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Setting Up Your Marketing Career For Success with Trisha Gallagher- Episode #124

“The word ‘manager’ can take on a lot of different formats…there’s a lot of different ways to seek out leadership opportunities.” 

Trisha Gallagher is a marketing strategist and mentor with nearly 15 years of experience in planning and executing successful marketing programs. Having held various roles in marketing both in-house and agency-side, Trisha brings a unique perspective to her role as VP of Marketing at Marketri, an outsourced marketing and fractional CMO firm.

She empowers B2B companies to achieve predictable, profitable growth through data-driven marketing programs and guides her clients from brand strategy development to the execution of high-impact campaigns. In addition to her dedication to her clients, Trisha is passionate about mentoring young marketers and helping them achieve their goals.

Questions and topics we covered included:

  • Comparing where’s the best place to start your marketing career—at an agency vs in-house vs a consulting firm
  • Marketing strategy vs marketing plans
  • What is sector-based marketing? 
  • The concept of fractional marketing
  • The age-old battle of finding sales and marketing alignment
  • How to handle feedback (both providing and receiving)?
  • Differences in responsibility as you move up in leadership roles within a marketing department

And more!

You can connect with Trisha via LinkedIn –

You can find Trisha’s content here –

Full Episode Transcript:


Kenny Soto 0:02  

Hello everyone, and welcome to the people Digital Marketing podcast with your host Kenny Soto and today’s special guest, Tricia Gallagher. Hi, Trisha, how are you?


Trisha Gallagher 0:13  

Hi, Kenny. I’m doing good. How are you?


Kenny Soto 0:16  

I’m doing great. But prior to hitting the record, I was giving you a little bit of backstory on the podcast. And I always like to start every episode, especially if anyone’s listening to this more than once or they’re listening to all the episodes, I always like to start the same way, which is by getting the backstory on the guest. 


So before we even get into the nitty-gritty minutiae of what you know, as a marketing expert, I want to start off by just asking you, How did you become a marketer in the first place?


Trisha Gallagher 0:47  

Yeah, I love that you asked this question because I feel like marketing is a profession that so many people can come to in so many different ways. So I had, like many marketers, sort of an indirect path to the marketing profession. My undergrad degree is actually in English, I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with that in school, I wasn’t overly familiar actually, with the idea of marketing as an option. 


But I thought I wanted to do something with words, right? So after graduation, I started working for a security consulting firm, helping with internal documentation, and more technical typewriting. And the company had a very lean sales and marketing function of one person at a time. And that account executive sort of took me under his wing and started offloading a lot of his more like wishlist marketing projects to me, you know, like, what do you think about our website? 


What about social media? Can you help with brochures for this upcoming event we have? And I really found that world a lot more interesting. And so I eventually advocated for a marketing role at that company, I wrote up a job description for a marketing associate position and presented it to the CEO, who ended up hiring me full-time in that capacity. 


And that’s really when I dove headfirst into all things marketing, I worked alongside the salesperson, and a couple of vendors to relaunch the website, launch the branding of a parent company, we spearheaded a new event concept that we hosted, overhauled the look of sales materials, launched a digital marketing program, you name it, we kind of tag team to get it done. 


And so after I left that company, I held similar positions in-house with Lean marketing teams. While I got my masters in marketing, I really wanted to learn more about it from more of a traditional education standpoint. And then when the software company I was with at the time got acquired, I was looking to move back to the area that I’m in now, I reached out to a contact I had made, but an agency that I worked with at that first consulting firm, and she had actually since started her own company and brought me on board. 


So that’s when I got exposure to agency life, where I’ve been ever since. And now I’m with marketing, which is more of a fractional CMO consultative firm. Yeah, that’s my, that’s my background.


Kenny Soto 3:38  

Nice. I don’t want to jump away from this point because there are some people who’ve already probably listened to this interview that I did with previous guests. My name is Arlen Davidge. But I don’t want to assume context, Jill, just for the listeners so that they can get a refresher, what is a fractional CMO?


Trisha Gallagher 3:57  

Yeah, so I think there are a lot of different types of fractional CMO engagements. There’s like single fractional CMO, consultants that can plug in, in different capacities with companies. There are fractional CMO firms that have multiple fractional CMOS, that kind of matchmaking with different companies. Our business model is a little bit different, we have more of a fractional marketing team. 


So we often say that not one marketer has all the answers. So fractional marketing, you know, as a concept, allows companies to kind of have a slice of all the various marketing specialties without having to hire in-house for those roles. It’s especially great for earlier-stage companies that aren’t quite sure what marketing strategy or support they need or they’re more in foundation-building mode. 


