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How do you get started as a newbie? How do you communicate value as a marketer at an early stage start-up?

Edit: I've started my own company and been in start-ups for a little while (3 years), but most of them typically see value in marketing, especially young hires, around the 40-50th employee. How does one get discovered early in one's career to drive marketing strategy at an early stage start-up? Is it a personal brand/perception problem? (e.g. should one position him/herself in a particular light)

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 6 years ago #

    Thanks for moving the question to GrowthHackers.com from Twitter Dean - no way I could answer this in 140 characters. I think the best way to discuss starting a marketing career with a startup is for several of us to share our stories.

    First I'll start with the TL;DR version of my answer. Get your foot in the door and focus on what you are supposed to "achieve" for the startup, rather than what you are supposed to "do"... Measure every activity against that desired outcome.

    Now, for the longer answer, I'll break into two parts: 1) how most newbie marketers mess up their first marketing role (with a specific example from my own experience) and 2) how I figured out an effective approach to marketing.

    The mistake that most newbie marketers make is that they focus on what a marketer is supposed to "do." They may pick up a marketing book or search Google trying to come up with a list of things that a marketer should do. This is the mistake that I made with my first marketing role and I've often found myself drifting back to this mistake due to insecurities (more on this later). My first marketing role was an "internship" right after I graduated from college with a small local company. I was paid hourly and did a whole bunch of marketing stuff that I got out of a book. I didn't really move the needle for the business and not surprisingly they asked me to move on.

    My next role turned out to be the perfect training ground for marketing. I took a commission only sales job. In sales you are only as good as your most recent month of sales. It took me a while to get my first sale, but eventually I started to figure it out. Within a year I was the top grossing sales person on our relatively small team. The important thing about this sales experience is that it taught me to focus on an outcome - driving the sale. I read a ton of books on sales, but focused primarily on ways to make me better at selling more. One lesson that carried over to marketing was the power of a funnel: 100 calls led to 10 meetings that led to 1 sale. I could improve my conversions a bit, but getting lots of people into the top of the funnel was very important.

    While in the sales role, an acquaintance decided to start an internet company (smart dude, this was 1995). I believed in him and his idea, so invested all of my extra commission earnings into his company. A few months later I decided I wanted to join his team full time. Unfortunately my then current employer was a big investor in his company and blocked him from hiring me. I worked to get an outside offer and then begged for my employer and the internet company to give me a chance. I said I'd clean floors if needed. They decided to give me a chance.

    The role they put me in was selling advertising for an online game site. Unfortunately the site had just launched so only had a few hundred users. No advertiser was interested. I told the founder that we'd need to be more proactive about getting lots of users if we wanted to attract advertising dollars. I was given a temporary role to drive some traffic.

    Given that I had invested all of my money into the company, I was very motivated to figure out how to cost effectively acquire some people to play the games. I had no formal marketing training, but the clear objective of getting people to play the game served me well. I tested, measured and optimized just like I had done in sales. I didn't want to waste any money, so optimized every dollar to maximize the number of banner impressions we generated on our website. Within a year I was promoted to VP Marketing and started building a team around me.

    I figured I better get some formal marketing training, so I took a strategic marketing management course at NYU extension. This course actually caused me to over think marketing, and our growth started to slow down. Eventually I got back to the basics (drive my KPI) and we resumed growth. My team and I came up with many creative ways to acquire more users to play our games including the first virally distributed widget in 1997.

    The company eventually listed on NASDAQ, was the worldwide leader in online games and sold to Vivendi Universal in 2001. Interesting side note, my original employer's investment became more valuable than their core business.

    I've had several marketing roles helping build successful companies since then and almost always get feedback from other Executive team members about all the things we should be "doing." This feedback can be useful for generating ideas, but it can also cause you to start to defensively implement marketing programs so you look competent to your teammates. This is the slippery slope I mentioned earlier, where you focus on "doing" over the "result" you should be driving.

    Marketing never gets any easier, but personally I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Even as CEO, most of my time is spent helping the marketing team. Hope this helps...

    • DY

      Dean Young

      about 6 years ago #

      Extremely insightful advice. Thank you.

      I've witnessed, and been caught up in, the "doing vs. result" principle, for lack of a better description. It's hard on morale, too, to be caught on the "doing" side of the spectrum.

