Interview with Sara Pion – Navigating The Startup World as a New Marketer – Episode #86

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Sara Pion has spent the last 4.5 years growing her career in B2B Saas, starting in technical support and moving into Growth and Demand Generation marketing across high-growth companies like Drift, Alyce, Voiceflow, and now Dandy. She has a proven track record of fostering community within a customer base, scaling teams, and acquiring and activating users.

Outside of work, she has an amazing podcast on personal and professional growth with her co-host Bridget called “Self Control & Cheese”. When she isn’t working, Sara likes exploring Denver and boxing.

Questions and topics we covered include:

  • When is the right time to leave a job you used to love?
  • Sara’s take on the age-old debate of starting off as a specialist or generalist.
  • Why should candidates applying to startups ask companies questions about their financial security?
  • The pros and cons of joining a startup at seed, series A, B, and so on. And, how can marketers determine if startups in general are the right type of company for them to join?
  • How to say “no” to too many ideas.
  • What does a toxic job offer look like?
  • The skills any marketer should learn as they try to become an expert in their industry, channel, etc.
  • Why does internal marketing become more important as a marketer gets more senior roles?

Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto 0:01  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people of digital marketing with your host, Kenny Soto, and today’s guest therapist Hi, Sara, how are you?

 

Sara Pion 0:14  

Good, how are you?

 

Kenny Soto 0:15  

I’m doing very well. I am a big fan of yours because you post a lot of great LinkedIn content. And you host a few co-hosts and give me a really great podcast that we’ll talk about later. But for the audience, I wanted to quickly start off by just getting a general sense of why did you get into digital marketing.

 

Sara Pion 0:35  

It was really nice, first of all flattered. But I studied business in college. And I liked the marketing course that was required for my business degree. It was mostly accounting and finance-focused. And I’m very right about brain Left Brain Balance. 

 

So I like to be analytical and get to the right answer, but I like to be creative with it. And that’s kind of what I saw in marketing in my business courses. I didn’t really see that in finance where there was like one right answer, I didn’t really see that like, organizational behavior that was more like HR. And so I graduated being like, I think, I think I want to do marketing. 

 

But I don’t think schools did a great job of teaching me what marketing really was. And I was really lucky to get my first job out of college at a startup called drift, which was kind of reinventing what marketing was at the time, it was being done in a very traditional way that was very company-centric. 

 

And drift kind of tried to turn that around on its head and say like, Hey, as marketers, we should actually be applying our tactics to buyers and trying to bring buyers in. And I thought that that was a really cool, just way of doing business that I had never seen before, I started to drift as a technical support representative because I just wanted to get into that company. And they weren’t hiring for marketing. 

 

And they weren’t hiring like any other entry-level roles. But I got to create content, I got to write help docs. And I got to talk to marketers all day about how they used marketing software. And that gave me a ton of insight into the kinds of problems that marketers were solving. And I loved troubleshooting with them, I love trying to figure out how we could get them to the solution to their marketing problem with our software. 

 

And so that’s kind of what spurred like a little spark inside of me of like, I think I want to do that because I really like the problems that these people are solving. And I think that I can help them solve those. And so that’s kind of what got me excited about the possibility of joining a marketing team.

 

Kenny Soto 2:39  

And you were adrift for a while. Then I’m assuming you it was a great experience learning, and networking with amazing people. I was listening to a previous podcast episode of yours. And you mentioned that there. There seems to be a moment in your career when you’re at a company you’ve made an impact. But at a certain point, do you want to start over and do something else? When is the right time to leave a job you used to love?

 

Sara Pion 3:11  

Oh my God, that’s such a good question. It’s so like nuanced. Dref provided me with like the most amount of growth opportunities I’ve ever that I’ve since received from a company, I was there for almost three years, and nine months into my role as technical support I did get brought on to the marketing team. 

 

And I got to be a digital marketer working with some of the best marketers in like the business-to-business software space. And that was like, incredible, it was amazing. And where I got to sit was being the person who used drift for drift. So I was like our systems administrator. But that came with a lot of creating content, talking to our customers about best practices, and talking to our prospects about the possibilities of the tool. 

