As part of the MarTech Salary and Career Survey, we interviewed people about their experiences in marketing. Today we’re talking to Monique Battiste, senior social media specialist at Solera, a business that offers risk management and asset protection software and services to the automotive industry and property insurance marketplace (Interview edited for length and clarity.)
Q: What has your career path been?
A: I actually freelanced the first five years of my career. I applied to a lot of corporate jobs. I think one year I applied to over 400 jobs. I had four interviews, and one actual job that lasted about six weeks because the person who had left decided they wanted to come back, so they let me go.
But the job that I’m at now, today has marked one year that I’ve actually been at the company. According to everyone at the company that’s like 10 years. We’ve had marketing directors quit within 90 days, marketing business partners quit within three to six months. So for me to make a year, I’ve seen a lot of people come in and out the door in the last year, but that’s pretty much where my career has taken me.
It’s been a lot of freelance. I actually started my own agency back in 2017, and then about 2020 I was like, you know what? I’m done. Freelancing was okay, but I had headaches for clients and I’m not willing to deal with the headache unless it comes with a consistent check. There was no consistent check. So I kind of closed the doors on it, took down the website, everything. The only clients I took…I was just like, “Okay, I’ll do it, but it has to be like a six-month contract and three of those months have to be paid upfront. That’s how I know that you’re serious, you’re not here to do month-to-month. You don’t see results in marketing in a month. If you can’t dedicate 90 days then I’m not the person for you. “
Q: What attracted you to marketing?
A: Marketing kind of reminds me of fitness. My background is in fitness and it reminds me so much of it because there’s no cookie-cutter approach. There’s not a one-size-fits-all and a lot of companies take the one-size-fits-all approach.
They’ll say, “Well, if Nike did it, we can do it.”
And I have to tell them, “We are not Nike. Let’s start there. Your audience is totally different.”
Another thing that a lot of companies didn’t understand with marketing is you don’t have to be on every platform. They feel like we need to have a TikTok and YouTube and Instagram this and that. And I’m like, “No, you don’t because that’s not where your audience is.” And so my approach to marketing has always been very logical, very driven by data. I’m not one of those marketers who has to jump on every bandwagon.
When I had my agency the mission was beating social media at its own games. Social media has always felt to me like I was playing this video game. Yes, I got to the final level and then it’s like, “Ha ha, algorithm change.” You’ve got to play this. You got to beat this monster. Marketing is like that. It never ends. It’s always changing. And I feel like marketers have to be in a space to just want to continuously learn. It’s something that never ends.
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And then in the position that I’m in now, I had to come in and tell people with 20 years of marketing experience, “You’re wrong. It hasn’t worked. You have been doing this for two years. You brought me in. We’re going to make changes and we’re going to change everything. Every way you think you’ve been doing it is wrong.”
It’s like trying to come in and get the older generation of marketers to understand we’re in this totally new era, this completely new era.
Q: What’s so different?
A: We have influencers and most B2B businesses don’t realize that they’re actually influencers. They do B2B and they were like, “I don’t think there’s any influencers.”
I’m like, “Oh, I found 10 and already created a template ready to pitch to them, get their rate, figure out how much it’s going to cost us. How much are you guys willing to pay for this to get the results that you’re looking for? Here’s their ROI, here’s their audience. These are the people you guys are trying to target. This is the person you need to use.”
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They were like, “We need to increase engagement and we need to increase our followers and it’s like, “Well, can you nurture the current amount of followers that you have before you actually grow more? Are we at that point yet? No. Then we need to figure out how we can nurture our current audience before we try to go search for more.” That’s pretty much why I enjoy marketing so much.
I like the community of marketers that I have around me. We all kind of have the same frustrations. And if I see another job description that says they want a social media specialist to do SEO, WordPress, web design, InDesign, Photoshop, HTML coding and pay and paid ads and Google ads and Google Analytics and this and that, I’m going to scream, yeah.
Q: And they’ll give you $25,000 a year to do it, you know?
A: Exactly. I came across jobs like that and they were like, “Oh, you know, we’re going to our limit is $65,000.” I said your budget doesn’t match the level of experience you’re requesting, so, therefore, take away some of those tasks and outsource them and change the title of the position to match the budget. You say senior, but senior does not get $65,000 a year. Senior is $85,000 minimum and above.
Q: How do you stay up to date in marketing?
I educate myself. I’m always listening. In terms of learning, I usually just go and look at like the most recent job descriptions. What are they asking out of marketing specialists? What are they requesting that you know in order to be hired for a specific position. A lot of it is like SEO/SEM, HTML, web design, Photoshop. So I will spend my days…I actually have my own blog and activewear brand, but I’ve been rebranding and I’m like, okay so I have to practice SEO. Let’s just practice it on my own website. I’ve been practicing on my own and just keeping up with the data and things like that.
Q: Everyone’s buzzing about AI, what’s your take on it?
A: AI will never take the place of a human being. And that’s what I wish a lot of marketers understood. AI will never take your place because you give it more personality. You give it a different voice. AI is just like a book, like a textbook. It takes away that energy that you get from just a regular person.
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Despite stating that she never truly had an interest in tech, Monique Battiste has forged an impressive career in the MarTech industry and continues to charge ahead. In a field traditionally dominated by male employees, her best advice comes from standing firm and commanding her own salary.
As a born and bred Chicago native, Battiste can attest to the struggle of making a career out of tech in what is typically a male-dominated industry. After attending a coding bootcamp, her journey as a Technical Advisor began. Currently, she is a Senior Technical Advisor for Marketing Technology at the Williams-Sonoma Company.
While Battiste found success in a turbulent field, she had to fight against the gender pay gap to get the salary she truly deserved. She offers her best advice on tackling the challenge of compensation transparency:
“My best advice in taking control of your own salary is to have a sit-down with your employer and let them know that you have done research and have pay range expectations that you think fit the job. A great tool in career salary negotiation is the company’s own salary data. Knowing the spread of salaries among the team helps to openly talk about the value of the job, and the range of compensation you feel you deserve.”
Knowing the salary data was essential in Battiste securing her salary and maintaining her role as a leader in the MarTech industry. Her inspiration and leadership have become a topic of conversation within the industry, as women continue to make strides in the tech community. And while Battiste is proud of her broken glass ceilings and encourages others to do the same by demanding their own salary, she also acknowledges that salary is not the only deciding factor for career success.
“At the end of the day, it is still your knowledge, skill, and passion that sets you apart from the rest. You should be aware of what you’re worth and not be afraid to ask for it, but also know that your personal brand, and confidence are invaluable pieces to progress and growth.”
Monique Battiste is a fearless leader that is paving the way for a more diverse and equitable MarTech industry. Her story of success and determination is inspiring to many and serves as motivation, not just for entrepreneurs in tech, but for entrepreneurs all around.