      Re: focusing on KPIs and other business metrics -
      You're absolutely right that metrics are important, but also the RIGHT metrics for the business. I think that is a good angle to approach a start-up. Even if they are measuring results, you can always challenge them on whether they are the right metrics, then show them why you're vision is better.

      Back to the question though... and correct me if I am wrong, it seems like getting in early at a start-up as a marketer requires a great deal of persistence, hard-work, vision, and creating opportunities to meet great people.

      There is another phenomenon here, which your "doing vs. result" principle made me remember. It's very easy to get caught up in "doing" (implementing strategy) rather than balancing it with "strategy" (vision, etc.). At a start-up, there is always something to "do", so it's easy to get into the reeds and forget to pop your head up every once in a while and find out whether you're headed toward your goals, or even the RIGHT goals! I imagine the earlier you are as a marketer, the more difficult it becomes to balance the two, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 6 years ago #

        I agree that getting out and meeting lots of founders is a great place to start. Talk to them about how they are approaching growth. Don't tell them about yourself (opposite of what I did in my answer :) ) Be truly fascinated about their customer acquisition challenges.

        See if you can schedule a 1/2 hour coffee. If you meet for coffee, try to add value in the conversation. Spend at least the first 20 minutes just asking questions about their customer needs, sources of growth, etc. If you can add value, they will want to talk again. If you are excited about them and the opportunity try to parlay it into some short-term contracting help, but tell them your goal is a full-time role if the fit seems right.

        Make yourself indispensable. Get them to run the survey on Survey.io to find out if they are ready to scale their growth (read more about Survey.io at http://www.startup-marketing.com/the-startup-pyramid/ ).

    • TD

      Tiffany Dasilva

      about 6 years ago #

      "This is the mistake that I made with my first marketing role and I’ve often found myself drifting back to this mistake due to insecurities.."

      I cannot tell you how many times this happens to me. Even when I took on the CRO role recently, I had to go back and read every book on the subject to try to figure out where I stood. It wasn't until I started to talk to other people who did it too did I realize that I wasn't as inexperienced as I thought.

      I later realized I had to take a step back and tackle this the way i had tacked other specialities in the past: by asking questions, by creating a process that I could follow for now and definitely by just getting in there and doing it.

      It's nice to hear someone else admit to this too.

      • DH

        Danny Halarewich

        about 6 years ago #

        I understand your comments 100%. So many times I have defaulted to reading 1 more article. Going through 1 more Slideshare. Hunting for another book to devour. But where does it end? In most cases, it's better to just dive in and put yourself out there, and learn from THAT.

        Obviously, some education is needed, but my tendency is to take it to the extreme, and I fight against this each and every day.

        It's definitely a insecurity thing. Perhaps it's rooted in the fact that there are so many startup success stories and brilliant thinkers blogging on these topics that it's easy to feel inferior.

  • ND

    Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

    about 6 years ago #

    I'm still in the stages of transforming my career into "startup marketing" and / or growth hacking.

    I've been a full-stack marketer with an SEO background for a long time, but felt that growth hacking was where I really wanted to focus my efforts. I've always possessed a growth hacking mindset but didn't know that there was a field dedicated to it.

    I began my transformation about nine months ago by reading as much material (articles and books) as time would permit, and sinking an embarrassing amount of time into networking on Twitter and in communities like this one.

    I started an internship at Growth Hacker TV (seven months ago) and an internship here at GrowthHackers.com (four months ago).

    I own an inbound marketing agency and we partnered with HubSpot, so I picked up an inbound marketing certification.

    I met Rachel Ergo through this site and have been working with and learning from her for the last few months. When she joined my team, she'd already helped grow over 50 startups.

    I joined Clarity.fm and I've taken one call from it and am taking two more calls from it this week. Clarity could lead to potential long-term clients.

    I'm now receiving leads on probably a weekly basis for growth hacking. So far they've mostly been qualified leads.

    So from where I'm standing, it's taken almost nearly a year of immersing myself in the field and getting to know everyone, and things seem to be moving along well.

    • DY

      Dean Young

      about 6 years ago #

      I've actually never heard the term "full-stack marketer" before. You learn something new everyday!

