Work cross functionally as much as possible. I think marketing teams often get siloed, and then morale can suffer or burnout can happen because other departments either aren’t aware or aren’t properly valuing the contributions. It’s up to marketing to foster cross departmental relationships and an ecosystem where other departments are both feeding into marketing efforts and getting value out of it.
I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Kyriakakis. Jennifer is the founder and VP of marketing at MATRIXX Software.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent the first seven years of my career in delivery and technical sales roles, never considering marketing. At one point I stepped in last minute to help run a workshop that one of our marketing executives was giving at the client I was dedicated to. Afterwards, he ended up recruiting me onto his team and, from there, the rest is marketing history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
For us at MATRIXX, it has to be the fact that more than one company who is a customer today said ‘no’ to us, and more than once! We were early to market with new technology and buyers are often risk averse when they’ve been working with specific partners for a long time. They are hesitant to change when something is new and unproven, or they are not quite sure they see the need yet. It’s natural. For us it required staying true to our vision and knowing we were laying the groundwork for future business with these companies. Eventually, (sometimes several years later) they came back and became our best customers. Marketing is a long-term investment, so immediate payoff cannot always be expected or used to measure success.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Google Adwords! Back in 2010 I turned it on without good filtering or much training and suddenly website traffic tripled (as did the bounce rate!). It was all ‘bad’ traffic, so my efforts accomplished basically nothing. We did a lot of tuning after that to get it right.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our willingness to not only sound different than everyone else in the market, but to also take contrarian views. We believe passionately in honesty and integrity in our marketing approach, even when others might make empty promises. On that same note, we are not quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest trend or most popular buzzwords. Instead our focus is to avoid industry jargon and instead give concrete examples from real life customers at every opportunity.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are hyper focused on the purpose, mission and values our company espouses and making sure that vision is aligned across the entire organization. We’re in the middle of a growth spurt, which is great. But as a highly distributed company, it’s important everyone knows what mission they are on, why they are on it and how it translates into what we value as a company.
Getting the executive team and all the employees to understand and internalize our purpose, mission and values will help everyone better communicate, align internally and better represent our company externally to customers and partners.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
For me personally, I spent the first year and a half of my career doing exactly the things I was told to do. This was fine, but it’s nearly impossible to advance quickly that way. So instead, I started finding the white spaces where my help was needed but that weren’t necessarily in the job description or among the tasks I was assigned.
This made a huge difference. I started to train myself in other areas of the project and products I was working on, broadening my knowledge and making me more valuable to the team. The willingness to help solve any and all problems to ensure team success was the impetus behind quickly advancing my career. This led to being asked to take over a multi-million dollar project when I was 25. From that time on, I’ve always considered the bigger picture of success the most important thing to focus on.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Celebrate successes. Constantly tweak tactics. And work cross functionally as much as possible. I think marketing teams often get siloed, and then morale can suffer or burnout can happen because other departments either aren’t aware or aren’t properly valuing the contributions. It’s up to marketing to foster cross departmental relationships and an ecosystem where other departments are both feeding into marketing efforts and getting value out of it.
How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
The efforts to Influence both the market and individual buyers in how they interpret, interact and engage with, buy from and value your brand.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The marketing executive I mentioned who first recruited me after our shared presentation recognized ‘the marketeer’ inside of me. I never would have considered a career change into marketing otherwise. He brought me on board, helped me craft my storytelling skills and then helped me become very visible across the company, for which previously I was doing regionally focused work.
Without his advocacy I wouldn’t have met my current co-founder (Dave) and moved on to start MATRIXX Software. Working with Dave has allowed me to grow and hone my skills without interference or judgement. It has afforded an opportunity to thrive and expand my skill set in a dynamic environment, one that celebrates learnings even when they result from failure. This level of trust and ability to experiment with ideas is a required environment to achieving success.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
Adwords, when used correctly of course ☺. Video can also be incredibly powerful. Even if you don’t have a lot to spend, invest in a good video that will offer benefit across digital marketing channels. Your customers, no matter who they are, are more likely to consume your message in an easily digestible, visual format.
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”
● Punch higher than your weight on the right things. For example, even if you have limited budget invest in a high quality video. It will elevate brand perception and prove its value over time.
● Don’t make the mistake of drowning in data.
● Word of mouth marketing still works best.
● Hire experienced people.
● Don’t underestimate the impact of creativity.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Mobility/education/connectivity. Using connectivity to ensure fair/equal education and more job opportunities for those that seek them, no matter where they live.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are two: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” along with “The best way out is always through.” These represent a continuation of the same concept — know which achievements have purpose, and when the struggle to go through versus go around an obstacle will prove to have the greatest pay off.