Position Proposal: Product Marketer, Storyteller, and Video Producer
This is my leap. This is me taking a leap to apply to join a team that I highly respect, to work on a product that is remarkable, and doing work that I value. I believe that sometimes the best jobs are not just created, but co-created. This is my pitch to you, Zapier teammates. I’ve considered what kind of team I would want to work with, what kind of product I would like to promote, and how I could serve. I would like to work with Zapier in the mission to build strong relationships with customers and to be helpful to the online community. My deep knowledge is in bringing audio and video projects to life.
As I have watched Zapier from a distance, here are a few things that stick out to me.
- The Team. It is obvious that you are committed to team members and that you value each person. I appreciate the combination of remote work along with company retreats. You value excellence, humility, creativity, problem-solving, customer service, storytelling and co-creation. These are things I value as well and look for in teammates.
- The product. A long time ago I took a class in QBASIC, but that’s about as far as I got with real code. I can write some basic html and I’m not afraid to follow instructions with integrating API’s, but I’m not a computer programmer. Several of my friends are programmers, though, and I have great respect for them. What I think is insanely cool about Zapier is that you are finding ways for common folk to make use of heavy duty powerful integrations. It is the power of custom development, but “programmable” by non-programmers.
- Zapier literally embodies many aspects of the new world of work. Seth Godin has long talked about how we are in a “connection economy.” As in, there is a great value in simply being the medium by which other things or other people are connected to each other. Zapier literally embodies this in how it connects online apps.
- Bootstrapped! I recently heard an interview with Wade Foster. He was talking about how the Zapier team first started with developing the initial integrations. He talked about the start in Columbia, MO, then going on to YCombinator, and then raising an initial Seed round of funding. I think it is great that you have been intentional to grow primarily via paying customers as opposed to just taking on more investment. This is something that I’ve respected when Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson have talked about their approach with Basecamp. It’s cool to see a similar approach with Zapier.
- I’m a storyteller. And we are all storytellers to some extent, right? Our products tell a story, how we live tells a story, what we don’t do tells a story. I believe that we as individuals, companies, and brands have an opportunity to embrace storytelling through many means. Video is one of those means.
- Full stack video producer. I have a wide range of media production experience and skills. The skillset allows me to be able to take a project and run with it, even if it’s a lean team (or just me).
- Specific media skills. Video conception, camera operation, lighting, audio recording, video editing, motion graphics, stop-motion, audio editing, interviewing.
- Techno-curious. I dabble in html and WordPress and I’ve often been asked to help troubleshoot technical problems. It could be a simple situation like on online calendar sync issue or something deeper like a problem with RAID storage device. If an answer exists online I’m usually able to track down the documentation and figure out how to follow the steps to resolve the issue.
- I’m curious. I love to learn. About all kinds of things.
- I love connecting people. I like to connect people to others who might be a resource or simply a good person for them to know.
- I am a listener. I seek to understand and have empathy.
- I love creating. I love the whole process of creating something new, whether it’s music, a video, a website, or an experience.
- I am willing to do and learn anything. This is why I’ve learned media and how I got started with most of the skills I’ve learned. I was simply willing to learn. When I’m put in situations where there is a need, I’m glad to jump in and find out how I can be part of the solution.
- I am a problem solver. Most creative projects are problems to be solved.
- I value others. I believe we all have an enormous amount of perspective and insight. We are better when we value each person’s contribution they are making. It’s how I roll. And although it shouldn’t matter, it’s also validated by research.
- I strive to see the long game. I believe that there are investments we make that pay off right away. There are others that are connections and seeds that will make a huge difference in the long run. I try to see both perspectives, but build toward the things that will matter long term.
- I take ownership of projects and run with them. Once we set a direction for a project, I love to take the baton and run with it.
Things We Might Do Together
- Make an explainer video. We could explain how Zaps can solve problems, save time, and create new solutions for customers.
- Demo video. Make a zap integration setup demo video. Make a video that shows how to walk through and setup specific zap integrations.
- Tell customers’ stories. We might tell the story of how they use Zapier or simply tell their story of starting a business. We could show their perspective on a specific topic or show how they found overcame obstacles. They could be shown as the hero. The specific role of Zapier could be a small part or a large part. This would be great as a video but could also work as a written post.
- Tell a partner organization’s story. This would be great as a video but could also work as a written post.
- Document Zapier’s story. Gary Vaynerchuk suggests that sometimes we need to simply document, not create. This could also fall under the “VLOG” part below. People resonate with stories. We resonate with stories. Part of that connection could be telling about the startup phase of Zapier or the ongoing obstacles, choices, difficulties, and successes.
- Tell the story of someone who is doing great work. This type of project would fall in the category of owning the online space where our customers live. It could be an interview with Seth Godin, behind the scenes with a developer at Mailchimp, or a creator on Etsy.