      • ND

        Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

        about 6 years ago #
        • TD

          Tiffany Dasilva

          about 6 years ago #

          One question Nichole, How would you compare full stack marketing to a T-Marketer? I've only recently heard the two terms: https://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/building-a-t-shaped-skill-set/
          It was nice to hear that I had something I could call myself especially when my experience looks so scattered..

          • ND

            Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

            about 6 years ago #

            You know, it just seems like semantics - they seem to be the same thing? In the second GH podcast (https://soundcloud.com/growthhackers/this-week-in-growthhackers) there was a lot of discussion around full-stack marketing and Sean and Morgan pointed out that it isn't necessarily a "curse" if you have at least one strong skill set. I think as full-stack (or even t-shaped) marketers, we're able to really see the bigger picture and are able to easily determine not only when another specialist is necessary but who that specialist should be and how well they'd fit into that complementary role. I've also felt like my experience is scattered but it seems "growth hacking" is a nice way to tie it all in together.

            • VN

              Violeta Nedkova

              about 6 years ago #

              I feel exactly like that. I've always been scattered in my interests, but I believe that this is a quality of a person who tends to see the "big picture" rather than get buried in the details (though those matter, too). This is exactly why I like growth hacking, it does seem to encompass a lot of things. :)

              • TD

                Tiffany Dasilva

                about 6 years ago #

                Yeah I agree - For me I always wanted to take a year or so and dig into a speciality. SEO was always my foundation, SEM i did intensely for 2 years across a hundred sites, and then Social Media/Blog Writing for celebrity sites I did for a almost 2 years. Then I looked for a role where I could do everything at once (online marketing) to see how I would manage my time, but once again I shifted focus and started going down the CRO trail because I wanted to really understand it as much as possible again. I think if you just take your time and really dive into the areas you like you'll gain so much experience and all your other skills will only benefit from it.

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    about 6 years ago #

    Welcome to GrowthHackers Dean!

    One thing for sure, I commend you being on a website like this because I think it takes an open-mind and a hunger for knowledge to thrive in a startup when it comes to marketing.

    I've personally found that attention to detail and paying attention to analytics closely is valued. Keeping track of what's going on (what's working and what's not) is valuable because every little thing is magnified when you're working with limited money and sometimes limited resources. The big thing though is to not only to keep track of things but to have the natural curiosity to figure out why things aren't working and if something is working, how do we improve that lever.

    Be a sponge, try to pick up every little skill and piece of knowledge that you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions but also show that you have the type of mentality to be able to figure things out on your own. Be able to work independently and find things to keep you busy.

    Be willing to go above and beyond, that means coming in early and staying late at times - that means getting stuff done on weekends. Show your passion and willingness to sacrifice for the company and its vision.

    Lastly, have fun and embrace the team culture. Making a startup successful is a complete team effort. Always be willing to lend a helping hand and learn about other aspects of the business. I could go on and on, hope this helps.

    • DY

      Dean Young

      about 6 years ago #

      Thanks, Everette! I've been getting the newsletter for a while, but glad to be participating on the site now. I love these kinds of sites, so am always looking for new ways to engage with communities online.

      I think you make a great point about paying attention to analytics, and Sean also made a similar point, so it's good to get some reaffirmation.

      I'd love to hear more about how to get one's foot in the door at early stage start-ups (e.g. 10 or fewer employees), particularly as a marketer since they aren't always highly valued. I've been actively involved in start-ups, but I may not be approaching earlier stage ones appropriately. Maybe it's a branding or positioning problem. For instance, maybe they aren't looking for "marketers", but rather "growth hackers", "analysts", etc.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 6 years ago #

        Everette was still in college last Spring. He moved from Virginia Tech to California to join Qualaroo's marketing team for his first job after college. Everette stood out compared to over 100 California-based candidates. He can give some great advice about getting a foot in the door.

      • ET

        Everette Taylor

        about 6 years ago #

        Well in the case of Qualaroo, I was actually fortunate that they actually had an opening as a marketer and secondly that the person who was doing the hiring (Sean) was so accessible thanks to social media. One bit of advice I can give to get your foot in the door is to make your presence known any way possible and go above and beyond. Do whatever you can to stand out (without being annoying).

        For instance, one of the first things I did after applying for the position with Qualaroo was to follow the company on Twitter as well as Sean. I sent Sean a funny video related to the hiring process, he not only favorited/retweeted it but also followed me on Twitter which started a personal bond that most applicants probably didn't have.

