We’ve got a trio of acronyms in today’s ‘day in the life’ as we chat to the CMO & COO of Contentstack, a CMS (content management system).
Matthew Baier was trained as an astrophysicist and has worked at some of the biggest software companies in Silicon Valley. Let’s hear more about what his average day looks like…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Matthew Baier: I am Co-Founder and COO at Contentstack. I oversee marketing and product management as well as operational functions like legal.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Matthew Baier: I report to our CEO, Neha Sampat. I consider myself very lucky in that regard because Neha is both an award-winning CEO, a fantastic human being and a very dear friend.
This is now our fourth venture together.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Matthew Baier: I am an astrophysicist by trade so one could say I’ve always been drawn to big ideas, big questions, and big challenges. Working in tech for most of my career means I’ve had to learn to translate complex problems for audiences that live in the “real world”.
Looking past buzzwords and tech gobbledygook to articulate what you’re doing, what value your company provides, and why anyone should care is especially important for the marketing aspects of this job – and when our company is represented outside of Silicon Valley.
As Contentstack’s COO, no two days are the same, so context switching is important. Spotting opportunities (both internally and externally to the company) and trying to find ways of improving our operations – so we can compete better and win more – is part of my daily mandate. It helps if you’re good at recognizing patterns and, personally, I very much enjoy “hacking systems” to make them more efficient.
Another important part of the job is enablement. Enabling my CEO to focus on what matters most by shielding her from distractions. Assembling and enabling the winning team that will work well together and removing roadblocks when we encounter them, so everyone can keep executing on all the great ideas we cook up together.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Matthew Baier: For a company of our size experiencing “hyper-growth” there are very few “typical” days. Growth for us means we are constantly pushing the boundaries of our reality in every dimension and have to find ways to do things better, at a greater scale and – oftentimes – for the very first time.
Maintaining innovation and making sure that the Contentstack product continues to be a leader in the market, finding ways to differentiate our voice and cut through the noise of a busy space are key concerns that occupy my thoughts every day. Some days are defined by working with investors, analysts, customers, and partners, others are dominated by legal or organizational matters – one thing is for sure: it never gets boring!
One of the best parts of the job is the variety and the opportunity to learn about a lot of different domains and interact with every single department across the company on a regular basis.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Matthew Baier: I love the culture that we have at Contentstack. There is a sense of trust and collaboration that is remarkable and unlike any other company I’ve ever experienced. We don’t hire assh%^&s, no matter how talented they are and we operate as one team (which means we win AND we fail together, without pointing fingers or playing blame games). As a result, the people I work with I also call my friends. When I get up in the morning, I genuinely look forward to my workday. I know I’ll be challenged, but I also know there is a team of talented professionals at the top of their game who have my back – as I have theirs. Together, we learn, we grow and we have a ton of fun along the way. That part is awesome!
The toughest part is when I – or we – have to say “no”. With finite resources, there are never enough people, funds or hours in the day to do it all and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. I think this is one of the greatest challenges for many entrepreneurs because we’re trained to overcome impossible odds and can really only do that by developing a positive, can-do attitude. Saying “no” doesn’t come naturally to entrepreneurs, but it’s actually really important to be able to recognize when it is necessary. To try and do it all means to do nothing truly well. Unfortunately, that means we occasionally miss out on opportunities we feel – in retrospect – we should have pounced on. That part can suck.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Matthew Baier: Revenue. Satisfaction. Loyalty. When monitored together, they tell me very quickly and holistically how we’re doing overall. The first – revenue – is, of course, easy to measure. The last two can be captured via standard methodologies (such as NPS) and should be tracked for both customers, partners, and employees.
In order to diagnose and troubleshoot the root cause of an issue, it usually requires us to dive deeper and each department has their own metrics and KPIs they’ll use for that. If a campaign isn’t delivering the expected results, is it because of a sales or marketing issue? Tracking ACVs, sales cycle data, churn and upsell stats can help pinpoint the underlying cause.
Personally, I’ve found that it is insightful to not just benchmark against the industry, but also to benchmark against yourself: Are you doing better today than yesterday or are you doing worse (and why)? Tracking trends over time is powerful at measuring success and it also helps with setting attainable goals.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Matthew Baier:I love Slack and Zoom because together they allow our distributed team to collaborate and maintain the personal touch across distances and time zones. I love our own headless CMS product, Contentstack, because it enables our entire team to use our content more effectively. Just like most companies, we invest a ton of time and effort into creating content and maximizing the return on that investment is crucial.
How did you end up at Contentstack, and where might you go from here?
Matthew Baier: Contentstack was spun out of another venture that Neha and I built together, called Built.io.
We sold Built.io to German software powerhouse Software AG last year, which allowed us to dedicate ourselves fully to Contentstack. Prior to that, I was at Salesforce, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems – all among the giants of Silicon Valley – where I had the privilege to work with and learn from the world’s greatest minds when it comes to marketing and product innovation. It also helped me develop a point of view about many things I saw at big companies that I liked and disliked, which today helps me with Contentstack as we navigate our rapid growth.
Which brands have impressed you lately?
Matthew Baier: I am extremely impressed by the Miami Heat, the beloved NBA team, who have been a Contentstack customer for several years. While you’d expect a sports team of the Heat’s caliber to have a mobile app, the Miami Heat have gone much, much further. Under the guidance of their EVP of Business Strategy, Matthew Jafarian, the Heat have created a digital fan experience that has won multiple industry awards and today makes them one of the most digitally savvy and innovative sports franchises on the planet. In fact, they just claimed the Digital Masterclassing Award for their technology platform, which is built with Contentstack at the core.
The real winners are not just the franchise and the team, but the fans and visitors to the American Airlines Arena. Whether you’re watching a game or attending a concert, the Miami Heat’s digital experience turns fans into VIPs who can enjoy a unique, personalized and immersive experience that spans the physical and digital worlds.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in 2019?
Matthew Baier: Marketing, with its many disciplines and thousands of tools, can feel like a convoluted und unwieldy domain and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to begin a career as a marketing generalist and compete with the many specialists out there. My recommendation therefore is to pick an area that you’re curious or passionate about and become an expert in that domain. Learn everything you can about it – understand the latest trends, best practices, connect with the influencers and find ways to be visible in relevant online communities and events. Once you’ve found a solid footing in your first domain, you can branch out to other areas.