Following his arrival as FanFinders’ new Senior Vice President of Business Development (North America), we caught up with Tony Golden to discuss filling a vacuum in the US parenting space, lessons from nearly two decades in the market and staying ahead of the curve.
What attracted you to the FanFinders’ project?
It’s a nuanced answer. I was with EverydayFamily for over a decade and we built that into the 800-pound gorilla in the parenting space, from a lead-gen standpoint. When that went away, it left a big vacuum and somebody is going to fill it. When I was shown FanFinders’ platform and technology, my reaction was “wow”. It’s exciting because we have everything to optimise and create efficiencies in this sector that no-one else can. Not only expanding the opportunities for brands to acquire data, but having a big impact on their wider marketing efforts.
Talk to me about what’s happening in the baby and parenting market?
A perfect example of what’s going on and something the pandemic is shining a light on, is stories like Toys”R”Us going out of business a few years ago and a big part of the reason was their failure to pivot to digital. The likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target obviously all have a large footprint in the digital space, but I think another thing that FanFinders will be able to do is help some of the other organizations and brands really go direct-to-consumer, take their data and use it. Whether that’s hooking it into their Shopify or building out and executing a better ecommerce and digital plan.
And the biggest hurdle for brands at the moment?
With COVID-19 and people shopping from home more, it’s going to be what can we do in the parenting space to drive business sales through digital means instead of the traditional retail setting. I think that’s really going to separate the winners and losers.
What are our strengths right now and where are the growth opportunities?
We have great people, great resources and that all sits behind an impressive technology stack, which is obviously vital in the lead-gen space. What does that lead to? I think there is an opportunity for FanFinders to become that 800-pound gorilla in the US lead-gen space, not only in the important niche parenting vertical, but in various others. And that’s exciting: to take that template and technology to these large verticals and to help them leverage it.
What drives you?
There’s this commercial from Lowe’s, where this woman is showing her friend improvements she has made in her living room and her friend asks “You did that?” and she says “I did that.” Then they move onto the new kitchen and again, it’s “I did that.” It’s a sense of not just staying ahead of the curve and innovating, but the fulfillment that comes with being part of it all. We took EverydayFamily from ‘nobody knows who the hell we are’ 9 years ago to the biggest player for lead-gen space in the parenting vertical. We did that.
Any lessons from your career so far?
Number one: you constantly have to be learning. Things change and if you’re not changing along with the market or driving innovation, you’re going to get left behind. One reason I think FanFinders is a good fit for me is that the learn cycle here seems to be very short and just like with AI, we’re using those learnings and innovating. So that means you’re ahead of the curve and that’s something I’ve tried to do my whole career.
What does life look like away from work?
Super active and family-oriented. You’ll find us mountain biking as a family or in the summertime, we’ve had a boat for years and we go surfing. I love that outdoors lifestyle and my kids are the same way.
Finally, would you say being a parent yourself adds another dimension to understanding the market?
At the time I got started in the pregnancy space, my daughter – who is now 19 – was 10 months’ old. We were right in the thick of things and just like now, back then there was a big space to fill because no-one was online in the pregnancy market. We went out and said: this is a tricky time in life, as a dad I don’t know the best strollers or anything, so here’s a gap for new technologies and content mediums. We were up to our eyeballs in that life stage, just like Alec was when creating FanFinders. It’s been great to be in the parenting market for this long, because there’s not much I haven’t seen or heard; and we’ve lived the life we preach and share with our audience.