Interview with Marketers: Cassandra Jowett
Cassandra Jowett is the Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory, the Intelligent Content Platform for B2B marketers. She’s a multi-disciplinary marketing “swiss army knife” with more than a decade of experience building content-first marketing strategies at early- and growth-stage technology companies. Cassandra is also the founder of the invite-only Content Marketing Leaders Slack and Toronto meetup.
1. Content Marketers need to connect what they do to the business strategy. Why is it important they are brought “to the strategy table” and how can they work towards this if this is not the case?
Content is the rope that buyers use to pull themselves through the decision-making process, especially in B2B. It should be aligned with your business strategy if you want to attract the right audience, and convert them into customers of your products or services. There can’t be any gaps in that rope or else buyers will start falling off. Holding content marketers at arms’ length from the strategy and decision-making process is incredibly inefficient and will likely lead to frustration – on the part of marketing leaders, the content marketer, and the buyers you’re trying to reach.
CMs can’t “just” be content producers. They have to understand what’s needed across the business and why. They need access to high-quality data to understand which messages, content assets, and channels are working for which audiences. They should have a strong understanding of everything in their company’s content library and what personas, products, and buying stages they align with. They must work closely with product, sales, customer success, and leadership to create the right content for the right audience at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. And their opinions and ideas about how to achieve that should be valued by those stakeholders as they synthesize inputs from across the organization.
If these things aren’t true at your organization today, it’s fair to start asking “Why?” and digging into how you can change that. Personally, I got closer to strategy in my own career by being incessantly curious about all of these things. Once I realized it was actually beneficial for my career and the performance of the company I worked for, I didn’t hold back. If your boss and peers aren’t bringing you into the room, tell them you want to be there. Once you’re there, seek to understand. Ask questions, even if you feel like it’s not your place to ask.
2. Why did you start your Slack community “Content Marketing Leaders”?
The Content Marketing Leaders Slack began as a meetup in Toronto for in-house content marketers working at B2B, VC-funded SaaS companies like I was at the time. I was a Content Marketing Manager at a software company and my boss gave me a number of achievements to unlock before being promoted to Senior Content Marketing Manager. One of those was to build a network of peers I could turn to for help.
Like many young Content Marketing Managers, I was just figuring things out as I went and I was the only one in that role at my company. I started with 1:1 meetings, then gathered those people for a breakfast, then that turned into a monthly after-work meetup. Eventually, some people couldn’t attend every month but wanted a way to stay in touch, so I started the Slack community to facilitate that.
Over the last 2 years, it’s really snowballed into a much larger global community of over 400 content marketers. It’s still invite-only and I approve every member myself – not to be exclusive, but to ensure that the community stays relevant to all of us and isn’t dominated by sales pitches. I hope to resume in-person meetups in Toronto once it’s safe to do so.
3. Tell us about your career. What should other marketers prioritize to advance their career?
The seed for my career was planted in high school: I founded the school’s newspaper, held the communications role on student council, and read announcements over the PA system each morning. In my spare time, I built websites and designed graphics in Photoshop. Huge nerd! I went to journalism school after that and learned how to report, write on deadline, and shoot video. I thought I wanted to be a foreign correspondent covering important global issues. But then The Great Recession hit and I couldn’t find a paying journalism job to save my life.
I had bills to pay, so I took a sales and marketing internship with a newly-formed, completely bootstrapped start-up called TalentEgg. I cold called, managed clients, and started building the company’s community on this new thing called social media: Facebook and Twitter were just becoming popular then. The founder asked me to work part-time during my final year of university while I did a full-time, unpaid internship at a national newspaper, and then I joined her full-time after graduating.
We started what we called a “digital magazine” to build our audience and my job title was Editor. But after a few years of muddling along and thinking I was a journalism misfit working in tech, I realized I was doing something called content marketing and it was a real thing! We built the business on the audience my content attracted and our website became #1 in our category.
After 5 years there, I accepted a role as Content Marketing Manager at an early-stage B2B marketing technology company called Influitive. They had a real marketing team, a tech stack, and VC funding, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how it’s done. And I did. I learned so much in such a short period of time. It’s where I also started getting curious about areas of marketing besides content marketing, especially demand generation.
When my peer in demand generation told me our content wasn’t working, I had LOTS of questions: Who did you send it to? What stage of the buying process? What was the message? On which channel? How are you measuring success? When I didn’t agree with the answers to those questions, I got more involved in making these decisions and stepped into more of a strategic role on the team as the company grew.
In 2017, I joined LookBookHQ (rebranded to PathFactory in 2018) as the Director of Content Marketing. The idea of joining a company that was all about leveraging content in digital marketing strategies was (and still is) fascinating to me and allowed me to continue my learning about demand gen. Through a few marketing reorgs, I was promoted to Director of Integrated Marketing and then Senior Director of Marketing, where I now lead the “brand and demand” functions including content, design, customer marketing, and demand gen.
What I prioritized to advance my career – your mileage may vary:
- Being helpful, even if it’s outside my job description
- Being curious, asking questions, and seeking to understand as much as possible
- Working with good, smart people I could learn from
- Following my own interests and passions
- Finding my own unique ways to network, self-promote, and speak up
4. What is your MarTech stack?
PathFactory (yes, we really do use our own software every single day), Marketo Engage, Terminus, Sprout Social, WordPress, Vimeo, Full Circle, Sendoso, Digesto, and Insent.All Posts
Service levels are fantastic, Amanda is amazing! I was running 100mph in December and hadn't had a chance to put pen to paper for a briefing. I talked it out with her and she hit the nail on the head when delivering content back to me.
HeadStart has been a lifesaver in several occasions. Especially, when we can’t afford adding content staff resources to our budget.