Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 28 · 1 year ago

A Peek at the Path From Individual Contributor to Marketing Leader

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

No one cares as much about your career as you should. If you leave it up to chance, you may never get that opportunity to make a leap forward in developing the skills and reaching the goals you have in mind for yourself. Ray Lau breaks down his last decade and beyond in growing from graphic designer to senior leader of amazing marketers.

Welcome to growth marketing camp, where we sit down with our favorite marketers to de mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it. Welcome to another exciting episode of Growth Marketing Camp. I'm REX Diiverston, director of sales and marketing it open sense, and today I'm joined by my friend Ray law, the new director of marketing at mitigator. Ray, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me, REX, glad to be here. Yeah, so, while his title says director, his Linkedin description says I think it is very telling of Ray in his personality. I serve the marketing team admittigator and Ray, since we're going to talk about moving into a leadership role in marketing, can you talk to me a little bit about some of your own early leadership examples, like who did you look up to? Or maybe on the reverse side, like who gave you some examples you didn't want to do? What was that like? Yeah, so just kind of thinking about leadership. I think I really like that kind of servant leadership mentality, and so I remember one of my first directors that I worked with, director of sales and marketing at parody ms a previous job ago, and he was just really good at just making sure that we had the right resources that we needed, you know, whatever kind of things that we needed to do our job right. And so there was like learning more stuff or, you know, did you have the right technology? Did you need more software? Did you need, you know, whatever it is that you needed? You know, he was really open to like giving that to us and I just thought that that was a really cool way to really equip the team serve the team. I have a bad experience at a previous company that I'll let it remain a name, but you know it's not too hard to figure out who it is if you pop over to my linkedin. I try to go to a conference with that previous company and they just said now we're not going to send you the conference because we don't...

...think that you speak up enough and that you will, you know, that we're going to get the return that we're going to have, wow that we're going to invest at with you to go to that conference. And you know, obviously I'm not there at that company anymore, but that was just a very, very interesting, you know kind of sign for me. Maybe this isn't the best place for me and if you know, as a leader or as a company, you're not investing in your people and really serving them the right way, especially these days, it's very easy to just find another place to work because you know people are looking for those kind of opportunities where you know not only are you providing a job for them and that paycheck, but what other opportunities are you giving them to continue to grow, continue educate themselves as an individual? You know that ultimately just kind of helps your company out when you do that kind of investment. So I think it was very shortsighted of this previous company that I work for, but you know, happy that I've had really good leadership and companies that I work for that were willing to invest in myself and, I imagine even from outside of the business context. So there have been people in your life who maybe weren't bosses of yours or like others, who have positively influence you from a leadership standpoint? Yeah, for sure. So I think of you know, there's a couple people that I still meet with regularly and we had previously work together, but we just continue to maintain relationships where they're really pouring into me, you know, not only from that kind of a business or like even from a professional set of things, but as a holistic kind of a thing and you know, asking how are you doing? You know in your life, how are you doing with your marriage? You know if you're married, and you asking those kind of questions, what's going on with your family and having like a kind of a full person, kind of a view on yourself. I feel like it's...

...really good to have those kind of people in your life to really speak into your life, and that's really helpful. One thing that I'll just kind of expand on that I heard someone really give me this good advice. Earlier in my career. I was always thinking about I need to find the perfect mentor and you know, and and you're just think about like it's got to be so one that's kind of like me, that's maybe five years ahead of me in my career, that's also in marketing, that's also in technology, that's maybe in or land, you know where you live, and also maybe they have the same kind of family that I do and same background and all this kind of stuff. They are who you want to be in five years right exactly. They are who you want to be in five years and you just kind of craft this almost impossible kind of a list of attributes that you put on this, you know, imaginary mentor that you kind of have out there. And really good advice that I got was, you know, it's really hard to find one person to got to fit all those things. But what if you imagine your life as you know? Imagine that you had a board of directors for your life and really started a partition out like sections of your life that you got advice for. So let's say you wanted more like professional advice and you would have a person out for that and you would have a person that you could talk to about maybe some more life stuff, and maybe you have another person that talked about finances, let's say. And so it just kind of like crafting like different a different kind of board of directors for your own kind of life, and now it's a lot easier to find that one person that you can talk to you about this thing or that thing. I love that. That's such a good analogy, the board of directors for your own life. I would imagine then, thinking about how this came out of a leadership conversation, it seems to me that one of the most critical components to becoming the leaders finding others that you admire, that you look up...

