In Conversation With | Amanda Connon-Unda - Director of Marketing at Rangle.io
Amanda Connon-Unda is the Director of Marketing at Rangle.io. She joined the now 3-year-old company approximately 2.5 years ago and has a Masters in Journalism, and experience in the broadcast and music industries.
Her passion for the creative process has effectively brought brands and audiences together at events and online through compelling content and experiences, to create tangible lasting business value. With Rangle, Amanda is developing the company’s growing Marketing department, which now has 7 talented full-time team members. Through thought-leadership and the development of a strong brand and sales process, Rangle has managed to grow from just 7 employees, when Amanda joined the company in 2014, to 120 (and counting) today.
We sat down with Amanda to chat about all things marketing! Read on to find out how Amanda keeps on top of everything marketing related and what it takes to work with the marketing team at Rangle.
Tell us about what you do at Rangle
As the Director of Marketing I’m on the management team with our CEO, CTO, CFO, VP of Talent and the Head of Design and we work with a fantastic group of people. It is a very exciting time for the company - seeing it grow so rapidly and bringing on amazing talent to help grow Rangle’s brand and culture.
Tell us more about Rangle
Through building a better model to deliver software we’re helping organizations in all industries, worldwide, to innovate. With over 80 completed projects, we have worked with leading companies such as Black Crows, Uniqlo, Pacific Life, Kiva, Silvercar, and Sprout at Work.
Our approach to software development is Agile and requires continuous delivery. We specialize in the marriage between Lean UX, design and development. Our developers are experts in AngularJS and React - two of the most popular emergent frameworks. We are utilizing methodologies and technology stacks that are revolutionizing the industry and that is what we want to continue to do.
We are committed to excellence and part of our mission is to continuously improve by encouraging continuous learning within the organization.
In the last few years, Rangle has hired over a hundred developers and moved offices several times. We now work in a downtown Toronto brick and beam office in the technology hub around Richmond and Spadina. Late last year we were cited by the Financial Post as one of the hot tech companies that has leased a significant amount of office real estate, right before Facebook!
What was your path to marketing and where you are today?
As a teenager and even in my early 20s, I was really into interviewing musicians: mostly bands and DJs. I had my own fanzine, that was photocopied, and eventually led me to having my own website.
I became interested in the online space through blogging and being a part of communities like MySpace and Friendster [laughs] that have now gone the way of the dodo. Getting interested in subcultures, understanding communities, and learning to create content for them online, but also in the real world, was what peaked my interest in marketing initially.
I studied semiotics and anthropology for my undergraduate degree and worked in music journalism and media production while in school. Over the years I produced and/or hosted a podcast, an internet TV show, a digital cable television show and campus radio show. Eventually my love of content led me to do a Masters in Journalism at Ryerson University.
From the beginning, I was interested in emergent trends in online journalism and cross-platform production. I became fascinated with how broadcasters use the web to connect with audiences in new ways, using new channels.
I worked at a couple of documentary film production companies and at a TV production company called Kensington Communications, where we produced cross-platform entertainment. The most exciting project we worked on was a TV series called Museum Secrets for HISTORY Television, which included an interactive website and mobile app for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). I handled community management, blogging, and digital marketing for that project and learned a lot about user acquisition strategy and building audiences across channels.
I also did freelance work for a couple years - specializing in media relations, social and digital marketing for tech and media companies. And that is when I met Rangle. They were a very new company then and Nick (the CEO and founder) was looking for a marketer to join the team.
I started at Rangle in February 2014.
We have gone on quite a journey since then - we have moved offices 4 times and the company has transformed and evolved, as we’ve grown to over 120 people.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
Lots of things!
I get to work on so many different parts of marketing with different members of the team - digital marketing campaigns, content, events, partnerships. I really like that I can have that variety.
Working with a talented team and envisioning the future together is really fun and exciting. I’m very involved in Rangle’s Diversity Guild, which is a place where we discuss building events and programs internally and externally to support minority groups working in technology, such as women in tech.
Travel is also a great perk in my role. I am going to a lot of conferences, learning about the market, the technology advancements, what our clients want and talking about Rangle and what we do.
How do you define success in your role?
At this very moment, growing the team is a huge marker of success. We have grown from 4 team members to 7, so onboarding everyone and shifting our work is a huge step for us.
We are also migrating from one marketing automation platform to another, and getting better reporting of our KPIs through our more robust software.
For myself, I am trying to be a positive force in forming Rangle’s emergent culture - setting clear expectations with the team, providing support and encouragement, and making sure we are achieving our departmental goals. A big part of my role is keeping everyone aligned and communicating as best I can.
I try to plan for the quarter with the executive team and that enables us to keep up with the evolution and growth of the company.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
Prioritization can be tough.
There is always more we could be doing, but there are limits on people’s time and budget. Wanting to do everything can be challenging because there is a lot of pressure to do everything immediately. But at the same time it’s more important to ensure we don’t lose sight of the end goal and the bigger picture. Getting solid analytics and operational processes in place are a massive help in this regard.
How has the definition of marketing transformed in recent years?
There is the blurring between inbound and outbound marketing and with the emergence of marketing automation we can do so much more now.
