HubSpot’s Katie Burke on: Beyoncé, Pet Rocks, & Storytelling

Leadership + Libations: Katie Burke

Photo courtesy of @worldwidewolfe

Before making her way to PR, it only took six weeks for Katie Burke to realize that consulting wasn’t for her. A master of storytelling, Katie channeled her inner Olivia Pope early in her career at a political communications firm. She got her MBA at Sloan, then made the jump to PR at HubSpot, before recently transitioning to a new role as the company’s Director of Talent & Culture. From preparing for HubSpot’s IPO to navigating its tremendous growth, Katie is adept at swiftly adapting to change to rally people in the right direction.

We joined forces with Young Women in Digital to sit down with Katie for a fireside chat with one goal in mind: to tackle a topic we all need help with – learning how to tell compelling stories. Katie showed us how to craft our stories in a clear, concise way, own its execution, and write our own endings.

As one person listening in nicely put it, Katie is, “the most quotable person to walk the planet.” So, rather than try to summarize our experience, here are some Katie’s most memorable quotes:

Own your Beyoncé walk, and have the confidence of Queen Bey herself.

  • “Speak in statements, not apologetic questions.”
  • “Use actions to show your stakeholders you are hungry to grow.”
  • “You don’t get to places in your career by making safe bets.”

Do your homework. Know the story you want to tell.

  • “Part of storytelling is believing you can write a different ending than those before you, and being willing to write that narrative yourself.”
  • “When communicating your ideas, speak in ‘we,’ not ‘I,’ to show that your idea provides value to the company’s best interest.”
  • “Prepare for each stakeholder’s ‘pet rock’ (i.e. special interest), and know how to address that particular perspective.”
Katie Burke

Photo Courtesy of @MsChristinaCF

Plan your approach.

  • “Think, speak, and sell in headlines. Is your idea attention grabbing? If not, think bigger about what you’re pitching.”
  • “Have a 10-slide deck. If you’re presenting your slides for the first time at a meeting, you’re doing it wrong. Rehearse! Ask for feedback early and get buy-in first from the people you need to move the project forward.”
  • “Understand why your story matters to the business and how to engage your stakeholders. If your presentation doesn’t clarify the benefits to the company, you need to revisit your approach.”
  • “Take the time, several days beforehand, to get dissenters’ buy-in and feedback; address their concerns before you pitch, then tailor your approach for them for the actual presentation.”
  • “If you have a diverse audience, pick a high-level point that everyone will be able to buy into and rally around.”
  • “Show a bias for action.”

Follow up!

  • “The next day, follow up with an email that directly states outcomes, sets expectations, and asks for validation. Then run with it.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you need to execute your plan.”

Invest in your own professional growth.

  • “Lead by being open to feedback and continuous improvement.”
  • “Find one thing you can do that makes you indispensable to your team and make your perspective valuable through your actions.”


Justine’s GIANT LIST of Email Marketing Resources

Justine Jordan - looking fineFollowing her super useful class on Email Marketing at (see deck below), Justine offered to share her GIANT LIST of Email Marketing Resources that she’s compiled during her years on the job. Use wisely. Share liberally.  Justine Jordan is Director of Marketing at Litmus, where she leads content marketing, customer education and research initiatives. She’s massively passionate about email marketing, and hates being called a spammer.

Click here to see Justine's class at Intelligent.lyEmail Marketing – getting started and building an opt-in email list:

Gems from the Litmus blog that every email marketer should read:

Justine’s top 17 go-to sources for topnotch advice (in no particular order):


Get inspired – email examples to spark your creativity:

Digital marketing sites that you should know (they frequently email tips too):

Email Software Providers’ frequently post great tips:  

Justine admits that the blogs of her competitors ARE worth looking at!

THANK YOU JUSTINE! We also encourage following her rants and raves at @meladorri

4 Mobile Ad Tech Companies Making Waves in Boston

Mobile-Class2If you haven’t been reading the news lately, mobile technology is the future. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, consumers spend more time on these devices than ever before. You simply can’t afford to not pay attention to this seemingly trivial fact any longer. Mobile is quickly growing into not only a legitimate marketing channel, but is also on it’s way to becoming a major one, and is your ticket to success in the future.

As the mobile sphere matures, more and more companies, from the super enterprises like Google, Apple, Facebook, et. al., all the way down to sexy new startups are driving innovation in this sector. We’ve even got a handful in Boston as well.

And lucky for you, Jennifer Lum, founder of Adelphic Mobile and noble crusader at the forefront of this new movement will stop by to teach a class at on August 19th on Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Ad Tech. She’ll share her knowledge and give you what it takes to get a leg up in this new frontier. Sign up below.

