Marketing News Canada Podcast: Using Data & Insights to Inform Marketing Strategy with RightMetric's CEO Charlie Grinnell

Content & Messaging
May 31, 2021
News & Media

The Marketing News Canada Podcast is Canada's #1 show about all things marketing, advertising & communications. The hosts aim to unearth tips, tricks, and insights from the best marketers and business leaders from Canada and around the world.

Our CEO Charlie Grinnell was a recent guest on this episode where they discussed various topics including his unconventional career path into marketing, the origins of RightMetric, the balance between art and science in marketing, and how marketers can use digital intelligence to inform and inspire their strategies.

You can listen to the Marketing News Canada Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Below, find a full transcript of the episode.

Daryl Louie: All right. Hi everyone, welcome to Marketing News Canada. My name is Daryl Louie and I'm excited to join this awesome team here as one of the hosts. Today we're joined by Charlie Grinnell. Charlie Grinnell is the CEO of RightMetric, a searchable library of data-backed case studies for marketers that provides quick answers to hard questions and informs faster and more reliable strategic decision making. Before RightMetric he spent time working in digital marketing at Red Bull, Aritzia, Arc'teryx, and Invoke, and Charlie regularly speaks publicly about marketing strategy and was named 30 under 30 by BCBusiness Magazine in 2019, congrats. Thanks for the time today, Charlie. How was your long weekend? Did you get time to recharge?

Charlie Grinnell: It was great. Thank you very much for having me. Long weekend was great and we're getting back into the swing of things.

Daryl Louie: That's awesome. I'm curious actually, speaking of recharging, disconnecting long weekend, when was the last time you actually got to fully disconnect from work? Because I know being an entrepreneur and even more so as a CEO, those times are few and rare.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Good question. I think one of the things that I can just say about that is my co-founder, Evan Knight, is very big on work is work and personal time is personal time, and I was definitely one of those people who working in big organizations I was just always on. I think from him over the last three plus years building this company, I would hit him up after business hours or on a weekend and he'd be like, "I'm not answering this." And that kind of has slowly started to train me. So, yeah, this weekend, this long weekend, I did a lot of boring house stuff. I did some meal prep, I cooked a bunch. I actually built myself a new desk in my office.

Daryl Louie: That's a big move.

Charlie Grinnell: Technically I guess that's work, but at the same time I wasn't thinking through things like I would on Monday to Friday, nine-to-five. So yeah, I can positively say, or proudly say, that this weekend technically I did disconnect and unplug.

Daryl Louie: Wow, congrats. Big move there. Well, that aside, Charlie thanks for joining us today. You have quite the unorthodox approach into marketing, from my understanding. So, I'd love to understand that. How did you get into marketing? What's your origin story in more words or less?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, absolutely. So, I actually got into marketing through video production. So, I grew up born and raised here in Vancouver, Canada. I actually ended up going to UBC on a football scholarship and my plan at the time was to study economics and political science and eventually go to law school. That was the thing. It was like you go to university, you get your degree, and you go live your life. I was actually in a really bad car accident in my first year.

Daryl Louie: Oh no.

Charlie Grinnell: And I ended up dropping out of school because I had a back surgery. So, I had always been interested in filmmaking and cameras, and I had some friends who were in action sports. So, I went out and bought a camera and started kind of just teaching myself through YouTubeing and whatever, just learning how to use the camera, learning how to video edit, and basically started making videos and kind of got into companies that way. Then as I was kind of making these videos, this is 2012, 2013, video on the internet started to kind of take off, and it was kind of like peanut butter chocolate. I was really interested in leaning the distribution side of things, and I already had the video production side of things, and a lot of social media managers were being tasked with okay, but do you know video, or they were having to deal with video.

Charlie Grinnell: So, I basically went out, did some kind of certificate programs at various universities to kind of get some certification. I nerded out, and that's kind of what led me making that transition from video into digital. That peanut butter and chocolate is combining that video and that social at that period of time. Then yeah, I worked in marketing, like you said, at Red Bull for almost five years. Was most recently head of social at Aritzia, and then three years ago left that and started RightMetric, which is where I'm at now. That's kind of been that next transition into more data and insights.

Daryl Louie: Wow. That's quite the unorthodox path. Honestly, it actually resonates quite well with me. I went to UBC too. I didn't go for what I'm doing today. I did a double major in two things that were not related to what I'm doing today at all, and kind of fell backwards into content first and then got into marketing afterwards.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: So that's awesome. Glad to here that I've got a brother out there with a similar background.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. I mean, I feel like it's one of those things where when you get into content then you start obsessing over the distribution side of things, right? So I'm like when I'm slaving away making these videos, they better get seen by a ton of people, and that's kind of what drew me over.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Was if I'm going to slave away on these things, I need them to get seen. If the people who are supposed to get them seen aren't getting them seen, I'm going to learn how to make them get seen.

Daryl Louie: Yeah. What really stands out to me in your history there, first of all, thank you for sharing, that's an amazing path.

Charlie Grinnell: Absolutely.

Daryl Louie: And good to hear. But going from Red Bull, which is like, man, they do amazing content, but from a culture perspective, Red Bull to Aritzia, what a big culture shift that must have been, or maybe it wasn't. What did you find was kind of like a big shift in terms of the cultures of working with those? Because those are two really well recognized brands that have very really established cultures, I would imagine.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, definitely a shift. I think for me there was a couple things that kind of drew me to wanting to make that shift. So, number one, working at Red Bull was incredible. It fundamentally changed my life, my career, the trajectory that I was on. I worked with so many smart people who just think about marketing in the world in such a different way. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without my time there. I just felt very lucky to be ... I got to work in marketing at one of the best marketing companies in the world, so that was really, really cool.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: That said, one of the things that I kind of felt was a gap on my résumé or something that I wanted to be able to try was more that e-commerce side of things. So, Red Bull doesn't sell cans online. It's a lot about kind of brand awareness and that sort of thing, whereas Aritzia, they're selling clothes, right? So, that was a big thing, was getting that experience. Then the other thing was that when I was at Red Bull, primarily the target audience is men who are interested in kind of that like larger than life action sports side of things. I wanted to be able to work at a company that primarily targets women. I just thought that was a good way to balance out my skillset, and you think you're hot (beep) just working at one big company. I'm like okay, can you take those skills and move them somewhere else? So, that was definitely one of the things that kind of led me to do that.

Charlie Grinnell: In terms of culture, every company has a different company culture, right? So, I met a lot of great friends at Aritzia who I'm still in touch with. I think they're still a kick ass brand that has a ton of room for growth, obviously. I think they've had a ... COVID has been tough on every business, but I think for their business they've been an acceleration in e-commerce. When you kind of look at their public reports of their filings, with them being a publicly traded company

Charlie Grinnell: So yeah, I think it was cool. I think for me it was important to kind of just round out that experience. I wanted to be able to have both, and I'm a big believer in diversity is kind of what makes you strong, and so being able to work in those different environments was important to me.

Daryl Louie: Totally. No, thanks for sharing. Well, let's talk about RightMetric a little bit. So, this is your baby. This is you and Evan have started this.

Charlie Grinnell: Yes.

Daryl Louie: How many years are you in now?

Charlie Grinnell: Just over three.

Daryl Louie: Nice.

Charlie Grinnell: So, the company turned three on March 4th.

Daryl Louie: Nice.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: Happy birthday. Congratulations.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, so we passed the terrible twos.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: And now we have a toddler that's kind of running around.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, now they can actually do damage.

Charlie Grinnell: Now they can actually do damage.

Daryl Louie: Yeah. I'm thinking two years, four years. I'm trying to think of when we started AntiSocial and kind of what that path was like. What was our toughest year? I think year five was our toughest year.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, interesting.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: I'm keeping my eyes out to be like okay, what's next? At this point now I'm like I'm way past the point of no return. I don't know what's coming. I'm just trying to keep the train on the rails.

Daryl Louie: Absolutely. Tell me a little bit about how you and Evan found each other. I'm sure you guys have ... You talk about diversity in skillsets and diversity in backgrounds. What do you bring to the table? What does Evan bring to the table? How did you guys meet first of all? Why don't we start there?

Charlie Grinnell: So, funny story. We met at birth. Evan's actually my cousin.

Daryl Louie: Is that an app?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, he's actually my cousin.

Daryl Louie: No way.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, it was funny. Someone I think a couple years ago or a year ago was like, "Oh yeah, a family business." And I was like, "What? Oh yeah, I guess kind of it is." So yeah, we're cousins. We grew up super close to each other. We went to the same high school. Then after high school we kind of went separate ways. He went into operations. Well, he went to university in Calgary. He ended up getting a degree in like supply chain management, I think. Sorry Ev, if you're listening and I butchered that. He was in supply chain. He worked at a mattress factory, did that, and I kind of went through the digital and marketing side of things.

Charlie Grinnell: After he did the mattress thing he ended up working at a tech company in Saskatoon called Vendasta. So, he was there running the digital ads team. We had kind of started talking, because we're both now in similar industries. We were talking more about business, and work and that sort of thing because we actually had that kind of common ground. We kind of just started talking about starting something. We didn't know what it was, and we didn't know when it was going to happen, but we were like, "Ah, I'm seeing this. Are you seeing this?" And we kind of just started to compare notes, and then yeah, finally it got to the point where it was kind of the right time for both of us to jump in. Also, while he was working at Vendasta he actually built his own Amazon business where he was selling leather notebooks and refillable pens, and stationary and that sort of thing that was pretty successful.

Daryl Louie: Wow.

Charlie Grinnell: So yeah, that's kind of how it all came together, and then we were like, "Hey, we both work in marketing. We've worked on these two sides, big brand and kind of smaller business side of things. What are some of the common themes that we keep seeing that are challenges and can we build a business to solve for those?"

Daryl Louie: That's awesome. Then when you guys now work together, being in business now together with family, wow.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I still can't get over that. That's awesome. For several years now, reflecting on that, what have you really been able to bring to the table versus him? And obviously I won't put you in a position where you talk about how great you are, but you do see the different skillsets, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I have a business partner too, and we have very different skillsets.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I'm curious, in reflecting, what have you been able to do to bounce off each other really well? What do you guys?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, number one, I would've never started a business on my own, absolutely not. Even now I think back, I'm like, it's kind of crazy that we started this thing. So, I needed someone else to do it. My big gap is operations. He's really good at operations and that's kind of why he's our COO, and that's why I'm CEO. Yeah, we have that complementary skillset. He's more of an introverted kind of guy who makes sure the trains run on time, whereas I'm someone who comes on here and yells about the internet. So, I think that's kind of the balance.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, it's funny, everything that I hate doing he just seems to love doing, and vice versa.

