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Interview with:

James Cherkoff [cherkoff] 

Up till now, what has been your professional career path?
I spent the first part of my career at global marketing consultancy Burson-Marsteller. There I managed programmes for Unilever, Philip Morris and Accenture, which I then joined as part of the European marketing team. In 1998, I joined the web design agency Bluewave, before founding and managing Pumpernickle, a consultancy focused on Internet Culture. The company's first assignment was a major strategic review on behalf of James Bond Enterprises Ltd, which went deep into the world of online community and how the web distorts traditional notions of IP. In 2003, I brought together my traditional marketing and online experience at Collaborate Marketing. Today, the consultancy helps companies operate effectively in networked media environments, such as blogs, online communities and social networks in Europe, Asia and the US.
Please list web addresses where one can see something about you.
What is your stance as a marketing professional? What are you good at? What differentiates you from others?
Collaborate Marketing helps companies operate effectively in networked media environments.
A marketing strategy begins with an idea. How are yours born?
Through careful consultation with clients and comprehensive analysis.
In which market, products or services, are you currently working?
Brands, agencies and media companies.
Did this product exist ten years ago? And the brand?
Collaborate analyses and makes sense of the emerging networked media environment and, more importantly, the trends that are driving the changes. While we find these developments exciting we know the speed of change and its technical nature can be daunting. Our role is to bring these issues to life in ways that executives can appreciate, feel inspired by and use in their decision-making.
What is the consumer or user like that you have to win over?
Depends entirely on the client and their business objectives. However, we do always view the consumer as being part of the media ecosystem, rather than a passive target.
What is the key to gaining consumer fidelity?
While understanding the digital infrastructure is important, the effects on markets and customers is where brands should focus their attention. For example, networked media has created a burgeoning 'share-and-compare' economy where traded opinion among individuals increasingly determines purchase decisions. Additionally, smartphones and mobile devices mean people are constantly tapped into streams of content and information personalised to their own circumstances. Or 'digital grapevines' as we call them. Trends such as these are changing the way consumers (aka people) find brands to trust and products offering them good value.
How do you determine what consumers think and feel? Is something more than qualitative research necessary?
A broad mixture of traditional and modern techniques, including analysis of conversational media such as social networks and community sites.
What type of communication are you utilizing?
Our blog, Modern Marketing, is a primary communication tool. http://www.collaboratemarketing.com/
Who/what is your competition?
Other strategic consultants who are up to speed on the networked media markets.
What differentiates your product/service from the competition?
Hopefully, a good professional reputation for delivering consistently quality work.
How do you value the results obtained up to now?
Collaborate Marketing has established itself in a growing niche and as a resource for marketeers looking to understand how to operate effectively in networked media environments.
What is a better way to communicate your product: emotional or rational?
Through personal relationships built up over time.
What's your answer to the typical question: does marketing create nonexistent needs?
Marketing is about understanding markets and how best to operate within them as they change. Currently digital channels are creating far-reaching change within most commercial markets and its important to understand how they are influencing consumer behaviour.
In times of crisis sales of generic store brands rise. What should premium brands do or not do when faced with this?
This is entirely dependent on category. In some areas there is a flight to quality during tough times.
Can you cite brands or well-known products that you admire for marketing brilliance?
I'm very interested in online services that have created platforms for others to operate on. Examples of this include Etsy and Threadless.
The consumer is king: have advertisers realised this yet?
The good advertisers have always operated according to this principle.
Are we heading towards more individualised marketing and advertising?
Personalisation is a very big trend in the market. As consumers (aka people) provide increasing amounts of information about themselves online, it provides opportunity for brands to adapt their services accordingly.
What percentage of your marketing budget is invested in digital advertising and why?
Collaborate Marketing operates 100 per cent digitally.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about digital marketing in the last few years?
The rise of virtual currencies is a surprising and very interesting area.
A few years ago, it was said that online sales would end up killing traditional store sales, but that has not been the case: how can you explain this?
The best strategy is always the best of the old combined with the best of the new.
How do you evaluate the potential of social networks for marketing on-line? Do you really think there is a new 2.0 marketing paradigm?
They are an important part of the overall marketing mix, and will continue to be so.
What industry or market segment do you find attractive for devoting yourself to in the coming years?
Any market where the individuals are looking to be thoughtful and ambitious about adopting new opportunities created by the growth of networked media.
Be a prophet. What phenomenon will revolutionize marketing in the next few years?
I think we are heading towards a 'big bang' moment for marketing when all media is networked through IP channels.
Are you part of any professional networking sites? Has it served its purpose for you?
I use many different online services for professional purposes and keep in touch with about 500 people around the world.
How do you do your own personal branding? What do you recommend other professionals do to position themselves in the job market?
Just focus on doing good work and building trust with clients.

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James Cherkoff

[cherkoff] James Cherkoff
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