This post is part of our new Future of Marketing series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Jeffrey Epstein, Founder and CEO of Ambassador Software.
1. What’s the history of Ambassador? Where and how did you begin?
JE: I started an affiliate marketing company while I was in law school. I saw firsthand the power of word-of-mouth marketing as my friends, referred their friends over AOL Instant Messenger in the early 2000's. I eventually sold that company and was able to pay off my law school loans and become an entrepreneur 🙂
Ambassador was born from that experience coupled with 2 themes:
1. I wanted to bring the ability to run affiliate programs in-house to any business; and
2. I saw there was a fundamental shift in the way people consume as social became more and more prominent. No longer were publishers the sole distributors of eyeballs on the web. Since individuals were now building massive engaged audiences across various mediums (social, blog, etc..) the name Ambassador Software made perfect sense.
I began by self-funding. Doing many things wrong and ultimately “learning by doing” — with enough persistence and willingness to learn from customers, we began to build traction and momentum in the space and emerge as the leader in the referral marketing space.
2. What specific problem does Ambassador solve? How do you solve it?
JE: We provide the end-to-end platform for referrals. This means the entire referral experience: from enrolling; tracking; communicating; management and reward fulfillment of referrals all wrapped into a robust, yet flexible cloud-based platform.
Our platform enables management of customer referral, affiliate, partner and influencer marketing programs. Many companies run more than one of these programs (in parallel) on Ambassador — and the platform is made for marketers instead of relying on IT to make every change.
3. What’s the future of marketing?
Prediction #1: Rise of the Influencer [Influencer marketing will rise in importance]
Prediction #2: Power to the consumer. The modern consumer will purchase based on cultural alignment with brands vs price or other perceived benefits.
Prediction #3: Resurgence of Word of Mouth as a way to drive adoption and customer acquisition.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in marketing?
Trend #1: Continue to see more AI and machine learning to better personalize experiences.
Trend #2: Modern Marketing Departments are going to heavily invest in influencers and customer experience programs to drive Word-of-mouth online.
Trend #3: Filtering ads – with adblocking tech less people will see traditional ads and even more people will ignore them.
5. Why is the marketing industry ripe for disruption?
JE: Because the modern consumer (especially millennials) have responded very positively to influencers and brands that align with their collective values. We have seen the companies that promote social good (Tom's, Warby Parker, etc..) surpass previous dominant players in the market who are too slow to adapt.
About Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein, Founder and CEO of Ambassador Software, a Relationship Marketing SaaS that powers referral, partner, affiliate and influencer marketing programs for some of the world's most recognizable brands. A lifelong entrepreneur, Epstein has built and sold several companies. His first was while at Michigan State University, which is where he earned his B.A from the Eli Broad School of Business. He then earned his J.D from Chicago-Kent School of Law where he got his start in affiliate marketing, building and selling a company to pay off his mounting law school student loans. Epstein then moved back to Metro Detroit to take part of the emerging startup tech scene.