        The second piece of advice is show that you're hungry and that you're passionate. Startups don't want someone "who's just looking for a job" as Sean would say, but someone who truly cares about the company, its vision, and most importantly growth.

        Startups are focused on results, spend less time speaking on traditional marketing and more about the actions you would want to take and the results that you want to achieve. Silicon Valley/Startups don't dislike marketers per se, they just don't want someone who's going to waste their time and not get results.

        Lastly, be honest. Don't claim to have a skill set or ability that you don't have. Just make a point to let them know that you're hungry and ready to learn.

        • DY

          Dean Young

          about 6 years ago #

          Awesome! I think a lot of your advice reaffirms and solidifies thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

  • OS

    Osman Sheikh

    about 6 years ago #

    Here's how I got started:

    During the summer between my junior and senior years of high school (summer 2013), I was trying to decide between working on my own project or working at a startup.

    Even though I am a web developer, I wanted to do marketing. I had been doing basic online marketing (SEO, PPC, social media etc.) for a few of my own projects, and I really enjoyed it.

    I found a job posting for web development interns at a local startup. All of the positions had been filled, but I decided to send an email to the founder anyway.

    After typical programming interview filled with logic puzzles and programming tests like fizz buzz, I had my first job. I came to the interview with a marketing plan I created for the startup, and told the founder that I was more interested in marketing than web dev, but I was willing to do either.

    Eventually, marketing became my sole focus, although I still code a bit.

    As far as getting a job as a startup marketer, the only thing I have to add to Sean's great answer is that you have to hustle. You have to actively create and seek out opportunities.

    One thing I did a few months back to build my portfolio was offer to write a free blog posts for startups and give free content marketing advice. That led to a contract marketing/growth position at another early stage startup.

    My friend Smit recently released a book on getting a job at a startup. It might be helpful - http://www.learntohustle.com/

  • TD

    Tiffany Dasilva

    about 6 years ago #

    Hey Dean, thought i'd add in my story here and my work with small companies/startups as well. Hopefully it can help you...

    I started SEO when I was nine. It was 20 years ago so at the time the internet was kind of empty if you could believe it. I found the most fun things I could do is creating a website and finding ways for me to rank for funny sayings or my name. (ie: Look up cool girl - you'll find my name). Over time I got a bit bored and decided to start an affiliate site selling shaving products. At the time there was nothing around, and the site really took off.. (of course in my naiveness I didn't realize that the name shavedstar was probably a bit misleading..). Either way I was getting a few hundred bucks a month instantly on the site and I was so confused I had to know why.

    First lesson: Be Curious.

    I ended up looking at who the hell was buying these shaving products and I found out that even though it was a pretty girly pink site, all of my buyers were male. The link was apparently shared within a triathlon community and swimming group so they used my site to buy shaving products they felt too embarrassed to buy at the store. I didn't find this out thought until I asked them. ALL of them. There was no scalable option here so I emailed every single one, thanked them for the order and asked them why they would go to my site. They gave me the answers and also asked me to change some things (the pink color perhaps) to make their buying more comfortable.

    At the end of the summer I closed up shop because I had to go back to school and didn't think of it again. I went to highschool, university and didn't even know SEO was a thing until my first job after school. Once I did find out though I started consulting immediately so that while working fulltime I can always have a foot in the door, so to speak, of a startup/small business owner. I also started a ecofriendly wedding planning business as well and focused most on my attention on the marketing side of things and again it took off really quickly (we were going toronto film festival parties after a year.)

    So this brings me to lesson #2: Don't do marketing like you see in books.

    Use books as your guide but like Sean said a lot of it has to do with just thinking of the problem you have to solve, and going out to solve it. Books are overwhelming, and I can assure you that the times I go back to trying to get a book to solve my problems are usually when I'm feeling insecure about what I know. Don't let books guide you, let your company guide you.

    Lesson 3: Don't be afraid to try things, and fail.
    I was working with a client recently who was petrified of adwords. They thought of it as a slot machine - throw in your money and it's gone. I asked them why did they think it failed? They weren't sure. When we looked at the ad they placed, they had sent it to a homepage with no landing page, no call to action. So we tried again, and made sure that we had everything they needed to succeed, failed a little but eventually made it into a viable source.

