September Consultant of the Month
With many years of experience in advertising and product, brand, and partner marketing, Aliyah Schneckenberger can jump into a marketing consulting project with confidence, even as client needs shift. When the work slows down, she enjoys mountain biking, paddle boarding, hiking, and just being outdoors.
What type of work do you do?
When I started consulting, I focused on demand generation as my core competency. But in the last 10 years, I’ve expanded my skill set. As client needs have shifted, I have gravitated more towards product marketing in recent years, but I also have deep experience in brand, customer, and partner marketing. Oftentimes a client will bring me in for a specific project knowing that I might have ideas about other initiatives. That is one of the reasons consulting has worked well for me.
Aliyah's Keys to Success
- Developing broad marketing skills
- Building trust and strong relationships
- Networking for new opportunities
- Being able to pivot to address client needs
What are you currently working on?
I’m at Bill.com. Initially, I focussed on their demand gen webinar program but have since expanded into identifying new vertical marketing opportunities as well as customer research and insight work for the mid-market segment. I'm currently implementing a partner portal through Salesforce, which I've never done before. If you've got the marketing fundamentals, you can figure things out. I've always taken that attitude when it comes to consulting, which helps because things are changing constantly.
Why did you decide to become a consultant? What path did you take to become a consultant?
I started my career in advertising for a handful of years. Dealing with Silicon Valley clients, I put in long hours and didn’t find it very fulfilling. I noticed that the marketing managers were “living the life,” so I decided to explore the client side.
At Grey Advertising, one of our clients was Adobe. I managed to get a contract gig there on the direct response side. It was a great way to learn fundamentals. From there, I spent eight years at Intuit learning everything from brand, customer, demand gen, product, and partner marketing. That experience shaped who I am as a marketer today and gave me the confidence to pursue consulting and expand my skill set even further.
Having my daughter was a pivotal point, and I switched to consulting full-time to have more flexibility. Plus, I wanted different experiences, such as working for a startup and not being siloed into one particular marketing discipline.
In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?
No, I like what I'm doing and like connecting with people. You work with the same people day in and day out for years; that can be positive or difficult. But it's nice to be able to learn from those experiences and then move on to fresher water. It's helped me to build my network and forge relationships, which I really appreciate.
What do you love about consulting?
The opportunity to do a variety of work keeps things exciting. I’ve gained trust that comes through my work, and clients have hired me simply because a colleague has said positive things about me. Once you gain trust, clients may throw random things at you that you know how to accomplish or it's a challenge for you. That doesn't happen when you're in a siloed environment or full-time job.
What has been your biggest challenge about being a consultant? How have you addressed it?
I have been in situations where the client feels like they need a consultant, but doesn't know exactly what they want. When projects are not explicitly defined, you may ask yourself if you’re delivering what’s needed. A learning for me has been that once you go into an engagement, you need to set expectations and outline deliverables ahead of time. Then the client feels like they're getting the most out of the engagement.
How do you market yourself?
I market myself by word of mouth through my network. I met [EM Marketing Owner] Ken 10-plus years ago at Intuit, and keep my eye on opportunities that come up through EM Marketing. I continue to build relationships. When I'm in a down period, I reach out to folks to look for new opportunities.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
I love doing things with my 10-year-old daughter. We are outdoor people and love living in the Bay Area for all it has to offer. We mountain bike, hike, and paddle board together. When we need a break from the SF grind, we enjoy summers in Tahoe and skiing during the winter.
What’s one tip you would give to new consultants?
Be flexible. Don’t get caught up in the day to day of the structure and internal dynamics of a company. Keep what the client wants top of mind, make sure that expectations are set, and pivot when needed.