The Chamber of Commerce is sitting down with each of the winners from the recent Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, supported by Foster Construction Group, to find out what they did to stand out from the crowd. This week's Winners’ Insight is with Shift72’s head of growth marketing Damian Bartolomucci and digital marketing manager Nathan Bregmen. Shift72 won the Marketing Award.

The Shift72 team is no stranger to meeting with Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards judges, having won the Business Growth and Strategy Award in 2021.

But a miscommunication about what time they were meeting with the judges this time, as part of their entry in the marketing category, meant they were on the back foot initially.

“The judges arrived two hours earlier than initially communicated. So, when I walked in and there were people here I figured they were here to meet someone else,” Damian said.

So the judges – former Novotel GM Dick Breukink and Tompkins Wake partner Scott Ratuki – hung out in the waiting area until they texted Damian to see if they were ready to see them yet.

So while that threw them off a little, Damian and Nathan were exceptionally confident about the strength of their marketing operation. And the judges validated that. In fact, they went so far as to say “we were very impressed with the submission, but even more with the site visit and the explanation of the way marketing is [supporting] this company.”

“The marketing team are experts in campaign management; constantly measuring success, and adapting to the changing market situations. Their presentation of the strategies and measuring tools was of the highest quality and could not falter in any way or form. While the product was previously targeted at a very niche market, the approach to the market is very thought through and constantly measured against feedback.”

So just what is Shift72’s product offering?

Essentially, it’s an on-demand video entertainment platform with the ambitious aim of transitioning into an entertainment (or infotainment) platform servicing multiple industries. The homegrown Hamilton-based company offers a custom branded (white labeled) Netflix-like experience to businesses who want to connect their content to their audience with a secure and flexible e-commerce solution.

Shift72 was established in 2010. Then, in 2020, Covid was a catalyst for rapid growth when they captured 40 per cent of the largest film festivals globally as clients, including Cannes Film Festival (Marché du Film - Festival de Cannes), the Toronto International Film Festival and South by Southwest. It’s also seen them expand into other industries with customers in corporate events and galleries, such as the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, and AUSAE’s LINC conference in New Zealand.

Since early 2021, the team’s operations have been bolstered to include a Head of Growth Marketing, a dedicated Digital Marketing Manager, a graphic designer, a content writer and a partnership with Stephen Bowden at the University of Waikato’s Management school which has produced a steady stream of [arguably] some of the nation’s top interns. The team set about putting processes in place, including a CRM to track everything they did. And they put a plan in place to expand their content, and leadership offering that focused on enabling film festivals to succeed in their own markets.

In 2020 and 2021, people were literally knocking down their door to ask for their help. But as the world has adjusted to living with Covid, the Shift72 team has seen a move back to in-person events and wanted to understand how they could help clients continue to offer hybrid events that would connect with busy or inaccessible audiences while generating content that would offer long-lasting value.

So, they interviewed multiple festival directors around the world to understand their pain points. And what they came to realise is that most film festivals are extremely practical and intelligent on the artistic side, but they had a real gap around marketing.

That saw Shift72 write a 40 page ebook about how to market a film festival, which – written by lead author, Rachel Akbar – takes business school learnings and combines them with Shift72 tactics and CRM insights to build real-world marketing opportunities that bring virtual festivals to life. The feedback has been outstanding, and the ebook is helping film festivals adapt to marketing digitally to an expanded audience.

Nathan then oversaw a piece of work to create highly targeted ad campaigns, while tracking and connecting every piece of their marketing, from lead generation to social media to sales funnels.

The team developed a monthly newsletter that demonstrated “thought leadership” – a phrase that, by Damian’s own admission, he isn’t a fan of. But it’s not describing Shift72’s thought leadership, it is a collection of industry client learning – derived from the people putting these strategies into practice – that is being presented by Shift72 for everyone to benefit from.

“In those newsletters we’re showcasing our clients who are thought leaders. All those interviews we did with festival directors leant themselves to case studies, which leant themselves to blogs. Essentially we’re creating confidence in our partners by establishing them as subject matter experts. We put them on a platform and many continue to champion our brand from there because of our technology, our service and the pedestals that we place our clients on. That’s a strategy we’ll be continuing in 2023.”

As much as entertainment is Shift72’s bread and butter, it’s the corporate market where they’re focusing.

“The greatest benefit to audiences is connection, regardless of location or health conditions that may prevent you from sharing in the entertainment or information experience,” Damian said.

“Following Covid, people prefer a hybrid environment whether that relates to their workplace or entertainment.” In a workplace situation for example, Shift72 sees the opportunity to connect people with remote workers to training on secure virtual platforms, where every interaction can be measured, and data acts as a guide to content strategy based on what is working, what isn’t, and how long individuals engage before dropping off.

Nathan explains that their product development is fuelled by interviews and product roadmap reviews that inform Shift72 where clients’ pain points are. While the product team works to remove technical pain points and create new revenue opportunities for clients through the platform, Shift72's marketing team is actively working with clients to learn and share strategies and insights that make their clients a success, how digital data can be used to improve their business operations, and how a virtual event or training options can create new audiences that were previously unengaged or inaccessible.

“It’s a modern marketing approach that focuses not so much about how we can get something from you, but rather how we can help build relationships and community.”

If their track record-winning multiple international clients are anything to go by, it’s highly likely we’ll continue to see this high performing team continue to go from strength to strength.

“The team dynamic is really important to us and we’re looking forward to 2023, where we will continue to grow the commercial side of the business,” Damian said.

“We will continue to innovate but now we have superior products in the market; there’s no question where we rank and we can flex the platform to cater for anything anyone wants.”


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