    Lesson 4: Do things that don't scale
    When I started at Shopify our VP sent me an article about this (http://paulgraham.com/ds.html) When I looked back to all my successes I realized it was because I had always stopped and tried to do something hands on first (like writing to every single customer) in order to get the answers I needed. Hugely important when you want to grow marketing. You have to know what works, and to know what works means you can't automate the process...yet.

    I hope this helps! This is a great post by the way!

    • NT

      Neeraj Thakur

      about 6 years ago #

      I lost you at "I started SEO when I was nine..."! You've come a long way Tiffany. :)

    • ND

      Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

      about 6 years ago #

      Tiffany, your story sounds so similar to mine! Wow. I also started SEO at a very early age and didn't know it was a "thing" until I was actually in my early 20's. Because I was so young, I was receiving a lot of media attention from it - featured on international television shows, in print publications (back when that was actually a big deal) - especially throughout middle school and high school. I used affiliate marketing to support myself through college. For a long time I was in web design and development though I was always trying to figure out creative ways to market client web sites. I knew web design / dev wasn't really my field and I was so excited when I figured out that SEO was a field. Really really cool to see that someone else on GH has ventured on a similar path! :) And now we're here!

      • TD

        Tiffany Dasilva

        about 6 years ago #

        Ahh i know I couldn't help but compare my story to yours when I read it. The difference on my end was I was so embarrassed when I was a kid because I didn't know a single other person who did it as well. I was 22 when I realized it as well. It's amazing that you were able to get press for it and you actually stuck with it. I lost a lot of time not reaching out to others, and gaining knowledge through other people's experiences. thanks for sharing!

        • ND

          Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

          about 6 years ago #

          I feel like I lost a lot of time with it, too. I was :really: focused on my Psych degrees in college and was distracted from it but I'm figuring out now that Psych plays a major role in everything, so I'm glad I went that route. Seems like you're in a fantastic place now with Shopify, too. :)

  • DY

    Dean Young

    about 6 years ago #

    I love all of the enthusiasm around this question!

    For me personally, the biggest realization so far, to boil all of the answers down, is that going after a job at an early start-up is very much like starting a friendship. You have to put a lot of work into it, it has to "click", and you have to be genuinely interested in the opportunity.

    Work

    Early stage start-ups aren't just going to hand you a job and say: "Show me some results." You actually have to court the start-up, it's founders, employees, and maybe even investors. This also may entail stepping outside of your comfort zone or preparing for hours, or days, beforehand. You don't "just" interview.

    Click

    Both parties have to feel like this is a mutual benefit. You have to jive with one another.

    Genuine Interest

    If you go into an interview or reach out to a founder or whatever, you have to be genuinely interested in the start-up and the position. If you try to fake it, they can tell. It's just like when you finish with an interview and feel like the company "just wasn't that into you". It's in our nature to tell when someone is bullshitting, and it comes out in writing/speech/body language.

  • JB

    Joseph Bentzel

    about 6 years ago #

    In my experience working with startups, growth stage companies, and publicly traded category leaders over a 30 year period, the key thing at the beginning is to understand who the REAL 'shotcallers' are in the company---and as Sean indicates in his post---understand what they want to achieve. And sometimes the shotcallers are not what you would normally assume.

    For example, if it's a developer led startup, the shotcaller may be the founder and lead developer. He/She may or may not have a template for what they want from their prior experience with a marketing team. What they usually want is customer 1, partner 1 or user feedback 1 (if the product is a work in process). In other words they look at the marketing challenge from a product/technology perspective.

    A second permutation on shotcaller is that you are still in a developer led startup.....but the angel or Series A VCs are the real shotcallers with their own template for what they want. In this case it's important to capture those expectations and try to execute against them---unless and until you capture actual feedback from the market that tells you differently. You then write that up for the developer/founder and let him/her interact with the financial backers. Let's call this kind of shotcaller the 'investor perspective'.

    A third permutation is the startup run by a business leader. In this case the shotcaller chain of command is much clearer---usually---and there will be a 'role' defined for the various aspects of marketing with a capital M---meaning the shotcaller sees marketing as a core competency of the company. In that case make sure you stay late enough or come in early enough to get one on one time with that individual. They will mentor you. Lets call this the veteran marketer shotcaller.