...to, that you can follow, you know, some of their best practices, but maybe from like you can't just be a leader in that you're very good at doing your job or that you're very good at motivating people. Like there's a whole suite of things that you can improve on to become a great leader. But sounds like mentorship and like finding great mentors is a critical component of that for your career success. That right. Yeah, that that was really helpful for me. And also just kind of piggyback off of that as well. Like I know that even earlier in my career it was really hard to find real life mentors, right, like just you know, these people that you can just kind of grab coffee with and things like that. And I got another great piece of advice some somebody else that said, hey, you know, like it doesn't have to be that, like you know, you're also getting mentorship from any kind of book that you're reading, you know, and so like think of think of like if you can't find that person in real life, you know, how can these books and things like that serve as proxies. And even today, I think like one of the bigger things that I've noticed is just using linkedin and finding the right kind of people that you want to follow. We're all thinking of the same names, probably your Dave Gerharts or Chris Walkers, everyone over there at sweet fish media, you know, like all those kind of people that are really kind of sharing like really good, insightful marketing tips professionally and all that kind of stuff. Make sure you follow those people and kind of find like find those people that really kind of resonate with what your point of view is and how you want to like kind of approach your professional, you know, career and things like that, and that's an amazing way to just kind of be influenced by these people kind of get that great advice that they're giving out already, but in a way that you know maybe you're never going to meet David Garret part or Chris Walker and these guys, right, but you know you're getting your it's a way to kind of get that influence and just kind of finding those right people that you want to follow. Yeah, I love that. It's even easier now than it ever was before. Now I would say the ones that...

...you named are particularly known for sharing actually like practical things, things that they have done before, not just sharing kind of platitudes and niceties. They're great thinkers. There's a lot that we've actually had on the show, folks that I follow him, admired for years of learned a ton from. We're very fortunate to live in a day and age where we can have that sort of you know, we can connect with them in a way or we can follow them and learn from them in a way that doesn't require that one to one handholding approach of like what we typically think of as mentors. I think that's really good advice. So what we're doing here is basically a little departure from our standard episode of Growth Marketing Camp where we talked about like hey, this is a campaign, starts here, ends here. Here's what we're looking at. But you could almost look at your career as a campaign, because a thing that you need to build, as a thing you need to focus on, a thing you need to develop over time and learn from. So I wanted to catch up with you about what it took for you to move into a leadership role in marketing and and doing my research, I saw that you were at your last company for almost twelve years, which, by the way, is like almost an unheard of thing these days. So I think it's amazing that they were able to keep a talented person like yourself around for so long. So clearly leaders did a lot of right things and you had some good examples like can you describe for us a little bit of your career progression over those just over eleven years at parody MS? Yeah, for sure. So when I started at parody MS I was a graphic and web designer and I came in and was working with our sales and marketing director and you just kind of doing the typical things that you would kind of do and a graphic that web design kind of roll. Yeah, working on your new logos. You you know you're going to readesign the website and things like that. But one of the coolest stories, I think, that I have that really kind of got me introduced to digital marketing was we are working with an agency at the time. I'm not going to name them, but we're working with an agency that was helping with our paid ads and I didn't know anything about pay dads, but I could tell that something was off with their approaches. It seemed like it was way too broad. It seemed like we're just targeting the...