Daryl Louie: Wow.

Charlie Grinnell: So, we were lucky to kind of figure that out early on, and just kind of divide and conquer. If you want to go fast, go alone, and if you want to go far, go together. So, that's something that I think we've really stuck to in terms of an approach.

Daryl Louie: That's awesome. I hear you. Again, you're resonating with me a lot of these things. My business partner, Alex, I'm the guy who goes blue sky, "Hey, let's do this, let's do that. Hey, we should do this." And he's the one who goes, "Okay. Reel you back in. Come on here, come back here. This is how we do that first part of what you said."

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Well, you're the gas and he's the brake.

Daryl Louie: Exactly, exactly. Oh, I've never heard that before.

Charlie Grinnell: That's basically like with ... That's actually something from Andrew Wilkinson at Tiny. He talks about his business partner Chris being the brake and him kind of being the gas.

Daryl Louie: No way, I got to check that out.

Charlie Grinnell: And yeah, I'm the same way. I'm definitely the gas. Like yeah, of course we could do that, and Evan is like, "No, you dummy. Did you think about this, this and this?" And I was like, "Okay, you're right."

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: So, I'd be so screwed without him.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, yeah. You and I think that something could be changed in two, three weeks, and then they're like, "No, this is two quarters."

Daryl Louie: Yeah, and he's like, "That's a year long thing that you just want to do in two weeks."

Daryl Louie: Totally. Well, thanks for sharing about your background. That's awesome to see that you have the relationship, and you have the skillsets with your partner that really balance each other out. Now, I'm an agency founder, and we're still around today. We've got a team of strategists, we got butt brush strategists, we have social strategists. So, I'm curious. In your opinion with RightMetric, where can I pull the most value out of this as an agency owner, as many agencies will probably read this, hear this, and start looking at your website? What is the biggest, I guess for me, and sorry I'm being greedy here, but this is actually a question that I find interesting.

Charlie Grinnell: No, no. All good.

Daryl Louie: What's the value of working with a company like your for an agency?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, so really good question. I think what we'll do is let's take a step back into one of the challenges that we kind of saw in the industry, and I think then we can kind of get into how an agency can use it and how brands use it. So, I think one of the things that we really think about is the big technology story over the past decade has been how brands use their internal data to make decisions, right? Data driven decision making, we've all read articles about data is the new oil and all these things.

Daryl Louie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Charlie Grinnell: That's great. Absolutely in marketing as different platforms have evolved there's more things to count and pull meaning from. So, that said, when I was sitting working at Aritzia or Red Bull, and when Evan was working at Vendasta, we always had a really good idea of what was happening with our clients or with our own brand. We knew how many people were coming to our site, where they were coming from, that sort of thing, but it kind of felt like we had one of our eyes covered, and both of us kind of always thought like ugh, if we could just uncover that other eye and kind of see outside of our four walls, we as strategists would be better armed to have the right information in front of us to make the best decision possible for the business.

Daryl Louie: Totally.

Charlie Grinnell: So, that was kind of the hypothesis of how we started out. So, there are competitive marketing intelligence tools out there, and so we kind of went out and started to be like oh, if we wanted to be able to look at a brand holistically or an industry holistically, what kind of tools would we need? So, we started to do some research, taking sales call and we realized that we needed like over 30 tools to be able to do it.

Daryl Louie: And they're expensive, and they're all expensive.

Charlie Grinnell: And they're super expensive.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: So, even when I was at Aritzia and when I was at Red Bull I probably wouldn't be able to foot the bill for all of those different tools, right?

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Because even once you get the tools you then need to know how to use them, you then need to be able to pull the research all into one place, you need to be able to output insights. There are so many different pieces there. So, we kind of thought hey, we think there could be a business there. What if we went out and got access to all those tools, built a team of wicked smart analysts and researchers, build methodologies to be able to pull everything into one place, to benchmark things but also just to show what other brands are doing, and build them kind of into these data-backed case studies that are super easy to read. Then we take all of that and put it into a library that marketers can use really fast.

Daryl Louie: So, that was kind of like the hypothesis.

Daryl Louie: How many case studies do you have in your library?

Charlie Grinnell: Right now as it stands case studies in the library, I believe there's 400 today, and our team adds between 40 to 50 every single month.

Daryl Louie: Wow.

Charlie Grinnell: And as we grow, that's going to be more, and more, and more. So, what we're kind of trying to build is like a Wikipedia or like a Google for marketers.

Daryl Louie: Totally.

Charlie Grinnell: So, to answer your questions about ... Now that we kind of have that backstory, to answer your question, how do brands use it? They use it for a bunch of different things. They use it for benchmarking. They use it for innovation, right? Like what are the new things. They use it for inspiration. They use it for best practice teaching. They use it for briefing agencies. There are so many different ways, because basically let's say for the sake of example you're a marketing manager at a credit union, right? You can go in and look at all the stuff that we do for other credit unions and financial institutions. You can see okay, here's what Wealthsimple is doing for their content strategy on their blog, or here's what RBC is doing from an advertising perspective. That's really valuable and you need to know that stuff, but there's also this whole other aspect. You could look at automotive, you could look at CPG, you could look at outdoor apparel. Those are other categories where if you're a marketing manager and maybe you're focused on email right now, there are lots of best practices outside of your industry that you can use for inspiration and tactical elements that you can steal.

