In our Content Marketing Masters interview series, we’re profiling the smart marketers we get to work with every day. We’re asking Rep Cap’s favorite marketers how they got into the field, what they love about their jobs, and how they stay smart.
Meet Rayanne Thorn. Our team has been following Rayanne as she’s moved through different roles in HR Tech and B2B software marketing. She’s helped us throw the Bayou Bash, our annual party at the HR Tech Conference, and we always know we can count on her for a good idea or friendly advice.
Like many of us who work in content marketing, Rayanne took a winding road to land in her current role as a marketer. Here’s her story.
Tell me about your career so far. How did you get where you are?
I was a manager of recruitment and retention for a tech incubator-esque organization. I learned so much about business while working for that tech company that it literally changed the course of my career. I was inspired to complete my degree, shift my major, and pursue an education in business – interestingly enough, I hated the marketing classes most of all.
Like recruiting, I fell into marketing. I started using social media to recruit employees and build a personal network. It changed how I viewed my job and my world of business – communications were altered forever by mobile and social. I felt compelled to begin using new media for marketing, as well. I called it “new media”, because most of my early clients were reticent to even talk about using social media for anything that had to do with business.
In an attempt to sell ad space for an online community, I called on Kelly Robinson, a tech CEO new to the U.S. in my chosen industry of human resources and recruiting. Kelly hired me on the spot to run his marketing department at Broadbean Technology – I was excited and challenged by this opportunity that put me on the path to where I am now.
Today, I head up marketing for an HR Tech company, Dovetail Software, based in Austin, Texas. We’ve embraced the virtual work world and I support the organization from home in Southern California. Additionally, I work with Todd Schnick and the great team over at intrepidNOW.com, a digital media platform specializing in business blogs, podcasting, and “trade show radio,” where we launched the intrepidHR channel last fall, for which I am the editor. [Editor’s note: Rayanne interviewed me for the show. Listen to the episode, called How to Produce Great Content.]
I am where I am today because I’m not complacent to do things the way they’ve always been done or by doing what others have done or are currently doing. There’s always a better way – which means you have to continually strive for greatness, even if you think you’ve reached it.
When you’re looking for inspiration, what do you read or who do you call? What are your favorite marketing blogs/podcasts/websites?
Like most marketers today, I have been reading Seth Godin for years. I believe that permission marketing is the basis for social marketing today, and it’s imperative to remember that in social, your followers have made the choice to follow you and can make the subsequent choice to unfollow you, if you fail to provide information, education or entertainment.
I belong to several private groups on Facebook where I ask questions or share stories – I love the immediate response and the straight-shooter advice.
I like to bounce ideas off my husband, who consistently inspires me to think outside the box – he’s a great support, who reminds me that my best ideas come from me, not someone else.
My greatest inspiration comes from my parents. I have great memories of my father, who was a salesman. He made me read Og Mandino when I was a kid and taught me how to shake hands like a confident, successful individual. Every time I shake hands with someone who didn’t receive that lesson, I’m reminded of him and I’m grateful. And my beautiful mother who, at 79, still works harder than anyone I know and is not afraid to reinvent the wheel. I come by that “better way” thing naturally.
Have you had any mentors who’ve helped you learn about marketing or business?
I have learned something from everyone I have ever worked with – many taught me how NOT to behave or lead in business, but far more taught me the nuances and secrets of success. And many more supported my efforts or were cheerleaders from the sidelines.
Special shout-out to Dr. Hal Simeroth, who was the first VP of engineering I ever worked with and has been a great mentor of mine for many years. He introduced me to true ethics in business and helped me grow my business heart as I was growing my marketing brain.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Truth? Dare I speak it? The epic fight between sales and marketing causes marketers more indigestion than they care to recall. Sadly, everyone, in every other department, thinks they know how to do marketing better than the marketing department – it can be very difficult to fight this battle with diplomacy. With more and more tracking data available, this challenge will begin to diminish but I’m sure we will find another. Challenges are what drives personal learning and growth. Wow, how very “Chicken Soup for the Soul” of me!
While I love the opportunity to work virtually, I do miss seeing my colleagues regularly – so, I greatly value whenever I get to spend time with any of them. We work really hard to maintain a culture of collaboration, respect, and communication – it isn’t always easy, but necessary for success. I enjoy using Slack for this purpose, as well as Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Docs, and texting.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I LOVE when a plan comes together – completing a project or campaign successfully is such a rush. Or when someone recognizes your brand or company based on the content you provide? The best! Conferences and events are a big part of our strategy. We also participate in a few charitable initiatives. Having these events come off with success is motivating and reassuring because the stress leading up to them is enormous.
What do you wish you’d known as a new college grad?
I wish I’d known that I would never really use anything I learned in school except for how to work with a team. I disliked team projects in college because they were long and drawn-out and certain parts of the project were less important to some of the players – but guess what? This is exactly how work is. Figure out your role and how you can supplement the roles of your colleagues to provide quality work, while driving company success. Then do it.
Understand that we have intuition for a reason, learn how to listen to your gut and channel your response effectively.
What advice do you have for marketers who are just starting out?
This is not an easy or glamorous job. It is hard work and in order for you to be successful, you must truly believe in your product and/or service your company provides. You cannot be disengaged and you must be willing to shift gears when necessary. Agility is a key attribute to a successful marketer.
Additionally, never stop learning. If you think you know everything or feel like your job is a cakewalk, it may be time to look for a new gig.
Challenge is what keeps us hopping and producing great work. Be prepared to provide answers to questions you don’t expect. And if you figure out how to do that, please let me know.