e-commerce site until May 2017. Way too late to get into the game.

Since he’s been with MARC USA, MacCarty has seen a definitive shift in their drive, moving away from the traditional ways of using TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, and even telephone books. More and more people are opting to get their news from other channels, namely online. “We’ve shifted our focus more towards experiential,” immersing consumers in an entire brand experience that fosters positive emotions, equating to brand loyalty. In this day and age, when consumers are over burdened with information, focusing on creating a positive relationship that encourages a lifetime of loyalty can make all the difference.

He’s also seen the company offer deeper insights for their clients, including the addition of quantitative services, giving them the ability to prove marketing impact. “That stems from a demand from our clients. They’re being asked by their finance departments and leadership to actually prove that their marketing efforts are making a difference. That’s something that we felt was important to deliver.”

Within that time frame, MacCarty has shifted his own focus, moving from more classical quantitative techniques towards utilizing AI techniques. That shift was facilitated by both a reactionary need and as preemptive measure to stay on top of the game. “AI is still super-young. It’s a really exciting field, but a lot of the application is still buzz-word right now.” That means in order to stay in the game, you’ve got to maintain vigilance. The technology continues to change and evolve at a rate we’ve never seen before. The potential to uncover hidden truths and increase efficiency is exponential.

The trend of incorporating AI-powered live-chat tools to communicate with customers is not currently something in MARC USA’s repertoire, though, but MacCarty can see that becoming a useful tool in the future.

Learn a Lesson From Retail

MacCarty doesn’t necessarily believe that the retail apocalypse is necessarily anything to be too worried about. “I believe this is just a result of a natural balancing of human behavior, given that they have new options,” he says. “Retail dominated for so long that it got lazy in it’s innovation.” In truth, there are several contributing factors in the decline of retail stores, beyond blaming Amazon, and many companies simply failed to adapt.

MARC USA has been affected by this scramble, as they have many retail businesses as their clients. There seems to be a shift in many of the retail stores lately, though. “Now we are seeing some innovation in the retail space, so some retail will be able to adjust and flourish. Some will fall away – and rightfully so,” MacCarty speculates. Those that aren’t able to adapt will simply cease to exist. He highlights how well Whole Foods has been able to adapt to the changing landscape by partnering with Amazon to create Prime Now. “They can now offer better service, with faster delivery. The user experience is easy on the eyes, and it seamlessly integrates with your Amazon account.” That’s one way to overcome the competition!

He feels that “You can learn something in every conversation or meeting you’re in. Even if it’s a boring meeting, use that time to learn. Learn about the people you are meeting with, or analyze how their minds work.” Adapting to what is going on around you and being proactive is how we all survive.