Jennifer Lum isn’t the only one in Boston making waves in the mobile space, though. We’ve rounded up a list of four mobile companies based in this city that you should make a point to pay attention to.


mobile ad tech companies

Based in Westborough, MA and founded in 2003, the company’s name means “snap of the fingers” in Telugu, a South Indian Language. Chitika operates the second largest strategically targeted ad network in the world, serving over 450 million users over 4 billion ads each month on over 300,000 sites. They’re blazing the trail in mobile ad tech, and even publish news and special reports from their independent research arm.

mobile ad tech companiesLocalytics

Raj Aggarwhal founded this company in 2009 with the mission to empower brands to create great relationships with their mobile and web app users. Since then, big name companies like eBay,, Microsoft, and The New York Times have signed on to use their services, which now supports over 5000 customers and 20,000 apps. They also have a great blog, so take a look and learn more about the mobile space.

mobile ad tech companiesLocately

According to their website, Locately’s “proprietary data mining engine analyzes location data collected from opted-in mobile phones to understand what consumers are doing in the real world: where people shop, how they get to and from a given location, which stores they drive past, and much more.”

mobile ad tech companiesROAM

This company is literally defining the term “mCommerce” or mobile commerce. The whole point of having an advertisement is to drive a consumer to buy, and ROAM provides the platform for that. According to their website, “ROAM provides the only end-to-end mobile commerce platform enabling merchant-facing businesses and retailers across the globe to quickly, easily and cost-effectively deliver innovative and secure mobile point of sale solutions to their customers.”

Boston clearly has some forces to be reckoned with operating in the mobile sphere. How will your company take advantage of the impending mobile revolution?

How to Take Your Company’s Lean Marketing to the Next Level

There comes a point in the life of every startup where its ready to ditch the diapers and start walking on its own two feet. But although the revenue stream may be maturing, the company’s marketing efforts may not necessarily always be in tow. The tactics that worked at the beginning may not be the same ones that work later on, and it takes a great deal of execution and implementation to bring the organization to the next level.

This week, Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at Kinvey, and Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing at Backupify stopped by to share what’s worked to help them take their own companies from a startup using lean marketing to full fledged business. We gathered up some of the best tidbits from their class tweeted by students and have included them below, in addition to their slide deck. Enjoy!


Why Game Design Isn’t Just For Engineers

Seth Sivak, Game DesignWe’ve all heard the buzzword. It’s a trend that’s sweeping through the business world and has taken new product design by storm. It’s transforming the way we learn, play, and exercise. It’s called gamification, and there’s a reason why it’s so hot right now. Incorporating gaming principles into products makes them more engaging for users and keeps them coming back for more. By including achievements like leveling up or collecting badges, users have goals to achieve, making it ever more enticing to play the game again.

So how can marketers and product managers apply these same concepts in their own fields of work? is bringing in Seth Sivak, CEO of Proletariat, a local game design company to teach you game design fundamentals. Seth has an impressive resume with extensive experience in the gaming industry, having been a former executive producer at Zynga, and graduating from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. He gave us the scoop this week on the basics of how to incorporate game design principles into your product.

I.LY: What are some important factors to keep in mind when designing a game?

S.S.: The two most important factors to keep in mind is the audience and the promise that you, as the designer, are making to them. It is easy to fall into a trap of assuming that the designer knows exactly what the audience wants, but the only way to know for sure is to test it. Any assumption we make on paper we try to test out as quickly as we can because if too many unproven assumptions stack up the entire concept can quickly collapse.

I.LY: We’ve seen gamification become a pretty hot topic over the last few years. How can companies incorporate these same principles into their own products or services?

S.S.: Gamification is all about creating a strong feedback loop. Players (or users) want to be given a goal, something that they clearly understand how to attain. Then they want to get feedback on their progress towards this goal and finally when they reach the goal they want a reward.

To use the example of foursquare, the goal is to check in at as many different places as possible and to try and become the mayor by checking in the most times. Foursquare does a great job of giving feedback each time a user checks in at a location and gives rewards (which are sometimes a surprise) to the player in the form of badges.

I.LY: You’ve been in the gaming industry for several years now, working for Zynga and even starting your own company. How has gaming changed on a design level with the introduction of new devices and software?

S.S.: The new devices in platforms are drastically changing both the way we design games and the games themselves. The rise of social platforms, mobile and tablet have unlocked entirely new markets of gamers that used to be inaccessible to developers, and these audiences have different tastes. These new platforms also evolve the way core gamers want to interact and that is all about delivering a traditional experience in a fresh new way.

I.LY: Although gaming principles may not directly relate to one’s company or product, how can an entrepreneur or a marketer apply them to their everyday jobs?

S.S.: At the end of the day games are just really complicated products with the challenge of delivering something as nebulous as “fun”. I would bet that developing a game is very close to developing a product like Twitter, where there is no clear evolution from an existing service. The amount of experimentation and iteration that went into understand Twitter and how the audience would interact with it is exactly like developing a game.

We are all trying to create experiences for our customers, so there is plenty of overlap between entertainment products like games and traditional products, especially with the rise of gamification.

I.LY: If you could learn any skill in the world by tomorrow, what would it be?

S.S.: Wow, this is a great question. Probably learn a new language, like Japanese.

Interested in learning more from Seth? Attend his class by signing up today!