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From Practitioner to Leader: A VP of Marketing’s Advice for New Leaders With Andrea Zoellner

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“What has been crucial to the success of all of our departments is super clear alignment on our values.” 

Key Insights

What’s at the core of successful marketing teams? 

Leading a successful team starts with values alignment from the top down. Those common values empower the leadership team to trust marketing and vice-versa. 

“With that trust and knowledge that we all agree on these fundamental principles, we’re able to extend that trust to each department head and to say, ‘Okay, I know that you believe in the same things as me, and so I trust that you’re going to lead your department in a way that aligns with that.”

Balancing the velocity of growth with lasting growth 

Marketing today is about moving fast, but Andrea cautions against moving too fast. Run small-scale tests on new channels to understand their viability before over-committing.

“You can’t be too distracted by all of the new hypes and the new things that you think are going to solve all of your problems and that are going to lead to a huge leap in growth… Those are really rare. So, I think there is something to be said [about] slow and steady growth where you are investing the correct amount of money into the things that are bringing you the correct return on investment, and that you’re not overspending on things that are untested.”

The first step in building a high-performance marketing team 

We’ve heard it time and time again — hire people who are smarter than you. When building a team, fill in the gaps by hiring for your weaknesses. But Andrea tells us not to stop there; as a leader, you also need to get ready to learn.

“One thing that is true for any marketing department is you want to surround yourself with experts in their fields… so part of it is hiring the right people to offset the areas that you’re not as strong and inviting them to teach you, as well. Leadership is not just top down. It goes both ways and you have to learn from your team.”

What it takes to bridge the gap between marketing and sales (45:41)

According to recently released survey data from Marketing Charts, business-to-business marketers plan to focus this year on marketing-sales alignment – a statement that should come as no surprise. But how exactly are businesses creating that alignment? Andrea tells us what they are doing at Kinsta.

“What we do with sales is set those benchmarks of what makes a marketing qualified lead and what makes a sales qualified lead together… and that requires alignment.”

About the Guest:

Andrea is a marketer, blogger, and WordPress educator who is passionate about improving the way we consume and exchange information online. She is currently VP of Marketing at Kinsta, a fully-distributed cloud hosting company, where she oversees the organic growth strategies and marketing operations.

Broadcast journalist. She worked in non-profit and corporate communications in multiple fields including education, pharmaceuticals, and finance. During this time, she managed websites and online communities and developed communication and change management strategies. But despite the interesting work, her heart was set on working in Tech.

After an internship at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Tumblr, and WooCommerce, Andrea went on to work as an IT coordinator, brand strategist, translator, WordPress teacher, before going back to WordPress.com to join their Marketing team. She later worked at SiteGround web hosting before becoming Kinsta’s video content coordinator and within two years, joined the executive team as the VP of Marketing.

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Episode 313