Phoebe Noce is a Chicago-based multihyphenate who currently spends her days in the marketing stratosphere, but has also built a growing personal brand around a wealth of knowledge and knack for demystifying tech concepts (aka jargon).
We asked Phoebe to help us decode the good and not-so-good within marketing organizations today, misconceptions in tech, and how she finds creativity and makes time for her passions.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey to date.
I’m originally from Texas, but have called Chicago home for the past 10+ years. I was a journalism major in undergrad and landed a coveted role as a food editor at a magazine for several years. It was hard to leave but journalism is a tough industry from both a pay and career growth perspective.
I left to go get my MBA in marketing at Northwestern and worked at a series of startups after graduation as a marketing generalist with spikes in content and product. I’m especially passionate about getting product marketing and demand gen off the ground at early-stage startups.
You’ve spent a fair amount of your career in content marketing. How have you defined content and what do you consider to be “great” content today?
A lot of folks envision content as blog posts, ebooks, video, podcasts — the traditional “stuff.” I prefer to think of content more broadly. Yes, it encompasses all of those things, but product pages, sales assets, social posts, etc. also fall under content. It’s really anything that buyers consume at almost any stage of the funnel or journey.
"The best content is usually actionable (a how-to, for example), offers genuine value, and sparks emotion, whether that’s pure joy, a deeply felt pain point, commiseration, or laughs."
At the end of the day, good content is anything that gets your customer to start wanting to follow you. This could literally be a follow on a social channel, an email sign up, or something that just compels them to keep tabs on the content you produce or, better yet, formulate interest in your product/service. The best content is usually actionable (a how-to, for example), offers genuine value, and sparks emotion, whether that’s pure joy, a deeply felt pain point, commiseration, or laughs.
Great content encompasses all of those things but is also inimitable because it comes from lived experience, personal expertise, or first-party data.
You’re fairly active on social media, demystifying marketing concepts and calling out red flags or misconceptions across tech — what inspired you to write about these topics?
I’ve lived so many different experiences and learned a lot on the job. There are a lot of things I wish someone would have told me or taught me that I like sharing.
Additionally, I think so many posts or micro-influencers on social media offer high-level platitudes or use the same hooks or speak in black and white with zero shades of gray. I know sometimes it’s a means to drive engagement, but that bothers the marketer and the editor in me. The world is super nuanced, and it’s doing the audience a disservice to not call those things out.
There’s an authenticity to your posts on what tech marketing gets right and wrong, often leading to organizational volatility. What do you think are the causes of these issues, and how can employees/employers better solve them?
Aside from actual personnel-related issues (like a senior exec that thinks marketing is just a means to capture leads), a lot of the issues stem from scattershot processes and either over indexing in strategy or in execution.
"Over indexing in strategy results in slow-moving marketing orgs that often end up in analysis paralysis."
Establishing transparent, repeatable processes — whether it’s for GTM or demand generation — will create organization and clarity around what’s being accomplished, where things live, etc. It also naturally parlays into establishing the right tactics and metrics for your marketing objectives and knowing where gaps and breaks are from strategy to execution to review. This will help things not fall through the cracks, too.
Over indexing in strategy results in slow-moving marketing orgs that often end up in analysis paralysis. I see this a lot when there are a lot of hierarchical layers or there’s a bottleneck in decision making.
More often, though, marketing teams are over indexing in execution. This is where people start going full tactical (churning out content, throwing money at ads, leveraging too many channels, messaging to too many personas, etc.) without taking a step back to not only analyze results, but also check if those tactics are actually contributing to marketing objectives and overall business goals.
Often, it’s the small, lean teams that get in trouble with this — they plan their strategy initially, then go heads down on execution, and then never come up for air because they become so mired in their day to day.
How have you been intentional about shaping your personal brand? Bonus question: Why is it important for more professionals to invest in their personal brands?
A year ago, I started working on my personal brand to be a conduit for the company/product I was marketing. After all, people prefer to engage with other people rather than brands (and the social algorithms support that anyway).
"If anything, working on your personal brand not only benefits the company you’re working for at any given point in time, but it also is a great way to expand your network. I’ve loved connecting with other marketers I would have never encountered otherwise."
I’ve been intentional about choosing topics I have genuine experience in and actually like talking about. Consistently creating content is tough. Both of those things make it a little bit easier.
If anything, working on your personal brand not only benefits the company you’re working for at any given point in time, but it also is a great way to expand your network. I’ve loved connecting with other marketers I would have never encountered otherwise.
How do you balance the personal as the professional in your life?
I look for companies that value work-life balance, especially ones that don’t micromanage every business hour because they trust I’m getting my work done.
I’m also protective of my schedule — I try not to have meetings before 9 or 9:30 so that I can send my 3-year-old off to school and have time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up where I left off the day before. I also try not to have meetings last past 5 so that I have time to cook dinner.
(Loaded question alert) What have you learned along your personal and/or professional journey so far? Is there anything you’d do differently?
To push yourself to do slightly uncomfortable things if there’s little to no downside. Say yes to being on a podcast, even if you’re not an accomplished public speaker. Reach out to people you’re interested in connecting with. Take a project that is 70% in your wheelhouse and 30% a stretch.
Where do you find creativity or inspiration?
Personally, I like to travel and even be a bit of a tourist in my own city. I like to try new activities, even if I’m a little anxious about it. I also am a big fan of Instagram for some of my hobbies (journaling/craft related).
Professionally, I follow smart folks on LinkedIn and am not afraid to cull the ones that aren’t making the cut. I also enjoy certain Slack communities — Product Marketing Alliance, All In, and MKTG WMN (I’m also a board member), to name a few.
Are there any people you draw inspiration from or feel are “getting tech/SaaS marketing right” today?
Can you tell us about the “tools of the trade” you’ve found helpful over the years?
This is so org dependent! But generally, I like Notion for personal notes, Slack for communities and internal comms, Wordpress for a CMS, Semrush for SEO, Hubspot for mid-priced marketing automation, Google Analytics/Ads because you just have to, Miro for virtual brainstorms, Welcome for webinars, 6Sense for sales intelligence. I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting.