Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Marketing Advice from Shopify’s CMO @CraigMillr

V: Shopify is one of the most exciting, fast-growing companies today, and they’re working on a critical problem that’s relevant to everybody– making commerce better. I was curious– who’s their CMO, what’s he like, what’s he interested in, what does he care about?

I dropped by his Twitter page, and found that he pinned a tweet with a screenshot of an email he had sent in response to a young marketer’s questions. (Also see the corresponding discussion on GrowthHackers.com)

Here it is, with links and summaries added:

> Can you take me through the marketing tools you use? And how do you use these tools?



My focus on Internet Marketing is by looking at numbers, and trying out a lot of stuff. Read: BESSEMER CLOUD COMPUTING LAW #7: Online Sales/Marketing – A Core Competency (summary below)

> What are some critical decisions you made early in your marketing career? Why was it critical?

“Never ever focus on your career. Focus on making the company you work for better. Read/watch: Sheryl Sandberg’s 2012 HBS speech, “Get on a rocketship whenever you get the chance” (summary below)

If you want to be a great marketer, focus on becoming a T-shaped marketer. Learn a bit of development, a bit of design, a bit of support, etc. Start your own business, if only to gain a better understanding of how all the dots connect together.”

> What would you suggest to gain marketing experience (e.g. landing page, a/b testing, email marketing) as quickly as possible while looking for a job?

Start your own business. I did this in 1998 and taught myself SEO and AdWords. The costs are basically zero ($14 with Shopify), and then focus on making money. Throw as much spaghetti against the wall. See what sticks, then focus on that. Learn how to to make money for yourself.

Then when you have trouble scaling that, join a company in that role and learn how that company scales. Eventually re-start your own business once you know how to scale.

> What would be the top 3 advice for me to enter into the technology startup space in marketing? Please explain if necessary.

  1. Learn how to code. It’s a great way to organize your brain, and being able to speak to a developer in their own language will pay off in spades.
  2. Run your own business. If you can’t figure out how to make money yourself, why should any company expect that when they hire you that you will be able to make them any money?
  3. Learn things on your own. The best way to be amazing at something is to try things and fail millions of times. There’s really no instruction manual for any of this anymore. Lean to love trying things and ignore ‘expert’ advice (probably my best advice).

> Do you know of any small technology companies looking to hire a marketer?

Everyone is looking for marketers. But they are looking for someone to come in and be a needle mover. Learn to be a needle mover and you won’t need to look for a job.

> Do you know any great marketers I should get in touch with?

99% of the people you speak to will give you bad advice. This too could be terrible advice as I don’t know you at all. But if you were a young me, this is what I would advise you.

Hope this helps.


V: To add more value to this post, here are my summaries of the posts that Craig linked to.

BESSEMER CLOUD COMPUTING LAW #7: Online Sales/Marketing – A Core Competency

  1. Online businesses have to sell online. Customers are doing primary research online so you should market to them there.
  2. B2B should learn to do lead-gen like B2C. Proper channel attribution is important.
  3. It’s fashionable right now to focus on numbers and analytics, rather than the more ‘creative’ side of things.
  4. Social media matters– it’s where people discuss your market, your competitors, and likely your company and product.
  5. A strong head of online-marketing will give you detailed demand-gen forecasts, adjusted for different budgets.
  6. Partner with the cool kids where you can.

Key notes from Sheryl Sandberg’s 2012 HBS speech:

  1. “Get on a rocketship whenever you get the chance”. Google CEO Eric Schmidt advised Sandberg: “When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.”
  2. “What’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it?” Lori Goler from eBay wanted a job at Facebook. Rather then give Sandberg a laundry list of her strengths and skills, Goler asked to help solve a problem. (The problem was recruiting, and Goler was hired.)
  3. Build your skills, not your resume. “As you start your career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work. Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job, don’t plan too much, and don’t expect a direct climb. If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.”

Be sure to follow Craig on Twitter, and check out his posts on the Shopify blog!


Visakan Veerasamy

Visa is ReferralCandy's former Blog Editor [2013–2018]. He also co-founded Statement.sg, a fashion ecommerce label selling witty t-shirts. He's mildly Internet-famous for his elaborate Twitter threads. He hopes to enjoy a glass of scotch onboard a commercial space flight someday.

Add comment