Editor’s Note: Community is everything to us at Pixlee. We’re thrilled to welcome our community of #PixleePros in our latest series “Send Tweet: Insights from the #PixleePros.” This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Allyssa Eclarin of Postal.io! Allyssa Eclarin is the Director of Product Marketing at Postal, an offline marketing automation and experience marketing platform that helps companies drive brand loyalty, increase conversions, boost overall employee happiness, and improve customer health scores. Prior to Postal.io, she brought her passion and expertise on all things design, brand, content, strategy, and customer advocacy to notable early-stage tech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been featured on various podcasts and publications such as The Marketing Brew from The Morning Brew, Product Marketing Alliance, Women in Tech Show, AppSumo, and AdvanceB2B.
Haley Fraser: So if you want to maybe tell me a little bit about, you know, your elevator pitch for you, and how you got where you are?
Allyssa: I think my background is pretty indicative of who I am as a person and a marketer. I do a lot of things because I really do enjoy doing a variety of things. I love design and went to school for graphic design. I started my career as a graphic and web designer. During college is where I taught myself how to code. I've always been a self-starter; I wanted to know more. I'm very much a person who learns best by deconstructing something and rebuilding it. I was that kid asking questions like, 'Well, why is it that way?' Not in a challenging way to be problematic, but more like, 'Well, is there a way that we can do it differently,' and also, I want to know how it works, you know?I was a designer who became a marketer in the most technological way possible. I don't think this could have happened in any other time period but the one we're in. After college, I started my own company doing design and screenprinting. After doing that for a few years, I decided I wanted to work in-house. So from there I joined the B2B tech world. You could say it was crash course. Being a designer on a marketing team, especially at a tech startup, resources are strapped, there's not enough people to do everything so it was very much a whirlwind experience that I think made me the marketer I am today.As a designer on the marketing team, I’d ask questions behind the projects or deliverables. Such as ‘why are we doing things like this, how does this work, what is the benefit we are offering here, who is this for, how do they like to be communicated to?’ From there I very quickly I pivoted from just a brand designer to a full blown marketer. Because of the company size, I eventually wore every hat in marketing, which is a rare experience I probably wouldn’t have had at a large corporation or a company 20+ years ago. After wearing all the hats in marketing, and being a one-person team most of the time, I learned what I love to do and finally landed where I am today, which is a hybrid of product marketing and brand. My background in design gives me a different perspective and voice when it comes to product marketing.
Haley: Kind of to that point, what do you think really makes good product marketing?
Allyssa: It starts with listening. Listening to your customers, evaluating and hearing what you’re competitors are saying, conducting customer interviews, win/loss interviews, and then distilling it down to more digestible content for your pre and post sales enablement. Strong product marketers are great listeners and can tell a story that resonates. My job today is definitely tied to that lasting curiosity I’ve had since I was a kid.
Haley: What are some of the things you've seen change over your career, and what's staying the same?
Allyssa: Everything is moving faster than ever and individuals are playing a bigger role in the whole story. So I've been officially in the tech space since early 2013. And what I've noticed is this generational shift in thinking and marketing during that time. So many fresh perspectives and angles at the table now. Right now organizations are becoming more and more customer-centric. They're leaning into the personalization model, whether it's direct-to-consumer, whether it's subscription-based, curated content – you name it.You see it in personalized vitamins that are tailored to your body’s needs. We are seeing it with user-generated content. It's very much a one-to-one landscape right now. Similarly, marketers are living this as well by marketing themselves. They're branding themselves. I'm really curious how it's going to play out in the next couple years, because it's never been done to this capacity. I think people are investing in themselves more than ever right now which is fantastic. That’s largely because technology is more readily available. I think marketers are already more savvy than they've ever been–and it shows even more with how personalized marketing has become. The game has changed and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
Haley: Smart companies are really embracing those employees that stand out and put the work in to become thought leaders in their space. Which brands or companies in particular are doing a really good job of letting their employees shine through?
