Ep. 16: From Chef to SaaS Marketer with Paula Hingley
SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 16: Paula Hingley, Echosec
In less than two years Paula Hingley has pivoted from full time chef with no experience in either marketing or the technology sector to becoming marketing manager at location based SaaS social media platform Echosec. How did she make the transition, what has she learned along the way, and what is she still looking to learn?
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Episode 16 Transcript
Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Paula Hingley, Marketing Manager at Echosec, hope you enjoy it.
So I’m here with Paula Hingley who’s the Marketing Manager at Echosec based here in Victoria, BC.
Hi Paula, so you’ve got a really interesting story to tell, or I think it’s interesting at least, about how you got
started in your SaaS marketing career so start off by telling us how long you’ve been in SaaS marketing Paula.
Paula: I guess officially I’ve had the marketing title for just over a year, maybe just under a year actually, yeah I started last May. Before that I was kind of doing a little bit of content marketing mostly writing blog posts but my title was administrative assistant.
Paul: So were you working in the business for long before that?
Paula: So the administrative assistant job was basically about a year, before that I was a chef and a cook.
Paul: okay so you were a chef and you moved into tech and now you’ve moved into tech marketing with Echosec. Do you want to tell us what Echosec do because not many people may have heard of it?
Paula: Yeah so Echosec is a location-based social media search platform so you can find out what’s happening anywhere in the world based on what people are posting on social media and you find those posts by drawing what we call a geofence. A digital fence on a map and you can do that anywhere in the world and see what’s happening right now in real time.
Paul: So which social media networks does it work with?
Paula: Oh, we’re always adding more feeds, at the moment it’s: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube Reddit, VK which is like the Russian Facebook, Vimeo. We also get Wikipedia data which I know isn’t a social media but it’s points of interest in different locations. Big news as well for things like press releases and other news related pieces of content we also get Facebook and Instagram through Twitter I think that might be it.
Paul: That sounds a pretty comprehensive list to me and so who would typically use a Echosec and what would they use it for?
Paula: So historically we were mostly a security platform hence the name Echosec. Then we quickly found out that other industries were wanting this kind of technology so now our focus is on security, journalism, marketing and branding and analysts.
Paul: What sort, market analysts?
Paula: Yeah and financial analysts, it’s a really quick way to find out what’s happening somewhere so if there’s a political issue or environmental or natural disaster and maybe you have stocks invested or you some investments in an area you want to find out actually what’s happening, the best way to find that out is to see what people are tweeting or posting on those various networks.
So you just cut out the middleman and go direct to the source what people are actually saying.
How bad was that earthquake really? You know what was the impact of this event.
Paul: So how long has Echosec been going?
Paula: They were founded in the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.
Paul: So it’s actually quite a new business?
Paula: Yep, still considered a startup I suppose.
Paul: Sure, it’s not a space I know really well but it strikes me that it would be pretty competitive?
Paula: Yeah for sure, a lot of the features that we have are shared amongst other companies, things like HootSuite. They’re more of the social media management side but they do a certain degree of social media listening as well and finding out brand mentions and that kind of thing.
Paul: Engagement, that sort of thing, basic analytics?
Paula: Yeah so we do have quite a few competitors but we’re the ones where location is the focus, that’s probably our biggest differentiator.
Paul: Sure, so that’s Echosec, you started out as a cook, you’re now in marketing, that must be a massive change you must have had to have learned a completely different set of skills?
Paula: Still learning.
Paul: Yeah so how are you going about doing that?
Paula: Oh it’s a maze, this field is incredible, there’s so many resources online. I mean if you want to learn how to do digital marketing you can probably get a pretty good education for free by just reading articles.
Paul: So what sources have you been looking at or do you rate?
Paula: HubSpot Academy is incredible, Google analytics Academy, AdWords Academy. All the big companies have their own academies where they show you how to use their tools and so much of digital marketing is understanding how to use the tools that do it and they want you to learn how to use them so that you’ll buy them. So there’s so much education out there for free it’s amazing, lynda.com is also really good.
Paul: Yeah that’s now owned by LinkedIn isn’t it?
Paula: That’s true. Yeah and of course networking with others in the industry and taking people like you out for a cider once in a while and picking your brain is really helpful.
Paul: Yeah I’m happy to do anything for cider, great thank you for that.
You threw me a bit with the cider. So in terms of what you’re doing, your role, what does the day-to-day look like for you at Echosec? What sort of tasks are you doing and is it tactical stuff or are you like shaping the strategy?
Paula: A little bit of both. I do have a lot of help from a team in the US that we use, a sales and marketing
contractor basically and we kind of work together on a lot of things so yeah that’s one of the challenges of my day-to-day is figuring out how best to spend my time. I might you know Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is gonna be kind of planning the next quarter of content and looking at the strategic vision of the whole company. Then maybe on Wednesday I’ll say okay I really need to write this article and I’ll just push it out on a Wednesday.
Paul: Put your head down, blinkers on.
Paula: Exactly, but then there’s so many distractions I mean we’re constantly bombarded with ‘oh shoot, this certain campaign’ I need to check on or somebody asks me about a certain metric that I need to have.
So I’m always jumping around, like you said to me once it’s all about flipping switches and just deciding which switch to flip when.
Paul: Oh, the marketing leaders?
Paula: Yeah so there’s a lot of, it’s really tricky to kind of focus and nail down, this is my dedication time for this specific project. So my day-to-day could be anything, one day it’ll be writing emails just loads and loads of emails for email marketing campaigns.
Paul: What, kind of sequence emails?