As a B2B marketer we are also using a lot of techniques that are traditionally considered B2C and that is really interesting.
In the case of Rangle, even though we are selling to other businesses and we are a service and consulting company, we are working on thought leadership, building our brand personality and having that human connection with the developer community. We are always engaged and providing resources to them. We are having conversations about what we are passionate about and we are movement building, similar to how you would build a movement around a consumer product.
How do you stay up to date with trends in marketing?
I love attending marketing conferences like Inbound (by Hubspot in Boston) or Web Summit, and taking courses like the Pragmatic Marketing Course, which focuses on strategies for building a product and technology product marketing.
I sign up to webinars even if I don’t have time to attend them - I try to watch the videos after. Also I read a lot of blogs and books.
We frequently exchange books at Rangle and that is great! [laughs]. It’s requisite knowledge for us to know the philosophy behind Scrum, so even the marketing team reads “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland, when they onboard.
My Mother is a huge reader and she recommends Communications and Management books all the time! I just read “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else” by Patrick Lencioni.
What are your best sources for reading about marketing?
Twitter on any day.I am also signed up to a ton of mailing lists like Direct Marketing Association and they send out their webinars and events.
I really like Think With Google’s newsletter - it is very practical, especially for advertising and digital marketing tips for Google’s platforms, mainly AdWords and YouTube.
For management and productivity tips: I read Harvard Business Review, 99u, Inc. and Fast Company.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received, marketing or otherwise?
This year, a lot of the advice that I have been receiving has been around leadership. As I am moving into a more strategic, management role at Rangle, I have been working a lot on learning the skills that are necessary. I work with a management coach right now and that has been very interesting.
So the advice I have to share is around leadership.
It is important to cultivate your own leadership style and know yourself and your strengths, as well as weaknesses. Communicating effectively with people and playing to your own unique strengths is key. Don’t try to change, don’t try to be like what you think a leader should be - but do try to be the best you, and adopt a growth mindset. If you are a quieter person, be that. If you want to develop skills, acknowledge where you are starting from, where you are, and build on that, rapidly! There are always going to be more new challenges to embrace.
What are your top 3 applications and tools?
Slack - For team communication.
Google Calendar and Drive - Perfect for working remotely as long as you have an internet connection. I even schedule personal things in my Calendar.
Trello - For project management.
Ritual - Ordering food between meetings, running to get it and skipping the line is helpful.
Best Time Saving Skill
If you don’t want to shower twice a day, go to the gym in the morning. It saves you one shower - at least 30 minutes! [laughs]
If you commute by subway, read! I get most of my reading done while travelling. You get more knowledge and utilize your time in a positive way. You can also catch up with friends or family while you’re on your commute.
What does your team look like and how has it evolved?
After Nick himself (Rangle’s CEO); I was Rangle’s first marketer, and I initially worked with a co-op student, and then hired a designer and technical marketer. Then we added a marketing coordinator and an integrated media specialist, and arrived at the 7-person team we have today.
In order of joining Rangle, the marketing team includes:
Chris Pangan (senior designer and tech marketer)
Glafira Romanovska (marketing and events coordinator)
Len Sjoblad (events manager)
Amrita Chopra (marketing co-op student)
Shiv Kamal (senior growth and analytics manager)
Shawn Griffiths (content marketing manager).
What are some of the things you look for when you hire someone for your team?
Initially we wanted almost full-stack marketers: people with broad skill sets, who are extremely passionate, hard working, team players who will jump in and do what’s required. Though as we are growing we are specializing more.
Across the board, we value diversity, compassion, creativity, and follow-through. We want people who are enterprising and understand marketing’s role holistically - both within and outside the organization. Our team members are passionate and like the startup environment.
Are you looking to hire in the next little while?
We’re looking to hire a seventh permanent team member to replace our rotating co-op position. The role is still being defined. You can check here, when we list it: http://rangle.io/careers.
How do you define the value of a product and how do you deliver or communicate that value?
Some key measurements of value are how many people use it and how many people like it. And what kind of experiences you create for people with your product. How do you change their lives for the better. To me that’s what a value of the product is - not dollars earned but value translated to the people who use your product.
In terms of communication, storytelling is extremely important to dig deeper and understand these positive changes that your product is making in people’s lives. Testimonials, storytelling, videos, more visceral media forms that can come to life with images, even user generated content, are good communication techniques. You have to let people use their own voice to tell their stories.
How do you suggest that others find their way through the field of marketing?
Be strategic as a marketer.
In order to be strategic you need to really understand the business’s goals, the corporate objectives and plug into that. Understand the objectives you want to achieve before you start executing on a campaign and be more than just a project manager.
Look at the quality of your work, not just the quantity because there is always more you can do. Look at the effects of your work and analyze it, to translate that into business value. If it’s not valuable to the business’ key strategic imperatives, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
As a marketer it is also good to have your own projects that feed you, that inspire you - if you have time. Earlier in your career you might have more time to experiment. Create a blog or a platform that you can try things out with to learn more. A blog is also a great place to build your own voice and skills.
You can catch up and keep up with Amanda on twitter.