Q&A with Tyler Calder, VP Marketing at PartnerStack

Tyler Calder, VP Marketing at PartnerStack, is a results-driven marketer, focused on growth and acquisition. He holds expertise in SEM, SEO, Social Media, Programmatic Buying, Mobile and Email. Previously, he was a senior member of Precision Nutrition, one of the world's fastest-growing nutrition companies, which Fast Companies named as one of the most innovative companies in Health. He was also a senior member of Search Engine People, one of Canada's largest and fastest-growing digital marketing agencies, where he led the Enterprise group.

The most successful organizations don’t succeed because they’re good at exploiting a single promotional tactic, they succeed because they start with first principles and expand from there.



MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you choose this career path?
TYLER CALDER:
I originally wanted to be an accountant, but quickly discovered in my first year of university that it wasn’t for me. I always loved numbers and financial analysis, but was drawn to marketing courses, and reading books on behavioural economics. While still in University, I started to build a few websites and become self-taught in Search Engine Optimization. That’s when my eyes were opened to this collision of marketing and numbers and just fell in love with it.

From there, I was able to land a job agency side where I went really deep into digital marketing. After about 8 years, I shifted to in-house, leading marketing at high-growth companies. One of the first things I learned moving in-house was the role that channel and partnerships can play in revenue growth. I was blown away by how the performance of partnerships - whether they were an affiliate, ambassador, referral, or reseller - stacked up against the digital channels I was used to.  Partnerships were more predictable and far more performance-driven. But it was hard to manage. When I came across PartnerStack and how they were solving all of these challenges that I faced as a marketer, I jumped at the opportunity to join the team.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising, given your target customers?
TC:
Our partner channel is one of our best performing channels. As the saying goes, we eat our own dog food. For us, that means working with agency partners that act as referral sources, and it’s performed incredibly well for us.

We were also named the #1 Partner Management tool by G2, along with being named one of the best tools for sales and one of the fastest-growing products for 2021. This type of recognition, driven by our incredible customers and their feedback is what drives a lot of our inbound.

For us, marketing is about building trust. Trust is intrinsic to partnerships -- agencies that refer their customers to us have already built that trust. It’s why partnerships are such a powerful channel. Same with sites like G2, which build trust through first-hand customer reviews.

Along with those two, we’re seeing a lot of success sharing our customer case studies or sharing webinar content, through channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Ads. Again, this, in turn, builds trust that in us as educators, which in turn drives inbound when people are ready for a solution.


Product marketing needs to ensure that prospect has pathways to easily educate themselves and help them come into a sales conversation being informed.



M7: What do you see as the most noticeable change right now happening in the workforce, encouraged by the rise of digital technologies?
TC:
People are exhausted. People are anxious. The most noticeable change is needing to bring a far greater level of empathy to work than many of us have in the past, or at least more than I’ve brought into the workplace in the past. While many of us save time not having to commute and many of us use our newfound time to find balance in our lives, there are just as many that are struggling. People are struggling to separate work from home, finding themselves on Slack late into the evenings because there isn’t anything else to do. Many people forced to work from home don’t have dedicated office space. Many are anxious about job security.

The biggest change this is driving is at the leadership level. Companies must build a culture of trust, transparency, and openness. It’s easy to say…. every company says it. It’s harder to take seriously and keep it top of mind every single day.

People managers need to check in on their people more often and ask about how THEY are doing, not how the work is progressing. They need to create opportunities for bonding within the teams. They need to create better onboarding and training programs. The other change is many companies are becoming more of a meritocracy, rewarding people on their output versus in-person visibility. These are all great changes and many companies will be better for it.


M7: What do you read, and how do you consume information to stay at the top of your game?
TC:
I don’t have a standard list of resources I come back to every day. I’ve been teaching a post-grad certificate program at the University of Toronto for 7 years now and that’s really what keeps me on my toes. Students will ask tough questions. If they ask something I don’t have a good answer for, I’ll go do my research, speak with people in my network, and really try to educate myself. I’ll then take what I’ve learned and try to teach it back.

I do read quite a bit, whether it be books or online articles, but it’s typically in the moment. As I have a desire to learn something, there will be a flurry of intense research while I learn that thing, and the resources tend to be a little different each time.

A recent example would be data science and applying it to marketing. My research led me down many paths - Harvard Business Review articles on strategy and building data science teams, Coursera for introductory courses, books on Data Visualization, Medium articles on marketing use cases, and some virtual coffee chats with people in my network. I’m certainly no expert, but I now have a sense of what’s possible, how to talk halfway intelligently about it, and how to work what I’ve learned into my future planning.