Allyssa: Not to toot our own horn, but Postal.io has been very good at that. There are companies out there that are doing this in different ways too – internally (like from a cultural perspective) and externally (on social media, for example). Embracing each employee’s authentic self or brand really comes down to allowing people be who they are, whether it's on social media, or even within the company Slack. Now, it’s more about finding out what someone's strengths are, and then championing them and letting them be the best version of themselves.
Haley: Community is a big part of this, obviously. Now, people are able to build community in very different ways. How does community impact your life as a marketer?
Allyssa: Community has been especially important with the pandemic. For me, it is about connecting with folks, whether that’s by an interest, life experience, or even what they do for a living. For example, on a coffee run over the weekend, I wore a sweater that was very specific to a branded thing I made. And someone out there recognized what it was and acknowledged it. It was really cool because it was a very niche thing that I was wearing. And we clicked in that brief moment. That's community, on the most basic level. The way we used to (and still do) connect outside of the internet.We're seeing that coffee shop run in example on a bigger scale with marketing communities. I think it's really cool, because it feels like now more than ever, people are connecting or creating community over things that were once obscure. It felt like before there wasn’t an outlet to be like, ‘yeah, I'm really into fonts or ‘yeah, I’m a marketer who loves the Warriors and Ariana Grande’.Brands are being built on it. Look at Pixlee like you are delivering user-generated content. It was a brilliant business strategy and it was stuff that people were talking about. Community makes any idea bigger – and that's when things are successful. There’s immense value in community and I am excited to see it continue to build on from there.
Haley: Aside from community, if you could pick a favorite trend or campaign or brand that you've witnessed grow in that capacity, what would it be?
Allyssa: I really like what Allbirds is doing. From a sustainability angle they went all in: they're a sustainable brand. They're very eco-friendly. That’s their ethos and their brand from top to bottom. But what I really like about it from a marketing angle is they figured out who they were, their differentiator and their positioning, and they leaned all the way in. I admire that because they know who they are. Customers appreciate authenticity.
Haley: Speaking of figuring out what you’re about – what's the best marketing advice you've ever received?
Allyssa: Don't assume people know what you're talking about. You're in your field every day; you know the acronyms, you know your product inside and out. You can speak it shorthand. Don't assume others know what you're talking about. Say it simply and your audience will be grateful. Communication is key.
Haley: I love that – simplicity is often easier said than done too! Looking ahead, five to 10 years. What do you think is the most important skill for marketers to have, especially with the speed of everything now?
Allyssa: The ability to effectively communicate with one another. Communication spans past careers and roles. It’s also part of your day-to-day life. Just being able to effectively communicate and say what you mean will be great for brands, will be great for marketers, will be great for just human beings in general. Being able to communicate without aggressive language or assumptions. There’s a book I recommend to everyone called Nonviolent Communication, the title is misleading but the book is about communicating with empathy, observing not judging, and how words can be misconstrued. Recommended reading for any human being if you ask me.
Haley: On the same note of communication – what's your favorite marketing job interview question that you've either been asked or you like to ask?
Allyssa: I've always had the textbook ones in the past because I think that was just the standard before. You didn’t ask this but my least favorite question is ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ Which doesn’t feel like it has the best intentions behind it.A great question would be finding out what that person is passionate about outside of work. I understand it's an interview and the candidate wants to tell me they love the company/industry etc. That’s probably true, but I like to hear them talk about their own passions. Maybe it's their family, maybe it's painting, maybe it’s their dog. Whatever it is, I like to figure out a way to ask them: What's something you're really passionate about? One way to frame it is: what would you do if money wasn't a question? What's the thing that you get really excited about? Or what’s something you could give a 20 min presentation on without any prep work?This is partly why I created my podcast actually. What would 13-year-old ‘you’ say about present-day you? I love to ask my friends: what would 13-year-old ‘you’ do with money? If you ask that question, everyone can relate at some level. Maybe it’s that dream bike, or that denim jacket you had your eye on – whatever it is, we all have that thing that we repeatedly asked our parents for.
