Q&A: Meet...#MarTechFest Dial Up Global Speaker Chris Wickson from Integrate

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Chris-wicksMeet Chris Wickson. General Manager for EMEA and Event Solutions at Integrate, he's a pretty big deal. 

Launching his first operation "RateMyPlacement.co.uk" while he was still in university, he's continued to bring great ideas to life. 

He joined Integrate following the acquisition of Akkroo, where he was CEO and Co-Founder. Well, we think that's pretty Inte-great. Haha. Ha. Sorry. 

Chris will be speaking at #MarTechFest Global in London on October 22. 

Can you give us a quick overview of what your company does and your roles and responsibilities there!

Integrate is the leader in Precision Demand Marketing, an emerging category to help B2B marketers develop and deliver an omnichannel demand strategy, convert leads to revenue, and drive marketing ROI.
I came into the business in 2019 via an acquisition of my company, Akkroo (a B2B event tech solution) and I wear a couple of different hats now, acting both as General Manager for the solution within Integrate, as well as providing local leadership for the EMEA team as we scale up in this region.

What, in your opinion, makes a great #MarTechFest Global presentation?

I’d say the ability to tell a compelling story, whatever that may be, and not being afraid to challenge existing thinking. And from a more practical perspective, using presentation slides sparingly; they should be there to help guide the audience and not a written version of the presentation.

Busy slides are a pet-hate of mine!

What bull$hit marketing advice do you hear too often?

 I’m not sure if this counts as ‘advice’ but I do think many marketers are still way too addicted to leads.
Leads and vanity metrics at the top of the funnel that don’t really show anything. “As long as we keep throwing new leads in to the top, it’ll all be OK....” Not for me.

What’s your biggest martech/ marketing ops gripe? Don’t hold back!

In a Martech world consisting of many thousands of vendors, showing little sign of consolidation, for me there is still huge room for improvement in the ease and accessibility of integrations.
Every business has a different and increasingly complex martech stack, yet the ability to easily connect and move data between systems still remains a major challenge. Way too many spreadsheets of data are still being passed around and integrations are hacked together using third parties, all of which prevents businesses from getting anywhere close to maximising the true value of the solutions themselves.

We’ve all read about Mark Wahlberg’s insane 2:30am morning routine, filled with golf and cryo-chambers. What’s your personal morning routine?

 I write this about to become a Dad for the third time and my two other kids are aged 3 and 5, so mornings for me generally consist of navigating the kids section on Netflix before trying to get 10 minutes more sleep, shortly followed by serving various breakfast cereals in colourful bowls.
When I do eventually escape to the home office, working for a US-based company means I generally get my work done in the morning before the US team wakes up and the meetings begin!

What up-and-coming trend do you predict will take the industry by storm?

 I think we’re going to continue to see a reset in the way organisations have their B2B marketing teams structured. The journey to purchase for our buyers has evolved into this incredibly complex, non-liner process that takes place across many channels, yet a lot of businesses, certainly at the enterprise, still have their internal marketing teams setup in the same way they did 10 years ago.
I think the new breed will break down the internal silos, with marketers able to orchestrate campaigns across channels and with Marketing Ops very much at the top table.

What was your first marketing job, and how did it help you develop in the industry? 

My first startup was a website in the student market which we launched in 2007 with a pretty old-school approach to marketing. Flyers, events, boots-on-the-ground at universities across the UK to build our early database and start driving an online audience.
Those early efforts gave me a great grounding in the importance of collecting clean, accurate data that we could then market to which are problems I’ve continued to try and solve in my more recent career with Akkroo and Integrate.

If you could recommend one book, podcast, tv show, magazine, piece of bathroom stall graffiti etc. etc. what would it be?

 If I had to pick one business book that had a lasting impact, it is ‘Crossing The Chasm’ by Geoffrey Moore. I was recommended the book at the perfect time as we were starting to grow the Akkroo business and starting to move from selling to ‘innovators’ and ‘early adopters’ to the ‘early majority’.
I’d highly recommend for anyone thinking about or on the journey of building a B2B tech company.

What is your favourite marketing campaign of all time?

After I graduated from Uni, I did a short part-time stint at the UK HQ for Avis, the car rental company, and I quickly learnt about the origins of their ‘We Try Harder’ campaign from the 1960s.

It’s a classic case study nowadays; Hertz were the clear market leader at the time so Avis embraced their number two position with a campaign focused on their exceptional customer service combined with subtle digs at the competition - “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder”.

It's a humble message that resonated and became a huge success, by the late 1960s Avis had significantly closed the gap on Hertz.


Can our audience expect any future projects on the horizon, personal or professional?

Whilst Integrate is 10 years old and very well established in North America, we’re still at the start of our journey here in this region, so I’m already looking ahead to 2022 as we continue to build out the team and our presence in EMEA.

We have some major product developments on the roadmap for next year too, so I’m excited about the impact that will have on our ability to serve our customers here in Europe.

Our #MarTechFest Global event takes place in London on October 22. You can book tickets for you and your team here