Heather Newman, EVP & CMO of Content Panda, knows how to work a connection. In fact, Heather and her team are so willing to reach out to others that Content Panda’s entire business model is based off of partnering with enterprise businesses. As you will see in the interview below, her enthusiasm to network means she’s an ardent supporter for building a personal brand—whether you’re looking for a new job or not. Overall, her willingness to run everything from ideas to entire pricing models by her peers isn’t just a major asset for Content Panda; it also helped her win a President’s Circle award at The CMO Club’s CMO Awards.
Drew: How did founding and serving as CEO and CMO of Creative Maven for nearly ten years help prepare you for your current venture as a co-founder and CMO of Content Panda?
It’s been an incredible journey. My time as a full time employee on the original Microsoft SharePoint marketing team led directly to my work with Creative Maven. At Creative Maven, I worked with clients back at Microsoft to originate the concept of the “theatre” demo area and other innovations in hundreds of tradeshows/events. We also produced the first ever SharePoint Conference, which led to amazing connections and partnerships in that ecosystem. My current work with Content Panda (where I am partnered with one of the original release managers for SharePoint, by the way) is the culmination of the last 15 years of understanding partner and third party needs within the Microsoft culture. I am thrilled to be bringing much needed solutions to the marketplace with Content Panda.
Drew: Content Panda Professional is launching soon. How are you marketing this premium version of your software to users who currently use the free version?
We are building a campaign to reach out to current customers via email and direct call downs. The pro version is all about the ability to customize and viewing usage reporting data. It appeals to Enterprise businesses who have SharePoint 2013 or Office 365 SharePoint Online deployments and want to go from our freemium version into a richer experience for their employees.
Drew: What role does social media play in your marketing efforts? Are there any networks or platforms that are working better for your brand than others?
Social media plays are massively important in our overall efforts to promote impactful thought leadership articles, podcasts, product reviews and brand recognition. We use Hootsuite to schedule out tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts. I love being able to schedule repeatable posts out 2 months out. I’m looking at Buffer right now as well.
Drew: How are you as CMO staying on top of all the new digital marketing techniques and opportunities?
I drop into my twitter feed and LinkedIn to stay up on what’s in the marketplace once a day. I love Gizmodo, Tech Crunch, GeekWire, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. I read all of those pretty regularly. I also find an awesome amount of great ideas and articles by being on the newsletter lists and Twitter feeds of all of our CMOs and their companies.
Drew: Can you describe your primary content marketing initiatives this year and how they benefited your company?
Since we are a B2B software company we spend our time creating content around building out use cases and video scripts. We will continue to spend money on creating video demos, product specific downloadable items from our website and thought leadership pieces for our blog going into 2015.
Drew: Do you think it is important to spend time on your personal brand and if so, how do you do this without being in conflict with your organizational goals?
Absolutely, no matter what you are doing, one should always be looking for your next job or project. With all the uncertainty in the job market, spending 30 minutes a day on your own brand is an absolute must. I think the larger the corporation you are with the harder this can be though. Putting yourself out there and being thought of as a bit of a superstar can stir up a ton of politics and jealousy. I think discussing personal brand with one’s team and leadership is the way to stay out of conflict. You can easily make “personal brand” into a campaign/initiative that everyone participates in. This can be simply ensuring that there is consistency on LinkedIn around how you all describe your company. That alone can start the conversation and lead the way for everyone to participate.
Drew: What advice do you give to junior marketers when they ask about ways to manage their careers?
Join. Read. Network. Be a part. Don’t be afraid. Through our careers, Most of us will have terrible managers & poor leadership, so you have to really DIY on guiding your own career and how you feel about your worth/work. I would always say toot your horn, be confident, know that you do know what are talking about (most people fake it most of the time anyway and are afraid someone will figure out they don’t know as much as they do). Join marketing or other social groups to build your tribe, read books by Brene Brown, The Heath Brothers and Al Ries and participate in social media voraciously (watch the SnapChat). Don’t stay in a job if a manager treats you badly, there are lots of opportunities out there for great people.
Drew: How important is having a strong peer network to your ability to do your job well? (explain benefits) Can you describe an instance in the past year when your peer network helped you?
Having a strong peer network is how the movers and shakers of this world get to be at the top. I reach out all the time to colleagues to run ideas, pricing models, content by them and they do the same with me. This is so important whether you are in startup land or the corporate world. I left a company last April and the first thing I did is reach out to my close colleagues in my industry and to CMOs in the club. My transition was quick to working with amazing colleagues at IT Unity.com as their CMO and also being able to really dive into driving the launch of my start-up, Content Panda’s first product. Peers should be there for you just like friends to celebrate with you when you rock it and to support you when things go sideways. That person you need in that one moment should already be a colleague. Ever job or project I’ve landed in the past 20 years has been through a peer or friend.