This week I sat down with Mark Jeffreys, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of 4Sight, and an award-winning, seasoned Senior Executive & start-up Founder with more than 25 years of success delivering profitable sales growth for some of the world’s most visible brands. His experience spans consumer packaged goods, food manufacturing, home furnishing, non-profit, government, and start-up as well as across geographies – having lived & worked in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Mark spent over 16 years at Procter & Gamble in marketing. While at P&G, Mark led brands such as Pampers, Always and Gillette, and spent the past 5 years leading marketing on Amazon as well as step-changing Gillette’s global eCommerce business. Prior to P&G, Mark worked at Colgate Palmolive on the Palmolive brand. Leveraging his combination of corporate acumen and entrepreneurial zeal, Mark launched his first start-up – Mobile Agent Now – in January 2018, an uberized review response model, which he sold in July 2020. 4Sight was born out of Mobile Agent Now as clients from Procter & Gamble and Clorox to Nestle and Energizer saw value in mining their reviews (and those of competitors) for actionable insights.
Mark attained his MBA with honors from Georgetown University, The Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business, and his BA in History with honors from the University of Chicago. As a seasoned board member, Mark has held positions with Go Vibrant (a non-profit that he founded, and is still Chair of the Board), the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, the Carnegie Visual & Performing Arts Center, and the University of Chicago Alumni Committee.
Learn more about Mark at https://www.4sightadvantage.com/
Learn more about Socialistics at www.socialistics.com
Jason Yormark: Hello. And welcome to another episode of Socialistic social media agency Stories. I am Jason, your Mark. Welcome to the show. I am excited about this week’s guest. His name is Mark Jeffreys. He’s from a company called 4sight, and they are a tech-enabled insights company that mine’s user-generated content for brands. So I am very interested in learning more about that. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark Jeffreys: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Jason Yormark: Yeah. Absolutely. So let’s just get started with tell me a little bit about your background, your history, and how 4sight came to be all that good stuff.
Mark Jeffreys: Sure. Well, prior to starting 4sight, I was with Proctor and Gamble for almost 17 years, all in marketing. So typical kind of career, multiple different brands, from Pampers to the Amazon Managing Amazon business to Gillette. It was my last assignment. I left three years ago to start a company that preceded 4sight called Mobile Agent. Now it was a review response, like an Uberized model for responding to reviews for brand, where somebody writes a review. And we would have agents who were mobile who would respond to those reviews. What we learned out of that was that the better and bigger value for clients was in mining that data for insights. So what are people saying about your brand or your product in those reviews? And we exited the first business, sold that first business Mobile Agent now and then spun 4sight off into its own company. And that’s squarely where we’re focused is all-around generating insights for brands and almost exclusively from user-generated content.
Jason Yormark: Got you. So what does that look? I’m assuming based on kind of how you describe that, this is probably for larger companies that are looking for insights and data that spans across a fairly high volume of content. Would that be accurate?
Mark Jeffreys: Mostly large and then to some extent, mid-sized companies as well. So we’re not talking about the neighborhood coffee shop kind of thing. Yes. Are we do a lot of work in consumer packaged goods. Not surprisingly, given my background at PNG. So those types of companies but also mid-size companies who maybe don’t have a research Department or analytics Department of their own, and they recognize nice. We describe user-generated content as a brand’s largest data set. Right. So if you as a brand or looking to gain insight on your users on who are the people who are using your brand or interested in your brand, you could, of course, do traditional methods of insight generation, whether that be focus groups or a survey. But even if you do a survey, you’re maybe talking 300 people $500 with user-generated content. I mean, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of of data points from consumers. So there’s the quantitative part. But then there’s also a lot of qualitative insight because let’s be honest. People are very, very honest online. Right. If you sit in front of somebody and you’re interviewing them a lot of times. It might position stuff and posture a little bit. This is how I take care of my house or this is what I do. And of course, these things are important to me because it reflects on them as a person. Whereas anything somebody writes online often it is more anonymous, and people just tell it like it is, which for a brand, the most important thing is just to learn the truth. So our mission we describe as discovering truth. We believe there’s better truth to be discovered in user-generated content.
Jason Yormark: Got you. I’m certainly familiar with the concept of user-generated, but for the purpose of this conversation in the audience, how do you define what that is? What are the examples of the things that you guys are mining to provide that insight to your clients?