...wrong key words and and the cost seemed way too high to me. And so I didn't know anything about it, but I could tell. I feel like something wrong here. So I ordered a book on Amazon. This was the boss that I said that was really great at equipping me and you know, he's like hey, you know, if you think that you can do better, like go for it. So I read the book and just put into action what I read in the book and, you know, we started to see like some pretty big changes from that and I was just like wow, this is this is amazing. Like, you know, I didn't know anything about this, I read a book on it and now I can do it, and so that was just one of the cool ways that I was able to maybe find an opportunity, find that kind of hidden opportunity and, you know, look for a way that I can continue to add value to the company. So that that was just kind of an awesome thing that I did and just really thankful for people that are willing to, you know, take a chance on a graphric and web designer that wants to run their paid ads right, you know, and so like it takes a growth kind of mindset, I think, on both sides of the fence, you know, not only from the person who wants to, you know, learn and try something new, but on the employers side as well, like, you know, just being willing to let someone who's never done this before take that chance, so that clearly he was investing in your future in saying like hey, you know what you can try and if you fail, at least you'll have tried something. I think what's maybe a little hidden life hack, and what you just shared, though, is that you read one book, not a hundred books, and you applied it, not put some linked in about it, then just said like Hey, look at my book collection, that you actually applied the learnings from a single book and saw the impact, which is amazing, because we're all tempted to go by the next business book and the next one in the next one, the next one. And having authored a book myself, like I think about this right, I don't. I try not to read a ton of business books because if I don't apply what I learned, doesn't get me very far. And then I've read some really cool...

...words and I have some really cool phrases to throw around with other business people. But when you apply it, even like Oh, you know, you knew is your web design, your graphic design skills, and you knew that something was wrong and you read a book and you did something with it, was amazing. It's just something. You know. You may gloss over it, but too often we're attempted to go read a hundred books a year and try and beat some number, some record, and really it's all about a application of the learnings. Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah, I think it's about, you know, not only taking that knowledge but also how can you find a way to apply it? And you know, and so I think that that's that's something that you know as you continue to grow in your career, it's really looking for those opportunities. You know, what are the gaps that are at the company that I can help fill, or you know, what are we not doing today that maybe I have an interested maybe I can do it right. And so I think the biggest challenge is always right just being able to do your current job, making sure that you can do that well. Obviously, you know, if you're just kind of doing a bunch of things that the company isn't doing, but you're not doing your regular job. That's going to be a problem. Yeah, so you got to make sure that you're able to do your current job and then also do that next thing and do it well. Yeah, there's one thing there that like, while your boss at the time was willing to buy that book, right you, you could have said, because this is going to be the challenge for a lot of people who listen to this episode of they're going to say, well, you know what, Ray like, I don't have that boss. That's great that you had him or her in that moment and they bought what, books aren't very expensive. You know what it is. You don't have to take time off and in fly out to a conference to say I could invest in myself, I can invest in my own growth. I think that's the the temptation is going to be to say, well, you know, Lucky you, Ray, look good. Good on you, man. But I think, I'm sure that there were moments along your path where you didn't always have that same leader. You didn't just stick with them your entire career and and like right in their wake. At some points you had to...

...make investments in yourself. Are there any of those that come to mind, places where you had to say, you know what, for the sake of Rais career, I'm going to do something different now. Yeah, for sure. So, you know, I started as a web graphic designer, then I became a marketing manager and then I kind of just took over like digital marketing at party MS at the time. But I felt, you know, maybe it was just like an internal thing for me, but I felt myself kind of plateauing a little bit, just like not really able to, you know, maybe try any new things or learn any new things. And so we had our chief customer officer at the time was looking for someone to help start a community for customers and which she was describing to me sounded a lot like customer marketing and advocacy. And you know, at the time, again, you know, not having a ton of experience there, but having some interest and you know, she reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm thinking about you know, I think we need to start something like that here at Party mss. Would you be interested in doing that? And I said yeah, let's go. Let's let's go ahead and do that and, you know, really just kind of dove in and, you know, learning more about like what customer marketing was and really diving into like building out a customer Ad Becausey program and things like that. I think what was cool for me was going from that, you know, the presale process, where it's all about the acquisition side of things, and then, you know, switching teams, jumping over to the customer success side and, you know, working on customer marketing and building out, you know, what that function looks like. That was just a really cool opportunity. But I think for me that that just kind of unlocked a whole new world of just like new opportunities and learning new things and things like that, and I think it was just really helpful for me and really has helped to shape the kind of marketer that I am today, where I'm not just thinking about that kind of acquisition side of...

...things, where I can really start to think about this whole customer journey. And I wouldn't have been able to do that if I didn't take that you know, take that opportunity, to take that chance to kind of jump into, you know, something totally brand new. That was a little bit scary at the time too, but, you know, just kind of exciting as well and and learning that. Yeah, it's a big difference going into something brand new and putting that risk on yourself, because you're the neck they ring if it's not going well. Right, you're the person who has to answer for that performance. Yeah, I found that many people have career progression leaps. When they do, you know, they take that risk, they do the unusual thing to get an unusual result and sometimes it ends in failure. But you know, worstcase scenario, one of my favorite books for our work week run out the worst case scenario. What happens here right, like, what could have possibly gone wrong? Well, maybe lead power D Ms. You go somewhere else, or maybe they just fit you into another role, or maybe you're now more prepared to take on a different role that's even better suited for you. I think there's a lot of people who would look at this and maybe be afraid to take some of that risk. You know, it's great that you had that support of leadership who are coming to you proactively asking like Hey, would you take this on? But you also mentioned before like you might find opportunities where you can say, Hey, I'm willing, I'm willing to try this. You guys willing to give me like take? Can I can I use a portion of my time to support this in new effort and just put yourself out there and put a little risk on your plate and see what happens from it, because it seems like by and large, that's going to prove useful, even if not immediately beneficial. Yeah, I think that that is really the mindset. I think that, you know, it's really kind of taking ownership of your own kind of career and your own progression. You know, I think a lot of times where you're just hoping like hey, you're doing a great job, here's your next thing, right, and I just found that that's not really how anything that I've ever encountered works. And so it's always it always comes with you kind of figuring out, you know, what the well I want to do, what's kind of the next step that you know, I want to take, and taking kind of ownership on that and not expecting somebody that just hand you something where even,...

...you know, even some of the Times where the opportunities kind of came up to me and, you know, someone asked me about it like you really just kind of taking ownership of that and putting yourself out to there and asking for those different opportunities. Yeah, no, that's great. Well, now, looking at the the big leaf that you made, I mean after almost twelve years at a company, I can only imagine the challenge of everyone to leave at the same time, that curiosity about what else is out there. What could I be doing with kind of impact and I'd be making if I move on to the next thing, and that's that's a nice long time which you made a tremendous impact in your time at parody ms, but it mitigator, what were the things that you identified as you looked for your next opportunity? What did you find there that you're like, yeah, this feels like the right place for me, because a lot of people are in transition right now or they will be, you know, at some point in the future of their careers. What are the things that you were looking for? Yeah, that's a great question. So, you know, like you mentioned, I spent so much time at Pooty ms and had done so many things and we you know, so just a little bit of kind of background, like we had gotten to a point where we were acquired twice in my time at as already and mess and, you know, just kind of thinking about your own career and like your time at the company that you're working at today. You know, you're were living out a experience that somebody else wants to tap into. Like, you know, even if your think like man, I've been stuck at this job for five years and I'm not going anywhere and I haven't done anything, like you know, you're actually doing something there and providing value and impact and somebody wants to like tap into that experience. And I really just thinking, you know, for myself, like when I was looking for different opportunities, you know, I had this funny analogy and I told people this. I want to imagine that I'm going to take a time machine and jump back six years before power Y MS was at today, right, and you know, what kind of impact could I bring to a company...

...like that as who I am today? And so that really helped me to think about okay, you know, like maybe I want to find a company that's a little bit earlier than you know we're power dy MS ended up being, you know, when I left, and that just helped me to kind of frame out the kind of opportunity that I was looking for and the kind of value that I could bring to a company. You know what's interesting, as I kind of just was looking for different opportunities, was you could kind of start, you know, as you're interviewing with different companies, like you can kind of just start to like here, okay, this company sounds exactly like the company that I'm at, that I'm at today, and maybe I'm looking for just switching companies and I want to kind of jump into to exactly the same role that I wasn't great. Maybe this is a company that I want to go to right. But you know, for me like it, as I kind of went through some of those different opportunities and interviews, it really helped me to think through like okay, this sounds exactly like this. I'm not looking for that right now. Yeah, this maybe isn't the best opportunity for me, but having, you know, just kind of thinking through like, you know, just kind of back to like where do you want to go and what do you want to do? And you know it, it doesn't have to be a hundred percent clear picture of what that is, but having a rough outline, a rough idea of, you know, the kind of place that you're looking for will really help you to figure it out. You can't find you know what you don't know what you're looking for right. Yeah, if you don't know where ahead of every path, I'll get you there right exactly, a hundred percent. So just kind of thinking through that and, you know, just finding that right landing spot. I think it's really helpful. That's great. And final question, just kind of thinking about your experience in moving over to mitigator. So I imagine a power do you mess most of the people that you work with as you moved into like a leadership role there? Most of those people you had been around or you personally hired. Jumping over to mitigator, you probably inherited some of the marketing...

