This week on the Full Stack Leader we sit down with Alex Ramirez, the CEO of t2ó USA!
Alex Ramirez is the CEO at t2ó USA. He joined the company 13 years ago.
He is a bilingual business leader with 25+ years of work experience in both agency and advertiser roles, with expertise as a corporate executive, marketing strategy (digital media & traditional media), leadership, top-class business development, new account pitches, presentations and high-end project management both tech and media related.
He is a strong and effective leader, an active learner, self-motivated, highly analytical problem-solver, a strong negotiator, and an efficiency-oriented business professional.
Alex’s skill set is unique as he is highly competitive in the market, self-taught in various complex technology platforms, and very comfortable in the strategic, quantitative, and qualitative fronts, with previous roles in both marketing, advertising and e-commerce.
Born in Mexico, lived for many years in Madrid, Spain. And he currently lives in Houston, Texas. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Universidad Anáhuac México Norte. A Bachelor’s Degree in General Sales, Merchandising, and Related Marketing Operations from CESMA Business School. And a Master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies with CUM LAUDE Award for the best final project.
Alex’s Top Leadership Tips:
Below is a summary of the Top 5 Leadership tips shared during the interview this week. Take a listen to the episode to learn more about the thoughts behind these tips.
- Transparency and communication
- Don’t waste people’s time, be straightforward
- Empower your people
- Be present and be real
- Understand your data at all levels
We hope you enjoy the episode. You can find even more Full Stack Leader episodes here:
Ryan: hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Fullstack Leader Podcast. This week I’m here with Alex Ramirez. He is the managing director of T two O U S a. Alex, it’s great to have you here.
Alex: Great to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
Ryan: Awesome. I know that you are a top level marketing expert and you do a lot with tech and marketing tech.
Maybe you can give us a little bit of history about yourself and how you got to where you are now.
Alex: Yeah. We do a lot of tech. I started when I was stealing in Mexico. I used to work with a marketing agency basically doing a lot of backend low end stuff. Marketing at that time was still very new.
And was doing a lot of corporate marketing stuff when I was there. Then I went to Spain. and then spend about 18 years in Spain. I started working in a company that an e-com company and working a lot in affiliate marketing. That was one of the first things that I did. And I started going a little bit more on the SEO side paid search and stuff.
And then I joined T two O. I’ve been with the company for thir 13 years. I started working first as an SEO consultant. Then I opened the mobile area, which was basically when the actual mobile was a thing and everything started growing. And then I transitioned to the sales and I was tied to a lot of the sales and on the tech and mobile side of.
Until they decided just to gimme the opportunity to open the US office here in Houston. And it’s been almost six years now that I’ve been here in the us running this office and just working directly with the clients on, and anything had to do with uhto strategies and income sales marketing.
That’s basically my story.
Ryan: That’s amazing. Thank you. I know that you guys are an international company that’s come to the us and you are bringing some of the experience and the styles of Europe and Spain in particular in this case to your office here in the us. What’s that process been like trying to merge the experience in the United States with that of the Spanish background of the.
Alex: I would say it’s been challenging a lot of agencies and companies from Europe tend to see the US as a place to be. Not just because the marketing is really solid and strong here and, Clients are, tend to be larger, but also because the evolution of things has led us to, to get a lot of companies from Europe going into the US market or from Latin America as well.
And the need of agencies like Oz that have that multicultural cross border approach. I think it’s important and that’s one of the reasons that, that we decided to basically jump here. We were already working with some clients. That were from Spain managing their US and North America, US and Canada account, but they wanted to have a local presence and have that connection with what they are used to and the way they’re used to working but with an actual local US presence.
And that’s basically what we’re trying to do. Kind of close that gap and bring that knowledge that, that we have an expertise from Europe and, but try to make the best out of what we can do here in the. And
Ryan: being in Houston, I assume you work with some Spanish language oriented customers.
Do you also work in Central America at all with any of the countries there? Yeah,
Alex: we work a lot with our focus is Hispanic brands. The strong relation that we have with the Hispanic market overall, not just with Spain is strong. And our focus has always been that when we decided to open this office, that was the main goal to, to be able to make that connection.
