DRMA Spotlight: Finding the Right Mojo1 Jan, 2014 By: Thomas Haire Response
Gregory Silvano believes his company’s Web solution will drive DR marketers to new heights online.
At first it was humbling. Direct response is unlike any industry I had seen before,” says Gregory Silvano, CEO of Middleton, Mass.-based Mojo Research & Development. “Changes come fast and furious — 24/7. Campaigns launch and die in the blink of an eye. Shopping carts work differently than typical E-commerce sites. The web-like relationships between the product owner, production company, media buyer, fulfillment, Web, call-center — it’s a tough industry to figure out. It takes a couple years, but we figured it out.”
Mojo Research and Development, founded in 2011, is a provider of world-class business software development, E-commerce solutions and digital media. In October 2013, Silvano announced the launch of Mojo Now, a fully integrated marketing and E-commerce website platform created especially to serve as the online component for direct response (DR) campaigns.
“Mojo Now is the third version of Mojo since 2011,” Silvano says, calling it not only the company’s greatest accomplishment yet, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment during 20 years as a software entrepreneur. “Earlier versions of Mojo were good but not industry-leading, since we were new to direct response and didn’t fully understand the nuances of the industry. But Mojo Now is the culmination of three years of lessons, observations, maturity and innovation.”
Silvano’s years as a software developer in the Boston area include consulting for such companies as Gillette, Fidelity Investments, Sylvania, Putnam Investments, Dunkin Brands and US News & World Report. “Since 2006, I have owned Stature Software (with a partner), a software development firm with 60 developers,” Silvano adds. “Our clients there have included Microsoft, Yahoo, Virgin, UnitedHealthcare, Cardinal Health and many others.”
Silvano got the idea to start Mojo by happenstance in 2011. “Today Mojo has nearly 20 employees, comprised of software developers, graphic designers and marketers — but it all started when I bumped into a stranger at a bar in 2011,” he recalls. “We started talking, and it ends up he’s a significant player in the direct response industry. Our conversation led to the Web side of DR, and he spent an hour venting about his products’ websites.”
What were the issues this leader shared, according to Silvano? “It was taking too long to make changes to the site — more than a week!” Silvano says. “He didn’t trust the numbers he was seeing. The sites didn’t work on mobile devices — things like that. I told him my company could build a platform to solve those problems. He agreed to try it out when it was ready — and Mojo was born.”
The idea from the start, Silvano emphasizes, was to be a leader in the DR industry — and the company has done work with other leaders like Harvest Direct, Time-Life and Thane Direct in order to reach that goal more quickly.
“Mojo is cheaper, faster and superior in every measurable way,” he says. “Instead of taking weeks to launch your website, you can launch in an hour. Instead of waiting for your Web vendor to make changes for you — and charge you for those changes — you can make them yourself in minutes. You have 100-percent control over the product pricing, marketing copy, design, graphics, upsell flow — everything.”
However, in the parlance of the business: wait, there’s more! “On top of that, Mojo was built as a testing and marketing platform, so we have A/B testing, geolocation targeting, campaign and other powerful marketing tools,” Silvano adds. “Mojo solves every problem we have found in the direct response space in the past three years. It is most often described by our clients as a ‘game changer.’”
Additionally, the new version of the Mojo Now platform provides for full integration with all major DR fulfillment companies, as well as with all of the industry’s leading payment gateways. This quick — but measured — growth during the company’s three years was all part of Silvano’s original plan.
“Our growth has been very controlled — by design. This space is very small, and we have to be careful with our reputation and promises,” Silvano says. “The opportunity for exponential growth has always been there, but we didn’t have the infrastructure or business processes to handle it, so we didn’t even try.”
However, Silvano calls the company’s growth in the past year it’s second biggest accomplishment. “We have built a 20-person company without a sales team,” he says. “All of our clients have been through referrals, word-of-mouth and meeting people at industry trade shows. But that’s changing in 2014 with our newest version of Mojo. We’re ramping up sales with every intention of being the go-to Web marketing vendor for direct response.”
Silvano adds, “I hear the phrase, ‘I love working with your team,’ more from Mojo clients than I have ever heard in my career. Our team has the right attitude, the right skills and tons of heart.”
Looking ahead, Silvano says he keeps his outlook short-term due to the rapid-fire technological changes that are now part-and-parcel of doing business. “I don’t typically plan more than six-to-12 months out,” he contends. “Five years ago, there was no App Store and the iPhone was in its infancy. How many business plans changed because of what Apple did? Five years from now we’ll probably have same-day — if not within hours — delivery of products purchased online.”
But Silvano believes his company will be at the ready for whatever comes down the line. “Mojo will adapt to changing market conditions, it will continue to hire the best and most creative minds in the industry, and it will always be a technical powerhouse in direct response. That much I know for sure,” he says. “That’s why we’re called Mojo Research & Development: our entire identity is based on R&D — learning, innovating and developing solutions.” ■
The Web Is Changing ... Again
DR marketers have faced the changes brought on by technological expansion for years. With consumers now in more and more control of what marketing messages they want to hear — and when and where they choose to hear them — marketers have to continue to stay a step ahead. But Mojo Research & Development CEO Gregory Silvano believes the leaders in the market will continue to do so, with the help of those same expanding technologies.
“Capturing the attention of viewers will always be the hottest topic for DR marketers,” he says. “It was bad enough when marketers had to fight for attention among 500 cable channels. Now they have to fight against YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp, a bazillion websites and countless other distractions. And even when people are watching TV, they’re not just watching TV — they’re on their mobile devices too! I have so much respect for the marketers in this space — they have an impossible job yet always figure out new ways to grab the viewers’ attention.”
An additional hot topic, according to Silvano: adaptation to change. “Particularly related to the Web,” he says. “Notice my list above didn’t include Facebook? It’s already dying. A study in December 2013 showed that teens are leaving Facebook in droves and only have accounts so they can ‘connect with older family members.’ Things change that fast, and it takes a lot of trial and error (and patience) to adapt to it. DR already struggles with the Web, but the Web it is struggling with has already changed again. And will continue to change every couple years.”