Micha Hershman

AMA: JumpCloud Chief Marketing Officer, Micha Hershman on Demand Generation Career Path

June 19 @ 10:00AM PST
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JumpCloud Chief Marketing Officer, Micha Hershman on Demand Generation Career Path
Top Questions
How do you transition from sales to a demand generation role?
As someone with a wealth of experience in marketing and sales, from strategic to operational, what advice would you have for someone looking to transition from a sales role to demand generation? I love being involved in this pillar of the company and no longer in a front-facing sales position. What steps do you recommend I take to make this move successfully
Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
Great question. Difficult to answer, without knowing more about you as a human (feel free to reach out to me on LI and we can chat more specifically). That said, here is my general thinking on the subject: First, leverage your experience. You sales background is a huge asset. Use your experiences to help the Marketing team get a better understanding of customer pain points, buyer personas, and the nuances of the sales funnel. Your team will find your knowledge to be invaluable in crafting effective demand generation strategies that resonate with potential customers. That said, you will have a lot to learn about how the function of "demand generation" works. * Digital Marketing: Learn about SEO, SEM, social media marketing, and content marketing. This is often the largest discretionary spend in your entire company. Experts here command executive attention, have a huge impact on spending decisions and can make or break your top of funnel volume. * Marketing Automation Tools: Get hands-on experience with tools like HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot. Learn how scoring works. Get a sense of how email campaigns are developed, what your marketable database looks like, and how you can help the team improve their segmentation efforts. * Data Analysis: Marketing data is adjacent to Sales data, but it's a whole new pile of stuff (100's of metrics across the different parts of the org) to learn. Get a sense of what matters most and what are nice to do metrics. Develop skills in analyzing data to understand campaign performance and ROI. * Content Creation: Work with the content team to understand the machinery. How does content marketing generate leads? What content is mapped to what stage? How is that content scored? You can be a big help here; help the team brainstorm new and relevant topics at the awareness, consideration and decision stages. Help the PMM team develop one pagers for sellers that actually matter. I'd suggest that you work to deepen your understanding of the customer journey from awareness to decision. Spend some time with the PMM team, growth team, or your lifecycle marketing person. Get a sense of how your organization creates create touch points that guide potential customers through the funnel will be essential in a demand generation role. What are the "aha" moments in your product that signal a potential long-term paying customer? How many touches in your SDR sequences or in your marketing nurture emails. One interesting, big concept to consider: How can you start to shift your focus from individual sales (1:1) to broader, more programmatic marketing strategies (1:Many). Consider how you can leverage what you know, and how you can apply it at scale, to attract, engage, and convert leads to closed won. Making this mental shift will be critical to your success in Marketing and Demand Generation. This is a big one, a mandatory IMO. Please please please please please communicate your career aspirations with your current manager or HR department. You need to find the right balance between being direct but non-threatening. You want them to know what you want and when, but not make them feel like you have checked out or are not worth continuing to advocate for and invest in. Managing this carefully will be key to making a smooth transition between roles. The marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Stay curious, keep learning, and be adaptable to new tools and trends in demand generation. Attend events, participate in webinars, and read read read read read everything you can get your hands on. Continuous improvement will be key to your long-term success, whatever path you choose to pursue. Of course, I'd be remiss if I did not suggest you work to connect with professionals who are already in demand generation roles. You can't go wrong seeking mentorship from experienced colleagues and industry experts. Their guidance can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the transition smoothly. Some thoughts if you are still in your Sales role: Demonstrate your capability and interest in demand generation. Spend some time with your DG partners. Offer to assist with marketing campaigns, contribute to content creation, and help with lead nurturing efforts. Showcase your company knowledge, your proactive approach and you're going to win both kudos and a better chance at landing a Marketing role. Finally, I'd recommend working to build your "T-shaped career." A generalists breadth and broad understanding of marketing concepts will help you accelerate and become successful and valuable in smaller companies. As you grow, you'll develop the long leg of that "T" - your specialization. This will become more and more important as you grow in seniority and look to take on more senior roles. Companies usually hire because they have a problem they want to address, and they are looking for folks who have specialties in addressing them. This WILL become a huge part of your later career value proposition, so start thinking about it now.