Because we have also a pretty large team in Mexico that has been also for 13 years, basically exactly the time that I joined t2. . We’ve been able to work all with Spain and Italy companies, and also a lot of companies from Latin, from different areas Mexico, but also a lot of south American zone for American countries.
So, so that’s the big bridge that I think we’re helping connect.
Ryan: It makes sense. And I think when you think about European types of clients working within the US or Central American markets, it seems like there might be differences and US clients going to Europe as well. And experiencing that, do you find working with international markets requires some perspective of the cultures that they’re working within or can you take things one to one and move like marketing campaigns?
Alex: No it’s definitely a thing that has to have that cultural and mindset, even localization. It’s just not about the cultural language and all these barriers are ob obviously there, but I think that the mindset and the way of working and the way of collaborating with teams is also very different.
The way that we even communicate. Even in English and with Spanish people it’s just a different type of thinking and it’s a different type of kind of pitching ideas or sharing ideas and just talking with your peers to, to make things happen. And this is a fact for a client and agency relationship and also stakeholders at different levels, right?
It just changes a lot. So that’s one of the challenges that we’ve faced since we started to really underst. How the US mindset is built and even at this point, it’s still complicated to sometimes navigate with and how we connect the dots. So, so things work efficiently.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s really interesting when you say the way you collaborate or even the use of language can you give an example of what can you give an example of a challenge you may have experienced in working with a client on those levels or even working with an employee?
Because I know when you’re leading, you have those with employees too. .
Alex: Yeah. I mean, in, in the case of the US for instance the hiring process is even different, right? Like the way that you actually hire, the way that you scout people and the way that you interview it’s just different here in, in the US compared to what we tend to use in, in, in Europe and the way that you speak to people and the things that you need to ask.
To get someone it’s just different. But whenever you’re talking like, for instance, an example right now we’re working on a global pitch along with other agencies, part of the same group that we work with. And then the difference is by me going and engaging with one of the agencies, which is GK and the other one, which is fully us.
It’s just different. The way that we approach things in Europe tends to be a little bit more direct, tends to be a little bit more straightforward, I would say. And the UK and us it’s just a different way. There’s a little bit more politeness, it’s a little bit more rounds around things and that, that makes it more and more complicated sometimes to manage.
So, so these are the things that we obviously first need to understand, acknowledge, and learn, and then, Be in a position where you’re able to navigate and just work both ways. You know, like it’s not just how we work, but how the other people work. And also bring that the best of both worlds and have the best output.
Ryan: Yeah, that makes total sense when you’re working with with different team members. I know as a marketing tech guy you’re working with marketers, designers, technologists, and trying to bring people together. And, but how is the difference with how that’s done in Europe versus in the us?
So, how did they actually communicate together? Is there one methodology or two.
Alex: I think that the methodologies tend to be very very related to global methodologies. If you work on, on, on Agile or you know, there, there’s different type of methodologies that tend to go into and that set the baseline of.
What the way of working and the collaboration should be. But obviously each team in the different countries has different approaches and nuances like timings. For instance in, in Europe, things are a little bit more slow paced normally, or in this case, mainly in Spain. And whereas in, in the US.
It’s a little bit more active and more fast paced. So, so that’s something that, that you can see and if you see that insurance with a client, for instance, their IT teams. When you get a team in the US and then the team is on the opposite, sometimes the timings are just not at the same rhythm.
And that generates bottlenecks, conflicts, and sometimes frustrations. Right? So, so these type of things it’s very noticeable sometimes in along teams that are still IT or marketing, but that have a completely different way of.
Ryan: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think about even the difference between developing something like applications or more kind of formal software versus developing marketing campaigns and plans for that.
What are some of the ways in which you really have to tech world look at blending marketers, designers, and technologists together just as a marketing person?
Alex: I think the challenge is understanding what. , the importance of each of the areas is to the whole, you know, to the project. In the end of the day, we’re working for a client and all of us are aiming or should be aiming to, to get the best output and outcome for the client.