Charlie Grinnell: So, what the library kind of allows is you can look within your industry for information, and you can look outside of your industry for inspiration. So, that's kind of why we decided to house it in the library. So, how an agency uses that, use it for clients, use it for new pitches. There are probably more applications that I'm not even covering, because yeah, I'm not an agency owner, but an agency person might get their hands on this and be like, "Oh my gosh, I can use it for this, I can use it for this." So, we think we're just really scratching the surface at this point.

Daryl Louie: Totally. That actually brings two questions to mind.

Charlie Grinnell: Fire away.

Daryl Louie: The first is I guess, that's awesome in terms of the amount of case studies you're adding on a monthly basis. Now, as a potential customer of yours, can I request ones that are more relevant to brands and relevant to issue? What's that process like?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, really great question, something that I breezed over. I'll talk about pricing too. So, our pricing is $4225 a month, with a six month commitment, and that's US. So it's about five grand a month Canadian. What you get access to is every piece of research we've already done in there. So, the 500 pieces today plus the 40 to 50 every single month, and you get five user seats. What you also get is you get two custom case study requests per month.

Daryl Louie: Wow.

Charlie Grinnell: So let's say you're a marketing manager at a bank, right? Again, we'll use that example. Here's the 10K studies that we did for the financial services space, but maybe we didn't cover a brand or a topic that was top of mind for you, you can literally fill out a form and go, "Hey, this is a challenge that we're struggling with. I want you to look into this brand and can you tear apart this, this and this for us?" And our team takes that in, we go away, we do that research, we build the case study, we upload it to your library, and then you get notified via email going, "Here you go."

Daryl Louie: Well, that's amazing. That price point is much more digestible than even one of those tools that-

Charlie Grinnell: Yes.

Daryl Louie: ... we carry. That's really impressive because-

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: ... when I think about two custom, I mean, in addition to the value of your existing library, two additional custom requests covers essentially a salary of a strategist-

Charlie Grinnell: Exactly.

Daryl Louie: ... to be like, "Hey, put together these two." But instead of just that one guy or one girl you've got this whole team. That's really awesome.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. It's funny you said that. Basically we were trying to 80 20 the value prop of that. How could we make it so that these businesses that can't afford in the high six figures just for the tools, how can we make it so it's the equivalent of a full-time kind of strategist yearly and give access to five different people in their org and give them that ability to custom query things. It's one thing to be a software tool, but you do need that personalized element. You need both.

Daryl Louie: Absolutely.

Charlie Grinnell: So, that's kind of why we've structured it in that way.

Daryl Louie: So, the second question that kind of kicked off was, how do you guys determine internally what case studies to add every single month? I mean, obviously there are marketing trends. You guys have access to all of the tools to be able to see what people are taking about and where. How do you guys kind of I guess prioritize what to put out every month?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, really good question. So, I think you hit the nail in the head with different trends. Our analysts are always watching trends in different industries. Also, a combination of what are our clients needing, right? So, different clients have different strategic priorities and things that they're struggling with, so that's another one. Then we're just always watching. The third one would be we're just kind of always watching all the different players in the different spaces that we create, like data-backed case studies about, and we almost kind of have like a Richter scale, right? So, as something happens, if there's a dip or a spike, our analysts can see that and go, "Huh. What is that?"

Daryl Louie: That's a hot topic. Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: And are we going to give into that? And the Richter scale I think is the example, right? When there's an earthquake you can see okay, here's what happened, and is this worthwhile doing a case study? So, those are kind of like the three ways. I guess fourth one would be custom requests, right? So again, that kind of goes back to what our clients need, but they do have the ability to kind of query our research team.

Daryl Louie: Yeah. No, that's amazing. I love that, the comparison to a Richter scale. That's something I've never really ... I mean, I see it all the time in the trends trap, but I've never applied that thought to it and being like oh, that's how you determine importance. That's amazing.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: You guys, you said earlier that you created this because you saw that there was this challenge within the marketing industry. So, I'd love to get your opinion on some of that, because you're one of the emerging leaders in the space. So I mean, using data and insights to inform marketing strategy, this is something that's not necessarily groundbreaking when it comes to marketing.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I would argue in what I've seen that for digital marketers, and especially those small to medium shops that cannot really work with 30 tools or even like a couple of them, there's this challenge in how do they use the data and insights that are available to them to inform their marketing strategies. So, what is the power of that external marketing data that you guys provide to a small or medium sized shop? Or maybe another way of phrasing this is, what are the common mistakes that marketers make when they don't use data and insights? What have you seen?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, really good question. There's a couple things here. So, the first thing I want to unpack is the challenge that we've kind of established in the marketing industry is the disconnect between technical analytics and nontechnical marketers who are tasked with making big decisions, right? So you have people who have been in marketing 10, 15, 20 years and they're now the CMO or the VP of marketing, but in the last 10 years digital has kind of like gone on the up and now everyone's talking about data, and measurement, and attribution and all these things, and maybe that person came up in marketing a long time ago and doesn't necessarily, maybe feels uncomfortable with like wow, I'm not as up-to-date on things as I should be.

Daryl Louie: Threatened almost, yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Threatened, right?