 

And so I got to be super cross-functional. And so I felt like my impact was incredible. And especially as an entry-level marketer, I was like this rock until I wanted to be more than the bucking girl. I wanted to experience more marketing. That wasn’t just the one channel that I owned. And as I was growing drift was also growing. So I started at Drift when they were 35 people and I left when they were 400. 

 

So I saw like 17 different, like moments that could that you could enter a business at and so when I left, the marketing team itself was very channel specific. Everyone owned one thing. And they were a subject matter expert and that one thing, but I was 24 I was still hungry to learn about other parts of marketing and I felt like I couldn’t with the way that the team was structured at that moment because everyone was supposed to be like the sole owner of their thing. 

 

And like really run with it which is an amazing opportunity. Need to like, know your stuff. And if you want to go super deep on an aspect of marketing, I would recommend joining a larger business or larger marketing team where you can get that insanely deep knowledge of your area of expertise. 

 

But I didn’t yet, I had only experienced one part of marketing. And that was, you know, like inbound conversion. So, for anyone who came onto our website, it was my job to get their email one way or another, whether that was a newsletter, a webinar, a demo signing up for our free product, or something else. I got really good at that. 

 

But I wanted to know what else there was. And so that’s kind of how I knew it was my time was, I like to build and I like to be kind of, I like to have a wide swim lane if that makes sense in terms of my responsibilities, and so I’m an earlier stage startup kind of girl because I like to be on a nimbler team, that I have an area of focus, but it’s a few different channels that I could impact for one, one metric. 

 

And so I also wanted to test myself to be like, was I just in the perfect situation for me? Or can I actually be a marketer? And so that was kind of like the turning point for me of like, okay, I can either like build an entire career around conversational marketing and building bots, and, and what drift was all about, or I could learn more about this function that I was super passionate about, that I had only just scratched the surface on. 

 

And I wanted to dig deeper into marketing as a whole. And so that’s kind of what led me to make the next move. But what I had gotten from my experience was like, I felt like I had made the impact at a company as I felt like leaving, people would be able to be like, oh, yeah, Sarah, she did X, Y, and Z thing when she was here, and like that made a difference. 

 

And that’s like a big measure for myself. Are people going to talk about the work that I did, even if I’m gone? It is a good motivator for me to find the areas of impact at a business and make sure I’m involved in those sorts of projects, but then also, like, am I learning? What am I learning and what do I want to learn? And am I solving the problems that I want to solve? Because not every area of marketing is going to be as exciting as other areas for you? So that’s sort of what drew me to find a new opportunity in marketing after my first one. Yeah.

 

Kenny Soto 7:38  

Yeah, that makes total sense. And I think you do have to take several things to know what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re strong at and when you’re not. I asked this question a lot in past interviews because everyone seems to have their own take on it. And so far, it’s still been 5050 splits here. When you’re starting off as a marketer, should you start off as a specialist or generalist?

 

Sara Pion 8:03  

Oh, gosh, that’s so tough. Yeah, I think it depends on the kind of person you are. And maybe that’s why you’re split 5050. I can’t be a specialist yet. Purely because I think I would get bored. Like, I don’t think I want to know every single in-and-out nuance of automotive demand generation. Like that’s just that’s very niche, very niche. 

 

But like, when you are a specialist, you are very valuable to organizations that need that kind of skill set. I think as a generalist, you can also be incredibly valuable in a different kind of business. And because I like the earlier stage startups who are trying to like find product market fit and cement themselves as a player in a space, being a generalist is a competitive advantage because I have empathy and understanding, and tactical experience doing a wide variety of things, where I can own it to start and then delegate it out. 

Once it’s sort of evolved, and the foundation has been set, I know what good looks like without having to execute it on my own. Then I think about the career path that I’m trying to build for myself, which is a marketing leader and team leader. Being able to recognize and understand what good looks like across an entire marketing org is really helpful because I don’t need to know how to produce videos. 

 

But what the structure should look like, how we should position ourselves, and what we should do with the distribution of that video? I do know what that looks like. And so that’s, that’s why I skew more towards generalists for myself. But I think there is an absolute benefit to being a specialist and knowing your shit like the back of your hand. Am I allowed to swear?

 

Kenny Soto 9:58  

No, of course, you are. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

 

Sara Pion 10:00  

Cool those came out with like, Oh, no. But yeah, like there, there’s definitely a benefit. I think like, especially as you become older and you grow in your career, and you find that thing that you want, even if you want to be like a VP of content, not necessarily a VP of marketing like that specialization is important to make. 