But in the end of the day, the marketers are looking to. Put the campaigns out there and bring the money and the value for the purchases. But on the other end, the IT team is just developing and building that framework for things to happen. And at the end of the day, that connection needs to get established and get teams to understand that every single piece.
Is tied and has to work together towards the same angle, which is the best outcome for the client. And that sometimes we can establish that connection and get the teams to understand that flow and the importance of each of the areas. That’s where you see that the teams work in a better way and everyone feels part of the actual project.
But if you think, if you see things in silo, like normally it’s what happens within organizations, that’s when the disconnection is generated and. Where I see that most of the projects tend to fail because there’s no actual connection of what’s going on.
Ryan: Yep. And in that connection you actually brought up a really good point, which is the target, right?
How do you share that target that you’re establishing? I’m assuming you’re establishing it with your client, and then you wanna share it across the different teammates that have to execute on it. What’s the best way for you as a leader to kind of get everybody aligned with.
Alex: I would say that the baseline is the communication flow needs to be as tight and consistent across the different teams as possible.
The problem is that whenever you have let’s say a project manager that, or an account manager that is working with a client, The communication flow is normally come from declining to that person, and then that person is trying to distribute to the different teams. But in the end of the day, each line is kind of siloed and that’s when the communication flow is just totally with a different approach, which makes sense at some point, but it needs to be a little bit more stitched so that everyone understand what’s going on.
As a whole, you know, and we as marketers tend to work directly with the clients, but not that much with the IT team on a front facing, but on a back facing we do. that’s where this connection tends to generate. So as long as we have that more cross channel slash cross de department.
Approach it, it works better, I think, to my perspective.
Ryan: And it seems like it’s growing, like the more the marketing space is able to tap into larger sets of data, the more the technology footprint is these days as well too, right?
Alex: Yeah. I think that the data and the growth of that data, all these big data now that happened at some point exploded so much that there was a need that it.
Data scientists and marketers and salespeople connect more. Those four main areas, I would say they are way separated most of the times. But the, all these data audiences and all this new tech, when it’s connecting, that’s when everyone actually comes into play and I think that you get the best
Ryan: out of that.
Yeah. And they’re also kind of an under a constant state of change. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed. You as a marketing leader really have to work with constantly changing variables, constantly changing campaign structures. How do you work with all of that? .
Alex: That’s a tricky one because change is not just about how platforms or vendors or different tech evolve, but the, but change is about also timing, training people mindsets.
Desires and there’s a lot of things that happening in, in a group. Of people, but each person has its own pacing and its own way of learning and growing and catching up with things. And that’s the most complicated part I would say. Dealing with people and not and having them see that what they do is important.
That every time tech is having a change in update. They need to keep the page not just for the client, but for the sake of their own even careers and evolution. But obviously time comes into play and we need to get things done, right? So, so sometimes catching up and playing to catch up is very complicated.
And it’s, this is not just about the company or the client itself, it’s about the people and how we can adapt to that continuous changes that we get every single day. It’s not, it is creating the amount of changes that we get in the, in all
Ryan: the marketing. Yeah. And really like it shows up when you have to test and iterate and test and iterate and make changes to campaigns like at the core of the marketing itself, but that also has to get into the teams that you’re working with so they understand it.
How do you take someone who’s never really done that kind of style of thing and get them on board and train them, and how long does that take? When as you’re really teaching them how to work with that change and work with the
Alex: iterations? Well timewise it, it depends a lot on the organization and the type of project and the type of campaigns or channels that, that you’re working on, even on the tech that you’re using to build or leverage.
But I would say that it takes a lot of com convincing by showing what is actually. The client is getting out of the work that these guys, every single person is doing as long as they can see and have that feedback coming from the actual top management, from the client or the agency, and flowing down to the teams and saying, Hey, you know, guys, this is what you just did and this is what you were able to accomplish by the word that you’ve been doing.
And every time you do an upgrade and every time you catch up with the tech you’re getting. And it’s being looked at and it’s shining, you know? And then timing wise it’s, it is about how you create a framework that. Works for the main, you need to tier your text and you’re into tier, kind of the actual platforms and tools and processes that you use so that you prioritize which ones need to be really up to date on a constant basis and which one you can kind of outpace a bit because they’re not that relevant still.