It’s also really great for like, more middle market companies that are trying to compete with larger companies or breakout have like a growth rut and haven’t seen much in the way of results, whether with their in-house team or previous vendors that they’ve worked with. So our business model tends to be different from other firms and outsourcing to other agencies, and we try to meet the company where they are in their marketing journey. 


So we have, we have tried and tried processes and best practices that we use, of course, but we really mold them to what the business needs when they come to us. And we’re strategy lead. So every recommendation we have comes from auto research data, our own experience, I feel like agencies, I’m sorry if I’m rambling here, but I feel like agencies oftentimes have very specific or specialized services or service packages. But that’s not always what a client needs, they might need a piece of that. 


And we can help them find that and plug in the best resource for that. But they might also need things like a better understanding of their current customer base, a complete overhaul of their marketing technology stack, or launching a new messaging strategy. So that type of relationship that we have with our clients as a team is a lot different from what I’ve experienced, at least from other outsourced marketing providers or other fractional CMO-type roles.


Kenny Soto 6:37  

I like that there’s, I like that I can relate to your career, as far as having to go from both internal to agency. And I get this question a lot. I also asked this question sometimes to a lot of guests where it’s like, what’s the best option? And that’s very vague because it always depends, right? Like, that’s usually the best way to start answering that question. But I wanted to know, what are the benefits of starting off as a marketer within an agency versus starting off your marketing career being in the house?


Trisha Gallagher 7:13  

It’s a really great question. And it definitely depends on the situation, I think it depends largely on the opportunities that are presented to you at the time. I think, within starting out as an agency, you get, or at an agency, you get exposure to a lot of different specialties, and a lot of other marketers, if you’re in a house, you get exposure to more of the business side, the customers, the product itself, you kind of have the luxury of diving deeper into the company that you’re with, from a more intimate level. 


Whereas agencies, you have multiple clients, so maybe you don’t go that in-depth with them. But you do depend on the agency or you’re with you, you are exposed to creatives and other strategists and copywriters, and different industries. So it’s, it’s different learning paths. But I think there are advantages to both.


Kenny Soto 8:19  

Yeah, my thoughts here are, and I think this helped me out a lot. You want to at the very least figure out what you there are different paths, right, you can either figure out what industry you want to work in. And if that’s the case, then working in-house might be the best way to do that. 


Or you can figure out what channel or responsibilities you want to specialize in first, and then you can do either internal or agency or do a mix of the other two throughout your career. My follow-up to this would be what would be the distinct difference if you’re working at a consulting firm?


Trisha Gallagher 8:57  

Yeah. Well, depends on the type of consulting firm, of course, I think consulting firms are more and I hear you ask this question in past episodes about generalist versus specialist. I think oftentimes, consulting firms lean toward having more strategists and generalists on board that have different marketing backgrounds themselves, and not so much on the specialized side. 


So I think agencies and I don’t want to overgeneralize, but I think they’re much more specialized in terms of creative outlets or specific marketing channels, whereas consulting often looks at maybe a broader picture. And more of a generalist path.


Kenny Soto 9:51  

Yeah, I’ve always, I’ve always subscribed to the idea of if you haven’t tried it, try it to see whether or not you’d like to do it. And if you don’t, then At least you tried it out, give it six months. And if anything, there are always new jobs out there that are available because all businesses need marketers. At the end of the day, we’re in an attention economy, and people need attention or at least need to grab attention. 


My next question is in regards to strategy and planning, where even these terms are so vague that everyone approaches them differently. Excuse me? How would you define what a marketing strategy is? We’ll go into planning next. But let’s just start off with the basics of what is a marketing strategy.


Trisha Gallagher 10:32  

Yeah, very vague question. And I think it can take on different meanings, depending on where, where you’re coming from, with that question. So if you’re trying to put together a marketing strategy for a new product, for a company at large, or for a specific campaign, you can put together a strategy in different ways. 


And in that case, it takes on different meanings. But I think the strategy is kind of like, your target that you’re going after. So it kind of defines the parameters of everything you need to achieve to get to that bullseye on the target.


Kenny Soto 11:22  

And then let’s assume, again, we’re going very broad here, high level, let’s assume you have a strategy. you’ve selected your goals. Sometimes those goals either stack up to sales enablement, revenue growth, and or both. And you’ve kind of identified some channels to at least start testing to see which ones to double down on. How do you then shift the strategy to a plan where you actually have action items to start focusing on?


