In an age where everything is taught, and every skill is scouted to get inculcated, there is a very intrinsic element of human intelligence that even algorithm-mediated intelligence is not capable of catching hold of.
To the above-ideated maze, one term suffices and ends the discussion—Innovation.
It is said that innovation is a confluence of intelligence, creativity, and far-sighted vision.
“But how do these three magical virtues collide and reach it’s deserving destiny?” might be the question for many.
To answer this complicated riddle, we have one of the astounding CEO who has not only exemplified technology leadership but also is a great example of “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
As the Founder and CEO of Influencer Active, Inc.—Anthony J James is known to be the transformative wheel behind the world’s first Business Influencer Marketplace.
Let’s slide into the interview and learn more about Anthony and the lessons he learned during his entrepreneurial journey.
Below are the interview highlights.
Anthony, kindly tell our readers about yourself and your professional journey so far.
I am an innovative and creative, technology-driven business solutions leader with a strong focus on idea generation, commercialization, and growth. My experience in the digital innovation field spans over a quarter of a century for global marketing agencies, technology companies, start-ups, and management consulting firms.
I have received industry recognition from LinkedIn as the most influential thought leader in the Asia-Pacific region for my work in innovation, consumer engagement, and disruptive growth strategies. I have also received a LinkedIn Power Profile and LinkedIn Top Voice.
I have deep Asia Pacific and global experience and have unique insights into digital platforms, solutions, future technologies, and strategies that engage consumers and solve big business problems across markets and cultures. I speak as a thought leader and technology evangelist to business leaders around the world.
What was your inspiration to step into the advertising services industry?
Actually, I was headhunted! However, the transition was a very natural one. I started my career as a graphic designer in the film and television industry, so it was almost a return to my roots. In the corporate world, I led with a creative lens, not one that necessarily worked for a “suite and tie world”.
The move back onto the agency side allowed me to help agencies extend beyond the pure advertising offerings and helping compete against the large corporates, who have been encroaching into their accounts for many years. I was inspired to blend my experience and knowledge of the digital tech world, to commercialize existing creative solutions and look for new growth opportunities for the agency.
Tell us about InfluencerActive, its mission, and its vision. What role did you play in founding and growth?
I am the Founder and CEO of InfluencerActive is my latest and very exciting start-up. It’s the world’s first business influencer marketplace, featuring more than 200 hyper-networked, leading business influencers for B2B and B2C brands. These influencers are spread across 15 countries in the U.S., Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. The marketplace offers a combined first-level reach of over 22 million people and a network reach of more than 250 million people, numbers that are growing daily as more influencers join the platform. I and currently the Founder and main driver of the growth of the marketplace.
The model is unlike anything else out there…no subscriptions, no hidden fees, no briefs! Brands can engage a business influencer who works in their industry and is already to connected to the audiences’ brands want to access.
Please tell us about the various sectors InfluencerActive provides its advertising services to and how it adapts to the clients’ diverse marketing requirements.
InfluencerActive is changing the influencer marketing game for brands, particularly with small businesses and medium-sized enterprises. Our focus is on curating a cadre of ‘hyper-networked’ business people – real professionals who have a vested interest in their professional network and the ability to generate very high levels of engagement. As a digital marketplace, we have global scope, and our influencers have worldwide reach through their networks of influence. In general, our customers don’t engage our influencers for their local expertise but for their regional and international scale, as well as the voice or the authority and authenticity they have in their industry.
The marketplace makes it easy for marketing leaders, brands, and agencies to work with business influencers, giving them a direct line of communication and a simple process for integrating them into a campaign to increase awareness and impact. With the InfluencerActive marketplace, B2B and B2C marketers can quickly book an influencer, send the desired media and messaging, and see their content pushed live by the influencer within a matter of hours.
How do you ensure innovation within Influencer Active?
I believe innovation is more about business solutions than the next “cool thing.” It’s about deeply understanding the business problem clients face and then applying properly practiced creativity, a little rule breaking, and collaboration, to deliver solutions that solve the problem, have a positive impact on the brand and drives real growth.
Innovation should be transformative and build new connections.
We always ask five questions to ensure innovation flows through our organisation:
- Does the idea change the way we do business?
- Does it change the way we communicate with customers?
- Does it respond to changes in consumer/business behaviour?
- Will its development inspire people to talk about it?
- Is it genuinely new, and not just a new costume for old products and practice?
The final big filter is am I SO EXCITED about the innovation that I spend all my spare time thinking about it!
I think if you can answer YES to all of these questions then you have a really innovative idea…in fact I want to know what it is!
In your opinion, how is today’s advanced technology enabling the advertising industry to better serve its clients? Also, in what ways is technology assisting your agency in bringing out innovative business solutions in the market?
Advertising today just doesn’t offer the same value as it once did. Sponsored posts simply take the old ‘interruption marketing’ model and apply it to digital feeds. But people don’t want to be interrupted! They want context, a story, entertainment, and trust. Technology combined with real businesspeople is well-positioned to do just that, and our marketplace is the ideal vehicle for making that happen. We put the solution into the hands of the business owner, we put them in control, and now they can cut through the channel noise and marketing challenges of a fragmented media world.
As an experienced leader, what advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the advertising industry?
Two simple rules. One, learn to see just over the horizon.
I’m not a Futurist; I don’t look 20 to 30 years into the future. My skill is to be looking at ideas and concepts that are going to become mainstream within 2 to 3 years. This is where clients need to be focused. If they are not starting to build and implement solutions using those technologies now, then they will be irrelevant.
Second, there are no rules. You need to keep your eyes and mind completely open. Imagination and creativity can never be limited or overused. In my role, I get to use these things every day.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Also, how do you envision scaling your business operations and outreach in the coming years?
I’m always looking for the next big thing. The new idea. The idea that makes me say…WOW!! This is my excitement, this is my passion, and every day is the new next.
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