You need to get them at some point on track but obviously it’s not the same for every piece of word that.
Ryan: Do you think that the tech leaders that you’re working with or the, or just business leaders, cuz you may not be just in tech, but your clients, do you think they, they care about the kind of ongoing machinations of variations that are happening within the marketing industry?
Are they really just target focused and how do you keep them up to date on when they need to work into new opportunities or?
Alex: now they do. And the main thing that we’ve seen in the marketing environment in the past I would say five, eight years, has been evolution on in housing services.
Whereas having them with a, with an agency. These type of things always happen and we as agencies need to understand that it’s something that it’s the normal and things will happen in that way constantly. But it’s about, it’s our job to continue to be relevant and what we also know is that.
Clients don’t have the resources most of the time and the time even to be catching up and playing. Whereas agencies in invest a lot of, we obviously have more resources in that sense to be able to be up to date and catch up, you know, so, so that, that is where that balance against in-house versus working with an agency needs to continue to evolve.
Clients need to learn things that we do as. and we need to continue to be relevant so that they still see us as a need. You know, it’s part of the baseline. If that doesn’t happen, then in the other day, does the chain breaks.
Ryan: And what do you suggest a leader at one of the businesses you’d work with take into consideration as one of the most evolving marketing technology issues that are happening right now?
Alex: I think that on the tech side of things is the cookie lesson. The cookie lesson, environ. Everything that has to do with the tracking of the Crossmedia channels that is also very highly related with everything that the big tech companies are doing on security and transparency.
It, it has a really strong impact. So the quickest environment, I think is one of the main concerns. For every company, and this is a worldwide thing. This is not just about Europe or the us. This is a worldwide thing and I think that’s a really important challenge for tech teams, for marketing teams, and then on the client side as well, because the data is, Changing and the way we are able to gather, ingest, and activate data is changing.
So that’s one that I would say it’s very important. And then the other is how companies are starting to understand more and more the actual. Funnel approach that a marketing environment needs to be able to work. And this is not just about activating an upper funnel channel and then a mid funnel and a lower funnel or last click conversion channel, but also how you use tech for that and how you build assets, resources, and content that work align towards that full funnel approach.
So, so I would say those two are the main hot things are definitely happening across the board in most of the companies.
Ryan: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think sitting between those two things kind of tied to the cookie list environment, but also within, you know, being able to look at the larger campaigns is, is attribution and having companies understand how attribution plays a an ever-evolving role.
seems pretty important as. What are some of the challenges that you’re facing right now when you’re thinking about trying to expand your marketing business, your marketing agency business in the us? Do you have a lot of competition? Do you find that it’s changing or evolving perspective on the types of campaigns that you have to run?
What are some of the biggest challenges?
Alex: I think that, I mean, there, there’s always opportunity in the US as being one of the largest markets, not just in terms of people or in terms of investment and number of companies that you have here. And even small multi-tier companies. Small businesses are way larger that some meat or large companies in Europe.
So, so the dimensions are, Completely different on our space, which is focusing on Hispanic brands the opportunities. A lot of the companies from Europe or Latin wanting to go into the US and that most of them don’t have an actual framework or toolkit build to be able to do so. So that’s opportunity that we see.
And on the opposite the challenges competing against agencies are more traditionally understood as the main big players in the environment, in the us. Where we are basically competing, but we’re still young. If you, we go in Spain, we’re basically head to head to amongst the top agencies there.
But in the US we’re still in the process of growing. Right. So, so that’s a, that’s obviously a challenge that we need to overcome.
Ryan: Yeah. And I think about also trying to get your clients to understand the US market and they need to put in budget or bid or kind of when they need to scale up or down velocity.
Do you find that’s hard to translate to them if they’re coming from a different country versus in the
Alex: US Yeah, I mean, dimensions for European. Latin countries are, mindset wise, the US is a really interesting market. But when you translate that into actual budgeting and allocation it’s very challenging for people sometimes to understand that the US is a composition of 50 countries in a sense.
