Agency experienced preferred.
Anyone that’s ever looked for a job at a PR firm, has run into those words. It’s a bit of a catch 22 because firms only want to hire people with agency experience, but you need agency experience to get hired.
That was Cassandra Sherrill’s experience too when she first started out years ago. She moved to Atlanta after graduating from college year and applied to “every entry-level PR job out there” without success. That’s when her career plans shifted a bit, from PR to marketing.
“Nonetheless, I was determined to jump-start my career, so I accepted an unpaid marketing internship position at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA) where I discovered my love for marketing,” she told me in an email exchange.
“After a year of working for free, I was promoted to a marketing assistant and continued to grow, learn and build connections. That internship was the start to a great career thus far.”
Today, she’s the vice president of Marketing and Communications at Softgiving, an Atlanta based startup that partners with charitable organizations to raise money. If you are familiar with micro-investing platforms like Acorns or Stash, it’s a big like that but with a philanthropic angle.
Cassandra is my guest, on this 37th edition of the Off Script series Q&A.
1) What is Softgiving and what is your role with the company?
CS: Softgiving partners with nonprofits to help them unlock the next generation of recurring donors through innovative fundraising solutions, world-class marketing, and dedicated support. I serve as the VP of Marketing & Communications at Softgiving.
2) How is marketing different where you are now from previous experience?
CS: I’ve had the pleasure of working at a wide variety of companies-from nonprofit, government to the private sector. Softgiving has a very different approach when it comes to our business model. We are indeed a tech company specializing in micro-giving fundraising solutions; however, we’re a mini-marketing agency as well. Not only do I create content and strategy for the company, but I also work directly with our nonprofit clients to develop a robust marketing plan for our software in hopes to increase recurring change donors and fundraising. There is no other company, that I know of, that provides fundraising technology and full marketing support as well. Our client’s success is truly our success.
3) What’s the transition been like for you moving from a sizable and longstanding software company to startup?
CS: The transition from a longstanding software company to a startup has been one exciting, nail-biting rollercoaster ride full of wins and success along with long nights and worried mornings. Going from unlimited resources at my prior jobs to a nonexistent marketing team or foundation was a challenge I happily accepted. Having the opportunity to create the marketing and communication foundation for a company has pushed me to be more inventive, focused, creative and overall a more balanced marketer. Because we are a start-up, there is no point of reference. Everything is fresh new content, imagery, and branding that myself and the team had to create. How many people can say that? I’m so proud of how much we’ve accomplished as a company thus far.
4) What value does marketing brings that you think generally goes under-recognized?
CS: Marketing is so much more than emails and social media. Often in many companies, marketing is overlooked and underappreciated for the actual value it brings to the organization. Yes, it is a revenue driver if properly utilized, but it’s so much more. Marketing is the gateway for customers to communicate, engage and share feedback with a company. Additionally, now more than ever, we can genuinely understand prospects, clients, and customers through segments, tracking, and cookies. Marketing is the center of knowledge to help a company grow.
5) At what point do startups need to start thinking about marketing?
CS: The moment a start-up takes life, marketing should be next in line. Traditionally, the natural next step is often sales. “I need someone to sell my product.” Yes, this is true, but Sales and Marketing go hand-in-hand. The key is to establish a strong message and position that resonates with the target audience, and that’s where marketing comes in.
6) Lightning round just for fun: in just a word or a phrase, fill in the blank:
- One marketing tool you can’t live without is… (CS) a marketing automation system and CRM.
- One publication or blog you read regularly is… (CS) I live for my HubSpot Marketing Blog every morning.
- If you weren’t doing what you do now, you’d be… (CS) a daycare owner. I know it’s random, but I love children.
- If you suddenly got 10% more marketing budget, you’d spend it on… (CS) analytics and insight.
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Readers can connect with Cassandra on LinkedIn and read more about her company at the Softgiving blog. The company also has some FAQs published if you’d like to learn more about how to donate and can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Also, see these related articles about Softgiving:
- Hypepotamus: Roll Up Your Spare Change for Charity With Softgiving
- Atlanta Tech Village: The Exciting Story of a FinTech Startup at Atlanta Tech Village
- Atlanta Small Business Network: How This Georgia Based FinTech Company is Revolutionizing Fundraising
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The Long-Term Benefit of a Modern and Agile Brand; Off Script No. 36: Greg Kihlström, Author of The Agile Brand
Image credit: Unsplash