    In today's markets the very definition of marketing is evolving and will continue to evolve---in both positive and negative ways. That's why it's important to define one's own view of what marketing means on a particular landscape or in a particular segment.

    In short, the best way to 'communicate value as a marketer' (your phrase) is to actually deliver value as a marketer----i.e. growth as defined by the shotcaller 'persona'--- within a specific startup context.

    Great question by the way.

    • DY

      Dean Young

      about 6 years ago #

      I like the way you broke this down into a neat framework!

      I was thinking about one of your last thoughts:

      "...the best way to ‘communicate value as a marketer’ (your phrase) is to actually deliver value as a marketer..."

      While it makes sense, and I know what you're getting at, it's a little easier said than done. It kind of undervalues all of the hard-work that goes into "delivering value". The jump from "communicating value" to "delivering value" is a big one. However, to give you credit, and to tie this to a real world example, I've had friends that have earned jobs at start-ups by doing projects "pro bono" (except not really pro bono, since the end goal is to land a job).

      • JB

        Joseph Bentzel

        about 6 years ago #

        Pro bono---for example as an intern or other volunteer---is a solid way to get started. Lots of paths to get in the game when starting out.

        What I meant by 'delivering' was to define it in terms of the various shotcaller personnas running startups. Could be revenue. Could be trial users. Could be partner signups. Could be social relationships in a developer community. Could be a cool website and company name. Depends on the mix.

  • BP

    Brandon Pindulic

    about 6 years ago #

    This is a great question and EXCELLENT answers / stories by everyone on here. My favorite discussion by far :)

    So, I'll share my story, which is somewhat interesting.

    In HS I ran a small clothing company. Nothing too crazy, but being a Jersey kid, I'd take the $40 and 1 1/2 hour bus after school to NYC at least 1-2x/week to pitch stores, work with artists / musicians, do some creative work and whatnot. Getting turned down by *EVERY* store I entered was not fun, but I tried to improve my process because I really, really, really believe in my clothing brand. Things such as selling my clothes in the store in front of the buyer, etc.

    Some worked, most didn't.

    Then, I took a junior analyst role at an early stage VC company as a freshman in college (internship). I knew *nothing* about startups, technology, marketing or venture capital. But, I knew I liked it and everyone was supportive. That role naturally transitioned to a marketing coordinator position when I decided to leave school after my first year (last year). The VC firm I worked for was also very supportive of this decision, so that was good. I had originally thought of going into enstituteu.com for a year (and still may) but right now I'm with Wasabi Ventures.

    So, it was certainly an unpopular decision and not one most people would think of as a success, but I wanted to start working.

    At that point in time I still didn't know anything. So, I read everything I could, cold emailed every growth professional I could find, attended meetups and nothing really stuck...

    not until I started just putting everything I learned into motion, which is what I've been doing the last 6 months. I've been fortunate enough to have had a relationship with my current employer and displayed good results / work ethic, but reflecting on it it came down to just getting yourself out there, soaking in as much as you can from others and then putting everything you do into motion. I still take on additional projects not just for the money but more for the learning experience. You don't have to be an expert to start and contribute, which is something I wish I understood earlier.

    Also, coffee meetings can be really valuable w/ the right people...

    Anyway, don't be afraid to ask dumb questions. I do it every day, multiple times. Sometimes I know the answers, but like Sean mentioned, I feel a need to confirm it. I don't know why.

    But, I love it. And I'm improving everyday, but still a LONG way to go :)

    I didn't really add many specifics, but I'd say referrals are big. With my untraditional background and lack of exp., having others vouch for me helped. Also, I always entered each role in kind of a trial phase. Intern -> contract -> employee.

    • BP

      Brandon Pindulic

      about 6 years ago #

      btw, I know this doesn't directly answer your Q (especially since you have exp.) but, I'm working on a project that will (hopefully) make it easier for marketers to break into a role and prove themselves.

      I'll update GH when it's ready

      • DY

        Dean Young

        about 6 years ago #

        Definitely interested in seeing that when it's ready.

        I liked your recommendations, and like you said, even if I already knew some of these things in the back of my mind, it's nice to pull it to the front / reaffirm former thoughts. Thanks!