The markets are big and the volume of people that eat here and the location of budget to be able to serve that consumer or demand it’s just completely different. Whereas in other countries it’s, we’re way more tight. So that, that is challenging, but also understanding how to really allocate and make the most out of the buck, right?
Like, where do I put my money and where do I have more chances of being relevant and be able to get the better outcome that I can
Ryan: get. Great. And one more question for you. We’re heading into 2023, so we’re at the end of 22 and getting ready for this next year. What do you think are gonna be some of the big things we’re looking at on the marketing side of things for leaders in, in 2023?
Alex: Well, I would say the first thing that’s gonna happen is that the first quarter of the year, it’s gonna be a little bit constrained. I would say most companies are still gonna wait to see what’s the effect on what is happening in this last quarter of the year. The Fed research has basically got rates up yesterday lower than expectation, which is a good signal, but still it’s very, we still need to wait to see what’s going on, and I think that the companies, and even us as agencies are, are in the same boat.
You know, we’re, we wanna see what’s going on with the first quarter. We’re gonna go try to see if things are. Evolving as we expect. And then in q2, q3, I think that things are gonna start getting shaping up better and then getting more investment and that basically impacts a lot of budgets and the allocation of the media dollars.
Ryan: All right. Well thanks for that great breakdown. We really appreciate your insights. There’s a lot happening in the marketing tech world and you’re really at the forefront of it. So we appreciate you taking some time with us.
Ryan: As technology changes and evolves, adaptation and innovation become even more necessary, remaining relevant in our practices and knowledge is a welcome challenge within any great team.
And Alex brings up an interesting point about building upon the baseline of your methods with a team that understands the nuances of each new approach. This all stems from the internal communication within a leader’s team and the external communication with their customer.
Welcome back everybody again. We’re here with Alex Ramirez from T two O U S A. We’re excited to have you here, Alex, and we’re gonna jump into your top five tips. So why don’t we start with number one. What’s your first tip for
Tip One (Transparency And Communication)
Alex: Um, I think that transparency and communication within an organization is the baseline. I started working in the marketing from the bottom. I’ve been in all different type of roles and one of the first things that I always really admired about the top management in, in, in T2 has been that there has been a lot of communication.
Since I started working there, and I tried to continue that with the local teams here. And that is being transparent on what’s going on with the company, where we heading, if we’re in a good or bad track, but very deep. And that communication engages. People to really be part of the project, right?
It’s not just about, Hey, you’re the guy that activates campaign. You’re the guy that builds the websites or review the guy that goes and sell. It’s about this is what you’re building. You’re helping shape up brands and grow brands and it’s exciting to be part of that. I think that, that’s my first tip, like be transparent, have communication and bring everyone together.
Ryan: How much are you using data for that transparency?
Alex: I would say that it’s not much about the data, but it’s much more about personal connections. COVID had a big impact in the way that we’re interacting right now and we are fully understandable of that remoteness environment that is, it’s out there now, but we just can’t.
Lose that communication processes with people just because we see them in meetings and calls with the clients. We need to continue to establish and have that type of communication. So everything is just gonna be very natural if that happens.
Ryan: All right. Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. What do you got for tip number two for us?
Tip Two (Don’t Waste Peoples Time. Be Straight Forward)
Alex: Well I think I mentioned this before, but one of the things that I’ve noticed a lot by being here in the US and also being Mexican born and then being Europe, is that every country has a lot of turns around things and a lot of politeness and the way of talking is less straightforward as I would envision things to, to be.
So, so I think that as a tip is. Don’t lose time and don’t waste people’s time just going around in circles and things that can be really nailed down in, in an easy call or in a more straightforward way. I’ve learned the hard way and I think that’s very important for projects because right now it’s all about efficiencies and everyone is trying to get the most out of what they have.
So time is money, you know?
Ryan: Yeah. That’s very true sentiment. All right. How about tip number?
Tip Three (Empower People)
Alex: Empower people to build trust. would say when you let people work in the projects and you empower them to do things you’re basically building trust both ways. You’re building trust on the teams and the personal level, and then you’re also building trust for.
