I sat down with Amy Rosenberg, a Senior Manager for MongoDB Field Marketing based in New York, to gain insight into how her role transformed when the COVID-19 pandemic started, her newfound love for data, and the ways in which MongoDB helped her adapt to a new working environment. We also spoke about the initial hardships of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York, scouring for toilet paper and Clorox, and how she envisions Field Marketing in a post-pandemic landscape.
Andrew Bell: Thanks for sharing your story with us, Amy. Can you tell me about your journey into field marketing?
Amy Rosenberg: I started my first “grown-up job” three weeks before graduating college. I was a one-woman marketing department for a 10-person startup. Over the course of my five years there, I had the chance to try my hand at every part of marketing: content, product, demand generation, social media, communications, advocacy, and events. I realized early on that what I love and what I am good at is being in the field interacting with and building community for customers. About three years into my career, someone told me that what I did sounded a lot like field marketing. I’d never heard that term before, but after reading some job descriptions, I decided it sounded fitting. One of the perks of working for a startup was the ability to change my title and team’s name. We became Field Marketing, and I officially became a field marketer.
AB: How would you describe field marketing to those who aren't familiar?
AR: When people hear the words field marketing, they think of events. They picture the team searching for venues, coordinating with A/V, running promotional campaigns, and handing their sales team leads to follow up with. This is definitely a part of field marketing, but to me, it’s not the full picture. Maybe it’s because I started my career wearing all of the marketing hats, but I’ve always seen myself as responsible for understanding when and why to do these events, how to ensure the leads make it through the sales funnel and become new customers, and how to track and analyze the ROI.
This is one of the main reasons I joined MongoDB. In my first interview, my future boss discussed how MongoDB Field Marketing was part of a larger account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. I wouldn’t be an event planner; I would be the CMO of my region and a business partner to my regional Sales team. Events would be one of many tools I could use to support driving new leads and accelerating deals. I’d never heard field marketing described as such a strategic and impactful function, and I jumped at the opportunity to join the team. After a year without live events, the scope of my role feels even more true today.
AB: What was a day in your role like prior to COVID-19?
AR: Before COVID-19, I was always on the move, jetting around the world to host various events. This gave me the opportunity to get to know my Sales teams, talk to our customers, and visit dozens of incredible places such as Montreal, Beijing, and San Francisco, to name a few. My suitcase was always packed, and I got pretty used to spending only two or three nights in my New York City apartment each week.
I like to describe MongoDB as the perfect mix between startup and established company. The company is doing very well and has the structure, leadership, and product to succeed. However, we still have my favorite parts of a startup culture: transparency from leadership, fun perks such as surprise swag gifts, unique benefits such as Headspace memberships and Carrot Fertility, and — my favorite part — the ability to make a meaningful contribution no matter what your level of seniority is. I hosted my favorite event about six months after joining — a C-level dinner at Classic Car Club Manhattan. Our CEO gave the opening talk, and our Chief Product Officer hosted a customer panel. No one questioned whether a new manager should own something so big, and my leaders gave me full autonomy to make it what I wanted. It ended up being a huge success and still gets brought up two years later.
Hosting two or three events a month was exciting and made a huge impact on my region, but it was also exhausting. By the time I was back at my desk in New York, I hardly had the energy to analyze whether or not my projects were yielding the best results. I knew hundreds of customers and potential customers attended my events each month, but I rarely had the opportunity to think about things such as whether or not those were the customers with the greatest potential to buy, if the Sales Development Representatives were following up with the right materials to ensure conversion, or if the leads were being accurately routed to the right people. I knew I wanted to be even more strategic in my role.
AB: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your personal and professional life?
AR: In March 2020, my entire world turned upside down and inside out. I went from spending a few nights a week in my one-bedroom apartment to not leaving it for weeks on end. New York City was one of the hardest-hit cities. I remember in early April I accidentally missed a meeting with one of my Sales teams because someone told me a store nearby finally had toilet paper and Clorox wipes in stock, and there was no way I was missing an opportunity like that. I felt comfortable putting myself before my work because from day one of the pandemic, MongoDB’s leaders encouraged us to do exactly that. They gave us companywide mental health days, hosted biweekly all-hands to keep us informed, and offered forums to discuss the current social and political environment.
I then started hearing how companies were taking down job postings for open field marketing positions and some were even laying off existing field marketers. Field marketing equaled live events, and no one knew when live events would happen again. Naturally, this scared my team and me. Pretty quickly, our leadership sat us down and told us there were no planned layoffs, but we needed to get creative and find new ways to support the Sales team. Sales goals hadn’t changed, which meant we were still responsible for driving new leads and accelerating opportunities.
I picked this job because I thrived on the social interactions it gave me. Suddenly, I was left with Zoom calls and an empty apartment. My fiancé is a doctor and was sent to battle COVID-19, working 24-hour shifts with limited PPE. I am extremely grateful that neither of us has gotten sick. It’s been a very lonely and stressful time, but having a team that jumped in to help when I needed a day off or scheduled a random Zoom happy hour just to chat made it much easier.