Daryl Louie: Yeah. So, we've noticed this disconnect where there's the need for the technical analysis to be translated into nontechnical insight to be like here's what you should do and why, and knowing that it's backed by data. So, that big disconnect and that gap we're trying to sit in the middle there. So, that's one I think all marketers feel, whether they want to admit it or not.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: It's important because the decisions that those leaders have to make can carry significant budget and risk to the business, right? We're not talking like how big is your marketing budget, are you spending it effectively, are you spending it efficiently, are you focusing your team in the right place? Those are all things that this can really help with. I think the second thing that I want to point out is around this idea of data versus insight. The analogy that I use is data is oil, insight is gasoline. So, what I always say is we're not an oil company, we sell gasoline. We sell refined actually insight.

Charlie Grinnell: I love that.

Daryl Louie: Because there are plenty of companies out there that harness data and pull all that stuff in, but data without that insight is just data. So, it's a key piece of the equation that we pull in, but then it is like how are we interpreting that. How are we applying that to a business challenge, or a problem, or a different objective, and how are we building out actionable things to be like, "Okay, we've seen this. How does this impact the actions that we're actually going to take and what should we do?" So I think, and then to just answer the question finally, is a lot of medium sized businesses struggle with that. To your point, there's only so many hours in the day, there's only so many people, and what we're trying to do is like 80 20 that value prop and kind of democratize access to this stuff, because we know that as marketers when you're able to kind of uncover that other eye, and you have access to that information, that's a powerful thing.

Daryl Louie: So, the last analogy that I'll use you with is I think of us kind of as like the intelligence committee briefing that the president. So come in mister or madam president, here's what we found, here's what we think you need to know. Now that you have all those facts, you can go away and make your decision.

Charlie Grinnell: I love that analogy. It makes me ... So obviously the way that we're looking at insights, and creative I guess, church and state. I imagine that this has been something where you guys have had to make the decision to stay away from or be very defined in your service offerings and what you guys offer to your clients. I'm sure some of your clients have been like, "Well, you have the insights. What do we do with it and how do we come with a marketing campaign?"

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: How have you guys navigated that, I guess that path of providing that insights, unbiased third-party. Here's just pure insights backed by data, and the clients and potential clients that are going, "Well, why don't you help us do something with this, since you're the one bringing us all this information?" How have you guys navigated that?

Daryl Louie: It's a really good question. Number one is we don't do execution. We don't do design, we don't run social. That's what AntiSocial is for, that's what other agencies are for.

Charlie Grinnell: Thank god.

Daryl Louie: Right? And so for us, we're big believers in that church and state are separate, and we are that unbiased apolitical third-party who can be like, "Hey, we see everything and we don't have any skin in the game." I'm not going to tell you, "Hey, you should spend more on ads, and by the way, we have an advertising division this way." And I think that's really, really important.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: It's kind of having that unbiased third-party, because you've heard stories probably of agencies taking advantage of brands, or being self-serving or whatever. That can make some agencies uncomfortable, that can make some brands uncomfortable, but at the same time if we're able to give you a clear indication of the truth without any hidden agenda, that's our whole purpose. We just want to give you the truth. That's the way that we see it, using all this third-party data to give you access to that.

Daryl Louie: So yeah, that's something that I think is going to be ongoing. We have that, but we've been asked so many times, "Hey, wow, this is amazing. Can you guys just execute that?" And we happily make referrals to the people who we feel are experts in that space.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: So yeah, I think that that's the way that we look at it and that's the way we'll always be. We could've easily spun up and ads division, or a creative division, or a social division, but we just didn't think that that was the right thing to do. I think the one thing I'll add there is our core competency is research and insights. That's our whole thing, whereas I think a lot of agencies out there will be like, "Yeah, we do insights and research too." And I'm like, "Yeah, but do you?" You might really be good at SEO, or you might really be good at paid, but you do all these other offerings. So, for us we're just like yeah, we know our team is made up of people who have done strategy and execution in all those areas, but our whole thing is research and insights is our core competency, and giving you the truth is our whole purpose for existing.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. What it sounds like it's just integrity. You guys know what it takes to deliver insights to your clients with integrity, without any bias, and hearing you talk about it this way, I 100% agree. You're going to have to keep that separate.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, you have to, otherwise then it can become self-serving, and you're right, that integrity is key.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Well, I'd love to tap into your future thinking mind here for a second for a couple questions. So, what trends are you seeing in marketing in the brands that you like to follow? And kind of this is a big question.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Actually, let's just leave it there. What trends are you seeing in marketing in brands that you love to follow? What do you think is coming?

Daryl Louie: Yeah. I think it's a good question. The one that's top of mind I think is, and everyone talks about this, is TikTok. I think if you had probably asked me a year ago, "What do you think of TikTok?" I'd be like, "Eh, Facebook is going to boot them off." If Facebook's at the top of the jungle gym, Facebook is going to boot them in the face and they're going to fall to the bottom. They're legit.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: And I think as more and more people of all ages are spending time on that platform, it's another very important fishing hole, right? So, I think to use that Charlie Munger quote like, "Fish where the fish are." I think previously fishing where the fish are in digital marketing was mainly Facebook, Google. Yeah, there was a little bit of Twitter, a little bit of Reddit, a little bit YouTube, I guess that's in Google, but I think there's this third fishing hole that's really kind of emerging instead of the duopoly. It's kind of like the triopoly.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: Just in terms of where the fish are. I think we're going to see TikTok probably continue to grow their ad offering, tying it more into commerce, seeing that. So, that's kind of one I think that TikTok used to be this thing for kids now, like little kids, but now I think as those kids grow up over the next five years they're going to be on that.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. Absolutely. They're not going to switch over to Facebook or Instagram, they're going to-

Daryl Louie: Exactly.