 

And so you want to go somewhere where there is a built-out content team. But for me, I think, right now, Head of Marketing is what I’m working towards. And I’m trying to be in the most cross-collaborative pieces of marketing that I can without being an expert in all things marketing. So I’m not, you know, like an SEO expert. 

 

I’m not creative, at all, but I like to be in like integrated marketing roles, where I work very collaboratively either in those areas, because someone needs to own it, or like with the people who do own it. So I get that empathetic understanding of what it’s like to do that thing, and how it impacts my work. Yeah, so I’m a generalist by nature, but I see the value of both it depends on who you are, and what you want.

 

Kenny Soto 11:13  

Yeah, it definitely depends. And I can attest to myself too because I have a similar goal of becoming Head of Marketing for a team as well. You don’t necessarily need to be a channel expert, nor should you be, but at least you should have some experience in each specific function, to the degree where you can delegate, but also collaborate and know how to vet other people who should be the experts in their channel. 

 

That way, you’re building the right team, because it’s really like a people game. Once you are at that level, and you have to make sure you’re recruiting, HR recruiting is not just being in the weeds, where you might be used to that experience if you’re at the beginning of your career. I’ve listened, I’m just being candid here to one episode of your podcast at least four times now because I learned a lot from it. 

And it’s, it’s relatable, not only to myself but there’s a lot of people right now we’re looking for new opportunities, the job market is in two ways. One way would be like, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. But then the other part is some of those opportunities might be sprinkled with like lots of fluff, but when you smell it smells really bad. And you got to be able to like sift through the nonsense. 

 

So in your episode with I think his name is Adam, go ta you talk about different types of startups and the advantages and disadvantages. That’s something that I haven’t been able to cover with previous podcasts, because that’s why I wanted to cover this with you right now. Could you walk us through it? Let’s start with the seed stage, what are some of the pros and cons of joining a seed-stage company?

 

Sara Pion 12:52  

Yeah, so seed stage, you are basically part of the founding team, like they, this, this team is really new, they’ve gotten basically like an initial investment to prove that their product has customers on mass, like that’s kind of the goal of going from a seed stage to a Series A is like, okay, let’s find the channels where our customers are, figure out like how we can get them to come to us and convert and like, monetize that. 

 

So it’s like, super foundational, and the work that you do directly impacts the company. So that I think as a pro, it’s such an area of opportunity to test and immediately see the impact of your work, especially as a marketer earlier on in your career where you’re like, I don’t know, what’s supposed to work. So let me just test a few things, and see what sticks, there isn’t a culture of reporting, there isn’t a culture of, you know, like root cause analysis. It’s just like, let’s figure out this together. 

 

And I think that that’s really exciting for someone who wants to have a decent amount of autonomy. So I would say if this is going to be your first job out of college like you’re, you’re not going to have a manager looking after your work every single like with every single thing that you do, which is really intimidating, especially when you’re not totally sure like how to operate within a company as a new grad or as someone who hasn’t like bit done marketing before. 

 

So if you are very fresh, very new, I wouldn’t suggest the seed stage only because I would want you to have mentorship and structure and management. But a second or third career and marketing are insanely powerful to like, legitimize your experience. And to get to that level I would say the cons is you have like no resources.

 

Kenny Soto 14:46  

And you have to move fast, like really fast. 

 

Sara Pion 14:49  

You have to move real fast. Everything is going to be broken a little bit. And you have to kind of want to be like a builder versus an optimizer. And I think if you Like to join a company at a certain stage and you hate it. Like, that’s okay, you’ve learned like that, that’s not a failure, failure of like a job experience. But like, I would say caution on the seed stage is, yeah, you’ll have a lot of autonomy, little to no resources, but like a wide open space for you to like, do whatever you want. 

 

I would say, as a pro tip for seed and series A companies, if you can find a space that you’re also passionate about, that’s going to be an insane growth lever for the company because you know where the customers are because you were there. In the job that I’m in right now, there is a large community of people who are excited about this product. So we’ve brought on a lot of people onto our team, who are previous users to help us build this company. 

