3 Learnings From... Ashley Brucker-Stepien, VP of Marketing at Webflow

Marketing

02-25-2021

(Updated 06-10-2024)

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5 min

3 Learnings From... Ashley Brucker-Stepien, VP of Marketing at Webflow

The Video Advantage: Trends & Strategies for Content Marketers 2024

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Looking for your next fix of marketing and leadership insights? Well, you've come to the right place.

In this latest episode of our '3 Learnings From' video podcast series, we’re talking to Ashley Brucker-Stepien, Vice President of Marketing at Webflow!

She discusses continuous learning, being surrounded by a team of 'marketing ninjas', and taking a step back to get to the root of a problem.

Go with the Webflow

“A powerhouse… anyone would be lucky to work closely with her!”
“One of the best leaders I know.”
“A force of nature... She knows how to get it done and get it done better than anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

Ashley Brucker-Stepien is known for moving mountains as a marketer and a leader, and her peers on LinkedIn certainly agree.

Having led marketing at numerous organizations, Ashley has helped them realize the power of revenue alignment, marketing operations, and growth marketing in driving a successful go-to-market strategy.

She transformed ‘marketing automation’ from an idea into a practice at Marketo, drove product marketing strategies at Appirio, and took on the role as Vice President of Revenue Marketing at Pendo, ‘the living, breathing intersection of sales and marketing’.

As Vice President of Marketing at Webflow since early 2020, Ashley and her team are empowering their customers to build professional, custom websites in a completely visual canvas—with no need to write any code.

Webflow was founded in 2013 and envisions 'a world where everyone can create powerful, flexible websites, and apps as easily as they create documents today.' The company has just received $140 million in Series B funding and is currently valued at more than $2.1 billion.

In addition to her responsibilities at Webflow, Ashley is passionate about supporting women in the workforce and helping mothers to come back to work after leave. She lives in Carmel, California, with her husband and three children.

So, what are Ashley’s three guiding principles as a highly successful marketing leader?

Learning #1: Don’t rest on your legacy experience, always be learning

No matter how much you’ve achieved, insists Ashley, there are always new muscles to grow as a marketing leader:

I think there are a few things that a great marketing leader does, and one of those is recognizing that there is always more to learn. Especially in the digital age, marketing techniques and strategies are changing constantly. So, I can’t recommend enough staying on top of the trends and the latest developments…

I found myself leaning heavily on my marketing automation and marketing operations background, and I recognized a couple of years ago that marketing was starting to shift significantly in terms of the self-serve model: giving people the ability to choose their own journey when interacting with your product or with your company. 

So for me, a big shift was creating more of a self-serve journey and supporting that ‘growth-marketing muscle’, and that was new! I think a lot of marketers had not been flexing this muscle the way they should have.

So one of my big recommendations is just keeping your eyes open and looking for new muscles that you can grow as a marketing leader.

I think there are a lot of great forums and materials out there. Specifically, one resource that I found the most cutting-edge and impactful for myself and my team has been 'Reforge', which does a great job of unpacking the growth marketing loop and why it’s so important.

There’s also a group called ‘Revenue Collective’, which is a fantastic mix of marketing, sales, and customer leaders who are sharing information all the time. Being able to talk to and hear from your peers is the best way to learn.

Learning #2: Surround yourself with Ninjas

According to Ashley, you might have found your next expert ‘marketing ninja’ if you walk away from the interview having learned something:

One of my strategies as a marketing leader is to surround myself with what I call ‘marketing ninjas’. I’ve always considered myself to be a generalist. I’ve dabbled in all parts of marketing, from field to product marketing to operations and demand-gen…

As a leader it’s been great for me to get knee-deep in each of those areas, but what you really want to do is surround yourself with experts in those areas.

So my hiring and staffing strategy has always been to find the best person in each of those categories, who can teach me—they're such an expert in their area that I don’t have to worry too much about their day-to-day and we can work together on a more strategic level.

That’s how we can help each other: I can help them to think strategically and they can help me by teaching me more about their expertise...

If I don’t walk away from the interview [with a candidate] feeling like I’ve learned something, I know that I’m probably not going to be that inspired by that person going forward. So the interview should be a dialogue and it should be a value-add for both parties where we both walk away feeling like we’ve learned something.

Additionally, especially at Webflow, we feel really strongly about interview assignments. We craft these really specific prompts to see how people think. I’m less interested in their output and the project outcome, and more interested in seeing their thinking process and how they apply their ‘ninja skills’ to the prompt to demonstrate their capacity and capabilities to go deep in that particular area.

Learning #3: Always remember that budget and/or hiring are not solutions

It can be tempting to look for quick fixes to problems, explains Ashley, but sometimes you have to dig deep to find a lasting solution:

One thing that a lot of leaders fall into a trap with is either hiring or paying to fix a problem. I truly believe that hiring and budget are not solutions when you have systemic issues within your organization or teams.

I’ve noticed a lot of people say ‘let’s hire someone to fix that… let’s go create a job rack and plug someone into that area to make that problem go away.’ That might be a solution. But I actually think it's a shortcut.

As a marketing leader, I think it’s on us to take a step back and really tease out what’s going on in an issue. Maybe your demand-gen isn’t what it should be, or maybe your marketing and sales alignment is falling down, maybe your content isn’t getting the traction that you expect it to get.

The way that I like to figure out if we have a truly systemic issue versus a resourcing issue is to do some deep analysis and look at how things have been performing, to look at what’s converting and what’s not.

{I want to} make sure we’re not just hiring or paying to put a bandaid on a problem that is actually something internal that we need to sort out, and either reorganize the process, rethink our messaging, reevaluate the way we are handing things off to sales… Those are all things that take time and can take a lot of internal energy to figure out.

So I think a lot of people lean on hiring or paying for a solution to get it sorted, when in reality you’ll never get it right if you don’t take the time and a step back to unpack what’s really going on.

Thanks Ashley!

Ashley Brucker-Stepien is a leader who takes nothing for granted. Whether it’s getting back to the classroom and learning from her peers, or hiring a ‘ninja’ marketing squad with highly specialized skills—Ashley continues to grow new marketing muscles.

Are you motivated to 'always be learning' like Ashley, or do you rely on your legacy experience? When faced with a problem, are you more likely to hire and pay for a solution, or take a long, hard look at your company’s internal processes?

More career learnings and marketing insights coming your way Thursday, March 11th. We’ll be speaking with Latané Conant, CMO at 6sense!

Jaymi Onorato

Jaymi Onorato

Demand Generation Manager, North America

Jaymi is a growth-focused B2B marketing leader driving demand generation for North America at PlayPlay. Jaymi advocates for inclusivity in tech and women in leadership.

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The Video Advantage: Trends & Strategies for Content Marketers 2024

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. This ebook is designed to help you take advantage of the biggest content and video trends this year.

Discover now

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