How these 4 NYC marketing teams find inspiration

by Katie Fustich
February 14, 2018

Marketing is the perfect marriage of creativity and business. When a marketing campaign is perfectly executed, it can truly impact a viewer and make them think differently about a product, person or idea. How many times have we found ourselves sobbing before a beautiful montage on TVs only to realize it was an iPhone commercial?

In order to better understand the magic that goes into marketing, Built In NYC spoke with some of the city’s top marketing talent. You’ll be amazed at what goes into translating the complicated technical world into emotionally-charged content — and maybe even find a little creative inspiration along the way.

Squarespace marketing team

Beyond their first-class web design services, one thing that truly sets Squarespace apart is its exceptional in-house marketing team. It’s likely you witnessed their most recent masterpiece mere days ago, with their much-applauded Super Bowl campaign. Emily Verone, manager of media and acquisition, explained to Built In NYC how their team stays motivated and inspired under pressure.


Can you tell me about the attitude and spirit of your marketing team?

In a word: supportive. At Squarespace, we welcome ideas from every function and work hard to foster an environment where team members iterate together. I am constantly popping by coworkers’ desks to bounce ideas off of them or to get their perspective on a particular challenge. Everyone is always willing to make time to support one another.


In your eyes, what makes for a successful marketing project?

Collaboration and open communication are essential to the success of every marketing project.  It takes an army to launch a new campaign, event or partnership and each function needs to be working toward the same goal. Sticking to timelines and keeping everyone informed as changes occur ensures that everything rolls out smoothly.  


What inspires your creativity in the marketing field?

I am lucky enough to be based in NYC where inspiration can be found right outside my window.  When I walk to work, I make a conscious effort to be present and take in the street art,  billboards and crowds that surround me. Those creative vibes help to recharge me and get me amped for the day ahead. I also set aside time to explore the social feeds and email content of a collection of brands that inspire me.  


Codecademy marketing team

Learning to code is far from simple, yet Codecademy makes it feel that way. For Ashley Hockney, Codecademy’s content marketing manager and strategist, that means working daily to translate the complex ideas of code into something that feels accessible to all. Hockney spoke to Built In NYC about how her team maintains its can-do attitude and finds inspiration from within.


Can you tell me about the attitude and spirit of your marketing team?

With 45 million learners and only a handful of marketers, we are the definition of high impact. We make everything our responsibility. We don't take no for an answer; if we know we need to do something and we can't get the resources, we learn how to supply them ourselves.

Our team believes in continuous growth. We emphasize taking risks and consistently learning. Routinely, we ask each other, “how can we think bigger here?”

But, most importantly, we're customer-first. We see ourselves as a stop-gate between product, engineering and the customer to make sure our product is the best in the business so we can market it with confidence.


In your eyes, what makes for a successful marketing project?

Our marketing team likes to take risks and think bigger. We're excited by pushing the boundaries of what's marketing and what's interactive design. Success to us means trying something no one else has considered and watching what's next. We're also extremely data-driven, so we're likely tying success back to the project's original KPIs.


What inspires your creativity in the marketing field?

We're avid readers and sharers. Personally, I pull inspiration from great marketers like Joanna Wiebe, Claire Suellentrop, Rand Fishkin and, of course, Seth Godin. However, I like to mix the fundamentals of good growth marketing with the creativity I see around New York. That might entail designs from museums like Dia:Chelsea, copy from subway ads or storytelling tricks from literary magazines. I even pulled a color palette from a concert poster.

I'll add that the biggest inspiration for our marketing projects comes from listening to our other Codecademy teams — what makes them tick, what they're passionate about, what they're worried about. When I know why our curriculum development team is passionate about a new intensive, I know that's what I need to share with our audience.


Updater marketing team

As a full-service relocation provider, Updater is constantly optimizing everything from mail-forwarding to mover vetting. Jenna Weinerman, Updater’s head of marketing, explained how her company’s unparalleled services allow her team to break new ground in the marketing field.


Can you tell me about the attitude and spirit of your marketing team?

Every marketing team could use a few more people and dollars, right? No resource is unlimited. Therefore, it’s crucial to be smart about how we work, and our team is strategically focused on exactly that. We’re both skillful and productive, and we see new ideas in everything. We’re resourceful, and we apply our brains to projects and problems every single day – we don’t just expel the theoretical, we apply the practical. This has formed a team culture that’s based on character, creativity and resilience.


In your eyes, what makes for a successful marketing project?

Seth Godin is one of my favorite thinkers, and he once brilliantly said, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” If you’re digging deep to discover your customers’ needs and desires at the core, you’re going to be successful. At Updater, we have a “mover first” mentality – this means that our movers (users) are our number one priority; the absolute best thing our team can do for Updater is to figure out their needs and how we can better serve them. If we work on marketing projects that contribute to a mover-centric bottom line, the project will be a success.


What inspires your creativity in the marketing field?   

It’s always easy to look for inspiration in other companies similar to yours. In Updater’s case, though, we’re the trailblazer in our space, so we’ve trained ourselves to see new ideas in just about everything. We take inspiration from non-industry marketers, we read and write tactical marketing blogs, we share dogeared marketing books from our office marketing library, and we closely follow other industries and brands we love.

Personally, I also keep an inbox folder called “great emails” and drop some of my favorite emails from other brands into that folder. I keep a binder of unique direct mail pieces or collateral I pick up at trade shows. I keep a screenshot folder of web designs or banner ads that caught my attention. It’s important to find insights and ideas from beyond your niche.


Teachable marketing team

It’s no surprise that at Teachable, a company who helps individuals create and sell educational courses, learning is a part of the daily routine. Head of Content Randle Browning explained to Built In NYC that the spirit of the eternal student has helped Teachable’s marketing team create meaningful relationships and lasting products for their clients.


Can you tell me about the attitude and spirit of your marketing team?

At Teachable, we are all about close collaboration and the concept of “radical candor.” Each week, the marketing team leads meet to get advice and find out how we can support each other better. After we read the book Radical Candor, we totally transformed the way we work as a team. The idea is that we can bring our “whole selves” to work — so if something is going on with you outside of the office, you don’t have to try to cover it up or overcompensate. Once that happens, it’s easy to build deep, trusting relationships across the team, and that makes it possible for us to be radically honest about what’s working and when things are going wrong. It makes you feel supported and invested in the team.

Beyond that, we are transparent about our revenue numbers, our priorities, and how decisions are made — it means that anyone at any level of the company can ask team leads or even the CEO about what we’re doing and why, and share their ideas. We aim high and aren’t afraid to get the resources we need to pull off big projects.


In your eyes, what makes for a successful marketing project?

A good marketing project does three things:

  • Truly helps our users. We actually believe it will add value and not just noise, and it targets people who can succeed using the product.

  • Is successful in the short-term and long-term. We hit our numbers for the project and sustainably grow the business (it doesn’t cause massive churn later!).

  • Can be replicated easily. An “evergreen” project that we can either make “always on” or repurpose and reuse again and again is better than a one-off event.


What inspires your creativity in the marketing field?

For me, it always comes back to the customers. To love my work and be good at what I do, I need to feel that what I’m promoting can be truly life-changing for people. It might sound idealistic, but it is possible! And I get most of my ideas from talking to those people and learning from them. For example, the online course industry is still new, and I’m always learning new things from the creative ways our customers put Teachable to use beyond a typical online course model. It’s exciting to plan new marketing campaigns that will help others monetize their expertise in ways we hadn’t even thought of when the company first launched.


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