Trisha Gallagher 11:49  

Yeah, I think that is key to seeing any success at all, is to really put things into motion. So marquetry, our processes, we have the strategic marketing plan, that’s kind of our roadmap that we go back to where we refer to often. And it’s kind of our source of background information and truth for what we’re going to put in place. And then we break it down into quarterly plans, and then monthly project plans. 


And I think there are a lot of different ways that you can go about breaking down your plan. If you’re on the consulting side, and the agent side, agency side, well, and I guess in-house, a lot of it comes down to resources as well. So you know, you have all your questions, what channel, what budget, what messaging, and then pulling together the best resources to see it through.


Kenny Soto 12:51  

I am going to throw somewhat of a curveball here, but I don’t have a lot of experience with this. And I think you can provide a lot of insight here. What is sector-based marketing?


Trisha Gallagher 13:03  

Yeah, so that is focusing on that I think sector and industry can be used a little interchangeably. So one marketing strategy, if you are focused on a specific industry already, it’s kind of easier to put in place. But if you’re a company, like an outsourced accounting firm, for example, and you can service a lot of different companies, or big small startup enterprises, you have a lot of different service offerings within that accounting space, bookkeeping, and tax planning. 


In Financial Planning, it’s hard to really make an impact, if you don’t have a large budget don’t have a lot of resources. And your message is so broad, that people chopping around are going to distinguish, they’re not going to be able to relate to how you can actually help them. 

So one method that you could go is sector-based marketing, which is I guess, identifying the market, whether you have team members that are experts within that space, whether the market as a whole is growing, and what the competition looks like in that market. 


And then really pivoting your plan to focus on that, that Mark is so putting in place, you know, researching specific publications that reach out to the audience, establishing your team, your core team that has expertise in that market as actual experts in that market. And then creating content to showcase that.


Kenny Soto 14:50  

Let’s talk about alignment across departments. I find that one of the skills that I’m learning in real-time myself one of the skills that are necessary to become a marketing leader is learning how to partner with other departments in a team, especially sales. How do you approach sales and marketing alignment so that everyone can reach their goals?


Trisha Gallagher 15:15  

I think it’s so easy for sales and marketing teams to play the blame game for not seeing results or for miscommunication or you name it. So I agree that communication is huge. I think getting on the same page in terms of overarching goals is important. But really getting in the nitty gritty of the handoff processes, at what point do sales take things from marketing if you’re in the inbound strategy, I think marketing can really help sales if sales are willing to receive that help in a way that serves both parties. 


So I definitely agree that communication is huge, I think, weekly conversations, I think setting up the tools that you have, from a sales and marketing standpoint, is important to make sure that they’re in sync, whether it’s the actual communication tools they use internally, like Slack, or your CRM and your marketing automation tool, making sure that those are in sync so that you have full visibility, transparency into the whole full funnel process.


Kenny Soto 16:34  

This ties into a perfect follow-up, which is kind of in two parts, because both things are difficult in and of themselves. Both things are contextual. Let’s start off with how, or excuse me, what is the best way to provide feedback? To? So let’s say you’re a marketing leader, how would you provide feedback to a sales team?


Trisha Gallagher 17:00  

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that coming at it from the customer’s perspective, and the prospect’s perspective, is the key. Because then you’re not, it’s unbiased, you’re really there to focus on the company’s message and how that prospect or customer is receiving it. So I think that that, that’s the key. So if everything is reaching toward that goal, so feedback in terms of this, this email template that you’re using isn’t effective, or your follow-up process is too slow, you can always focus on the Prospect’s perception of that. I think that would be the key.


Kenny Soto 17:48  

Yeah, that’s a strong anchor, because then you’re not necessarily being combative, or I don’t want to use the term mean, because you’re not really mean to your coworkers, but across that way, sometimes. And then in that same vein, how would a marketing leader or any marketer in this case, what should they do to approach receiving feedback positively taking in that feedback, and then making their own action steps from that?


Trisha Gallagher 18:16  

I think another in addition to thinking about the customer perspective, is looking at the data. So I think you can justify a lot of tactics that you put in place or pivoting of those tactics based on the data that you’re seeing. So, you know, web performance, email performance, conversion metrics, all of that feed in really nicely to justify the way that you’re doing things or being okay with changing based on feedback.


Kenny Soto 18:50  

My next question has to do a lot with like, the overarching narrative or plot, if you will, of your career. So sometimes this is like the traditional route, but in most cases, some people kind of didn’t deviate, but usually, you have an associate you have a manager, a senior manager, a director, and then you either have VP head of marketing, etc. How do those responsibilities grow and change over time as you begin to lead more and gain more responsibility?