- Webinar. Design and/or run an online webinar with a product demo and Q & A’s.
- Build bridges. Find new ways to take ownership of the online space where our customers are. Then work to be helpful and build relationships.
- Customer Service. I think this is one of the best ways to learn about our customers, our product, pain points, opportunities for new solutions and simply understanding our own company along with the space in which we operate.
- VLOG. Vlog style content can tell stories and create connections in a unique way. There could be many instances where this approach might be useful. It could even go behind the scenes of how Zapier teammates are using Zaps. Or maybe it explores the tension of what things we choose not to automate.
- Use the oxford comma. Yes, I believe it is valuable and brings a clarity to writing.
- Build a Rube Goldberg machine. This could be a fun exercise using an elaborate system of Zaps. We could even have the zaps bridge the digital world to the physical world. This kind of project would provide a challenge to think and see zaps in a new way, would be fun to document, could be shared, and might even shed light on new ways to use Zapier.
- Experiment. New challenges bring new opportunities. Let’s do it!
A Few Brand Approaches
I believe that branding, customer service, and storytelling are all things that affect how companies create connections to their audience. And this all plays into how video and marketing operates. Here are a few brands that I respect for how they operate in taking ownership of their fields.
Basecamp. I’ve followed them for a long time, used their product, listened to interviews, and read their books. I have huge respect for their approach to customer service, business, and life.
The AltMBA principles are inspiring. You surround yourself with a group of people who challenge you to leap and grow during a one month sprint. I’ve not been through it yet, but I’m looking forward to it someday. I strive to adopt their philosophy of encouragement and leaning in to possibilities at work.
Gary Vaynerchuck. This guy is a powerhouse in creating content. I appreciate his constant experimentation and over-delivery of value.
Bidsketch does a great job of empowering their potential user base.
Rackspace is known for fanatical support. I love how they champion the cause to simply “care.” And they have also been exceptional in taking leadership in their online space.
charity: water has some of the best storytelling. And it’s for a great cause, too.
RODE makes affordable audio gear and they do a wonderful job of connecting with videographers.
Gapingvoid has been hacking culture and helping companies create better teams and workplaces.
The team at Copyblogger. The way they approach serving their audience and creating relevant products is inspiring.
Ramit Sethi’s work is another example of serving an audience. He gives away 98% of his material for free and then charges premium prices for his flagship courses. Also, his material is structured so that if people take action on the free material, they will develop into the right kind of client to do well with his paid material.
Always. The #LikeAGirl campaign was a great piece where they championed a topic important to their audience (and future audience).
Intel. When I think of a “branding” video, I always go back to a video I saw featuring the cellist Zoe Keating. In an interview with Zoe, she shared that when the documentary team came, they had no agenda other than to tell her story well. The connection with Intel is simply that she uses a computer. This storytelling approach is some of the strongest brand positioning to me. In my own case, whenever I hear a mention of Zoe Keating as a cellist, I’m also reminded that she uses a computer in her work and that it has an Intel Processor. They have several other examples of this as well, such as a piece on the Sartorialist and one about creating a Serena Williams warm-up song.
One Example of a Project I’ve Worked On
Beck Group is an integrated building firm, meaning that they offer both architectural design and construction services. A few years ago I was asked to help them with a video project for an internal stakeholders meeting. They had a quick turnaround to create this piece on a culture of safety. It would be shown alongside another video telling the story of an employee who was supported by her team during a health crisis.
I was brought in by a long-time collaborator who was directing the other video piece. I would be helping him with the video shoot and audio for that piece. In preparation for it, I learned about Beck’s culture and values and knew that this was a company I would be glad to work with.
The video I was asked to direct was going to be a challenge. They needed to capture the story of a contractor who was working on a project with them in another state, but they didn’t know all the details of the story. They needed someone who could coordinate the shoot, clarify and capture the story and turn the project around quickly. It sounded like a challenge I wanted to take on!
These were the basic steps involved in the project.
- Get to know the Beck group’s culture and company values
- Help establish the look of the project to be a consistent approach between both videos
- Coordinate the logistics of the shoot with my the out-of-state building team, the contractors whose story we were telling, a local video crew to help with capture on location, and my own travel
- The shoot – setup of location, production setup, directing the shoot, clarifying the story, interviewing the subjects
- Editing the video
The report after the stakeholders meeting was that the two videos became the subjects of conversation during the breaks at the stakeholders meeting. Employees felt valued, and the construction teams felt seen by the corporate office. It was reported that there may even have been tears because of how much the safety video resonated. The company was grateful for how they were able to both communicate their values and then also strengthen their team culture by telling these stories.
This is the project.
Continue the Conversation
I have an enormous respect for the Zapier team. If this page resonates with you all, I would be delighted to see how we might serve together to make a dent in the Universe. If not, cool. I will still be following along with your story and looking forward to seeing how you grow as a team and a company!
With sincerity and respect,