...team. There's probably some folks there before you got there that you you're now a leading what was that experience like and, like what were some of the things that you did to maybe step up and, you know, be a good boss of them immediately? So that's a great question. So really just kind of like understanding where they're at and you know, I'm really big God career and helping people to kind of get to where they want to be. So I just, you know, just taking a lot of time, I think, to kind of learn about what have you done before, like what do you actually interested in doing? And as an employer, when you actually take those poor active stuff and you know, we talked a lot about you got to fight for your rights and make sure that your voice is heard and all that kind of stuff. But when you have an employer that's asking those questions to you and a leader that's asking those kind of questions to you, I feel like it really, you know, really starts to help to build that trust and you just kind of really start to buy into like, okay, like this person is not just looking out for themselves, not just looking out to make their name big, but they really, you know, here trying to help me, like they're really taking interest in my career and asking those right questions and, you know, wanting to invest in me. And so I feel like, you know, it's just like if you help people, they're going to want to do great work, yeah, and they're going to want to be a part of something bigger and, you know, really kind of flourished at the position that they're at. So it just makes a lot of sense to me to ask those right questions and try to figure out how to help people get to the place that they want to get to. I love that. I mean a business, especially in early stage, companies like this living breathing entity and things change and having good, open discussions with your people about like what's change for you? What's the same? Where you at? Where do you want to be, and how does this fit with the vision of where the company's head it can help you put them in the right seat at the right time, help them find the best opportunity for them and their growth and and one thing I think people might forget that I certainly...

...have forgotten in the past, is if you don't ever burn that bridge, if you keep people know that you've done right by and they've done right by you. Like one day you might work together again, you might get a referral from them, you might find your next colleague or your next boss or next mentor from them you might be able to provide that for them, and there's so much good that happens by, you know, being that positive influence in each other's lives. I mean even after just this one work experience that you have together, and sounds like you're building those relationships there, and I'm sure you did in previous in previous roles. Yeah, I think that that's really important and you know, as you're going out there, you know, it's just like you want to you want to kind of keep that, you know, treat people right, you know, and they're going to they're good, they're not going to forget that, they're gonna they're going to remember that and you never know when you might work together again or they may know somebody that you know wants to work with you and all that kind of stuff. So I think that there's just like some really good principles, like if you if you just treat people right, that's the right thing to do and it's just it's just it's just gonna end up better, you know, and and you'll never kind of regret doing that. And so I think, I think it just makes a lot of sense and anything that's not doing that is very short excited and nothing long term. Yeah, I think that's the key. Well, so let's let's zoom out from this experience that you've had. You've worked with a lot of marketers, you know, you've been in part of networking groups with marketers, you've just you've learned from a lot of other folks. Is there anything that you're seeing, you know, that we marketers are doing out there that we should stop doing, or maybe something that you see is not happening enough that we need to start doing more? MMM? Yeah, that's a great question. I think one of the things that I'm just kind of continuing to get back to right now is marketing is more than the tactics and more than the different kind of setting up campaigns and programs, and marketing is really difficulties days because there is just so much that is expected of a marketer to do. Like, you know, you put up a bargain...

