Join our next Marketing Night on August 30 – tickets here.
Welcome, and thank you for coming to our first ever Marketing Night! My name is Neal Bloom, CEO of Fresh Brewed Tech and tonight’s host. We have the pleasure of hosting our event at the new UCSD Park and Market Campus. Excited to see many UCSD alumni and others tonight!
The point of Marketing Night is to connect senior marketers with our peers and also meet junior marketers to advise them on their career. From 1-on-1 matching, to a leadership panel, and small group topic-based tables, we’re excited to bring the San Diego marketing community together IN PERSON!
We hope to start this quarterly, so please spread the word, bring friends and co-workers, and give us feedback on how we can help each other grow and learn together!
Unfortunately, panelist Travis Lamprecht was unable to make it due to a personal injury, and will not be able to be present. Don’t be too disappointed, we still have a phenomenal panel tonight. I am excited to introduce Katie Fellenz, Corey Haines, and Tristan Barnum! Please introduce yourselves, and we’ll dive into the questions.
Katie: Hi, my name is Katie Fellenz, and I am a startup marketer, advisor and investor with Interlock Capital. I am also the current Head of Marketing at Trust & Will, an online estate planning startup.
Corey: Hi everyone, I’m Corey Haines. I’m born and raised in San Diego, and have worked with dozens of startups on marketing and growth. I am currently SaaS Marketing & Partnerships at Swipe Files.
Tristan: Hello, I’m Tristan Barnum, CMO at Wildfire Systems, a platform provider that creates smarter, better online shopping rewards experiences for white label partners.
Neal: Thank you for joining us tonight. Now, our first question: What decisions have contributed to where you are now in your professional journey?
Katie: I originally majored in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Post-grad, I wanted to stay in SB, and ended up taking a job in marketing. I started to work for a VC-backed startup and learned a lot about building startups, but eventually took a hiatus and worked on the agency side. Having experience with both sides, I joined Trust & Will in its beginning stages as its first marketing hire, and have been there since. I’m where I am today because I have continually followed my passion for helping people.
Corey: I also did not start off in marketing, and was an accounting major, wanting to get involved in the financial advising route. However, I transitioned to marketing because I wanted to be an entrepreneur and work in business. I started entering the industry through my first internship in San Diego, and am now involved in B2B SaaS.
Tristan: I went to SDSU studying Molecular Biology, but got involved in UX, multimedia work, user design, etc. through a startup I worked with. As I started in the engineering path, I built my own successful startups (i.e. Switchvox) until I transitioned to Wildfire Systems.
Neal: Please delve into the current state of marketing, such as how to properly build a team and learn different new tools.
Katie: I can give an answer about building a team. It’s important to identify the area of opportunity and how to expand in that. As a marketing generalist, I have learned how to broaden opportunities and the benefits of working with the agency world. Currently, there are 12 people on Trust & Will’s marketing team, and we operate in dozens of channels such as event marketing and national tv linear campaigns, building specialities in each area.
Corey: As previous head of growth at Baremetrics, I noticed the change in priority to rising customer acquisition costs. If companies were previously focused on brand marketing, they are now focused on finding a performance-marketing approach to brand marketing, and getting the best of both worlds. The current state of marketing is hard, expensive, and competitive. With so many tech-savvy companies, the standards and stakes are much higher. If you want to do top-notch marketing and have marketing-driven success (rather than product-driven), it’s important to build a brand from the ground up.
Tristan & Katie: 10-15 years ago, content marketing was a pretty good approach that has now lost its competitive edge. It’s important to build a team that understands marketing and where to put expenses. We prioritize finding contractors that understand what you need and can throw bodies and brains at the problem rather than onboarding someone that may not work out. They are seen as an extended leg of the team. Overall, it is important to develop content that is attracting the right people.
Neal: What is talent acquisition like now? Does it seem easier to hire people from different locations, or is it harder because everyone is everywhere?
Katie: Entry positions are harder to do remote because onboarding and training is easier in-person. For the most part, our hires are located in the San Diego area.
Corey: I run a marketing job board, where I can have a first-hand glance of the talent acquisition. Senior marketers are really hard to come by, as they get lots of offers. Companies are desperate for individuals with talent, expertise, experience. Also, covid has resulted in easier accessibility to the global talent pool, but harder interview processes to see if the candidates know what they are talking about.
Neal: How are you prepping your team for next year? How are you staying focused?
Katie: We have been staying focused and maintaining a diverse and global culture. We look for grit and a tenacity to learn, for individuals who won’t let themselves fail up to a certain point. Depending on how they are, it’ll show whether or not they are a good culture fit.
Neal: Lastly, the most important question of the night: Do you have a favorite taco spot?
Tristan: I’m vegan, so I have limited options. However, I love King & Queen, especially their avocado taco.
Corey: I’ve gone to Taco Stand since I joined my first marketing internship years ago, and I get the al pastor taco.
Katie: Lola 55 has good vegan options, delicious tacos, and yummy cocktails. I highly recommend it!
Thank you to our panel for their insight and sharing their expertise!