1) Can you give me a quick overview of your career path and why you chose this direction?
My career has taken three primary tracks: entrepreneurial, agency-side, and client-side/consulting. The entrepreneurial bug bit me when I was just out of college. A chance encounter with a colleague, a $5K shoestring budget, and an incredibly talented web developer and my first ecommerce company was born. Powered by a friction-free UX and a strategic omni-channel marketing mix that included display, email, and ppc, that first ecommerce site grossed over a million dollars in its first 12 months, allowing me to quit my job and move into managing it full time. The success of this first launch experience was invaluable and led me to launching a second CPG startup that saw me move into a true management role and hire a great team. Together we generated millions of dollars in annual revenue, shipping thousands of orders worldwide every week.
The skills I developed managing these businesses over 13 years were priceless, allowing me to develop expertise in every aspect of business, from managing agency partnerships and negotiating contracts, to developing and retaining talent. I have been able to parlay these experiences into leadership and advisory roles on both the agency and client-side. On the agency side, I helped develop positioning and pricing strategy for a billion-dollar marketing firm, enabling them to increase profitable revenue. As a consultant, I’ve held senior advisory roles driving global initiatives at companies ranging in size from SMB to large enterprise. During a recent engagement with Stokke, I helped surface actionable insights from their business intelligence and analytics data that have already had a major impact on their bottom line.
2) How has eCommerce changed over your career, and what are some common mistakes companies make with eCommerce/marketing strategy?
Ecommerce has changed completely over the course of my career. When I started out, it was really quite rudimentary. Building a site consisting of basic ecommerce functionality was quite difficult and often required custom coding that was easy to break and difficult to change. eCommerce technology has come a long way since then, making it possible to develop an excellent UX that’s optimized for CRM, SEO, Marketing, etc. with far less effort.
With the multitude of tools available today, it’s important to develop a strategy and be selective in what you put on your site. Not prioritizing the user experience is one of the mistakes I see firms make most often. Have your CRM tools, personalization, single sign-on, commenting and reviews, social integration – but don’t let them get in the way of a seamless shopping experience or make it more difficult for a customer to accomplish what they came to your site for in the first place.
Another major stumbling block is a fierce resistance to change, causing companies to stagnate and lose revenue to smaller, nimbler competitors that are willing to take some educated risks. Being afraid to fix what you think isn’t broken can end up being quite costly, in that you may be stuck with a site that just works ‘well-enough.’ Something might be working well, but if you aren’t testing and optimizing, you’ll never know whether something else would work better. If you continuously analyze your data, develop/test hypotheses and analyze the results, you end up with a better customer experience and more effective sales process. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about: You think like a customer and create the experience you would want as a customer.
3) How has your overarching career as a leader helped you in your consulting engagements?
I had to develop leadership skills very early on in my career, in developing and retaining talent, but also in leading a crowded field in a fiercely competitive market. Leadership comes with great responsibility and teaches you to think more objectively, to be mindful of the broader impact your decisions might have on others, or on the market.
Two things of paramount importance are to:
- Put the needs of your team and the broader organization ahead of your own. Doing so helps develop a framework that will ultimately benefit you in the long term.
- To think long term. When you think long term, you’re far less likely to end up in a position where you have to make reactionary or emotional decisions that might not best serve your business. A long-term strategy coupled with well-designed plan for execution is a recipe for success.
4) How has marketing impacted clients’ bottom line over the past couple of years?
For one, it has become more expensive. It’s also more complex and requires more skill. As MarTech has evolved, many CMO’s have struggled to keep their marketing organization up to speed or failed to embrace changes in technology/capabilities. Staying ahead of the competition requires continuous effort and investment. Unless you’ve completely cornered your market you need to at the very least maintain your marketing strategy, or risk fading into obscurity.
It’s not about being the first to try every new thing; it’s about having the foresight to know which of those things might make your company stand out and be worth the investment and risk.
About Dimitri Stefanopoulos – LinkedIn
Dimitri is a seasoned digital marketing strategist and eCommerce expert with a track record of driving significant cross-channel revenue, managing P&Ls and delivering consistent, profitable YoY growth. Dimitri excels at forging and maintaining key strategic business relationships with internal and external stakeholders at every level, and successfully managing a broad range of strategic global business initiatives. If you are interested in having Dimitri consult with your organization, please contact Elizabeth Lee