Top Takeaways From High Alpha's 2022 Marketing Flight School

On Thursday, March 24th, we hosted our annual High Alpha Marketing Flight School, here are a few key takeaways from our team.

Marketing Flight School Logo in Red
Article By
Emma Ryan

On Thursday, March 24th, we hosted our first flight school of 2022. More than 40 marketing leaders from the High Alpha portfolio gathered at our new headquarters in Indianapolis's Bottleworks District. 

Our annual High Alpha Marketing Flight School is an invitation-only, functional-specific event providing networking and educational opportunities for our marketing leaders inside the High Alpha portfolio. 

While our speakers from Animalz, Attentive, and Seismic had a ton of valuable knowledge to share, here are a few key takeaways that bubbled up to the top for our team:

1. There's No Silver Bullet When It Comes to Content Marketing

According to Devin Bramhall, the CEO of Animalz, marketers often seek out playbooks because they offer a safety net. She believes that there are two reasons why marketers latch on to playbooks. As marketers, we love concise and beautifully packaged things — so why wouldn't we do that for ourselves? The slightly more cynical reason is that we are often afraid to take risks. If you have worked for a startup, you know that it is not always an easy environment to be a marketer. If you can point to a playbook, it's something that the world generally agrees is correct.

While playbooks can be helpful for junior-level marketers, you often have to understand the wheel to break the wheel. The problem with playbooks is that they don't apply to all businesses at all stages in all industries. It needs to be a "think for yourself" scenario. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What stage is the stage of my company? 
  • Who am I selling to? 
  • Who is my customer? 
  • Where do my customers get their information? 
  • Who are my customers talking to?

2. Marketers Should Stop Focusing on Top-of-Funnel Metrics

Devin offered a hot take — top-of-funnel traffic does not matter. She says, "I don't think traffic matters in the same way it matters in the early days, but you need to get domain authority in the early days." In order to build your brand, it is critical to build your library of authority by writing content that can be backlinked. 

Establishing your brand depends on whether you are going the form route or the content marketing PR route. Once you've developed the launch strategy, you get to start playing around a bit. If you have a few posts that have fallen in rankings, refreshes can help bring in new, unique visitors. 

3. You Do Not Have to Measure Everything — You Have to Measure the Right Things

"Marketing should be measured on revenue or pipeline. That's it." *mic drop* 

According to Kyle Lacy, SVP of Seismic, if you can align to a revenue number, you are allowed to do things that might not be in scope, like brand, as an example. While at Lessonly, Kyle split his marketing budget 70/30. They spent 70% of their budget on  driving revenue. Kyle said, "I kept track of it by channel. I did not care what was happening as long as we weren't losing money on a demand gen channel." 

The other 30% was spent on brand. Kyle said, "The 30% for brand was never measured. I never asked the team whether or not I drove revenue because the 70% we had allocated was driving the revenue goals."

4. Traditional Marketing and Sales Tactics Tend to Fall Flat When Marketing to Developers

According to Sara Varni, CMO of Attentive, developers are a completely different audience. Developers tend to be much more cynical towards traditional marketing and sales tactics; you need to ensure that the content and programs are rooted in helping them, not selling to them. She said, "having great documentation is one of the best things you can focus on if you're trying to woo a developer community." 

5. Don't Put Your Life on Hold

You cannot put your life on hold for your job. Sara said, “If you put your life on hold for your job, one day you'll look back and think, ‘alright, I've got this job and this inbox that makes me happy, but nothing else does.’" Sara offered another piece of advice; she said, "Life is too short to work with jerks. You spend more time with the people you work with than you probably do with your family. It's of utmost importance to find a team you enjoy being around.”

Final Thoughts

Flight School represents such an important piece of what High Alpha stands for. It's a chance to connect, grow closer, and share learnings amongst people going through similar challenges and successes.

The last two years have been difficult to say the least. For many attendees, Marketing Flight School was their first chance to reconnect with their peers in person. While we have grown accustomed to online events (and we have created companies at High Alpha that make online events possible), there is nothing better than connecting with your peers in person. 

Look out for more High Alpha Flight Schools in 2022. In the meantime, you can learn more about High Alpha here or learn more about current job opportunities at High Alpha and our portfolio companies.