Charlie Grinnell: ... adapt to new functions that TikTok comes out with that's more relevant for their age range, yeah.

Daryl Louie: So, I think that's one that we're really keeping a keen eye on and trying to do a lot of work there. I think the other one kind of would be this idea of informed intuition. So, this is kind of something that you touched on earlier, like that balance of brand and performance. I think a lot of people probably from the outside looking in are being like, "Oh Charlie, RightMetric, they're on the science side of the wall." If it's kind of art and science, they're more on the science side. I think what I want to say there, like he's a data guy, like all he cares is about that, absolutely not. I try and sit right in the middle. I know that the best marketing is ... I'm a creative guy, that's how I started. I was making videos. I get it, and so for me this idea of informed intuition is striking that balance between art and science. I think when we look at a lot of the best marketing over history, iconic campaigns, you can see that there has been a balance of that kind of informed intuition, using data to help inform creative solutions and vice versa.

Daryl Louie: So, I think that this balance of informed intuition is something that we're really bullish on, and that's a trend I think that a lot of marketers are starting to realize, and it's kind of like this pendulum, right? At first it was brand, in like the '90s. Then it swung back over to performance.

Charlie Grinnell: Totally.

Daryl Louie: And then COVID hit and it's like okay, but we can't just optimize for conversions, now we're kind of like trying to settle back in the middle. So yeah, I think that's something that we're really bullish on, is just this idea of making kind of data and analytics and insights more approachable, and helping marketers understand that it doesn't have to be this super intimidating, nerdy, ridiculous data science thing, it's just hey, we can see a lot of behaviors of people, we can quantify those behaviors, and that can help us determine different actions that we should take.

Charlie Grinnell: Create with precision through prediction. That's something-

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: ... I've been trying to echo to my team for a while with varying levels of success. So, I love hearing that that's what your team is really bullish on.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: So, the other future mind question that I have for you is, one of the truths of social media platforms that users, even myself and agency owners tend to overlook, is that the users ultimately are the product, including TikTok. So, a big part of this discussion is data privacy. Again, as a leader in data backed case studies, what is your prediction on how the availability of online data will change, scale up or down in the next couple of years? What do you think is going to happen?

Daryl Louie: So, good question. I think a couple things. There's Charlie the person, and then there's Charlie the business guy.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: Let's go with Charlie the person.

Charlie Grinnell: Charlie the person, for me, I'm comfortable with the level of tracking right now me personally, because you do need a number of data points to create certain experiences. There are things that I love. I'll give an example. I recently was, I had to do some shopping for my mom, and she wanted to get set up on the PC Express app for a superstore. So, she'd been scanning her card or whatever and I set up her account on her phone, and instantly it pulled up all of her previous grocery bills in there, by matching her number. She's never had the app, she's never done anything. So I'm like okay, now that's obviously a very basic example, but I think to have that convenience and that seamlessness, there are data points that you need access to to do that.

Daryl Louie: Absolutely.

Charlie Grinnell: So, me personally, I'm fine with that. I think what we've seen in terms of the stuff with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook back in 2016, the stuff with cookies, the stuff with iOS 14.5, I don't think that makes or breaks things. I think it's just changing things. As marketers, there's always going to be things for us to count digitally, and I think where we see ourselves as a business, and now I'm kind of transferring over to the RightMetric side of things, people will always do things and there will always be data points that are legally available to see, to be able to count and pull meaning from. That can help marketers make better informed decisions and that sort of thing.

Charlie Grinnell: So yeah, I think as different rules change, or regulations change, or platforms change, where we kind of stay is right there with everything that's legally available and kind of staying at the forefront of that so that we can continue to arm marketers with insights from data that is ethically sourced, all these other things. So, that's kind of how I see it.

Daryl Louie: I think that's so absolutely necessary. I agree with your points too. I've got Daryl the person, Daryl the businessman.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: Whenever you got a weird uncle or an auntie talking about data privacy and identity theft, my question to them is always the same. Do you think that you're important enough for these data points to actually go into being used against you? It's something that it's more of the concern there isn't legitimate, I feel. It's something that's more of a manifested fear of data.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. I mean, I think who knows. Sure, your data can be used against you, and sway you, and there's such a deep conversation there, but I agree with what you just said. I think it actually comes to mind is another example. Actually, I was giving a talk at Hootsuite four years ago, I guess. Yeah, this is when I was still at Aritzia, and this is like right after the Cambridge Analytica stuff, right?

Daryl Louie: Oh wow.

Charlie Grinnell: And I was talking about my ... Of course, this event was booked like three months in advanced, and of course my topic was Facebook right after the Cambridge Analytica stuff, and I was like, "Oh crap." It's so fluent, there are so many things happening, and one of the things that came up was there was this woman in the crowd, and there's 150 people there.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: So, it's not an open question thing.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: We're sitting there talking, and I hear this woman in the back put up her hand and go, "Excuse me."

Daryl Louie: Oh no.

Charlie Grinnell: And I'm kind of like, the moderator is sitting there, I'm like, "Okay, sure. What's up?" And she was talking about when you get a new iPhone and you have to go through it she's like, "I don't think I should have to hit agree to the terms of service." And she was kind of talking all about that, and she was like, "I just don't think it's fair, blah, blah, blah." And I said, "Hey, I totally hear you." And I was like, "Do you have an iPhone on you right now?" And she was like, "Well yeah, I have my phone." And I'm like, "Okay, so you're going to lecture me about privacy, yet here you are carrying an iPhone around for convenience. Which is it? By carrying an iPhone around, to me you have said I'm choosing convenience over privacy."