 

Such a competitive advantage, but also like, their insight is invaluable to us because they were on the outside, and now they’re on the inside, they know how a customer thinks. So being as excited as the founders about the product, and the space is like such a hidden advantage. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, but it’s, it’s cool. And definitely plug that as an advantage of hiring you. If you are interviewing for companies like that. Moving to Series A, you’ve kind of like found product market fit like you have a good amount of customers. 

 

And now it’s like, okay, how can we build like a repeatable motion of bringing in money, whether that’s like a sales team, a free trial, a free product, where you like, get people to upgrade without anyone kind of talking to them, but it’s more like product focused. That’s where, like, the builders start to lay the foundation for processes, they’re not going to be the processes that exist forever. 

 

But like, it’s going to be the start of like, should we have campaigns? Or should we work in sprints? What does our monthly reporting cadence look like? Are we tracking any data at all? Like we should start? Now’s the time to start. Yeah. So that we can base our processes on that data because we know historically what we’ve done and what worked. 

 

So series A to Series B is really setting the foundation of like, Can we double from what we did in seed, and can we create a process that helps us like double or even triple? And so that’s, that’s really exciting, you have a little bit more resources because you’ve just raised another round, generally, there’s going to be a few more people on your team versus just being a team of one or two, and you’re gonna start to have swim lanes, like, it’s not gonna, you’re not going to be like two people splashing around in a pool. 

 

But the swim lanes are still gonna be quite wide. So like, for example, I joined a post series and a startup, and I own content, community, and user activation. So that’s like three things that all feed into each other very nicely, but like, also, like full-time jobs each individually. So it’s kind of just like determining what you want to focus on as a team and then leveraging the channels that you have to move forward toward that focus. 

 

It’s a lot of starting to say no, whereas before, you were saying yes to everything. Posterior series, like companies, I would say, you know, you don’t want to be on the founding team that’s like, really scrappily, hitting the ground and trying to just like, scrape any users that they possibly could. But there’s like a process in place. That’s kind of where I like to come in. Just because like there has been a foundation that has been laid, that I can build on instead of having to pour it myself.

 

Kenny Soto 18:29  

So before you get into Series B, I just wanted to quickly jump in and ask another question, which I think would be very beneficial to the listeners. How do you say no, to people who, and my people, it could be senior leadership, or it can be these other people who are tangentially working on the same mission? How do you say no, when everyone’s trying to give you the best ideas that they’re sourcing?

 

Sara Pion 18:56  

I think it depends on your level, I would say like, up until I got to the level that I am right now, which is like senior managing director, I was saying yes to everything. And that was an incredible career accelerator because I was seen as a resource like, Oh, you want to get something done, you go to stare I see. That sort of legitimized my role in marketing. And within the company, especially as a marketer, if you can help sales and customer success, get their shit done. 

 

They’re going to publicly appreciate you and I’m extrinsically motivated, I want to be told I’m doing a good job. And so specifically helping sales and Mark air sales and customer success, up until you get to the point where you’re also defining the strategy. If someone else is defining the strategy, I would say like take those side projects and get that experience and help your colleagues and be that resource for people. 

 

But when you get to the point where you’re now in charge of strategically executing, where you’re not only defining what your goal is the channels that you’re going to use to get there and like the tactics, but then you’re executing on those things. That’s when focus kind of comes into play. And you can start saying no, because you’ve done the research yourself to be like, here’s why we’re going to focus on this thing. 

 

Do you think that that is more valuable or less valuable than what you’re pitching to me right now, I would be happy to slot this in as long as you’re okay with one of our things dropping. But that doesn’t have to come into your career until later. So I would say, even in the first four or five years that you are in a marketing org, say yes to some side projects, like try, try and become that resource, because being the most helpful person in the room is always going to be to your benefit from a career perspective. 

 

But also from experience, like you get to say you’ve done so many things. Once you get to, like operating at a little bit higher cruising altitude, that’s when you can find the reasons and the strategy and the data to be like, No, and here’s why or not right now. But it’s going to come at this time, and like it’s going to be freakin sick. And what do we do it this way, because we’re gonna have all of this like historical work, that’s gonna make it way more powerful? And contextualized. 

 

And why are you saying no, we’re not right now, especially with sales like great, sounds good. Love it, keep doing you like love, you have a great one. And with his kind of helps them understand and like, communicate that back to their customers of why we can’t do that thing right at this very second. But we’ll have these resources like flowing in, like as they start to, you know, use the product more. 

