Awesome People - Ep 36

Marketing, the Iron Triangle, best practices, layoff list

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know — the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes — who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on an interim basis.

Please meet Megan, your Marketing Program Manager 📈

Megan has worked with 2 people on the Awesome People list and gets rave reviews! Anyone they love, I love.  

To start, what exactly is a Marketing Program Manager? It’s like a project or product manager for marketing teams. How many times have you launched a half-baked marketing initiative and things go off the rails halfway through the campaign? You could have used a marketing program manager 😀.

What does this look like in practice? Imagine you are launching a major campaign like an online conference or product launch. At NerdWallet, Megan was responsible for launching their Best of Awards, a program that solidified NerdWallet as the authority on financial products. Megan built the roadmap and drove the cross-functional team of web designers, marketers, and creative designers to ensure that the campaign launched on time, had consistent messaging, and hit success metrics. 

She’s currently working with Twitch to build out their internal marketing programs to improve team collaboration, engagement, and productivity. Over the course of her career, she has worked with Samsara (unicorn backed by a16z and General Catalyst), NerdWallet, FastCompany, and Noun Project. For fun, she has a side business, Seasoned Cook, which offers cooking workshops ✨.

You can hire her to:

  • Design marketing strategies and project plans for campaigns and product launches

  • Launch new programs like online events and rewards campaigns to drive customer engagement and acquisition

  • Increase efficiency by streamlining meeting cadences, developing communication templates, and establishing cultural principles

Have a new marketing program you want to launch? Email me and I’ll connect you with Megan!

She kindly shared some pro-tips to help you manage your marketing initiatives 🚀

Successful marketing starts with knowing your customer

Before kicking off a program or campaign, make sure you know your customer, their goals, and how to reach them. I’ve seen far too many product launches and marketing campaigns go awry because they’re focused on what the company wants vs. what the customer wants. 

For example, one financial company I worked with tried desperately to push a revenue-generating feature (think a product like eBates). Unfortunately, our customers didn’t want to connect their credit cards to our product to earn a few random cents here and there. The result was very little ROI and a lot of product and engineering folks scratching their heads trying to understand why “the perfect feature” didn’t “work”. 

That reminds me, I just read this great article on Quibi’s very quick rise and fall. TL;DR: they didn’t know their audience.

The Iron Triangle — time, quality, and budget — is key for decision-making and prioritization

You rarely have infinite time and money. As a founder, you’re constantly making tradeoffs. The iron triangle helps identify what you’re willing to sacrifice - and at what cost. You can have two of the three sides of the triangle, but not all three. Let’s say an engineer has a family emergency and they need to work part-time for a few weeks. You either push back your timelines, compromise on quality, or add resources. You have to make tradeoffs. What would you do? Depending on the situation, you’ll prioritize differently. 

Establish clear processes, communication channels, and make space for reflection

Mastering these ‘soft skills’ might seem superfluous or non-essential. As someone who’s witnessed projects go both horribly wrong (missed launch dates, lost budgets, angered cross-functional stakeholders) and perfect from start to finish, the value of team alignment is clear. 

Follow these best practices to keep team members on the same page, address problems quickly, and accelerate learning. 

Process 📝

  • Project kick-off meetings to align on the goals, stakeholders, roadmap, and timelines. 

  • Dedicated project slack channels for team communication. 

  • Daily stand-ups for accountability and to unblock team members. 

Communication tools 📣 

  • Define team update cadence to keep people in the loop and set communication expectations.

  • Recap emails after important meetings to capture knowledge and next steps. 

  • Weekly email updates for accountability and shared context. 

Reflection tools 💭

  • After each campaign, conduct two meetings

    1. Discuss wins, misses, and learnings with everyone involved to uplevel the team. 

    2. Analyze the performance metrics — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and agree on the next steps. 

  • Host post mortems or retros after every sprint to accelerate learnings and team growth.

 Want to work with Megan? Email me and I’ll connect you!

FT Gems 🤩

The layoffs continue… Checkr (a legal SaaS co that’s raised $309M from IVP, Accel and YC) recently laid 44 people off. Check out their layoff list. They have lots of great sales and customer success people.

That’s a wrap! Let me know if you want an intro to Megan and I’ll make it happen ✨.

Stay awesome, 

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

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Most recent Awesome People 😍

Behzod - Product, design, and user experience research expert. He’s worked with companies like Slack and Facebook to help them launch new products and better understand their users.

Russ - Ghostwriter and editing master. He has worked with AngelListNaval RavikantMorado Venture Partners, and founders. He’s one of our go-to’s for thought leadership.

Matt - Campaign guy and copywriter. He works with software and CPG companies. He’s done everything from write tv ads to develop content ideas for influencers.

Very cool project alert 🤩

An unannounced Awesome People Ventures portfolio co, needs a freelancer mobile designer and brand designer (2 different roles) to take their product and brand to the next level. The company is the women’s hormone health space, focused on Gen Z, and is INCREDIBLE to work with. They have great traction too 🚀. Know someone who might be a good fit? Let me know and I’ll make the intro!