“Today more than ever, branding matters – at every customer touchpoint. Delivering a world-class customer experience down to the local level is what every brand – and Pica9 – is all about.”
Working with that vision, Pica9 focuses on understanding their customers’ business to develop a software platform that will allow them to activate their brands on a global scale. The company is taking the local marketing automation space by storm with their SaaS product, CampaignDrive. To customers and employees alike, Pica9 is all about the precision that helps marketers protect their brand integrity and activate the creative resources they’ve worked so hard to create.
We have with us, the Founder: Kevin Groome
Why was the company set up?
Pica9 was founded in 1998 to help a high-technology advertising firm serve its clients’ local marketing needs. At the time, print advertising was one of the most heavily used media types by franchisees and dealers affiliated with major brands. Producing all of the advertising creative for thousands of small-time, often small-space ad slots, was a major drain on the design resources of these brands.
We saw the need for a solution that would automate the production of this branded creative, making design teams more efficient and empowering local marketers to add their own touch to the brand’s materials. The solution we envisioned would offer the ideal balance of design control for the brand with the freedom to customize and adapt for local marketers. Today that vision has been realized with our product, CampaignDrive.
Tell us about when the company first launched.
In the early days, the company took contracts to create custom software applications for its clients. Each application was made-to-order, with all of the bells and whistles that the client wanted. Through many successful and long-standing implementations, Pica9 became recognized as a leading vendor within the emerging local marketing automation space.
These “legacy” systems gave the company great experience in building applications that made marketing accessible to franchisees/dealers while still respecting the demands of brand marketers for comprehensive branding and design controls. In 2014, this experience culminated in the release of the company’s SaaS local marketing automation platform, CampaignDrive.
How do you successfully roll out to new customers? Share the experience.
Many of our early systems were very successful for our customers. One in particular, the legacy application we built for Marriott International in 2004, has delivered exceptionally high performance for almost 15 years of consistent use.
Now that the company’s focus is on our SaaS platform CampaignDrive, we’ve had dozens of major implementation projects to bring new customers on board. Unlike with most customized software, our customers can get access to their CampaignDrive platform right away and be fully launched to their user community in as little as 45 days. Without question, CampaignDrive is the easiest local marketing automation platform to implement, and we’re extremely proud of that fact.
What challenges did you face in your initial years?
The hardest thing to learn in the early years was how to hold the line against customization. As you bootstrap the business, you’re fighting for revenue. In that sense, software really isn’t much different from the professional services business. Every extra dollar of revenue you can get is just as precious as it would be if you were an agency. The big challenge was to surrender our desire to always service the specific client and her specific needs of the moment. For us, this meant having to counteract the natural mindset that came from being a services business and adopt a product discipline. The result has been that CampaignDrive is a better overall product, and serves the aims of all of our customers (not just one or two). It’s all because we were able to take a step back and think about the big picture instead of focusing on each and every client request.
‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’ - How would you and your team interpret this saying?
This statement is certainly true for early stage companies who are struggling to maintain a consistent employee base and support their customers. Once the company has achieved tight market-fit, the maintenance part becomes a bit easier as long as the management team is coordinated on the direction they’re trying to go.
In our experience as a company, we’ve found that consistently maintaining the high standards we set for ourselves is the #1 requirement for success. In business you need to maintain that excellence constantly, or you’ll find yourself caught behind – behind the competition, behind your expectations, sometimes behind the eight ball.
Where do you see you and your company three years from now?
With CampaignDrive growing steadily and bringing on board more customers every month, we expect the product to fuel an impressive growth chart for the company. Within a few years we expect to have more than 200 brands using CampaignDrive every day. We’ll likely have outgrown our current office space and will expand our efforts to hire the best people in the industry so we can continue to bring the highest quality possible to our customers. And we’ll have returned considerable value to our investors and the shareholders who have supported the company every step of the way.
The man behind the story: Founder, Kevin Groome
Kevin is a veteran of the advertising industry and a pioneer in the MarTech space. He began his career as a copywriter for companies like Apple and Scholastic, Inc. In the 1990s, he was a partner in a New York-based agency (WNG) that offered technology solutions to major brands at a time when the internet was beginning to revolutionize advertising. In 1998, while at WNG, he founded Pica9 to provide creative automation software for the firm’s clients. Two years later, in 2001, Pica9 was officially incorporated and began offering local marketing automation software to brands like Gentiva, Marriott and Adecco. Since then, Kevin has been instrumental in shaping the company’s direction and the development of the company’s SaaS product, CampaignDrive.