 

So I would say you don’t have to say no all the time, especially early on in your career. But there’s that weird inflection point. And it happened to me like earlier this year, it happened to one of my mentees, like this week, where everything that got you to where you are today stops being as relevant because you moved to like strategy.

 

Kenny Soto 21:51  

Which is a completely different beast. 

 

Sara Pion 21:55  

So different. Nobody tells you what’s going to happen. It just kind of like evolves into it, especially in startups or tech companies in general. So if you’re feeling that right now, or you have experienced it, totally normal, it usually goes away within like six-ish months, when you’re like really deep into like the strategy work and you’re excited about it. 

 

But that mindset shift of your day-to-day is like, off-putting a little where you’re like, Oh, I feel like I might fail because I’m starting to say no now and people are going to hate me. And it’s like, No, they won’t.

 

Kenny Soto 22:26  

They won’t. Yeah, okay. Let’s talk about Series B, what are some pros and cons of joining a series B Company, I haven’t had experience with joining a series B, I’ve only been seen in Series A.

 

Sara Pion 22:38  

So drift was Series B when I started but they were they got a good amount of funding just from the legitimacy of their founders, the foundation in terms of like the product, the marketing, it wasn’t really in place at that time. But it took them a while to raise a Series C just because they didn’t really need the funding. And so what kind of happens at a series B is like there are more there’s a little bit more bureaucracy that happens. 

 

You have like a process that is taught to new hires, so everyone is following processes. There’s project management, there are ways in which like requests are brought up to your team. And you’re kind of working through like defining now like what is what are the themes that you want to operate within on like a monthly or quarterly basis that was going to then define like the marketing work that we do. So it’s a little bit more like a seed in Series A, the work they do is a little bit more around product launches, and then setting the foundation. With Series B, the foundation has been set and now you’re building strategic branches of your marketing organization. 

 

So people are starting to define like, Okay, here’s the quarterly focus versus just the monthly focus, then you’re doing a little bit more planning you have more like regularly scheduled programming that you know works because you’ve been working to like, map back that data and understand like, okay, like we know that if we run three webinars in a quarter like we that are all in partnership with like other members of our space like we can hit like an MQL goal because we also have like the nurturer running and the VIS running and that running in the vest. 

 

So it is a little bit more formulaic in nature, which is great for people to learn, you know, like what should be included in the work that you do to get from series A to Series B. So every company that you joined can help give you a context of what should happen in the stage before which is cool, because it kind of just helps you like figure out okay, this is what we’re working with right now but there’s still things that we need to build up like we need to have a really strong webinar arm and we really have to have like a strong like, do we even have nurtured? 

 

No, okay, let’s build that out. Like, do we have like we’ve been emailing customers but not on a regular basis? So that’s sort of where Series B comes into play. Your phone nation is rock solid. And now you’re building the individual rooms. And you’re not decorating yet. You’re just like building the fridge. I’m going with this house.

 

Kenny Soto 25:08  

Right? Yeah, absolutely. So just because there are other great questions I want to ask you, I just wanted to get your sense of Series C to IPO. Yeah, pros and cons. From a general perspective,

 

Sara Pion 25:23  

I think there’s a pro, I think like, seed to Series C, you see a company go from zero to 10, slash 15 million arr. That is like a very specific stage of a company going from 10 to 50, and then 50, to 100. And then 100 to a billion are completely different, like mindsets within an organization, I would say starting in one will give you context for what needs to happen in the one before it. 

 

And so it all can be contextual, and helpful to help you understand like what your next step wants to be, and should be, I think, like 50, to 100 and beyond is very much so like optimizing processes, you’re not really building much, you’re just trying to make everything more efficient. 

 

And that’s like very specific skill sets, subject matter experts come in anything before that is like the build phase of like, let’s set the foundation, let’s start doing this thing, start playing around with this channel, and trying to define like a good, just like process for it. So that’s kind of where, like, up until the series, see what you’d be focusing on. And then optimization post See, make sense?

 

Kenny Soto 26:34  

What does a toxic job offer look like?