Haley: Speaking of the past – what advice would you give someone graduating college or just changing careers to marketing right now?
Allyssa: Honestly, absorb everything that you can. And, your experience is valid. Whatever that experience is – graduating from college, leaving college for a gap-year, whatever your experience is, that is yours and own it. It's going to be the thing that makes you stand out, and something you're going to pull from later during a meeting or brainstorm. That's your secret weapon.
Haley: We’ve talked about what’s next for others (new grads, brands, marketing), but I’m curious: what’s next for you?
Allyssa: You know, it's funny – I used to be really big on planning. What I'm doing ‘today’ is even funnier because my company embodies all the things that I love to do. And it's such a combination of my background because my first company out of college was screen printing and design. Today, I work for an offline marketing automation platform that handles all things direct mail, swag, gifting, etc. It's very much like all the things I know and enjoy all together with brand and design. As for the future, I'm for sure going to work in or around the advancement of Women's Sports, which is something I'm really passionate about. Just getting it on TV and getting people to respect it. Equal pay, all the things. That’s where I’ll be at some point. Sports and music are my two biggest passions. But I really, really think I'm going to work in women's sports in some capacity at some point.
Haley: Finding the ways to take what you're currently doing and what you currently focus on and just like bringing it closer to the passions that you have – I love that.
Allyssa: Yep, and I absolutely love my current job. I found a balance that works best for me. I have my job and then I have my own little projects as well – both of which fill my cup on the creative front. Some folks have a jam band or a bowling league on the weekend with their buddies, I do podcasts, write, and design little things here and there.
Haley: Around music, hobbies, and movies, what was your most influential piece of media in recent memory?
Allyssa: The first thing that came to my head was the tv show I'm Sorry. It’s by a writer and comedian. The reason I liked it and why it was really influential to me, much like the Allbirds story, was that she went in and wrote about something that was very true to her. The whole point of the show is that being a mom or being a parent does not take away from who you are and who you were before you had kids. And that was what the writer/creator Andrea Savage wanted to convey with the show. She wanted to show that moms can be funny, moms can use curse words and have quips, be quick and stuff like that. So that show really resonated with me because one I was like, holy crap, that's me on TV and how cool that I'm not the only one that has that sense of humor and acts like that with her spouse. So that was very validating. But it was just cool to see that you can also do both. You can have a career, you can have a family, you can be whatever you want to be, and that you can write very specifically and there will be an audience for that.
Haley: To sort of bring things full-circle – what was your career choice for yourself when you're a kid?
Allyssa: When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer. I really liked talking and I thought that was the only job let you talk that much. But I've always been a designer, I just didn't know until my senior year of high school that it was a career. I've always designed. I used to make my version of Tiger Beat, (I called it Smash) on Microsoft Paint when I was in elementary school. I wanted to work in music, I wanted to make album covers, I wanted to make the merch and the tour posters and the whole experience, and everything a fan touches. I wanted to design for the passive listeners, people that were all in on a band, someone passing the cd aisle in Target. The cool thing is that's actually why I went to college in LA and I got to do the music graphic designer path on a smaller scale. Now today, it's full circle. I have Your Favorite Record, the podcast where I talk to designers behind really famous album covers. And that's a full circle moment, it ties back to what I said earlier: find your thing that makes you “you” and maybe you're not going to do it directly, but you'll do it in some capacity I’m sure. Doing the podcast, Your Favorite Record, is extremely fulfilling. It's almost better than being at a label and working on a band or merch. It all worked out and it happened the way it was supposed to. I'm happy. So my advice would have to be: if it doesn’t happen today, it might happen tomorrow. Stay ready, you’ll get there.