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Get To Know: Bigcommerce’s VP Of Marketing Kirsten Knipp
With more than twelve years of technology marketing experience, Kirsten Knipp serves as Bigcommerce’s vice president of marketing, product marketing and brand.
She and her team of brand, creative and product marketers are tasked with educating and empowering clients to build business dreams via their own online stores.
Prior to joining Bigcommerce, Knipp held sales and marketing leadership roles at Solarwinds and HubSpot, where she led the creation of HubSpot’s Inbound Conference, a massive industry event for marketing professionals.
While earning her graduate degree from MIT Sloan’s MBA program, Knipp was honored as a 2003 Seeley Scholar, an award given for leadership, community contribution and academic achievement. In 2012, she was named one of SLMA’s 20 Women to Watch.
Knipp regularly lends her expertise in tech products and marketing to other businesses as a mentor, speaker, and content contributor. Based in Austin, Texas, Knipp and her husband started the online business RingSafe, a crowdfunded venture the couple launched to save people from the pain of losing their wedding bands.
VP of Marketing @ Bigcommerce
- HQ: Austin, Texas
- Apple or Android? Apple
- Hobby: Travel, cooking & wine
- Favorite Movie: The Princess Bride
- First Job: Pharmacy Tech
- First Car: Gray Mustang
What mobile device can you not live without?
Can we take a peek at your phone’s home screen?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
Hootsuite – I have all my social profiles, personal, work and RingSafe in one tool so I can engage and respond to nearly anything social on the go. I also use the iPhone calculator – I constantly do super quick conversion calculations to think about a program, funnel or rough ROI investment.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
Facebook – for catching up with friends and seeing pics of their escapades.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Email, then weather.
Take me through your typical workday.
I’m up around 6:15 to head to the gym, or out on a run with friends. If I do the gym, I usually check email there and read up on any great articles. I’m back around 7:15, and check email once more over coffee.
At 8:30, I commute and typically take a work call, or a mentor call with non-work folks. From 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., it’s a mix of internal and external meetings both here and with our teams in Sydney and San Francisco, ranging from pricing and packaging, to brainstorming a new campaign or interviewing for our growing team.
Startup days are long and diverse which makes the time pass insanely fast. The best days are those when our blog views, lead count and monthly recurring revenue numbers are hitting new records, and that’s a lot of days lately.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
January and February marked a host of big launches for Bigcommerce, ranging from our Growthville Infographic, featuring client data that won coverage in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and VentureBeat, to the launch of our newest release Bigcommerce Next – a host of enhancements that make our platform second to none.
Our latest release has generated a lot of clients, and reviewers are really pumped about the product. The results across the board have been great and enabled our relatively new team to flex their muscles from the creative, to storytelling, to product angles.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
My work travel has been pretty light in the last year or so – though my husband and I honeymooned in Bora Bora & New Zealand last summer.
My most interesting work trip was going back to Boston for Inbound 2013, where I re-united with former colleagues and absorbed insights from industry experts for three great days.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
Balancing the explosive growth we’ve been driving – with quality assurance across our leads and content channels – all while growing a team and trying to build a culture of transparency, testing and teamwork.
Each day poses a challenge of reevaluating priorities and empowering teams with a shared vision to let them run.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
So many, but there’s a lesson learned in each, in most cases they are small.
The one sizable thing I wish I’d handled differently was a series of choices around an agency we were using. We weren’t seeing results and we tried to manage them more to drive to the right outcomes. They ultimately weren’t up to the task so we parted ways; I think I should have made that call even sooner.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
My first boss out of grad school, Martin Fichter, gave me so much leeway to try and learn and fail. His door was always open and he never ‘gave’ me the answer – he always challenged me to work through it, all the while ensuring that I knew he had my back if and when I needed him.
Also, my friend and leader Mike Volpe, who introduced me (and the world) to the ways of inbound marketing. He built a great team and challenged all his marketers to think differently and think bigger. I often channel him – and when needed, give him a ring.
I once was unfortunate to have a boss who I learned a lot of ‘what not to do’ from – and I often go back to that person’s behavior to ensure I am true to how I WISH I had been led in various situations. You can learn as much from a bad experience as a good one.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
Analytical Mindset: If you can’t do the math, share the data and prove your point, then you need to become good friends with pivot tables now.
Creativity & Flexibility: Whether it’s applying a creative lens to an actual campaign or to an approach to a marketing challenge, being malleable and looking for unusual alternatives is very valuable.
Communication Skills: Leading a marketing team and collaborating across a fast-growth startup depends on great, clear and frequent communication.
Curiosity: Always be learning – whether it’s about new marketing trends and technologies or about how your clients use your product or service, a penchant to learn more will help you refine a message, or bring an entirely new idea to fruition.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I once interned for the Governor of Vermont as his temporary press secretary…and, I am a German citizen.
Why did you go into marketing?
Marketing pulled me in. I wanted to be a product manager after getting my MBA, and did so. Each subsequent role led me closer and closer to marketing.
During my twelve years post MIT, I’ve come to realize that the full spectrum of marketing is so compelling. I love the variation in the work and that some campaigns are long-term while others are very immediate, giving you feedback in short periods of time – but, all very results driven.
What other career would you like to try and why?
Travel cooking show host – I think that says it all there. I love to travel, I love to cook and I am a total extrovert who loves to teach.
If that doesn’t work out, then once I am retired, I’d love to teach financial literacy to kids in junior high. Watching our economy play out, I feel very fortunate to have been in a family that talked about money and education and what growing up looks like. Too many friends learned about credit risks and saving the hard way – when it was already too late. We can do a better job.
What does your desk look like?
My desk is a little messy – but organized with small gifts, brand reminders and artwork surrounding me. The most sentimental item is a beautiful modern painting behind my desk painted by my mom the year I was born. Because I lost my mother at a very young age – having this piece of her with me every day is pretty meaningful.
What’s the last business book you read?
Super Freakonomics, this one straddles the line between business and consumer, but it’s a great read to remind us not all behaviors are rationale, and that most things can be tested.
We’re often surprised by a result, and can learn a lot by being keen observers of our environment in business as in life.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
XERO SaaS accounting software for SMBs has been doing really great work applying some personality, fun and the true concept of simplicity to their story around accounting (something you’d think would be boring).
They’ve tried to tie the ‘beauty’ idea to software that makes your life easy – letting SMBs focus on what they do well:
On the consumer side, I think AirBnB has done an amazing job unlocking an entirely new way to travel to millions.
Whether with their campaigns that focus on experiences – which are priceless – to online campaigns that show you the value of travel via their members, they’ve been a rocketship with very clear messaging: