Whitney is the Product Marketing Strategy Lead at CoSchedule. She has over 10 years of marketing experience in various roles & settings including an agency, SaaS startup, & higher education. Specific to marketing, Whitney loves crafting copy, digging into data, & truly great storytelling. In her spare time, she’s spending time with her husband & their 2 kids, volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, figure skating, & reading.

What are the qualities that set great leaders apart from the rest?

When I think about the best leaders that I’ve worked with in my life, they all have three traits. 

They have emotional intelligence. They’re transparent & honest. And they authentically support their employees & team. 

Emotional Intelligence 

Having high emotional intelligence equips you with self awareness of your own emotions & actions, which I think is key to being a good leader. 

EQ helps you support the emotional wellbeing of your teams, too. I really believe a happy team is a successful team. We spend a majority of our time at our jobs. Having emotional intelligence makes it easier to navigate conflict, diffuse tension, empathize with others, & set everyone up for a safe, healthy work environment. 

Transparency

Real leaders are straightforward with feedback & constructive criticism. They are honest with their peers & colleagues. 

Obviously that doesn’t mean everyone needs to know everything about the ongoings of the team & company. But it is important to be upfront & honest about hard topics. 

This is especially true when people ask you questions. Truly great leaders don’t sugar coat the truth. Having open dialogue builds trust with your team. It creates better internal communication. It eliminates unnecessary rumors or speculation that can cause stress & anxiety. 

Authentically Supportive (Not Performative)

Finally, great leaders are authentically supportive. The best leaders I’ve seen are naturals at building up others. They find & celebrate the strengths & successes of their team. They are ethical & lead by example. They step up to the plate when things need to get done. These leaders trust their team & don’t micromanage. 

What is a lesson you have learned that has helped you become a better leader?

One lesson I learned early on in my career is to confidently & clearly set boundaries. When expectations are muddy, no one is set up to be successful. 

Define clear expectations, set boundaries, provide support when needed, and ask for help if you don’t know the answers. Clear expectations & boundaries are critical for understanding the success of a project, setting your team up to feel accomplished, & keeping all involved parties on the same page.

What advice would you give to women who want to become leaders?

Be open to learning. Everyone has different amounts of free time available & unique learning styles. Try to find time (daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly) to be intentional about learning something new. 

It could be as simple as listening to a podcast about leadership on your commute to work. You could read a book or listen to an audiobook. You could make time for a conference or webinar. Whatever learning looks like for you, find time to prioritize some self-improvement time. 

One of my favorite ways to learn is to try something new. This could be at work or outside of work. I learn best by doing & trial/error. Find what works for you & take on new challenges to keep on growing personally & professionally. 

The other recommendation is to connect with other leaders. Connecting with others has made a huge difference in my personal & professional life. Again – don’t overthink it. You can do this by networking at community events, having lunch with a colleague, or even connecting virtually on Twitter or LinkedIn with others in your industry. 

At a company that offers industry leading solutions to create marketing content calendars, how do you stay connected with your team when launching a new marketing campaign? 

Obviously, we use CoSchedule Marketing Suite. Our team creates Marketing Campaigns inside CoSchedule to keep track of all the required projects, timelines, tasks, & assets. 

Having the right tools in place to help you collaborate, track progress, & manage deadlines can take a lot of manual work & miscommunication out of the equation. 

With Marketing Suite, we can collaborate on individual projects, check in on progress, ask questions, receive feedback, & share updates with other teams across our company in one place. Everything is up-to-date in real-time, so we don’t end up duplicating work, missing key details, or wasting time on tedious project management-related tasks. We get more time to focus on actually executing the campaign – creating great copy, designing images, etc.  

We also make sure to communicate any campaign plans & strategies to necessary cross-functional teams at our company – like our customer service team. It’s important that everyone knows what’s going on, especially those in customer or public-facing roles where they may need to be able to talk about these campaigns with prospects or customers. 

You’ve experienced progressive career growth, please describe your journey to where are today. 

I was very fortunate to have many great internships throughout college. These internships helped me gain real-world experience & connected me with great mentors early on in my career. College students (if you’re reading) – consider taking on internships early in your college career. Don’t wait until Senior year. It allows you to explore different types of companies & roles before you graduate, so you can figure out what you’re looking for post-graduation.

I worked at a marketing & web development agency for the first 5 years post-graduation. During that time, I worked with many different brands & companies in a wide variety of industries. This role was insanely valuable to me as a marketer because I was able to learn quickly, write for different audiences, immerse myself in different industries/target audiences, & focus on creating campaigns that drove specific results for many different clients. 