Daryl Louie: Absolutely, absolutely.

Charlie Grinnell: And I wasn't trying to be rude, but I was just like it's very hard to take you seriously when you're yelling at me about this, I'm like, "But you still do it." If she'd been like, "No, I don't have a phone." I'd be like, "Respect."

Daryl Louie: Yeah. I have a Motorola Razor.

Charlie Grinnell: But the fact that she had one on her. Yeah, or nothing, right? She might be like, "I use payphones. Look at my quarters." You know?

Daryl Louie: Yeah, yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: But yeah, that was something that was really, really interesting. So, I think as we've seen this topic about privacy raise up, how many times have you seen #DeleteFacebook trending, right?

Daryl Louie: I know, yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Guess what? It still churns along with tons of people using it every day. Don't listen to what people say, watch what people do.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, absolutely.

Charlie Grinnell: So, that's something that's so funny. I've had a couple people in the past be like, "Cool. Now that Facebook is dead, what do we do?" And I'm like, "What do you mean now that Facebook is dead?" It might not be socially cool anymore to say that you're on Facebook, but guess what? People go on Facebook every day.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Whether they want to admit it publicly or not.

Daryl Louie:  Yeah. It still has, what? One in seven people in the world are on Facebook.

Charlie Grinnell: Exactly.

Daryl Louie:  Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: I mean, they've assembled the largest community in the history of mankind, larger than different religions, larger than different countries, yeah. So, it's just interesting when you see that and how people talk the talk but they don't necessarily walk the walk when it comes to data and privacy.

Daryl Louie: Absolutely. I run into those people and I get into conversations quite often where I have to really be like a check to them but also do it in a way where I have to consider their feelings.

Charlie Grinnell: For sure. I mean, yeah, it's not because of ill will, you're just trying to be like hey, I'm just trying to get it straight here. Which is it?

Daryl Louie: I'm just trying to give you the truth.

Charlie Grinnell: Actually.

Daryl Louie: Yeah. So, what's next for you and RightMetric? What's something you guys are working on and what's an exciting initiative that you have rolling out this year or maybe sooner?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, something really soon, which is going to be exciting, is we're launching a freemium version of our library.

Daryl Louie: No way.

Charlie Grinnell: So, basically we're sitting on all this stuff, and in about a month or so we'll be kind of releasing a bunch of it for free. So, instead of right now, previously it's-

Daryl Louie: Do you have a date that we can tell the audience?

Charlie Grinnell: I don't have a date. I would say like end of June, early July.

Daryl Louie: Okay.

Charlie Grinnell: Is what I would say. The team is hustling, but basically what we're trying to do is we'll get that all ready. So, as of right now, if you wanted access to the library you have to pay that 4225 a month, but we're going to be kind of rolling out a free version where you come, you enter in your name and your email, and you can create an account, and there's a bunch of content in there that's just free, and it'll be regularly updated. Then if you want to upgrade to an account, you can upgrade to a paid account. So, that's going to be a big one for us because yeah, we're sitting on tons and tons of content that usually would be kind of either time or cost prohibited for a lot of these businesses, agencies and brands. So yeah, once that's live, we're going to be yelling about that because there's just a bunch of useful stuff in there that I think people would find super valuable, and it's free.

Daryl Louie: That's amazing.

Charlie Grinnell: So, that's really I think the big one that we're working on. Then I guess the second thing would be we actually have a podcast, and so we're going to be starting that back up. I kind of started out and then fell off the wagon. So, excited to be recording more podcasts. It's called Measure What Matters, A Podcast for Marketers.

Daryl Louie: Measure What Matters. I'll be subscribing.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. We'll be doing some more interviews there over the next little while, and maybe I'll have to have you on that one as well. We can flip this and I can be asking you questions.

Daryl Louie: Oh god, no. No, that's amazing. Good to hear about that initiative. I definitely think that from what you've shared today, that's going to be a huge resource to a lot of these brands that may be thinking about using a more data approach decision making process, and just haven't had the resources to, so that's amazing.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I do have some rapid fire questions I want to run you by.

Charlie Grinnell: I love it. Let's do it.

Daryl Louie: I have one last question before that.

Charlie Grinnell: Okay.

Daryl Louie: So, what's the biggest piece of advice you can give to brands today?

Charlie Grinnell: Oof.

Daryl Louie: And that's a huge question, let's go like this. What's the biggest piece of advice you could give to emerging brands and growing brands today?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. I think for me maybe it's kind of like a life principle, is look before you leap, and I think that goes back to using data to help you make decisions, but whether it's you're going to date someone, or you're going to go do something, like you're going to go ski down a hill, look down before you go, and do a bit of homework, right? So, I think so many brands just seem to move fast without kind of looking before they leap, and that's something that I learned pretty early on when I made the transition from that creative side to the marketing side, is look before you leap, and that's something that's always kind of stuck with me and a principle that I live in my day-to-day life, and I'm still alive, so. I don't know if that's a good answer, but hey, still here and kicking.

Daryl Louie: No, I think that's a great way of looking. I think I've heard the opposite, say yes and figure out how to do it after.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe that's what I probably should say, and if Evan was here he'd be like, "No, no, you always just say yes and then we figure it out later." But I think yeah, that looking before you leap is something that I've really tried to do over the last little while, and I think it's served me well.

