Melody Gambino, director of marketing, Grapeshot

A keen eye for identifying and then acting on emerging market trends how Gambino helps to advance her team at Grapeshot. As Grapeshot’s director of marketing, she used her core approach to marketing—being process-driven yet open to unconventional ideas—to spearheaded an overhaul of marketing materials and collateral in both content and design that upped their quality and improved their effectiveness. Additionally, she’s guided the implementation of the company’s event marketing program and committed resources to PR, both of which have led to increased awareness for Grapeshot.

Marketing strategy: One of the primary things I focus on is customers’ needs. The customer could be our CEO, or our salespeople, or the [clients and prospects] our salespeople are reaching out to. I find that winning over stakeholders, peers, and even customers by using just my relationships can be effective, as well. Also, I try to focus on data points, which can be much more scalable and hard to contest or argue with.

Winning ways: A big personal win for me has been focusing on my strengths and accepting my weaknesses. Before I joined Grapeshot I was full-time freelance and thought that I’d start my own marketing agency. That was going to be my big dream. And it was a big win when I realized that’s not for me. I’m much more productive when I focus on one company, [versus] splitting up my focus on several different clients.

Professionally, we had a big event for the top 30 [content] publishers, including Time Warner and The Wall Street Journal, and on the day of the event the person who was responsible for marketing, planning the event, and executing the event realized that we needed someone to explain and demo a new product we were launching. Nobody else would do it, so I raised my hand to do it. I did my best; I definitely made mistakes, but the big win for me wasn’t that I got up there and was flawless. It was that I wasn’t too afraid to do it. Initially I was afraid, but once I raised my hand I was proud of myself. Leaders in the organization were appreciative. It’s still memorable. They still talk about it to this day, and I think it made a big impression on them. So that was a big moment for me.

Defining moment: As I mentioned before, one of the defining moments was when I realized that I’m not a freelancer or an agency person. Another moment was a conversation that I had with my supervisor, who told me that I had strengths that I didn’t realize that I had. They were strengths that I had been shying away from because I thought they weren’t glamorous. They were more rooting in operational leadership. I found these qualities actually gave me an edge, not only as a marketer, but my skills also benefited the entire organization.

Trend watching: Focus on data. That’s not new because people have been talking about this for a few years now. But what is new is that data is not only important to brands and agencies, but also the ad-tech vendors. While we’re selling data, we also need data ourselves. It allows us to be better marketers.

Marketing staff must-have: First and foremost, cultural fit is important. In the tech industry people move around pretty quickly, and many don’t stay longer than a couple of years. Finding people who are going to be a cultural fit and invested in what the company is trying to do—and their team members—is important. Hiring is expensive, and we don’t want to make mistakes.

Advice to young marketers: There are two pieces of advice that I usually give to anyone who wants to be in this field. The first is for someone who’s just starting their career: Make your available, especially as a freelancer, because a lot of companies will be willing to give you a try if they don’t feel [they have to make] a full-time commitment. But there’s often an understanding that you could end up working full time for them—and it broadens your skill set. The other piece of advice is for those who are more senior: As a woman, it’s important to make a name for yourself in the industry. So, attend industry conferences, and don’t be afraid to take your earned seat at the table.

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