Personally, I’ve learned that most people you’re reporting to have that kind of analytical mindset, and the conversation becomes “Well, that’s great that you have this idea. How are you going to know if something works? How are you going to know what success is?”

– Megan Kurcwal

Entering a marketing role at a start-up that folds in a sales component can be intimidating.

That’s how Megan Kurcwal, vice president of sales and marketing at StellarAlgo got her start. With a varsity athletic background, Megan is a competitor. Even though she may have felt a little uneasy early on, she’s never backed down from the challenge. As a result of hard work and constant learning, Megan had excelled in her role while helping grow StellarAlgo’s marketing profile and directly build its client base.

In fact, StellarAlgo has grown year-over-year into a sought-after business partner and the leading customer data platform in the sports and entertainment industry.

I recently caught up with Megan for a question-and-answer conversation about recent marketing challenges, current focus, and the use of data in marketing.

In terms of marketing, what have you been focusing on this year?

We’ve been focusing on two aspects of marketing that are very interconnected.

The first is the ability to communicate performance internally and help our sales team accelerate sales cycles.

The second is on performance marketing and driving inbound leads. Our company is growing, and we’ve successfully become a recognizable name in the industry, while those efforts never disappear completely, now it’s all about asking “How does marketing contribute to the overall revenue generation side of the business?”

Really, it’s becoming an expert at those use-cases that we help our clients be successful at and creatively thinking about what those different types of documents, blogs or other artifacts are that would serve two purposes: where our sales team can use them in their sales process, and then externally to generate direct interest from potential clients.

That transitions nicely into my next question. What is your main driver right now? With the COVID environment and the challenges it presents, what drives sales from a marketing perspective?

As a start-up and a growing company…you find different traction channels at various stages.

So, for a while, that <content> really was our blogs. Our blogs were a big driver. Now, with how we’re growing, it’s starting to become more about our webinars, social campaigns, and generating case studies and other “proof points” in interesting and new ways with our clients.

When we look at the flow of how inbound leads come in, it starts with an announcement or artifact or blog that someone is reading. Then they flow into reading a case study and from there, some reach out directly to talk to us. We need to ensure we’ve got the right message and the right flow of information so that more of those journeys can happen.

Is there a specific channel social media-wise that really stands out for you or really performs well?

Being a business-to-business company, LinkedIn is really good for us. But, because of the industry we’re in, (sports and entertainment), Twitter is also a big channel for us but in a different way than LinkedIn. Twitter is more about information monitoring and showing a bit more of our personality and our company culture.

Right now, we’re trying to look at different traction channels and test different areas to see what else might be helpful, but for right now it’s LinkedIn, our website, and industry publications. Those have been and continue to be strong for us and contribute in various ways to driving inbound leads.

With regards to returning to the office, it’s still a moving target for many companies. How has communication evolved for StellarAlgo both internally and externally?

Being a technology company from the get-go, we’ve always used Teams or Zoom.

What’s been interesting is that our clients are getting more comfortable using these virtual systems…so it’s becoming more “normal” and less awkward for everyone to join a virtual meeting and turn on their cameras.

Internally, our team has really ramped up. We’ve always been transparent and try to make sure everybody stays informed, is aware of the company direction and of what’s going on.

Different departments are now presenting at our “all hands” weekly team meeting with updates. Even if they’re small wins or challenges that we’re experiencing, just giving everyone the opportunity to check-in and know what’s going on is important. This is especially true since we’ve been growing over COVID.

We’ve also ramped up our onboarding processes.

Even the new people who might be remote know what’s going on with marketing but also with sales and engineering. I’d say a lot of that just happened naturally in the office beforehand, though perhaps less officially. You just had that kind of “water cooler” chat.

Now, we’re being more purposeful and ensuring that information is shared throughout the entire organization. It’s just to help make sure everybody stays connected.

Let’s talk about data-driven decision-making. How important is it for your marketing communications to take advantage of this data?

In my evolution in marketing and growing into sales throughout my career, the idea of having data to back up both your “Why” and strategy, is even more important.

As you start spending more money, there are larger budgets, or you want to test and learn something, you need to ask more questions like, “How am I going to know when something works and when am I going to know when to pivot?”

Personally, I’ve learned that most people you’re reporting to have that kind of analytical mindset, and the conversation becomes “Well, that’s great that you have this idea. How are you going to know if something works? How are you going to know what success is?”

And I might reply with: “We don’t know what the answer is but here are some of the metrics we’re going to test.”

That’s the key for me–being able to try new things and to grow and to build your marketing strategy around that. It’s important to lay out the data behind why you want to try something, decide how you’re going to know if it’s working and when to cut the cord if it’s not.

Lastly, what is a good piece of advice or something you would share with a new graduate from a post-secondary program?

1. Say “Yes!” to new opportunities, even if they’re scary.

The scariest things that I’ve ever said yes to, I had no idea if I could do it but they’re the ones that ended up paying the biggest dividends. Also, be open and hungry to learning and to being curious. Honestly, you’re not going to know how to do anything in your first job.

2. Just go learn and be a sponge; ask all of the questions.

There are absolutely no bad questions except for the questions you didn’t ask. Just try to learn and take advantage of the opportunity in front of you. Always be curious and don’t put limits on yourself.

If you’re new and saying to yourself “I don’t know how to do this, but I’m going to figure it out.” That’s a very powerful trait and I don’t think you see it enough.

Thanks for reading! Comment below to share your thoughts on this post. 

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