My ex-agency coworkers & I jokingly refer to our agency years as “Marketing Bootcamp,” and there is definitely some truth to it.

The leadership team at the agency was the biggest game changer for me. Each person had their own unique leadership styles, and in my role, I was able to work closely with all of them. I was able to take bits & pieces from each one to form my own leadership style. 

From a marketing perspective, my director, Kirsten Jensen, is an incredible teacher & mentor. She showed me the importance of asking the right questions when doing customer research or putting together project briefs. She was a great boss & her leadership style provided our team with the support we needed to be successful with the independence we needed to thrive & grow. Working with her helped me identify what type of marketing leader I wanted to be. 

Our Director of Operations & CEO were also great mentors to me during my time at that job. They taught me how to provide my peers & direct reports with constructive criticism when needed. They helped me navigate difficult conversations with clients & coworkers. 

Through those early years, I learned how to maximize my own strengths & talents. Through their example, I learned how to help others grow in their roles by overseeing a small team of interns & marketers early in my career. 

Through the connections I made during college, I was given the opportunity to teach a collegiate level marketing class as an adjunct faculty at my alma mater. I was recommended for this role based on connections I made during my time at MSUM. I wasn’t seeking this role, but it was something I knew I had to say “yes” to when I got the chance. 

I discovered my love for helping others learn & grow in their marketing careers through this experience. This is a perfect example of why those relationships we build with others are so important. I would have never thought to apply for a teaching position if it weren’t for that nudge from a former teacher.  I use many of the same teaching methods to train our customers how to use our products & train our new interns at CoSchedule to this day. 

Since 2017, I’ve been at CoSchedule on the Product Marketing Team. I used CoSchedule in former roles. Since I was a marketer myself, I knew what unique problems CoSchedule products solved. Combined with the fast-paced environment & wide variety of responsibilities, I knew the role would be a great fit.  

Since joining CoSchedule, I’ve had a handful of different roles. But I’ve been able to grow quickly due to the amount of responsibilities I’ve been able to take on at a smaller, fast-growing SaaS company. 

At CoSchedule, we like to “fail fast.” Learning by doing is the way that I learn best, and I’ve been given the freedom & tools to take on new strategies, campaigns, & projects by our leadership team. 

I think the combination of these things – failing fast, learning from others, & not saying “no” to challenging opportunities – has really led to my growth over the past decade. There is probably a bit of luck & privilege that also comes into play, but I’m so grateful for the trajectory of my career thus far. 

What are some of the top marketing metrics you look at to assess whether a campaign proved to be successful? 

It really depends on the campaign & what your campaign is trying to achieve. 

I always start with a specific result I’m trying to achieve & build out my campaign around that specific objective. It’s easy to get caught up in vanity metrics or engagement stats. But if the campaign was created to generate more leads, then you need to measure leads. Are you seeing an improvement in the volume & quality of your leads from the campaign efforts? Then I would consider that a successful campaign. 

Obviously the tactics you use to generate those leads are important, but it’s more about the experience & final results. 

Do you want more email subscribers? Do you want more leads? Do you want to drive more sales for a specific product? Are you hoping to get more engagement from your existing audience? Do you want to reach new audiences? Before you dive into a new campaign,identify a specific success metric instead of getting caught up in a bunch of small details like open rates or clicks.

How do you see your industry evolving over the next 1-3 years? 

There are a lot of things we could see evolve & change over the next 1-3 years. 

As we head into a recession, marketing budgets are typically some of the first to get cut. So overall, I think marketers will have to learn how to do more with less money to spend on ads, tools, & team resources. 

It’s going to require some brands to pivot their marketing strategies. I think the biggest thing that marketers can do is find as many ways to improve processes & increase efficiency. This comes down to improving workflows to shorten project timelines, so they can produce more content in less time with the same team. Agile frameworks can work well for marketing teams looking to streamline their processes. 

Search engine optimization is constantly evolving. For our team, SEO is a key component of our strategy. We’ve had to pivot our content strategy from focusing on specific keywords to focusing on becoming an authority on a specific topic. 

Our strategy has pivoted to focus on making sure we comprehensively cover topics our audience is interested in & build out those resources in a way that makes them easy to discover. I think this approach to content marketing will continue to evolve. So instead of focusing on ranking for a specific keyword, it’s important to think about how that keyword fits into a larger topic, too. 

It will also be interesting to see how AI copywriting & design tools will impact our industry over the next few years, too. But we’ll have to stay tuned for that. 

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like