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iProspect’s CEO on Leading During the Pandemic

Ellen Harvey

Over the past several months, marketing leaders have had to remain flexible in the face of new circumstances. With online shopping expanding dramatically, brands have worked hard to develop new strategies and approaches to meet their customers’ needs. At the same time, marketing leaders have made every effort to strike a balance between their business responsibilities and taking care of their employees.

Few understand this better than Jeremy Cornfeldt, CEO of iProspect, US, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the world. iProspect is a key partner with Sidecar. Together we drive performance marketing strategies for enterprise retail businesses that include national and international brands.  

In an exclusive interview and special episode of Retail Uncharted, Sidecar’s CEO, Andre Golsorkhi, spoke with Jeremy about his career, his approach to leadership, and how marketing leaders can adjust to the current climate. During the podcast we asked Jeremy:

  • How did you arrive in the role you’re in today?
  • What are some of the biggest lessons for getting ahead you’ve learned over the course of your career?
  • How did you make the transition from the consulting side of things to immersing yourself in digital marketing?
  • What did you have to change about your leadership style to adjust to the pandemic? 
  • What were the biggest challenges and opportunities that helped your team through this environment?
  • How did you balance your business responsibilities with the need to provide empathy and understanding to your employees?
  • What are the biggest digital marketing and retail shifts you’ve seen during the pandemic?

This is the first part of a two-part interview series with Jeremy Cornfeldt. The second episode will explore Jeremy’s predictions for the future of retail and his top priorities for 2021.

Top Sound Bites

(edited for brevity and clarity)

On the importance of constantly learning, especially as a leader: 

Jeremy: People often look at their leadership and think they have everything figured out, that they have all the answers. No matter where you are in your career, you think you’re going to reach a point someday where you’ll feel more comfortable, where you’ll have more answers. You think you’re going to reach this ideal state of what your job is supposed to be. 

And that’s just never the case. We’re always still figuring things out. There’s always going to be a tremendous amount of uncertainty. You’re still going to the table and thinking, I’ve been thrown these problems. And my goal is to try to figure out how many of them I can possibly solve, what sequence I can solve them in, with what priorities. No matter what level you’re at, whether you’re in the most junior role, or even if you’re the CEO, you’re just trying to do the best you can.

On the benefits of humility:

Jeremy: I think being humble and having humility have helped me immensely over the course of my career. I remember early on in my career, there was a woman and everyone always wanted her to be the project lead. And so one day, I just went up to her and asked her, why is everybody asking you to do this?

And it’s stuck with me, what she said. She said, “They asked me because they know if it’s something that hasn’t been done before, that I’ll figure out a way to do it, that I won’t complain.” And I really took that to heart. I always raised my hand for stuff that had never been done before, stuff that I’d never done. And I built a reputation for saying yes and for figuring things out. 

On adjusting to the pandemic:

Jeremy: This time called for more transparency than we’d ever had before. And it’s not that, before, we didn’t want to share information or results. But suddenly it was all about sharing it regularly and being open — and not being afraid to communicate tough things. People ask about silver linings during this time, and I don’t like that question, because it feels conflicted to talk about positive things when there have been so many lives lost.

But there has been good change. I realized I needed to start communicating with the agency, and so I started shooting videos every night. I had our marketing team create a form for me so that people could submit questions. And every night I’d sit on the couch, grab my phone, and shoot a video and answer questions. And that frequency of communication, that transparency, especially early on, really helped. People knew they could count on me whether I had an answer or not. They knew they could count on hearing from me. 

On unexpected growth during the pandemic:

Andre: Another thing we didn’t anticipate was the opportunity for mid-market retail businesses. While the larger players were so focused on essential items and had shifted their focus to logistics and delivery of those essential items, it opened up space for folks to get in front of people whom they might not have been able to meet otherwise. 

It created this convergence of opportunity, where our mid-market customers just exploded. Obviously, there was a lot of success across e-commerce, but we really saw a disproportionate opportunity and growth for these mid-market customers. It was awesome to see these folks who’d been working so hard for so many years suddenly have a moment to shine. And they’re still thriving to this day. 

Show Resources:

Jeremy Cornfeldt’s Bio
Andre Golsorkhi’s Bio
iProspect Website
Sidecar Website
iProspect LinkedIn Page
Sidecar LinkedIn Page
@GetSidecar
@iProspect
What You Can Learn From Other Retail Verticals Amid COVID-19
What’s the New Normal for Retail in a Post-COVID-19 World?
All Retail Uncharted Episodes