    • TD

      Tiffany Dasilva

      about 6 years ago #

      Meeting people and asking for coffee is huge. I know a few people who have done this in the past, even taking me out for a coffee and I was just a SEM/SEO at the time. They not only broke into the "scene" but are doing very very well for themselves now. One person I know attributes his success to those coffees and says he learned so much of what he does now from them and still goes back to his notes from time to time to gain inspiration.

      In Toronto we have an organization called 10,000 coffees which tries to bring together people looking to break into an industry and professionals. Awesome idea - http://www.tenthousandcoffees.com

  • PG

    Pushkar Gaikwad

    about 6 years ago #

    Sean has covered some good points, let me add few from my side too

    1. Think laterally - I know one guy who joined a startup and used reddit ads section to promote their product with some very catchy lines. Normally people ignore ads but they were able to get some good "karma" among the users.

    2. Interact with potential users - PornHub Interns and marketing team also uses reddit heavily to interact with the users. See how they are doing it http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1un3wn/we_are_the_pornhub_team_ask_us_anything/ (may be NSFW )

    3. Share your story and be more open and personal - Moz do a great job doing this, I remember those who joined seomoz were introduced formally and were very active in the community. Basecamp also do this, their first timers often write at the blog sharing their learning.

  • AL

    Alfred Lua

    about 6 years ago #

    Thanks, Dean, for asking this question and everyone else for answering it!

    As someone who is interested in startup marketing, this thread is really helpful. After reading all the comments, I think like the best way to be hired is to prove that you are capable of achieving something for the startup by showing that you have already done it in some other areas. For example, if I want to help a startup with SEO, I should show them what I've done in terms of SEO as proof. Same for content marketing or social media marketing, etc.

    Personally, I have always been thinking about which marketing skill should I learn/master first. However, after reading all the comments, I realised that I have been thinking the wrong way. Like what Sean and many others said, I should be thinking of what I want to achieve than what I want to do.

    I started a blog this year, wanting to practice marketing. Now I know how I should go about doing (read: achieving) it. Just to share, my focus will be to grow the page view and then work on converting readers into subscribers when the page views are substantial. When I succeed, I believe this will be a very good proof when I want to apply for a startup marketing position (:

  • MA

    Marie Aniort

    about 6 years ago #

    Hi Dean!

    Great question. I kind of 'fell' into startup marketing and I am never going back. First of all, I've written a little bit (and cited some much greater sources than I) on full-stack marketing that you might want to read:

    http://www.omalou.com/2013/12/marketings-makeover.html
    http://www.omalou.com/2013/12/the-21-skills-of-full-stack-marketers.html

    I said I fell into it, but it was actually a bad fit with my first company - so after 2 years i had to start looking again last November. I've now found an incredible job where I am e-commerce manager of a 4-people strong startuo. Here is how I did it:

    Be picky: look for the companies that sell a product or service that you are passionate about. For me, it was healthy food. I looked all over angel.co and linkedin for the startups that I wished Id founded myself. Then, apply for the job in the 'classic' way - CV, cover letter, but also write a heartfelt, passionate letter to the founder underlining your enthusiasm. This has always been my foot in the door.

    Then, once you've landed an interview, you need to show that you have the strategic vision to see the company growing in the future, but the hands-on attitude to act small on the details that will make all the difference. You have to display some startup marketing skills and a willigness/ability to learn those that you're lacking, fast. As mentioned in many of the answers, analytics is one of the most important of those skills for a startup that is tight on cash and looking for the best customer acquisition channels. Most importantly though, you have to show that you care deeply about the success of the company, almost as much as they do, and that you will not waste a second of their time or a penny in their budget (resources that founders do not have to spare). Also, keep the criticism constructive - entrepreneurs are extremely protective of their brand (I would be too!) so you have to ease them into your great ideas rather than throw them in their face.

    But, also establish that you expect something in return: to be compensated fairly for the work that you put in, be it in salary & benefits or shares. You will only strive at a startup that invests as much in you as you will in them - unfortunately, some aren't too keen on HR.

    Best of luck!

  • NT

    Niki Torres

    over 5 years ago #

    Finding this thread is like finding gold at the end of a rainbow! Thank you for all the insights shared here. I'm figuring out how to move into this role too and I absolutely love that advice about focusing on the result vs the doing.

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