15 Apr HOW DID I BECOME A STORY ARCHITECT?
I didn’t intend to go into marketing. It kind of happened by accident, which is how many of my career shifts have occurred. I tend to keep myself open to possibilities and I’ve had good intuition about when to make a career pivot. It was early 2006 when I first made the pivot into marketing.
At the time I was trying to become a Systems Consultant, which was part outside enterprise sales, part technical consultant. I had the technical knowledge, but the sales manager that I reported to at the time thought I didn’t have enough outside sales experience to recommend me. He suggested that I find opportunities to get more exposure to the outside sales process. I spent a bit more time getting my Account Execs to take me out on sales calls with them as part of this, but one of the things this manager suggested was that I look at one of the Brand Manager roles in the local marketing team. It wasn’t something that I had considered, but I knew the guy who was our Server Brand Manager and he seemed to have an interesting job.
It was around that time that he left to go a big software company, leaving a whole in our marketing department. My manager at the time suggested that I take on the role temporarily as a way to get some new experience until they could hire a “real” marketing person. It would mean walking away from some pending commissions and restarting with a new territory once this was done, but I evaluated it as a good opportunity and worth the risk.
It was one of those roles that I fell in love with. After a few months of being the Server Brand Manager, I asked if I could keep the role, and my new boss enthusiastically agreed that I should. There were two aspects of this role that were critical to me becoming a Story Architect. The first was public speaking, and the second was strategy.
I had to speak in public a lot. I estimate that I have done thousands of presentations over an 8 year marketing career. I had to go to conferences and trade shows and pitch our servers to clients stopping by. I had to present at sessions in those conferences. We had customer events where I had to present our products. We had executive customer briefings where I had to give technology road-map updates. I was brought on sales calls by our Account Execs and System Consultants. I had to train our sales reps. I had to present marketing updates to senior management. And I built a reputation as the guy to bring when a tough deal had to be closed. My presentation style is genuine and authentic, not overly pushy or smarmy. I got really good at making a compelling case for customers to adopt our technology.
Strategically I had to build our local enterprise marketing plan every year, every quarter, and modify that on the fly when things weren’t working. I had to evaluate tactics, suppliers, and messages during a time when the enterprise server industry was going through massive shifts in buying patterns, while getting and keeping our server share at number 1. This was no small feat, but after a year in the role I had this down to a science. This lead into roles that were more and more strategically important to the organization to the point where I was helping to set go to market strategy for software products that were worth $200M.
While I loved the tech we were working with, it was the skill set I built that I realized could be adapted to any firm, and specifically I could be useful to tech startups and social enterprises, which are my passion and calling.