Q&A with Mike Dickerson, Chief Executive Officer at ClickDimensions
Media 7 | April 20, 2020
Mike Dickerson, Chief Executive Officer at ClickDimensions is an experienced global executive with entrepreneurial passion for developing new businesses and building the teams to bring them to life. Mike has turned an idea on a bar napkin into a $250 million division providing mission-critical communications technology to the Global 1000. He has funded and founded three start ups, and was part of the executive team to take PGI private in a $1.1 billion transaction with Siris Capital.
Mike is interested in talking with anyone who wants to make digital marketing technology more accessible for the benefit of our 3,400 customers and 1,000 partners in the Microsoft Dynamics community.
MEDIA 7: Could you start by telling us a little about yourself? How has your journey been so far?
MIKE DICKERSON: I was born into a family of entrepreneurs and business pioneers, which meant I was exposed to grit and perseverance from a very young age. Raised by a strong female journalist and self-made businessman, the lessons my parents taught me proved to be ideal for a life as an entrepreneur, including the importance of ethics, integrity and hard work in measuring a person’s impact in the world.
Later, it was my passion for developing new businesses and building the teams to bring them to life that led me to found and lead three startups. A good friend, who has led or funded many companies, calls being an entrepreneur a character defect. This same defect drove me to a brainstorming session with a friend at a bar which became an idea on a napkin which then became a $250 million division providing mission-critical communications technology to the Global 1000. That story has a happy ending as I was as part of the executive team that took PGI private in a $1.1 billion transaction with Siris Capital.
Since 2017, I have been the CEO of ClickDimensions, an industry-leading marketing technology and services company owned by private equity firm Accel-KKR.
My journey so far has involved more than a few risks and obstacles, which have led to big rewards and the ability to work with tech talent across the world. New York Times Best-Selling Author Clayton M. Christensen once wrote, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” in which he described the honor and noble purpose of management. Most of us have to work and spend most of our waking hours on the job. I think about the difference between a team leader who understands teammates needs, and helps them do their best work and leave the job feeling energized for their life outside of work by the contribution they’ve made versus the lousy boss who leaves the company’s employees directionless, defensive and demoralized as they head home. I want to be the former.
"Digital marketing, and all the channels included within that, is more essential than ever before for businesses around the globe."
M7: How does ClickDimensions help clients with Marketing Automation solutions? What are the common challenges that ail most of the companies?
MD: ClickDimensions is The Marketing Cloud for Microsoft Dynamics™ and exists to help marketers create amazing experiences that drive growth and engagement. Started in 2010, the company was first foundedto help Microsoft Dynamics users worldwide bridge the gap between marketing and sales. At the time, there was no solution that offered Dynamics users and Microsoft partners a 100 percent native solution created for marketers. Since then, the company has developed into a marketing cloud for Microsoft Dynamics, serving 3,700 customers around the world and building a partner network that spans 76 countries. Built natively in Dynamics, ClickDimensions solves marketers’ challenges by offering a single unified marketing applications, analytics and services platform.
In a world of convenience and personalization, fulfilled daily by companies like Amazon and Uber, mid-market and small businesses recognize the need to deliver consistent experiences in order to stay competitive. Marketers are challenged with an ever-changing buying cycle, and technologies are often too complicated and too expensive and there aren’t enough people with the right skillsets to create the experiences that mirror the personalization they receive in their consumer lives.
Since I came on board in 2017, ClickDimensions has grown from a marketing automation provider to delivering multichannel marketing applications that work natively as one solution with Microsoft Dynamics. Our platform also now provides the accompanying marketing services needed by today’s marketers to expand their bandwidth and achieve success. By doing so, we are democratizing the industry and allowing small to mid-market companies the opportunity to provide personalization and compete with enterprise organizations.
M7: What marketing channels do you use and which one do you see promising given your target customers?
MD: ClickDimensions has always been digitally focused in our marketing efforts, which makes sense given our business. A means for digital marketing is what we sell, so it comes naturally to us to use it too. With the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing means digital everything. Digital marketing, and all the channels included within that, is more essential than ever before for businesses around the globe.
"Built natively in Dynamics, ClickDimensions solves marketers’ challenges by offering a single unified marketing applications, analytics and services platform."
M7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work - what day to day processes have you had to re-tool to be able to pull them off remotely? What does your remote tech stack look like?
MD: The way our company operates today is very similar to before COVID-19. Our global team has always been familiar with teleconferencing and working with customers and colleagues via remote environments. And because our solutions are built natively within Microsoft Dynamics, we have a strong technology infrastructure that can serve a remote workforce. I’m sure it helps that I spent 10 years in the collaboration industry helping people work together when they weren’t together.
With that said, many of our customers and partners are continuing to feel the effects of COVID-19 on their business operations and sales. As such, their work with us has pivoted as digital marketing has become more important than ever. This includes increased usage of our marketing automation and social media solutions, as well as utilizing our managed services to provide support to internal marketing and sales teams to drive traffic and results.
COVID-19 has shown that it’s more important than ever for sales and marketing organizations to be unified. ClickDimensions is set up to serve these two organizations from a remote environment, enabling collaboration, and helping to provide one solution that can serve multiple departments in one organization. I have a feeling that companies are increasingly more focused on finding ways to drive revenue than the historic rivalries between sales and marketing.
M7: Do you think we will constantly be looking over our shoulders and have to have a remote plan ready?
MD: As businesses are navigating the effects of COVID-19, one lesson that has emerged across organizations, regardless of size, is the importance of being flexible and understanding the digital landscape. In some industries where salespeople could rely on one-on-one, in-person interactions with customers or prospects, they are quickly understanding that the digital landscape may be different and it's imperative to get up-to-speed quickly to keep moving business forward.
Because more industries are relying on digital selling, sales and marketing are pivoting to more of a revenue-centric strategy. No longer are these two organizations allowed to think differently or work independently, and all efforts must be tied to the bottom line. It’s imperative that these organizations use this time to get on the same page and work together, as digital selling and marketing will happen for the unforeseeable future and will become more important than ever in a post COVID-19 environment.
A model for the future is to think digital first; the in-person is an extra blessing when you have the opportunity.
"A model for the future is to think digital first; the in-person is an extra blessing when you have the opportunity."
M7: What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
MD: The first thing I would tell young Mike is that goals are important, but that you can only control your own actions and not the results. Make sure you are not confusing the act of staring at the mountain with the act of climbing it. The second thing I would tell him is that there is tremendous benefit to devoting time each week to reflecting on what has your attention, considering what you plan to do about it and writing down your thoughts so you can learn from them in the weeks ahead. I wish I had started that habit 20 years before I finally did.
M7: What is your superpower or spirit animal?
MD: In keeping with today’s emphasis on digital everything, I turned to the internet and an online quiz to help guide me in choosing my spirit animal. The result? A tiger – which I think is a great honor. Tigers are amazing creatures that have incredible instincts. Sadly, there are only around 3,800 left in the wild today, so I think we need more people in this world to think of them as spirit animals.
Founded in 2010, ClickDimensions is the leading marketing platform for Microsoft Dynamics, with more than 3,700 customers around the globe and a partner network that spans 76 countries today. As The Marketing Cloud for Microsoft Dynamics™, ClickDimensions is redefining how marketers work and attain results with the only unified marketing technology, analytics and services platform in the market. Made exclusively for and natively built within Dynamics, ClickDimensions allows marketers to leverage technology to its full potential by providing built-in measurable results and insights into revenue impact with world-class services to drive continual improvement.