Mark Jeffreys: So there’s what we’re mining today. And then there’s what we will be mining more of going forward. Today, we break up user-generated content into really two buckets. One, our reviews and then social. Broadly speaking. So reviews are obviously things aren’t Amazon. They are verified users of your brand. People who we know have bought your brand or have used it. We break out social, whether that be Reddit or Twitter or Facebook or blogs because you don’t know intuitively whether somebody’s used the brand. You might make a comment about tied be like, oh, that brand is horrible. But you’ve never used time. How do we know whether you’re a user or not? Right. But it’s still a different metric. So those are the two data sets that we mind today. Going forward, we’re doing a lot more work with a partner of ours and predictive analytics, where we also are bringing in scientific data. So think about things like patents and grants and scientific conferences in there. There’s, like, 2 billion documents you can analyze. Why is that important? It’s things like predicting, quote, villain ingredients. What are the next high-profile ingredients? So talk and baby powder, for example, for the ingredient that was in roundup as an example. So if you can predict that as a brand, that’s hugely helpful. Right. Because in the social space, the place where you focus a lot on things spread very quickly, as we all know. Right. Well, there’s a spark. And what is that spark? That spark often. And social might be a news article. Right. So The New York Times publishes something that somebody posted on social media and then it goes viral. Right. But it might be that New York Times article was preceded by something. It might be a scientific study that says, hey, the effects of this product or whatever on the environment or on your health is negative. Right. So we are able to identify what are those sparks that spark brand conversation even before it starts spreading. And then we can, of course, pattern that say, okay, this is a similar pattern based on prior prior analysis. And so when we notice a spark, then we immediately can say, okay, this is going to start spreading in a similar way. And that for a brand might be days, weeks, months, or even years. Heads up on an issue and giving you the no pun intended foresight into better managing your business.
Jason Yormark: Got it. So in terms of your clients in the data and the reporting and the service that you offer, what how are they using that? What are the use cases for what you’re providing them? And how does that typically impact their business?
Mark Jeffreys: It’s really three buckets of use cases. We talk about a brand, consumer and landscape. So brand challenges are things like and it all starts with whatever the challenge is for the client, the brand challenge might be, hey, we launched a new product. It’s not doing very well. We don’t know why. What are consumers saying about it or a competitor launch a product that’s going gangbusters. What the heck is going on? So it might be something like that on the consumer side, it might be, hey, we want to understand who our users are a little bit more. So we have a capability we call footprint minor, like you write a review on Amazon of Air buds. And you’ve also written 1100 other reviews for potato chips or a desk you bot or something. Right. All of that data we can mine to create a profile in a persona of who you are. So people who love your brand, they also love these things because we know it for a fact because we have hundreds of thousands of other reviews that they’ve led. So that’s a wealth of data. We can also mind barriers to your brand and that consumer. So think about questions and answers that are left on Amazon. If somebody leaves a question on Amazon, you go on Amazon, you look at the question section. That’s because it’s a barrier. Does this contain this ingredient? Is this made in the US? What is this made or what’s the side effect? Those are all purchase barriers. So we can mind that at scale. So that’s the second one, and then the third one is more landscape. So it’s like, hey, I’m looking to enter a new market. Want to understand my competitive set? What’s my point of difference? What’s the point of parity where the gaps from a consumer standpoint? And then also to my earlier point around, predictive. How can I understand to predict either technology immersion or prediction of different ingredients that might emerge in the future or even business model disruption? So those are the three buckets.
Jason Yormark: So in terms of your client engagement, are they typically project based? Are they on going? I’m just going to curious about your actual business. What does that look like with your clients?
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah, it’s a little bit of both. So it typically starts typically starts as a project base. So we’ll start an engagement. But then there’s a lot of monitoring, following and detection. So, hey, back to the kind of the spark example of something I want to understand and see if something sparks, and I want to know it as soon as it does before my competitor does. That’s an ongoing monitor. And so it is a little bit of both.
Jason Yormark: Got you. Remind me again, how long have you guys been in business?
Mark Jeffreys: We’ve been in business almost two years.
