Today, we’re beyond thrilled to chat with Alex McEachern. Alex is currently the Head of Marketing at Smile.io, a rewards platform to build a community of loyal customers around your brand. Tune into our chat as we learn about Alex’s career path and his story:
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Can you talk about smile.io and your journey to your current role?
At Smile.io we do loyalty program for online businesses. If someone wants to start up an e-commerce store tomorrow, they can use smile.io to run their points, VIP or loyalty program. The best part is you can get a smile program going in just a couple minutes. I never actually thought I would be a marketer. When I was in university, I was selling computers and printers at Staples. I thought for sure my first job was going to be in sales. Getting into marketing was more of a fluke.
One of my university colleagues had done a coop at Smile and told me that they were looking for one more fresh grad. After getting hired we were told that one of us would end up doing sales and the other marketing.
To my surprise I ended being put into marketing. I welcomed the challenge. When I started, we focused on inbound marketing. I ended up focusing on building our blog and content marketing.
What advice do you have for content marketing?
When you have a small team and you have no traffic, it’s tempting to pay for growth right away. The unfortunate thing is that paying for growth in not a sustainable way to grow. Content marketing can be used as a way to both acquire new users and aid in retaining existing users long-term. Advertising and content marketing are like hunting and farming. Advertising requires you to pay for each campaign and will only produce results when the campaign is on (hunting). Content marketing is more like farming, you plant the seeds and watch it grow.
What are some challenges you think startups face when it comes to marketing?
It’s tempting to look at what other people do and copy it. But don’t go take the marketing playbook from Shopify because they have way more resources than you do. It took them time to get to where they are. You can admire what they do, and aspire to be that, but you will be better off looking at what is effective for a company that is bigger than you but not a giant.
What works for the biggest established brands is not what is going to work for you as a startup! Look what’s going on in your space and figure out how you can be different. Standing out from the crowd of competition is what matters most in the early days.
What advice do you have for breaking into marketing?
For breaking into anything start to talking to people. Ask the people you know who the best marketer they know is. After they tell you ask: “do you mind giving me an intro?”. Start building that network of like-minded people.
The worst way to get a job is throw your resume around to cold contacts.
What are some of your favourite books and resources in marketing?
There’s a company called Drift. I love following their blog and their VP of marketing: David Gerhardt.
I also like to consume information by reading. A few of my favourites marketing books are:
Influence – Robert Cialdini
Different – Youngme Moon
Obviously Awesome – April Dunford
How do you stay relaxed and take time off work?
When I started I was non-stop. It seemed like a good idea but you burn out quickly. Take some time to do the things you love. For me that is reading and putting my headphones on to play some basketball.
If you’re going to take vacation, actually take a vacation. Turn off Slack!!!!
How do you stay motivated?
Continuing to read and learn.
What can I learn next?
What kind of skills can I add to my repertoire?
As more people join your team, you have to keep your team motivated and not just yourself.
To truly motivate your team, don’t get them excited about building boats but help them yearn for the sea.
What is the best advice you have gotten?
“Understand your wins, not just your losses”.
When we win, we usually just assume it was because we are so smart. Yes there is a ton to learn from a loss, but it is also equally as important to understand how you won. Sometimes you win by accident through sheer dumb luck. I know I have 🙂
To connect and learn about Smile.io:
To connect with Alex:
About the Author in Collaboration with Alex McEachern:
Eric is founder of FoundersBeta with a wealth of expertise in startups, building high-performing teams, and product development. He is a top ranked tennis player and always up for a conversation about startups. Check his projects at www.ericrafat.com