 

Sara Pion 26:40  

It can be tricky. It can be sneaky. It’s not always like, they’re not always gonna be like, Yeah, you’re gonna work 80 hours and like, we’re not going to compensate you. But I would say you can, you can start to understand, like, what a potential and like toxic and can also be individual for me, like I don’t want to work in a business that doesn’t have a strong product direction. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s toxic. 

 

But like, if the Leadership isn’t focused on the product, it’s not really going to be the company. For me, it’s not going to be innovative in the way that I want it to be. It’s going to be very customer-focused. But I would say if they’re not willing to budge or talk about the compensation earlier on in the process, that’s a little bit of a red flag. Because a job pays you may like compensation it is weird to talk about because it feels inappropriate, but like you are, it is an exchange of goods and services. 

 

And that exchange needs to be defined early on in the process, like what is your expectation for this and have the company say at first, if you start, you can always like you always want to lowball yourself, have the company tell you to like what is the salary band for this role? And if they’re unwilling to tell you that information? That’s a little bit tricky. I would say similar to just like financial information in general, like asking questions about what your runway looks like. Especially when you are going to these earlier-stage startups. Like how much cash do you have right now to exist? 

 

And for how many months? Like what does that look like? What does your burn rate look like? How much are you spending a month? And not exactly knowing the answers to those questions and what is quote-unquote good and what is quote-unquote bad? Because you can go home after that conversation and Google it and be like, is $10 million a month burn rate good? No, probably not. If you are a small company, that’s a lot of money to spend in one month. 

 

But having a company be open and transparent in the interview process means that they’re going to be open and transparent. When you are an employee. They’re trying to put on their best face in the interview process. 

 

And if you can’t get, like crucial information about a company and how it operates in the interview process, when they’re trying to make it look very nice and flashy on the inside, then I can only imagine what they don’t tell their employees on the inside. And, the lack of transparency that comes from leadership, asking your manager or your future manager, how many of your direct reports have you promoted in the last six months?

 

Kenny Soto 29:20  

I love that question. That’s a great question.

 

Sara Pion 29:22  

It’s I love that question too. But also, you know, like asking, like, what are the projects that people are working on? How are they gold on those things? And if they’re not really willing to, to give you that insight, it’s a little trickier if they haven’t promoted anyone and they blame their employees for it like okay, I’m gonna have to fight tooth and nail to be promoted at this company. Like, I’m not really into that. 

 

So they’re like questions like that, that you can ask, depending on how the company reacts can show you like, okay, am I walking into a company that like, actively cares about their employees or like, is super shiny on the outside because they’re a literal dumpster fire on the inside.

 

Kenny Soto 29:59  

You have A few more questions. Can you tell the audience about self-control and cheese?

 

Sara Pion 30:05  

Sure, self-control. And cheese is a podcast about professional and career growth specifically in the tech industry. The name would not describe it like that. But it like came out of like a joke. And we just kind of ran with it. I do it in partnership with Bridget pucker we met when I was at direct and she was at GE which was like two pretty big tech giants that were really growing quickly, in, up like up until basically the pandemic, and we both actually ended up leaving our jobs around that time. 

 

And we just had a lot of things to say about career growth. And a lot of the people who talk about career growth haven’t been in it for a while they’re like VPS, or executives or sea level, where they don’t remember these like weird nuances that happen like one day where like, all of a sudden, nobody’s giving you feedback on your work, because they just expect you to run with it. And like, That’s so strange, and you don’t like you don’t know if that’s normal or not. So we just started to like, talk about it. 

 

And that’s what the podcast is about. So every other week, we have a longer episode that’s like 20 to 30 minutes. And then every other week, we have a hot take that is like three to 10, where they’re just like a spicy quick like, Hey, this is normal. We’re not going to elaborate. Let us know if you have any questions.

 

Kenny Soto 31:23  

I asked this knowing that it’s very broad and vague. So bear with me, no worries. Generally speaking, what are some skills that you think any marketer should learn, as they grow into the expert that they’re trying to become?

 

Sara Pion 31:44  

Cross-team collaboration, I think marketers get really stuck in their marketing world very easily, because marketers are supposed to cause like, to create attention. And so it’s very easy to just focus on marketing. I think there’s a huge competitive advantage to being able to, to be able to talk to engineers, for example, and talk to products and get an understanding of like, why did we build this thing in this way? Like, okay, great, that will help me with positioning that will help me in talking to our customers. 

