3×1 Interview with Al Tepper, Founder of Disruptive Marketing Agency, TepFu – 3 automation questions, 1 automation expert


What trends are you observing in the tech start up space at this time?
I occupy an interesting seat with three quite different views: of the outsourcing and business services space; of the disruptive marketing space; and last, of the startup & incubator space.

This fascinating viewpoint converges: the growing business services and SaaS space; the needs of both enterprises and startups and the disruptive marketing required to start the engines sufficiently and optimally.

So, unsurprisingly perhaps, mostly I see convergence.

Three growing trends of convergence I believe are making the jump to mainstream in 2017 are:

1) TripleBot: there is no doubt in my mind that the convergence of Automation, AI & Cognitive processing are tripling down the bot bet. Each in their own way had power but combined,  the cubed effect of them operating together makes them a Grade A desirable business solution now capable of serving almost every office in some capacity in any organization and even into consumer space. Whether it’s Enterprise RPA, the emerging chatcommerce trend or the personal consumer bot revolution with apps like IFTTT, Workflow etc not to mention all the following in #2.

2) Eyes & Ears: Again the convergence of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) & Mixed Reality (MR) along with the huge disruptions taking place in Voice (Cortana, Siri, Alexa, Google etc) are blending together to change the very nature of how we interact with machines and equally how they further penetrate the landscape of reality. Combined with the Bot revolution taking place above and we’re staring into a powerful evolution. Five years ago you had a computer and an input device for example probably a keyboard or mouse. In 2017 we will be talking more to our TVs, Phones, and Refrigerators etc more than ever before. And our laptops of course. And business is starting to build for this for example Amazon Dash. Combined with Converging Trend #1 above and with IoT growth this will only further enable this evolution of course.

3) Employee/er Emancipation: Never before has an employee or employer had so much opportunity to pick, choose, move, have multiple employees/roles, and ultimately build a career around what they like and when they want to work or in the case of the employer build a role around the skills they need at a frequency they are needed, regardless of location. The convergence of BYOD combined with a shift to job-sharing / greater job compartmentalization commercially realized as a huge and very tech-enabled / digitally leveraged growing freelance workforce capable of following the Sun, means that employers are becoming (and will continue to do so) more conditioned to exert far greater skill/volume control simultaneously whilst employees also have greater work/life balance control than ever before. This singularity of employer/employee WIN is too seductive for employer and employee alike and will slowly become the mode of choice around the world.

Why do tech start ups and emerging tech companies struggle so much when it comes to marketing?
Because marketing is more about planting seeds to grow trees in my view not helping sales people hit this week’s targets, and whilst many may disagree, the day to day marketing, the short-term stuff that gets immediate returns, has a huge opportunity cost of never letting one focus on the bigger strategic picture.

If no one owns marketing strategy and positioning in the business then only marketing operations is happening in reality.

And when I say own, that doesn’t include the CEO saying they’re on it. They can’t be free enough to do that job properly on top of all else they have to do.

So my advice to startups and emerging tech companies is not to have your limited marketing resource focus on the business you’re going to win in the early days but rather have them focus instead on the long-term positioning that wins you the market.

The rest of the business outside of marketing are in actual fact your marketing operations team. Build it in to their roles. Everyone should be able to do social, send emails, produce and disseminate content, run events etc. With external help of course. All producing and amplifying content and ultimately editorializing your journey. If you set things up right at the start.

You have a fairly unique marketing philosophy. How would you describe it ?
Well the practical realization of my philosophy is above.  The philosophy itself is a Doughnut Theory of Marketing I guess: If marketing need to spend all their time and energy talking about the hole in the middle you’ve screwed up.

It’s about the architecture of your why ultimately. That’s where remarkability comes from. You need to infuse marketing operations throughout the business to enable marketing to deal with strategic positioning and product development ultimately.


1. Unleash your people to be doing the marketing.

2. Ensure your product development is not owned by sales.

3. Stop being control-oriented and closed. Start being enabling and open.

4. Embrace people helping you innovatively go to market better, faster, smarter etc or you take the risk that they might just do it without you. Better. Faster. Smarter. Taking your staff with them.

5. Talk to Frank Casale & IRPA AI immediately about leveraging the enterprise channel, the marketing agency with industry knowledge, multiple disruptions and innovation in one.

By Al Tepper, Founder of Disruptive Marketing Agency, TepFu and ex-publisher of Outsource: a world-leading outsourcing and business services content and event business for senior executives. Al can be reached via LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/altepper and via Twitter @altepper


TEPFU offerings

Brand Development & Strategy – self explanatory I hope

Marketing Strategy, Planning & Coaching – self explanatory I hope

Content / Social Media Strategy, Planning & Coaching – self explanatory I hope

Disruption Strategy & Coaching – how to cope with and leverage disruption

Intrapreneurship Strategy & Coaching – how to enable innovation and internal disruption

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