...job description and we all, you know, marketers, just know it like they're just start laughing because you look at these job descriptions and it's like fifty things that you're kind of responsible for doing. And I think it's really finding the art that's with the science, you know, not kind of getting lost in like the technical aspects of like, you know, setting up the right automation and you know, or even thinking about work flows. Yeah, the workflows and the right segmentation and, you know, jumping into add words and making sure that you're, you know, like all the kind of technical things are kind of set up the right way or, you know, the expectations on like jump been into like Google tag manager and you know, putting tags on the page and things like that, like you know those things are just like we have to be able to do that as marketers. But also remembering, you know, how do you tell a good story? You know some of the basics, like how do I know my audience better and let me talk to some real customers and prospects, and balancing that art and science of this thing that we're in and the complexities that kept that kind of brings and just remembering that, you know that that is the art side of it is just as important as the kind of technical side of things as well, and it's such a it's such a big challenge, I think, for marketers these days and you know, definitely makes our job very difficult, but making sure that you're able to find inspiration for one thing and another thing, the technical side of things and that kind of art, Art and science, or the kind of art piece of it, creative side. I love that. I mean it's definitely hard, it's definitely science and it's got to be both of them. In this sort of balance. You got to walk that line because you could have the most incredible offer that your audience can be fascinated by and then you, you know, you do the technical side of a wrong and no one hears about it, where you could do all the technical side correctly...

...and the thing you're put in front of us a thing they just don't care to hear, like the story is just not interesting to me. You're not speaking to me, you're not solving a problem for me, which is so critic cool to combine those two to that end. I'm curious how is your team structure right now? Like do you have technical specialist? You have maybe that storytelling person, a rider? What does that look like right now? A mitigator? Yeah, so we got a pretty small team right now. We have a content writer, you know, that's kind of like her main thing. But as a small team, you know, you end up just kind of doing a bunch of different things, you know, handling events and things like that too, and really just kind of anything under the sun that kind of comes through. I'm working on a lot of our digital marketing things right now and getting those things up to speed. Actually looking for a digital marketing manager to real listeners on on that side of things. So if you're interested, you know, hit me up on Linkedin. But you know, right now it's just trying to figure out, like we just need more people that can do a lot of things, and so I'm looking for people that are able to do both right now, right and so if you can be creative and also be technical, that's amazing, because there's just so much stuff to do and so much work to do that I think one of the drawbacks on some previous teams that I've worked in is like we went to specialize too soon. So, you know, there might be like well, this person just can't kind of handles email automation and this person just handles writing things. And you know, on a small team it's really hard to you know if so, if if everything will I can't put an email together, that's got to go to that person and just kind of create this kind of different bottlenecks, I feel like, and or I don't know how to write anything, that's got to go to the writer and you know, I just feel like you're just kind of doing yourself of this service if you get to kind of locked into like I only do this so I'm really kind of interested in like the kind of people that can kind of do a lot of things and really...

...kind of balance both of those creative and technical set of things. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Now, let's say you've got a few generalist things are chugging along and you get some budget and you think, okay, like I want to hire a specialist who just does this. What's the first place you would hire a specialist? You think, whether that's a contractor, outsource or in house. Where do you say, all right, this is a thing that most people aren't going to be as good as I need. Yeah, I think I would. I would dive into that creative side of things. So if I'm thinking about like, you know someone who can do videos great or anything, they can be a great podcast host or something like that. And I'm talking a lot about like the technical side of things. But like what you have, you know, a good foundation of build off of, or you got some people that are really handling that well. I feel like it's almost like you can't optimize this thing anymore, like there's no more amount of like well, let's make this work flow better, or like let's Av test this thing to the extreme. Like there's only so much juice you can squeeze out of that that thing that you just can't get any more optimization out of or efficiency out of it. And so, like now you're really looking for like, like okay, for are the people that can really start to get some attention or like just create something that is really interesting or, you know, help the company to stand out in the midst of, you know, everything that's out there, and I feel like, you know, having somebody that's very creative on that side of things is going to really help kind of you stand out on that front. Yeah, I love that. We need we need big ideas, we need bold ideas, reason who's great at that? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Well, look, Ray, we love having you on the show. I'm sure we'll have you on again one day. Now with folks want to come and follow you. You mentioned linkedin earlier. Is that where you spend most of your time online? Yeah, that's right. So linkedin, you know, Start for Lau or I think I think it's Mrraylau and Nice on there on Linkedin most of the time. And the folks want to find a mitigator online. Where...

...do we go? MITIGATORCOM MID IGATO Arcom. Very nice. All right. Well, Ray, thanks again for coming on the show. We really appreciate it. Awesome. Thanks, REX, thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you would give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to get a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had to open sensecom. That's open, sken skecom. Will catch you on the next episode.

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