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James McCarthy discusses agencies and the digital data revolution on ClientSide

In this episode of ClientSide we speak to James McCarthy, Chief Marketing Officer at Exonar. Having worked with highly influential, global tech brands, such as Vodafone and Microsoft, James is keen to help businesses embrace change in a step towards a positive digital future.

James’s career has by no means followed a direct path, starting out as an engineer and later moving into the world of marketing. He discusses the digital data revolution, what he looks for in an agency, and the challenges faced by traditional companies.

Listen to James McCarthy on ClientSide

What challenges do agencies face?

“You’ve got to have the right product, with the right proposition targeted at the right audience.”

James emphasises that often, agencies have to make good without the right fundamentals or foundations, which can be frustrating. One of the compelling factors for James’s move back to the client side of Exonar is his passion for building strategies. “Fundamentally, you’ve got to have the right product, with the right proposition targeted at the right audience in a compelling way, in order for any brief to come and sing and deliver a fantastic campaign.”

Helping companies to understand their data

“The challenge is that every company is now a data company”

Addressing the digital data revolution, James discusses how traditional companies may be struggling to keep up. “The challenge is that every company is now a data company, whether they like it or not. And there are a lot of traditional companies out there.” Many companies are flooded with data and information while being fairly traditional in their outlook. James explains that his role at Exonar is to help these companies make sense of their digital data.

“We give them literally for the first time, proper insight into the volumes of data that they’ve got. And then we help them start to use it to protect and to power their organisation.”

The importance of specialisms for agencies

“What you really want to see there in a nutshell very quickly is what they’re famous for.”

James admits he is apprehensive about working with an agency that claims they do everything brilliantly. “What you really want to see there in a nutshell very quickly is what they’re famous for. And the more specific that is, the better.” For him, using word of mouth is one of the best ways to learn which agencies do one specific thing really well.

“It is very appealing to know that somewhere there is the superhuman superhero agency that will take one look at my very specific business problem and go, “Ah, we’ve seen that before.”

The changing world of marketing

“Digital marketing is not a form of marketing, it is marketing.”

Marketing has been transformed by the digital revolution, but James claims that digital marketing shouldn’t be treated as an entirely different branch. “Digital marketing is not a form of marketing, it is marketing. Digital is just a way that you get to your audience and influence them. It’s as simple as that.”

James’s varied career has certainly led to him developing some fascinating marketing insights. Listen to James’s episode on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or on the ClientSide website.