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Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
Don't believe the "experts". NO ONE knows the answer to this question with confidence). All that said, here are my hot takes: AI will have an impact on your career as a Demand Generation professional in the medium term. How? -Automation of your routine tasks: AMEN. This is a great thing and will allow us all to spend more time focused on more interesting creative and strategic problem solving. -Enhanced Data Analysis: Again, this is rad. Imagine you have your own, personal data scientist to help you parse the reams of data we collect as marketers, and develop real and impactful business insights. -Personalization at Scale: More great news here. AI will help us personalize sales and marketing interactions beyond the hard limits of 1:1 "account based marketing". That means more net new leads, more qualified leads, more opportunities, higher average deal sizes, more closed won and happier customers. -Improved Lead Generation and Nurturing" See above for personalization; it will have a meaningful impact on our ability to ship the right ad to the right prospect at the right time. It will help us customize our nurture streams and produce the right content. This is great news for all of us. -Content Creation and Optimization: This is probably where you can see the biggest impact RIGHT NOW. If you are not using free, off the shelf tools for content ideation, outline creation, narrative flow, H1 & H2 creation and editing for readability....you are missing out. Will this replace the Content Marketing Manager or Copyeditor role anytime soon? I don't think so. It's just going to make them more productive. -Real-time Customer Insights: I don't think we're here yet, but I think it's coming and it's a GREAT THING. In near-future states, AI will provide real-time insights into customer behavior and engagement, allowing for more us to be responsive and pivot quickly to marketing strategies. The big question for us human working professionals is, "can we increase our agility and be prepared to quickly adjust campaigns based on these insights?" -Skillset Evolution: Ok so this one is INTERESTING. You want to take a risk and get ahead of building an inevitably hot, in demand skill? Invest in your query development skills (I recently heard of a startup shutting down for a month to train their entire staff on this). Get proficient in using AI tools and platforms, understanding AI-driven analytics, and how businesses can integrate AI into your overall strategy. All that said, I don't think AI will replace your role in the next 5-10 years, provided you embrace and leverage the tools that are rapidly becoming made available to you. In the long term - ten plus years - AI will almost certainly transform the the role. Maybe even eliminate it as it stands today. But there's no need to panic. It may be hard to remember, but there were no "Demand Generation Managers" 20 years ago. And Marketers like you and me still have jobs.
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Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
Great question! Thanks for asking. I joined JumpCloud for five simple reasons (a framework I'll continue to use as I evaluate future roles): First, it's a great business with strong SAAS performance compared to industry benchmarks (especially in this day and age). Second, it's the right scale and complexity for me. Big and interesting enough to be a challenge for years to come...but familiar enough that I knew I could hit the ground running and begin to contribute right away. Third, and to the previous point, I joined JumpCloud because I thought I could help. They have problems to solve, I have the relevant skills and experiences. Fourth, it's a great product. You can validate that on the G2 grid - exceptional product satisfaction. As a Marketer, there is nothing worse than trying to sell a product that has poor market fit and does not provide customers with real value. Finally, the people are great. The C-suite is great. The Marketing team is great. The sales team is great. No politics, no bad apples, all good vibes and open minds.
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Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
To be successful as a Demand Generation Manager, both soft and hard skills are essential. More hard skills early in your career, and a clear shift to soft skills later. Here's my hot take: Hard Skills Data Analysis: Proficiency in interpreting data and analytics to make informed decisions. Ability to use tools like Google Analytics, Tableau, or Excel to track and analyze campaign performance. Getting comfortable with fast, sloppy startup math (vs the ideal but rarified state of statistical significance and variables with little swing). Marketing Automation: Expertise in using marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, or Eloqua. Understanding how to set up and manage automated workflows, email campaigns, lead scoring and lead delivery systems will all pay off for you over time. CRM Management: Familiarity with CRM systems like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics. Getting hands on with your reporting, and the data-bridge between sales and marketing, is critidal. You gotta be able to get in and generate your own reports. Knowledge of and experience with integrating your CRM and your MAP is a real bonus. Content Creation and Management: Skills in developing compelling content that attracts and engages potential leads. Experience with content management systems (CMS) like WordPress isa plus. But the most important elements are 1) research capabilities and 2) writing skills. If you can identify customer pain and write in plain, easy to read english EVERY job will be easier for you. SEO and SEM: Understanding of search engine optimization techniques and search engine marketing strategies. As you grow in your career, you will benefit from the ability to conduct keyword research, optimize content, and manage paid search campaigns. You'll need to learn platform specific idiosyncrasies, and be able to keep up with the ceaseless flow of UI updates, algorithm changes, pricing models and creative formats. Project Management: Competence in managing projects, timelines, and budgets effectively. Massively helpful skill that can quickly transform you into the most valuable person in your department and your leader's go-to person. Get familiar with project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Monday.com. Read a book, attend a class or better yet...get certified (your company may even pay for it). Outbound and ABM (Account-Based Marketing): Knowledge of Outbound and ABM strategies will become more important as your organization inevitably moves "up market". The ability to work with Sales to develop a target account list, assemble Outreach sequences, execute personalized marketing campaigns and develop custom reporting for your efforts (it's always a shitshow at first) are tremendously valued by Marketing leaders at late stage growth startups. Soft Skills Analytical Thinking: Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to make data-driven decisions. At every level of