Paula: Yeah, right now I’m writing a pillar page so that’s a giant piece of content that is kind of daunting but it’s gonna be great when it’s done. So sometimes my days are just buckling down and writing and sometimes it’s just looking at all the metrics and figuring out what to do next, what’s working, what’s not working, switching things on and off.
Paul: So as a cook, as a chef, you used to work long hours standing up all the time very physical job and now you’re sitting at a desk all day? How have you dealt with that change?
Paula: Well I do have one of those sit-stand desks which helps but I do find it hard to stand for long periods of time, walking around is really helpful. I could cook all day because i’m moving around but standing in one place is really tricky so I’d still do a lot of the other kind of office administrative jobs like ‘oh we need envelopes’ I’ll go get some, or somebody needs something.
Paul: Just because you fancy a walk?
Paula: Yeah I do, I’m more of an extroverted kind of marketer so I do like to chat with people, I’m lucky that Echosec tends to send me to conferences a fair bit.
Paul: Oh nice, have you been anywhere nice yet?
Paula: Yeah, last year alone I was in Washington DC, Orlando, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, I’m going to Seattle next week and then New Orleans the following weekend.
Paul: Wow! Thats a hell of a marketing traveling budget.
Paula: Yeah so that’s my favorite part of the job is definitely getting out talking to people, finding out what they need and how we can kind of fit their needs.
Paul: Sure. So I’ve noticed that you’ve started doing like customer walkthroughs and videos and stuff on LinkedIn. I’d be interested to hear how that’s working out?
Paula: Yeah so I think because I am a fairly new marketer and because I’m fairly new to the tech world this stuff was very confusing to me at first, I walked in and they’re talking about API’s, CPAs and all these things. I understand now a lot more of it but I still feel like because I have this experience of not being immersed in this world for so long it’s really important to me to translate the tech lingo into something that people actually understand. We’re not selling to tech people necessarily, we’re selling to security people and to, well marketers understand a lot of it.
Paul: Depends if they’re tech marketers, some marketers if they’re more brand based they don’t understand a lot of it.
Paula: Yeah so I think with the videos my goal there is to really try and make it so that people understand what we do in really basic terms, in ways that I understand because that’s a huge part of what I bring.
Paul: Yeah and it makes that the software be very kind of accessible and also you know puts a human face on it which is one of the problems with tech marketing people. They think it’s just about showing an interface and showing some features and showing what it can do but to actually bring this stuff alive you actually need a person. Then explain it within the context of whether it’s a security professional or a marketing professional and put the story in the context of their role. I guess that’s kind of a lot about what you have to do is understand each segment and market accordingly to them.
Paula: Exactly, my really good friend the other day saw one of my videos and he said I think I finally kind of understand what your company does and I was like perfect, that’s exactly what I wanted so that’s a channel I’m gonna keep going with.
Paul: Great and is there anything else that you’re experimenting with or innovating with or you’d like to try?
Paula: Good question, graphic design, really the whole post-production of things like videos and audio is a big one for me. Any kind of design, I have zero design background so we have designers on staff which is great but sometimes I just want a thing now and I just want to make an infographic and put it out there. I think that if I can hone those skills I’ll be much more useful.
Paul: A well-rounded marketer.
Paula: Yeah, they talk about the t-shaped marketer.
Paul: They do, it’s become very trendy, T for trendy.
Paula: It makes sense to me though you know, it’s like have a good basic understanding across the board and then really focus on one and I think the design side is something I need to get that basic grasp on. Our CEO is always pushing me to get into things like Lightroom and all the Adobe products, so it’s happening.
Paul: Great and so this is the killer question, now that you’re a full time, fully fledged marketer how do you relax, do you still cook for yourself?
Paula: All the time, I love to cook.
Paul: Do you miss it?
Paula: I don’t miss cooking as a job really.
Paul: Too hard, a grind.
Paula: Yeah, I love what this job has done for my work life I mean I love that I can…
Paul: Going home at 5:30?
Paula: Yeah I can bring my computer anywhere I can be on the road, I love that.
Paul: So you’re a digital nomad?
Paula: Yeah, pretty much but I do cooking as my number one favorite thing and I consume the most food media I think out of anyone in the world! You cannot serve me too much food media, I’m just always wanting more I mean it’s insane. Actually I get a lot of inspiration from these things because marketing is
marketing right I look at what somebody like Bon Appetit is doing and I think ah that’s good. I like what they’re doing there.
Paul: Cross Fertilization of ideas, I can use that and no one will know.
Paula: Oh completely, the way they’re doing the Facebook live films, well I’ll get into it, Bon Appetit does one every week, every Wednesday called technique of the week. It’s just somebody from their Test Kitchen showing them a recipe, sometimes they’re not prepared sometimes they’re just like okay we’re gonna make poached eggs or whatever it is and so I think that’s given me the kind of confidence to do that kind of thing and say it’s good.
I mean people kind of like it, I’m doing these customer interviews where they’re pretty rough you know but it’s fun.
Paul: But they have a time and a place they’re not going to be around forever but they have a little job to do and they’re authentic.
Paula: Exactly and I think that the feeling that everything needs to be super polished is a really good way of not doing something.
Paul: Yeah absolutely, you can put it off forever.
Paula: No it’s better to do it and then you know get better at it and make them more polished as you go but you still have to just do it. So yeah, food media is actually a big inspiration for my marketing career now, even though I’m marketing a social media search platform.
Paul: I’m going to change this to SaaS and cooking marketing insights.
Paula: Sure I like it.
Paul: It’s a bit of a mouthful, thank you very much Paula, I really enjoyed our chat.
I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Paula.
For more info on Echosec please visit www.echosec.net