Interview with Authority Magazine

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Samer Kamal Of Mine: 5 Non-Intuitive Ways To Grow Your Marketing Career

Samer Kamal

Be curious. Invest in yourself and take risks.

Aspart of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Samer Kamal.

Samer Kamal is the VP of Marketing at Mine, a data privacy platform that empowers brands to continuously optimize their regulatory posture and improve customer relationships through respectful and compliant data transparency, consent, and control.

Samer has over 15 years of experience in the fields of enterprise software and SaaS and has held leadership positions in marketing at various companies such as Nightfall AI, InCountry, Pure Storage, and SAP. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

If you told me I’ll be doing marketing 15 years ago, I’d be laughing at you. My bachelor’s was in engineering followed by an MBA. Early on, I realized I was not an excellent engineer, and more importantly I was fascinated with working in tech. Every time a vendor would come in and pitch us their products, I thought I would enjoy being at the side of the table.

From there, I virtually did it all; Sales, Product, and ended up enjoying marketing the most. I firmly believe we have to do more of what we’re good at and avoid what we’re not. By doing so, I was able to accelerate my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?

Too many! The worst was an attempt at a live demo of a brand-new product in front of thousands of conference attendees. The good old demo freeze trick happened, and the system stopped responding. I then switched to becoming a standup comedian. I made fun of myself, my group, and even the company!

By the time I got done, I wasn’t sure if I would still have my job or not. One thing was clear; stand-up comedy wasn’t going to be my B plan.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I think there were a few tipping points that kept me going, with one common reason for all of them; being passionate about the job.

When your stakeholders see the passion, they know you’re putting your best foot forward. You might not present A+ work all the time, but you’re doing your very best. You take it seriously, and you’re not wasting anyone’s time.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Our co-founder and CEO Gal Ringel, always says it, and it’s stuck with me; it’s all about the people. Many say this in the startup world, but few practice it. When you’re curious about your people, investing in their own missions, truly making it your business to elevate them. They will build on that relationship and do their part to succeed. Trust is essential.

Gal and my other cofounders have trusted me to build our marketing function. And like any trusting relationship, letting them down is something I would never want. It is what pushes me every day.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re starting a few new efforts now. Infusing the right mix of technology and people is essential in marketing. Knowing when you can automate specific tasks, when to rely on technology, and when to put humans on the job. With every single effort, the goal is to be efficient and revenue-oriented.

There’s been a trend for the last few years where “being creative” and doing “cool and unique” marketing was all the rage. I think we’re moving to more discipline, more consistency, and more revenue-oriented work. Do I sound like I’m not cool or creative? I am!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

I’m grateful to every manager I had. They all were open-minded and trusted me to do things my way. It’s the same story with all of them; set the expectations right and show them you’re able to drive. Eventually, they’ll hand you the keys.

Is there someone you consider to be your hero?

Having a hero is overrated. However, for the sake of entertainment, I’ll share a controversial answer.

While I think contrarian thinking is also overrated, or at least not fully understood, Peter Thiel is someone I have followed for many years. He’s made more contrarian decisions than anyone, and they continue to pay off handsomely. His biography, The Contrarian, by Bloomberg journalist Max Chafkin, is a great read.

Wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Be curious. Invest in yourself and take risks. Time is your most valuable asset, so making what seems to be risky decisions on the surface isn’t really as risky as it sounds.

There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history?

The Superbowl is coming soon, so I’ll pick one from there. Coinbase rocked the world with their ad last year. As you asked the question, their bouncing QR code on a black background bounced in my head.

As you might have caught on by now, I’m a huge fan of curiosity. Humans, especially prospects, are curious. Coinbase had so much curiosity that, supposedly, so many people checked that code and took their site down. This is an important lesson for all of us marketers.

If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like?

Coming from a product marketing background. Product launches are something I worked on a lot. Many Product Marketers think the buck stops with them, and when the launch happens. What I’ve realized through the years is that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Proper product launches are all about strategizing with marketing, product, and customer success. Successful product launches aren’t just about the buzz generated. It’s the rollout, the signups, the engagement, and the follow-ups. A proper Product launch doesn’t stop there. You capitalize and keep the momentum going after that.

Recently at Mine, we launched important new capabilities. We coordinated the rollout with Product, involved customers with the launch, and kept the momentum going for a month with customer events.

Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?

I define “salesy” a bit differently. Sales must not shy away from selling. The customer is here to buy and dancing around only makes it worse! This is why marketing and sales must go hand-in-hand.

The times of collecting leads and dropping them at sales’ door are over. This prevents sales from pushing the envelope and keeps marketing committed. The result is a consistent and clear buying journey.

What 5 things do you wish someone told you before you started?

  1. Be patient. I’ve bailed out on too many things before fruition.
  2. Use your fire wisely. Fire being your energy, if you don’t, you will catch fire yourself.
  3. Practice and plan. Nobody failed by practicing too much.
  4. Stay humble and drop the ego. The right people will appreciate that in you.
  5. Take downtime. Long walks, hikes, and workouts have helped me stay sane.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?

The marketing stack has never been more confusing. There’s a tool for everything! And AI is making it even more confusing. Like I said before, don’t over-rely on tech and automating everything.

What books, podcasts, documentaries, or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I’m a huge fan of the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. I think the 3 guys are genius storytellers. They now have a podcast documenting every episode, including how they came up with them. It’s “great behind-the-scenes” advice, plus you will laugh so much.

One more before we go: If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Well, might as well go big or go home. World peace!

We’re still bugged by the color of our skin, the language we speak or the accent we have, and the religion we were born into. These are things that make us special, but together, they make us exceptional.

Thank you for sharing so many valuable insights with us today!

Author: Kage Spatz is a Forbes-ft Entrepreneur who joined forces with fellow F500 Marketers to give your marketing & sales teams a new edge. Get a custom-built sales growth strategy (100% free) that reverse-engineers success in your space so you can win more sales — apply today!

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