Jason Yormark: For what’s? The dynamic or makeup of your team? You’re the owner founder. Tell me a little bit about how you started, how you’ve grown, where you’re looking to kind of go. I’m curious about it. Doesn’t sound like whether you would consider yourself an agency. I don’t know. It sounds like it’s more service, a project based. But I still think that there’s some dynamics there that still are similar. So I’m just kind of curious about your history is a business and kind of where you’re headed.
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah, I do agree. Yeah. I’m the founder CEO. I did raise a round of series seed funding. So I have several investors who former CEOs, former PNG people and others. So they’re essentially an advisory board to me. And the way that we’re structured is kind of how we work. The way that we talk about it is we extract data, meaning we scrape it, we harness it, which is data science, and then we activate it. Meaning like we tell brands the action they need to take. And so we’re structured in that way. Besides business development, we have a team who extracts and cleans the data, then the harnesses the data science. But as you know, we’d all be driving autonomous vehicles if machines did everything by now, right? Machines can’t tell you everything. They’ll tell you. They’ll be able to take unstructured data and make it into something that you can interpret. But then we need brand strategist to really say, okay, based on that, your strategy, this is what you need to do. And so that’s how we’re structured. Where we see your question about where we’re going. The predictive space is exploding and this partnership that we have with this company, CHN, they do predictive analytics for the Pentagon. So think about investment decisions and quantum and robotics, and we’re basically taking that capability and bring it to the commercial side. So there’s tremendous capabilities. So we’re marrying this expertise of the Department of Events with commercial and brand and expertise.
Jason Yormark: Got you. What I’m kind of curious about in your world, client acquisition is it mostly referral based. I’m just kind of curious how you take on new projects, get new clients in your world.
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah, it is a lot of referral based. We do some advertising as well as we’re entering more into this predictive space. The people that we’re really talking to are more C suite. So you’re not really out there advertising to see see people as much in a direct classic client acquisition way. So a lot of that is just thought leadership, importance of thought leadership in terms of client acquisition. And then, yes, we do have some advertising that we do.
Jason Yormark: Got you. Actually, I’m glad to ask that because we’re in a similar boat where in terms of who we’re trying to reach or C suite level executives. And to your point, you know, paid advertising isn’t necessarily the best. It can work to a certain degree, top of funnel, but that’s a tricky audience to get in front of. So I’m just curious, what are some of the specific things that you’ve found to be successful to get in front of the right people to create new opportunities for the business?
Mark Jeffreys: The first is it comes back to two things. What are keeping people up at night who are in the C suite. So it’s understanding that what are the biggest issues for them that are causing them some consternation and then creating content and creating contacts with them that indicate our deep understanding of those issues and our ability to help them solve them. Right. So it becomes a thought leadership content creation strategy as well that we’re trying to indicate to them that, hey, we are those thought leaders, and therefore we can not only understand the challenges that you face but also help you to solve them.
Jason Yormark: Got you. You had mentioned I love that you may use it often myself. Like what keeps you up at night. So I’m going to turn that question around on you in terms of your business. What keeps you up at night? Like, what are some of the biggest challenges you face as a business owner and what you do these days?
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah, the biggest one. And I think this is probably true for any entrepreneur is how fast you grow and how you grow, right? The balance of okay, do I grow more myself? Do I raise another round of funding because we’re in a good financial state? But if you raise another round of funding, then you’d have more investment that you can put to the business and accelerate it faster. And if not, the competition is going to come in. And so it’s all that and the timing of it and sequencing. When is that the right time to do it? And then, of course, the second is just continued team development and growth of making talent acquisition, which we all know is Duke, is to have the best talent to enable your business to grow. I mean, I think we’re in an exciting place, especially not just with the user gene content current, but also the predictive capability that that really is the future that I think that’s an enabler for talent acquisition.
Jason Yormark: Got you is what you’re doing like a commodity. Are there a lot of other businesses that do what you do and you find yourself having to I’m curious how you compete, like what makes you unique or different? Is there a lot of business that do what you do or is inherently the way that you do. It unique enough in and of itself, that when you kind of are pitching it or it kind of lands in a way that you have a relatively high close rate, because there isn’t a lot of that going on. I’m just kind of curious about that dynamic in your world.