 

And engineers always think that they’re the smartest people in the room. So when you can talk their language, they have an innate respect for you, especially with things like a soft quote, unquote, job like marketing, where there isn’t as much of a technical element to the role. So gaining the respect and Trust of engineering is super cool. 

 

And especially if you work in marketing technology, or like you work very closely with the engineering team or the product team, being able to, for them to see you as a peer a resource, like a legitimate member of the team, is like, is great. I think anyone can be taught how to administrate a platform, I don’t think that that’s something that’s insanely necessary right now. 

 

Because you can learn it, there are free courses. But it’s hard to teach, like interpersonal communication relationships, I would say the last thing is data analysis and data

comprehension. A lot of marketers like to say that we’re data-driven. But then we don’t want to do our own root cause analyses or own a number because it would be hard to put the infrastructure in place to track everything. 

 

But knowing, how things are tracked how things are going, and why a number is the way that it is instead of having to rely on marketing ops or data science to get you that answer gives you a more holistic view of how your work affects so many other parts of the business, because marketing affects the business and like the money that a business makes. 

 

So and especially in a startup, when you get to have that, like closeness to business operations. Being in partnership with engineering data, and infrastructure can be super helpful for pulling the strings and getting extra financing just like legitimacy, just like having internal fans within your company. 

 

So that, when you do something like people, understand why it’s important and be pumped about it. So that’s like internal marketing, or just kind of networking within your company and learning how to work with those people. I think it feels obvious, but it’s not always done. So always done, and it’s hard to do remotely. So it’s okay if you don’t do it immediately.

 

Kenny Soto 34:26  

When I asked my last question, would you say that internal marketing becomes even more important, the more senior you are?

 

Sara Pion 34:35  

I think so, yes. The more senior you are, the more that you’re cross-collaborating, not only with other seniors in marketing but other seniors in sales and CS and products. And so, marketing itself is always going to get a lot of requests. 

 

But if you don’t fulfill those requests, or you say not right now to those requests, you have to be able to explain why it’s so important that you’re doing something else and So internal marketing and being able to story tell why you’re doing what you’re doing, from a data perspective, from a customer experience perspective, from a product roadmap perspective, makes marketing the leader of the business and has people on board with what you’re doing so that on sales calls, your sales team is talking about what’s upcoming from the marketing team. 

 

And on your onboarding calls, or your checking calls with customers. The CS team is like, Oh, the marketing teams working on this really cool thing, you’re gonna be pumped about it, just like stay tuned, like they start to do the marketing for you. So yes, definitely.

 

Kenny Soto 35:34  

My last question is hypothetical because time machines don’t exist. Okay. But if you can go back into the past, about 10 years, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you accelerate the speed of your career,

 

Sara Pion 35:47  

I would probably try and find an internship in tech versus in business school, they teach you that consulting or accounting is a success. I did not know that I could work at a technology company. I did not know that startups were even a thing. And so if I could go back 10 years, I would still be in high school. 

 

But even just being like, Hey, by the way, like, you should be a business major, you become a business major, but like, don’t be scared of being a business major. Also, like get an internship at a tech company that is building technology. You’ll get hands-on experience, knowing how we treat our co-ops and our interns, they have a seat at the table like they own their stuff because there are other bodies like we need people to help. And so I think that would just get me even more excited about the future of building a career and technology.

 

Kenny Soto 36:40  

Center. If anyone wants to say hello to you online, where can they find you?

 

Sara Pion 36:44  

I’m on LinkedIn and I’m on Twitter. Sarah pion, P IO, n s Ara, easy to find on both of those things. I respond to all my messages, questions, and all that fun. And we just launched a job board also for self-control and cheese. So if you are looking for a job, and you maybe don’t want to apply, feel free to slide into the DMS and see if I know of anyone who’s hiring because I’d be happy to help fellow marketers find their thing.

 

Kenny Soto 37:13  

And I’m a big advocate of self-controlling cheese. So I will put some of my favorite episodes in the show notes as well as a link to the job board so that anyone who’s listening can have it handy. So again, thank you. Thank you, Sarah, for your time today. And thank you to your listener for listening to another episode of the people digital marketing. And as always, please rate us on Apple podcasts so we can get more listeners. And yeah, thanks for listening. Appreciate it. 

 

Bye.

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