The Background I Didn’t Know I Needed: The Unlikely Trajectory of a Marketer
In our fast-paced world with new tools and technologies springing up faster than the MarTech 5000 can update its infographic, we’re all writing our own career stories and blazing our own trails more than ever. I’m a marketer who is currently a product owner—as in, I spend my days working with engineers and designers to execute on our product strategy and make our MarTech offering the best it can be.
When I explain this role, people often are confused by my marketing background and ask if I know how to code or have an engineering degree. Essentially, they don’t understand 1) what a product owner is and 2) why I would want to be one.
I say I’m a marketer because—though I’m currently responsible for the more backend of product making than messaging—my focus is still on the audience that receives the product. I enjoy geeking out about persona development, social strategies, and customer events. My trajectory up until this point has been far from traditional, but what’s normal, right? I started out working in the travel and tourism industry, held multiple marketing roles at a marketing automation company, and prior to starting in product, was a customer success manager here at Kapost.
Along the way, I’ve held tight to the 4 P’s, segmentation, buying stages, personas, distribution strategies, and all the marketing essentials.
Why, you might ask? Because effective marketing isn’t confined to one siloed department. Your career path may (or rather, probably does) look different than mine, but each role I’ve held has not only been informed by my marketing background, but also helped me better understand the role of marketing.
One of Kapost’s values (and my personal favorite) is, “We are stronger when we row together.”
The shortest answer I can give to “Why product?” is that learning and deeply understanding the successes and challenges of other departments not only makes you more empathetic as an individual but also better able to address company-wide challenges—and perpetuate company-wide successes.
Before I entered the world of customer success at Kapost, I spent five years in various marketing roles. Keep in mind, Kapost customers are largely marketers. I immediately could empathize with the customers I was building relationships with. Helping translate their marketing strategies into Kapost was that much easier because I had grappled with many of the same issues and pains they were experiencing.
Spending three and a half years in customer success, I grew to not only learn all about our customers’ triumphs and challenges but also grew to know Kapost as a platform quite well. Learning how our customers used Kapost, gaining customer empathy, and obtaining a pulse on customer sentiment spurred me to pursue a move to product.
I wanted to better understand how our product was developed and how features got released, as well as how our product strategy was developed and an MVP (minimum viable product) was defined.
Breaking Down Silos to Be a Better Marketer
Think about when you’re sitting down, about to create a piece of content. Do you have a distribution strategy? Who is your target audience for this particular piece? Are the distribution strategy and persona strategy aligned?
Do you know what your customers (and/or prospective customers) truly care about?
Breaking down the silos within your organization and asking these questions around the company could be the key to cracking those questions and getting more strategic about how to personalize content.
Everyone is talking about sales and marketing alignment, but the more aligned you are across customer success, support, product, engineering, sales, and marketing—just think about what a cohesive machine you could become!
If you truly understand your customer, it shows in your content. Inversely, lack of awareness of your customer’s pain points are obvious and a huge hit on user experience.
What better way to learn how to speak to your customers than to engage with your customer success and support teams? They are the ones on the front lines, speaking with your company’s customers each and every day, and hearing all the great (and not so great) things they have to say.
Cohesion in Your Organization and Customer Journeys
Speaking to your customers’ (and prospective customers’) needs and pain points—while showing them that what you have to offer will fulfill that for them—is what makes good marketing. The customer journey spans so many teams that shared vision and execution between those teams is necessary for excellent customer experience.
Similarly, the best way to create the right content for the right customer at the right time is to develop a product that speaks to those needs as well as the needs that the customer and prospective customer may not have even realized they have yet.
Ultimately, the motivation that led me to my current position was empathy: first feeling the pains as a marketer, then wanting to help others with those pains in customer success, and now wanting to know more about the solutions to truly eradicate the pain points I myself have known.
I’m not saying you have to emulate this track exactly—but look for learnings that come from digging into other departments.
Or, do you have anyone in your company who has worked in multiple different departments or who came from working in a different role at another company? Tap into the insights these people may have.
At the leadership level, many companies often have leadership team meetings. Consider scheduling a monthly “lunch and learn” for cross-department learning. Set up one-on-ones with coworkers from other departments and get to know what they face within their roles on a daily basis.
The more you can promote understanding across the company, the more it will impact the customer experience and establish your business as a consistent thought leader and value provider.
Marketing roles aren’t one size fits all—learn more about how your role might fit within the diverse content operations team, led by marketers.