the Marketing organization, the capacity to interpret complex data sets and derive actionable insights is going to be critical. So is the ability to translate the data into "insights" that can shape your organizations go-to-market strategy. Creativity: Innovative thinking to develop unique and compelling marketing campaigns. The ability to generate new ideas and approaches to attract and engage potential leads will never go away. Finding alternative solutions to business problems is what startups are all about. Build your creative problem solving skill set and watch your career blossom. Communication: Excellent verbal and written communication skills to convey ideas clearly and persuasively. This one is under-rated. The ability to communicate effectively with team members, stakeholders, and customers is mission critical and will have a multiplying effect on your career. Every role you will ever have on a startup marketing team will be better if you invest in your communication skills. Not good at it? Now is the time to lean in and get good. Collaboration: Strong teamwork skills and the ability to work cross-functionally with sales, product, and other marketing teams. The willingness to share knowledge and collaborate on projects is going to matter more and more as you become more and more senior. In fact, your promotion to Director is dependent on it. If you can't partner with other marketing teams, with the SDR/BDRs or with Sales you are going nowhere my friend. Build a reputation as an amazing collaborator - it will serve you well for the rest of your career. Adaptability: Flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions, technologies, and business priorities. Startup Marketers must be open-minded and willing to learn new skills and adopt new strategies. It's literally part of the job description. If you tell your manager "this is not what you hired me for" you are the problem and you have likely stunted your career. Get flexible, stay flexible or get out of the startup ecosystem. Leadership: Ability to inspire and lead a team towards achieving common goals. Skills in mentoring and developing team members is crucial for leaders. So is the much maligned cousin to leadership, "management." Both are required to run a successful marketing team. Talk to the leaders you admire, ask them their secrets, read interviews and form your own point of view on what great leadership looks like...then go and be that person. Time Management: Effective time management and organizational skills to juggle multiple tasks and meet deadlines. Your going to run into the need to prioritize tasks based on their impact and urgency, at every level of the organization. Any success I have, from running a tactical meeting to delivering a major company strategy is constrained and multiplied by my ability to manage time well. Whew. That was a lot! But it's I think it's all true. By developing a blend of these hard and soft skills, Demand Generation Managers can navigate the complexities of modern marketing, drive effective campaigns, and lead their teams to success. Continuous learning and adaptation are key to staying ahead in this dynamic field. And remember, invest in your hard skills first...but don't neglect the soft skills. They are going to get you across that line from IC to Manager and eventually CMO.
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Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
There isn't a single, linear career path to landing a senior demand generation leadership role. The field of demand generation is multifaceted and draws on various disciplines within marketing and beyond (including pretty much any GTM role). That said, I think there are a couple of commonalities: Some folks start in an entry level Demand Generation role (coordinator), and move straight up the ladder (specialist, manager, director). Moving into these mid-career roles involves focusing specifically on strategies to generate and nurture leads, often in close partnership with the SDR or BDR team. This path offers so many learning opportunities: proficiency in building relationships with Sales, marketing automation tools (e.g., HubSpot, Marketo), Inbound strategy, Outbound strategy and ABM, email nurture programs, funnel conversion rate programs, as well as data/funnel analysis. Many folks get their start in digital: Many professionals begin their careers in roles such as paid media manager, digital marketing specialist, content marketer, or social media manager. You'll gain a ton of critical skills on this path: Understanding of SEO, PPC, email marketing, content strategy, and social media marketing. Other senior demand generation leaders come from generalist backgrounds, and there's nothing wrong with that. That might be product marketing, customer marketing, community, brand or field marketing. Fostering a broad understanding how different marketing functions interact can provide a holistic view of the marketing ecosystem, one that is absolutely critical when you are responsible for the whole enchilada. In this case, you might be leaning harder into broader marketing strategy, cross-functional collaboration, as well as capturing and leveraging customer insights. Those are some common paths and any one of them offers real paths to leadership. But if you are looking to improve your chance to land a Demand Generation leadership role, you can focus more on developing attributes. Those include: * Analytical Mindset: Ability to interpret data and make data-driven decisions. * Technological Proficiency: Familiarity with marketing technologies and platforms. * Creative Thinking: Innovative approaches to campaign development and problem-solving. * Leadership: Inspiring and managing a team effectively. * Communication: Clear communication with stakeholders at all levels. * Relationship building: Often forgotten and neglected, it's one of the very most important skills at the upper most levels of leadership. Final point: I could be wrong but my experience tells me that growth stage startup C level roles (the only space I know) come from one of two backgrounds: PMM or Demand Generation. They are going to hire to solve the problems they are facing. It's usually driving predictable demand first, with a measure of brand building second. Worth considering as you navigate your path towards an upper management role in Marketing
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Micha Hershman
Micha Hershman
JumpCloud Chief Marketing OfficerJune 19
Short answer: Yes, it's one of the very best paths to CMO at a growth stage startup. Medium answer: I could be wrong but my experience tells me that growth stage startup C level roles (the only space I know) come from one of two backgrounds: PMM or Demand Generation. They are going to hire to solve the problems they are facing. It's usually driving predictable demand first, with a measure of brand building second. Worth thinking as you navigate your path forward. Longer answer: Please see my answer to "Is there a single career path for demand gen? Or what are some good career paths that can lead to a demand generation leadership role like yours?" I go into more detail there!
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