Daryl Louie: Absolutely crucial. All right. Let's go rapid fire questions really quick here, okay?

Charlie Grinnell: Okay.

Daryl Louie: Got to answer, no wrong answers obviously.

Charlie Grinnell: Uh-oh.

Daryl Louie: What was your first job?

Charlie Grinnell: I was a soccer coach, a summer soccer coach at a soccer camp.

Daryl Louie: Before the football transition?

Charlie Grinnell: Before the football transitions.

Daryl Louie: Nice. What was your worst job?

Charlie Grinnell: Ooh. I was a chairlift operator at Grouse Mountain in the summer, and it was on my feet for 10 hours a day. I get super sunburned, so I got super sunburned. I think I lasted like a week and a half and then I was like, "Nah, I'm good."

Daryl Louie: I bet that was like 12 bucks an hour too, right? Probably less.

Charlie Grinnell: It was not great.

Daryl Louie: Oh my god.

Charlie Grinnell: It was a long time ago and not great, but love Grouse.

Daryl Louie: That's amazing. Okay, favorite Red Bull flavor?

Charlie Grinnell: Ooh, sugar free.

Daryl Louie: Nice. Nice. What's your favorite song or album that's on repeat right now?

Charlie Grinnell: Oh no. Man. This is so hard.

Daryl Louie: Oh man, you got to listen to music more.

Charlie Grinnell: Dude. Yeah, I'm the type of person ... I think there's one called like Lofi Beats on Spotify, and I'm the guy that literally listens to the same. I don't even know what the song's called, but it's like a playlist that just plays in repeat the entire day.

Daryl Louie: That's what I was thinking.

Charlie Grinnell: So I'd say something like lofi.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I literally listened to that while I was making dinner last night.

Charlie Grinnell: Either that or I'm a big Action Bronson fan, but he hasn't put out, his stuff kind of back maybe in 2015.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, it's been a while. What's a business or marketing book you'd recommend?

Charlie Grinnell: Ooh, I have a couple. So, number one is Hit Makers by Derek Thompson, and Derek Thompson is a writer for The Atlantic. Basically it's like the science behind why things go big and why things get popular. Really interesting book. The next one, I know you said one, but this is another one that I want to plug that I think is great, is called Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. It's all about positioning, how do you position your company. She is so wicked smart. We read this book, it helped us kind of figure out a way that we're going to position our business, and it's a really quick read. So, those are two that I can't recommend enough.

Daryl Louie: Hit Makers and Obviously Awesome. I wrote them down. I'm going to read these too. What's a life hack that you'd be willing to share?

Charlie Grinnell: Ooh, life hack that I'd be willing to share. I mean, I just got on that meal prepping side of things, and yesterday was day one doing that. Let's see if it's a life hack. I feel like it's a life hack right now because I opened my fridge and it literally looks like an Instagram post with all the containers there, but time will tell.

Daryl Louie: All right. Well, I'll have to check back with you then.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: This one's a fun one. What's your most treasured physical possession?

Charlie Grinnell: Ooh, most treasured physical possession.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, no NFTs. I don't want to hear anything about no NFT.

Charlie Grinnell: I think I have a clock actually that I inherited from my aunt who passed away a few years ago, and it's a railway clock, a train station clock, and it's up in my entryway when I walk into my house. So yeah, that's definitely up there.

Daryl Louie: Awesome.

Charlie Grinnell: I hadn't thought about that one. That was a good one though.

Daryl Louie: Yeah. I mean, I have to think about that one too.

Charlie Grinnell: Now I'm going to look around my house and be like, "What do I actually like if there was a fire in here?"

Daryl Louie: I guess that's when you answer the question, is when that happens.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: I know you have a podcast, but what's another podcast you'd recommend?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, I'm a big podcast buff. So, one that I love is Pivot with Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher. I think that's a really good one. My First Million from The Hustle is just great, listening to those guys talk about business ideas. Then I'm a huge Scott Galloway fan, so The Prof G show is another one.

Daryl Louie: Awesome.

Charlie Grinnell: Those are what I listen to. And obviously Marketing News Canada. I have been listening to this for a while. So yeah, I'm definitely listening to a bunch of different podcasts at all times.

Daryl Louie: Awesome. That's amazing. One last quiz question is, can I take a Zoom selfie right now for the thumbnail?

Charlie Grinnell: Absolutely.

Daryl Louie: All right. Let's give it the old smile here. One.

Charlie Grinnell: Just the ...

Daryl Louie: One, two, three. And then let's do a silly one, do whatever you want.

Charlie Grinnell: A silly one.

Daryl Louie: Just a bunch of hardcore digital marketer gangster in here.

Charlie Grinnell: Oh yeah. Yeah, a super nerd over here.

Daryl Louie: Yeah, yeah. Charlie, thank you so much for the time.

Daryl Louie: Yeah.

Daryl Louie: Thank you for being so honest and open with your questions. Loved hearing about our history, man. This is definitely an episode I know our listeners will really, really like. Everyone please check out Charlie's podcast that he's revisiting, relaunching. It sounds like we have some really exciting case studies to go through for free pretty soon here in a month or so. So, Charlie, thank you so much for the time, man. Really, really enjoyed meeting you and I'm sure we'll catch each other, since we run in very similar circles, pretty soon.

Charlie Grinnell: Absolutely. Thank you very much for having me. It was so great to chat.

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