For the client and for whoever is on the other side of the stakeholders. You know, they don’t just wanna see a sales guy come in and then disappear, and then the top management was there to sign an agreement and then just leave. And then you just get the guys that are doing all the hard work and the backend and there’s that, you know, there has to be that empowerment, but there has to be the front facing on all the people that’s involved and that generates trust for everyone?
I think so. So that’s a team definitely empower. For trust building. , do
Ryan: you like to empower them through managing the clients directly or do you like to empower them through taking on ownership of the delivery of projects? How, what’s the kind of number one way you do that?
Alex: I think it’s both ways.
Clients tend to like kind of a single endpoint on communication, but I think that approach generates a lot of bottlenecks. And I, and my head tells me, let the people who is doing the things, communicate with the client. As long as it’s done in a, in an organized and proper way, there should, that shouldn’t be an issue.
And yeah, I think it’s, in the end of the day, much more efficient than, and having one single account manager be the one that, it’s basically funneling everything, but that person can know every single thing that’s happening and then most likely won’t even know it that deep as whoever is doing it.
You know? So, so that’s one of the things that I tried to,
Ryan: to. Yep. Makes sense. Okay. How about tip number four? What do you got?
Tip Four (Be Present And Be Real)
Alex: It’s a little bit tied to the previous, but it’s be present and, and, and be real. I think it’s it’s part of what T two O is we, our client average turnover is really high. We’re roughly about. Seven to 10 years that the clients tends to stay with us. And that is because we love being there for the projects in all the evolution of the process.
And that is basically being present being real established connections with the clients at the personal level and be able to really be part of the team. I think that’s the main goal that we always try to accomplish that they, the client see us as an extens.
of their team and not just another vendor, you know, because that’s where you really get that connection and that opportunity of growth. So, so as long as you’re present and they see you as an actual real partner, everything just works
Ryan: out. Yeah. And in the marketing environment where things are changing so fast as well I think it’s important that that responsiveness is there too, which is part of it, it seems like as well.
Yeah. All right, great. Thanks. And finally, tip number five.
Tip Five (Understand Your Data At All Levels)
Alex: So the previous four were a little bit more on the personal side and this is more on the operational side, which is understand your data at all levels the best that you can. Most of the clients that we work. A lot of issues. And we’re talking about big companies, big corporate, on really understanding their data, their fa, their funnels what they’re doing, the platforms that they use and all these connections that, that we’re talking about in these few minutes before is you’re investing money, you’re investing resources, you’re investing time.
But sometimes we don’t stop to think that we also need to invest the time to understand what we’re doing, and that is A common thing that I see across companies because everything is so fast paced and everyone has to get the goals and the objectives met and everything is that we just don’t stop and say, we really understand what we’re doing.
Are our processes really yielding the way that they should be? And these are things that I think that we need to stop and think. We most of companies, because the pandemic. But that was a reactive approach. You know, it’s, it was something that, that was pushed because of what’s go, what’s going on.
But it has to be an ongoing thing. And that is the best way to really leverage resources and data for the company. And sometimes we just need to stop and think and then just move forward.
Ryan: Yeah. And sometimes it’s hard to understand how to do that. You actually have to take the time to strategize and plan out the usage of it.
Otherwise you can also go down the wrong roads with it as well. All right. Well thank you. That was a great top five list. It was awesome to talk to you about marketing and marketing tech today. Again, your insights are super valuable and we appreciate you taking the time with. Thank you,
Alex: Ryan, as always in I enjoyed as well.
Ryan: All right. Thanks so much.
As mentioned before, communication is at the core of Alex’s leadership strategy. Approaching each conversation with a straightforward attitude and the transparency needed to make an impact is of primary importance to. He talks about the cultural differences of being Mexican born, working throughout Europe, and how that affected his transition to being a leader in the us.
I really appreciated his insight on how other parts of the world have different communication styles, and of course, how to be culturally mindful when using them. Alex leads with a data-driven mindset. Understanding how to use every piece of data collected within an organization helps. Change in success for any team.