AB: How have you pivoted in your role since the COVID-19 outbreak began?
AR: When my job was producing live events, they had to be run based on location, meaning the same event could take place in five or more markets in a given month. Even if we could reuse the content, the hours spent on promotion to each location, traveling to and from, and managing the spreadsheets full of tasks to make it a success ate away all of my time. With the transition to virtual, this duplication became irrelevant. A webinar can reach hundreds of customers across the globe at once. As a Field Marketing team, we began to talk about and better understand what each region needed and where we could find overlap.
We found that we could split up the work and build a marketing program targeted to different industries and use cases. Then, we could all take advantage of a single program for our relevant accounts. This sounded as if we were doing less work, but it really just gave each of us time back to focus on improving the work we did, rather than rushing to do more. The webinars became much higher quality, since each field marketer was producing less and could spend more time improving an individual program.
An unexpected benefit of this sharing of work was our team becoming much more collaborative: team brainstorming sessions, asking for and providing feedback on work we could all take advantage of, sharing resources anytime we saw a success from our work, and bringing half a dozen brains together to create a much stronger program.
AB: How has MongoDB helped you transition during this time?
AR: Before COVID-19, the lines differentiating teams within Marketing were mainly based on the types of activities we owned: Field Marketing hosted in-person regional events, Demand Generation ran digital ads and webinars, and Strategic Events managed our large-scale global events. With no live events, these lines became blurry. With a lot of help and guidance from our Marketing leadership, we created lines based more on goals than on activity type. For Field Marketing, our goal is to source new and accelerate existing deals for our specific sales region. Events (now virtual) were just one of the tools in our toolbelt, along with customer stories, digital ads, executive engagement, direct mail, and even sales enablement to improve conversions on the inbound leads from Marketing.
I told my manager that my new motto was “avoid doing work.” Naturally, they got very concerned. But, what I really meant was to take advantage of what is already being done by others, instead of duplicating efforts, and then reallocate my time to things such as lead flow handoff improvements, data hygiene, advising other teams on customer stories, and educating my sales reps on the self-serve tools we provide. This has been a very scary change of mindset for me, because I always equated success to the programs I owned. I’m insanely grateful I have such amazing leaders who completely supported my new mentality.
This change also helped me finally realize what it means to be the CMO of my region: working collaboratively with the entire Marketing organization to ensure my region has everything it needs to hit its numbers. Not only has this made me much more strategic in my actions, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet and become friends with people outside of my direct team. I can say with full confidence that I work on the best Marketing team out there because of the people.
AB: You've fallen in love with data during quarantine. How did that happen, and how do you envision it playing a role in your approach moving forward?
AR: Some people baked sourdough bread. Others completed puzzles. I learned Tableau. We were given access to new data dashboards right around the time lockdown started, and maybe I just needed an escape from staring at my own face on Zoom, but I began spending a lot of time in these reports. Going back to the concept of being the CMO of my region and all the time I saved by “avoiding work,” I wanted to have a clear and deep understanding of what programs, messaging, promotion strategies, and content worked best in my region, so I could double down on what works and either stop or change the things that didn’t work. I’d never been trained on using Tableau or looking at data this way. When I expressed my interest in this analysis, my manager gave me the time to learn and asked our Marketing Ops team to help. I spent hours building new reports, asking Marketing Ops questions, and then discussing my findings with other stakeholders on the team. I began making changes and improvements to the programs I ran as well as to the ways all inbound leads for my region were handled. Without adding more events, I saw our conversions to new deals increase.
On a personal level, I’ve found that I’m actually pretty good at this kind of analysis. My team and leadership now come to me with questions, and my manager actually helped take other work off of my plate so I could focus on this. I was even given the opportunity to present to our global Sales leaders on the lead flow process I helped improve. I absolutely love finding new insights and uncovering challenges I get to fix.
AB: What do you think MongoDB Field Marketing will look like in the future?
AR: I’m not going to lie: I really miss live events. Although we still achieved our goals this year, there is something special about how events foster relationships and community between a company and its customers. But whatever the world of events looks like in the future, I don’t expect Field Marketing to go back to being solely event planners. This past year made us learn how to work much more collaboratively and efficiently with the entire Marketing organization. We built better cross-functional relationships, learned the tools to help us analyze what our regions needed, expanded our use of digital marketing, and got extremely creative with our virtual events. We also demonstrated the importance of a strong partnership between Sales and Marketing by getting involved in enablement and lead conversion improvements — areas I’d never even thought to investigate before. We’ve shown the value Marketing can bring to Sales and the entire company when given the time, and it isn’t just more leads. When we slow down, think strategically, and become experts on our region’s needs, the impact has nothing to do with events.
Calling this past year extremely challenging is the understatement of the century, but I always try to find the silver lining in every situation. In my experience, the pandemic gave field marketers the chance to become stronger business partners to our Sales leaders and own the role of CMO of our region.
Interested in pursuing a career in Marketing at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe, and we would love for you to build your career with us!