I suppose my recommendation to people is to be deliberate about how you consume information. If it’s consuming information to help with your career, then be focused on learning that will help you do. The world needs more doers. More action takers.

Far too many people humble-brag about reading a book a week, reading for an hour every day, having an inconceivably long list of podcasts, newsletters, and blogs they follow and read every day. If you find that you need to listen to content at 2x, I’d argue you’re trying to consume too much. That’s not efficient, it’s just silly in my opinion.

If you’re consuming for pleasure and entertainment, amazing, keep it up. If you think that’s how you consume information to stay at the top of your game, I haven’t seen anyone be able to take that volume of information and action it. Your company, your clients - they only care if you can action it.

With all of that said, if I reflect on what I consume regularly, or looking forward to reading, it would be:
●    Harvard Business Review
●    Scott Galloways No Mercy/No Malice newsletter
●    Stratechery.com
●    TheAthletic.com (non-business, but great sports writing)
●    Tomtunguz.com


I’m certainly not perfect and will get distracted by non-important tasks, but I try to stay focused on the big rocks that will make a difference.



M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
TC:
Product Marketing is a difficult role in any organization and I don’t see many new challenges post COVID-19. Perhaps the one challenge will be how product marketers get their message out into the world.

Historically, product marketers would spend a great deal of time training and coaching sales teams, getting them ready for in-person conversations and demos. That information needs to live in the public domain, not just in the heads of sales. Product Marketing will need to work more closely with their demand generation teams to ensure buyers can easily find product information and self-educate.

Post COVID-19 will have fewer in-person meetings, and likely fewer meetings in general as buyers across the board have become accustomed to digital-first, independent ‘shopping’.  It will be critical that product marketers think about educating the market through buyer-driven discovery versus seller-driven sales conversations. Once a salesperson speaks with a prospect, that prospect has likely done 70%+ of the research. Product marketing needs to ensure that prospect has pathways to easily educate themselves and help them come into a sales conversation being informed.

M7: How are promotional tactics changing for products and services launching during these periods?
TC:
The obvious is events. We’re not investing in in-person events like we have in the past, which has not negatively impacted our business to date. Our focus is to educate and build trust. We’ve been able to continue to do that virtually.

The most successful organizations don’t succeed because they’re good at exploiting a single promotional tactic, they succeed because they start with first principles and expand from there. There’s a great book that talks about marketing’s first principles being:
●    All customers differ
●    All customers change
●    All competitors react
●    All resources are limited

For example, if you think about your market in this way, you don’t necessarily think about how to hack Facebook ads, you start to think about how to address the needs of various customer segments, and enhance your messaging and product to meet their needs.
The tactical execution is secondary to nailing your first principles.

M7: What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
TC:
This is just a pet peeve of mine, but I don’t like the term productivity hacks. I think by calling them hacks or shortcuts, we’re doing a disservice to them. I’ve yet to come across an easy shortcut or hack that works. They all take considerable effort and consistency.

I think we need to acknowledge that in the long-term, productivity tactics will have a tremendous impact. In the short-term, however, they’re just another thing on the to-do list. Checking them off that list every single day is a feat you should be proud of. Calling it a hack cheapens it.

For example, I spend 15-30 minutes each night planning the next day. I write down what the single most important thing is that I need to accomplish. Not the single most important WORK thing, just the single most important LIFE thing. During the week, that’s usually a work thing and during the weekends, that’s usually a non-work thing. By choosing 1 thing, I’m choosing to say no to a bunch of other things. Thinking that through and making those deliberate decisions to say no is what I work on each night.

If I can accomplish one big thing each day, that’s 7 big things a week, 30 a month, and 365 a year. That’s a damned good year if I can do that. I’m certainly not perfect and will get distracted by non-important tasks, but I try to stay focused on the big rocks that will make a difference.

ABOUT PARTNERSTACK

PartnerStack is the only partner management platform built for SaaS, enabling our customers to scale revenue in an accelerated yet predictable way. Like Salesforce was for sales, we are the standard for partnerships. Companies like Monday.com, Unbounce, Intercom, and Webflow all use PartnerStack to deliver on aggressive revenue targets. Over the past 12 months, the PartnerStack Network delivered over $100,000,000 in revenue for our customers, making PartnerStack not just a platform for managing partnerships, but a key growth channel for our customers. 

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