Susan Vitale, CMO, iCIMS

When Vitale started at iCIMS 11 years ago, the recruitment software company’s own talent pool was under a hundred people. Today more folks than that are in attendance at iCIMS’s monthly breakfasts for new hires. “We’re on a tear,” Vitale says, and she’s one of the main movers behind her company’s vertical rise.  iCIMS recently signed its 3,000th customer, and Vitale’s marketing department is responsible for driving 100% of leads.  Her call to eliminate an immature line of products and make a risky move to pre-hire acquisition solutions resulted in quadrupling sales in that category to $100 million. Though she’s surprised herself with her accomplishments, Vital has the right genes.  She absorbed business acumen from her mom, a successful entrepreneur who’s now assisted by her twin sister.  Still, she’s glad she strayed from home. “I’m going to stay here as long as they’ll have me,” Vitale says. “I’m smart enough to know I’d never have had this opportunity elsewhere.”

Marketing strategy: At iCIMS, marketing has always been seen as a demand generation engine and sales machine first. As a result, data and trickle-down analytics are always top of mind for me. That combined with common-sense lead generation efforts, content, and PR has proved me with the best balance.

Winning ways: Within a one-week span, we were approached by The New York Times for an interview, were quoted twice in The Wall Street Journal, and had two industry analysts singing our praises. Not long ago, any one of these things in isolation would have made our day.

Defining moment: After serving as marketing manager for about two years, I was promoted to director of marketing. As excited as I was, I was also terrified. I felt that my boss had built something fantastic and I couldn’t break it or screw it up. My mom helped me to realize that the business wouldn’t have given me the opportunity if they didn’t think I was ready for it. That “blind faith” concept stuck with me. I came to realize that I wasn’t there just to keep something good from breaking; I was there to build on it and create something even better.

Trend watching:  What I’m most passionate about is the collision of recruitment and marketing. From where I sit as a marketer of recruitment software, I see this happening and totally geek out. There’s  SEO, drip campaigns, PPC, social targeting—all these trends make recruitment more of a marketing role with each passing day.

Marketing staff must-have: Passion—the fire in the belly; the spark in the eye. It’s the absolute most important thing I look for in my staff. Quickly becoming engrossed in an issue or challenge is something unteachable. I’ve never hired someone who didn’t demonstrate it during the interview process.

Advice to young marketers:  Connect yourself to the discipline. Marketing needs to be seen as a critical component to the rest of the organization and it won’t happen if the people within the function don’t think, talk, and act in that manner. That means tying metrics to business success—looking way past cost per lead or successful events and focusing on revenue and a company’s strategic objectives.

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