Trisha Gallagher 19:25  

So this has actually been coming up recently. We’re, we’re hiring and a lot of the candidates that we’re talking to are I don’t know if thrown off as the word but thrown off with the manager title expecting it to manage people. I think that the word manager can take on a lot of different formats. 


You can manage programs, you can manage clients you can manage. In our case, a lot of times it’s managing vendors or actual in-house team members versus on behalf of our clients, there are a lot of different ways that you can seek out and have experience with leadership opportunities that aren’t direct managerial responsibility. I think when people think about career paths and moving up the ladder, you often go directly to managing a team of people. And that’s not always the case, or it doesn’t have to always be the case, I think that your responsibility changes in terms of large, ideas, and decision-making. So you know, bringing in the right resources and the right information to be able to make those decisions.


Kenny Soto 20:42  

Yeah, I’m, again, learning this real-time myself, where there’s kind of multiple paths, especially in a house where even if you get to the director level, in most cases, you may not even be managing a team, you might be managing a list of vendors, you might have a couple of freelancers, but you may not have like a huge staff under you. 


Because you can just be an expert, individual contributor, like you own the channel, you don’t need to necessarily tell everyone what you’re doing every single day, you don’t need to be that minute, and is just, hey, you’ve got this title, because for the most part, historically, you’ve been showing that you can handle the responsibilities, you could handle more resources over time. 


But perhaps you don’t want to be a people manager, you don’t want to have to deal with that, which is a whole other gambit of challenges. You just want to get more resources to manage, in my case, the channel search, but it can be any channel or any series of channels. So you can be a people manager, but you can also just be someone who gains more resources to grow their channel.


Trisha Gallagher 21:43  

And I think larger corporations and some agencies, I think, the further you get down your career path, the further you get away from the specific channel, actual hands in production. So if that’s the path you want to take, that’s totally fine. But I do think that that’s something to consider as you’re moving up positions, is moving away from being factual in production.


Kenny Soto 22:16  

Yeah, before I ask my last question, another note that comes to my mind when you mentioned that is, you know, you’re on the right path. If you’re creating less than editing more if you’re like the last part of the creation process, where you edit, and then it gets published, as opposed to here, you’re assigned and or you’re coming up with the assignments, and then you’re creating and then someone else’s editing. 


Once you reach that inflection point, that’s when you start realizing, Oh, you’re in the right direction, your skills are getting better, people trust you more, and you can be given more responsibility and potentially a title change at the same time.


Trisha Gallagher 22:53  

Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Yeah.


Kenny Soto 22:57  

Now, my last question for you is hypothetical, because time machines don’t exist. But if one did, and you can go back in the past about 10 years, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you specifically accelerate the speed of your career?


Trisha Gallagher 23:12  

I don’t know that I would, I think, I don’t know that I would want to speed it up. If anything, I might want to slow it down and learn a little bit more about different things, you know, specific channels and different companies and different paths and everything. I think that everything happens for a reason, and the opportunities that you are pursuing and presented with and decide to move forward with are all there to help you in the long run. So I don’t think that I would wish to speed up on myself. Yeah.


Kenny Soto 23:57  

You’re the first person where I have gotten a mix of these two options, where it’s like, oh, here’s what I would do speed it up, or I wouldn’t speed it up at all. And here’s why you’re the first person and I’ve interviewed more than 100 marketing experts. That said you would slow it down. Yeah, that’s it. Yeah.


Trisha Gallagher 24:15  

I mean, I think that having more time to explore different things, would open up more doors, or provide me with more education to be able to apply to my clients or my own career path. So yeah.


Kenny Soto 24:30  

That’s definitely something I’m going to be mulling over after this now. Gisha if anyone wants to say hello to you online, where can they go? Say hi.


Trisha Gallagher 24:38  

Yeah, you can say hi to me on LinkedIn. I’m always open to connecting with new people.


Kenny Soto 24:44  

Awesome. And thanks again for your time today. And thank you to you, the listener for always tuning in. If it’s your first time listening to the podcast, please subscribe if you want to. You can also find me just search Kenny Soto on Google. 


I’m on all the platforms and send over any recommendations So it can be topics it can be people that you want to hear from that haven’t been previous guests it can be previous guests that you want to hear from again I’m always open to new suggestions because that’s how this show grows and as always I hope everyone has a great week bye.

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