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah. What I would say different today than a year or two or even three or four years ago, right. There’s a lot of people. Certainly. I would say scraping data on the Internet is a commodity. Anyone can scrape data that is commoditized, and you don’t want to play in that space. Right. But that’s only a portion of what we do. First of all, you have to do it, right. And you have to clean it. That’s not all commodity. But regardless, what makes this different is a couple of things. Marrying the the deep data science expertise, not just that we have, but also with our partner and predictive, with Brand and CPG expertise, because typically it’s one or the other. Either it’s a company that has a lot of data science and data science, and then you get a lot of cool charts and graphs and portals and dashboards. But how the hell do I use it? And how do I action this? Or, on the other hand, it’s a lot of qualitative stuff from a research agency, and there’s not a lot of science behind it. So I think both having both is really helpful. Why? Because then it’s it’s action specific to your brand, understanding your brand and understanding your strategies. And it’s not like a laundry list of actions or data points, right. It’s very specific at the end of the day, if you engage anyone in this face, you really only want maybe three or five big things that you want to do out of it, right? You don’t want. Hey, here the 2030 things that you can do. Nobody’s going to do that like you want a couple of things that really moved the needle.
Jason Yormark: Got it. Are you guys a virtual? Were you pre pandemic? Were you kind of in office or are you a virtual company?
Mark Jeffreys: That is a question for everyone these days. Right. We were in office pre pandemic. And then, of course, like everybody with the pandemic, we went virtual. We came back together shortly last summer because things seemed like they were coming down a little bit, and we hired some new people. So just from a culture standpoint, one of that. And then around November, when things started getting worse and everybody also wanted to make sure they were quarantined for the holidays. We were like, all right, let’s go. Virtual. We’re still virtual. I think the ultimate model will be a couple of days together. I mean, even Facebook. I think today announced that they would be mostly virtual and maybe a couple of days together. I don’t envision 100% the nine to five kind of thing Monday through Friday in a physical office. Think it’ll end up being some kind of hybrid?
Jason Yormark: Has it impacted your business? How has this new environment impact of the business either negatively, positively? I’m always fascinated by that across different industries and perspectives on that. I think we’re still going to we’re obviously at the tail end of this thing. So I remain to be seen how things will shake out over the next six to twelve months. But in your particular world, its business, in terms of everything been great. It’s grown, no lack of productivity, just kind of curious how it’s impacted you.
Mark Jeffreys: Yeah. I mean, client needs have grown because and especially in the especially in the last year. Plus in terms of the pandemic, because people realize that there’s all this data that you can mind. So yes, on that business development. Definitely different. Right. The last in person business trip that I made was last February. We’re visiting a bunch of clients, and now there’s nobody to visit. So it definitely changes the nature of business development, less relationships and meaning relationships over in person and having dinner together or whatever. And then the last is just from a culture standpoint, as everybody can appreciate, it just it makes it more challenging. Like, how do you build a culture as a younger company for any company? I talked to people who are our clients, new hires. It’s like you’re hired into a company and you’ve never met somebody face to face. It’s hard to build a team. And so we want to balance that, too, because you obviously want to create a culture in your company and it’s easier to do in person.
Jason Yormark: Yeah. No. There’s definitely advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios. Awesome. Anything that I didn’t ask you that you feel be good to add based on kind of what we talked through today,
Mark Jeffreys: I think we had on everything. I think for our clients, I think the biggest the biggest issues going forward are speed of innovation and speed of change. Right. It’s true of everything. Right. Innovation is changing so fast. Everything in social media, whether it’s a new site, but then also content is spreading faster, and part of what we do is enable brands to get out ahead of that and to more proactively, manage and understand that so they can make much more informed real-time decisions.
Jason Yormark: Awesome. Great. Where can people find you to learn more about you and or what you guys do?
Mark Jeffreys: They can go to 4siteadvantage.Com the website or they can find me on LinkedIn. More about myself on LinkedIn.
Jason Yormark: Awesome. Mark, thanks so much for joining us today. Super interesting stuff again. Thank you for providing that insight into the stuff. There’s some parallels around what we do. So it’s super interesting to kind of get some of that stuff that we don’t even think about. So thanks for taking the time today. And again, you can check out Mark at 4sightadvantage.com or on LinkedIn. But thanks for joining us today on this week’s episode.
Mark Jeffreys: Thank you for having really appreciate it.
Jason Yormark: Awesome and thank you to everybody that’s listening. Remember to like share subscribe all that good stuff and we will catch you at next week’s episode. There we go.