Basecamp is hiring a Head of Marketing

For the past 20 years, we’ve been passive marketers with a little m.

We speak at conferences and on podcasts, we write books (REWORK, REMOTE, It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work), we share our point of view on thousands of blog posts, we invented a framework (Ruby on Rails) that changed an industry, and we make products that redefine their categories (Basecamp, Highrise, etc.). And right now we’re working on something new that’s going to surprise people.

We’ve gotten by on strength of product, cult of personality, a unique point of view, running against the wind, and incredibly generous word-of-mouth promotion from our customers. We’re fortunate it’s been working. 20 profitable years in business is the proof. We’re naturally proud of that.

But we feel like we’ve begun to saturate our natural sphere of influence, our current reach. Passive marketing can only get us so far, and we have a desire to go further. Today, if we’re in the mix, it’s by chance, not choice. And because of that, we feel a bit invisible outside of those who know us already.

And it’s no surprise: We haven’t really advertised. Or made it easy for new people to find us online. Lately we haven’t explained our brand particularly well. Or thought much about how we’re perceived in the modern market. We don’t show up in places where potential customers hang out, and we haven’t gone far enough supporting and sponsoring events and like-minded organizations. Basically, we’ve never deliberately focused on actively getting the word out, making sure our brand is positioned properly in the market, or meeting customers where they are.

We lack a Marketing strategy with a capital M. It’s time to change that.

Moving forward, we want to be intentional about creating awareness (how do we introduce Basecamp to people who don’t know us?), prompting consideration (how do we get people who need a product like ours to consider us for purchase?), and driving conversion (how do we get people who are considering Basecamp to sign up, pay us, and start using our products?).

So, for the first time, we’re ready to hire someone to lead that charge and own that responsibility. We’re looking for our first Head of Marketing.

How’s that challenge sound to you?

ABOUT THE JOB AND THE WORK
Fundamentally, this job is about developing and executing a broad strategy to bring more people to the front of the funnel by increasing awareness and interest outside of what we’ve already built. We’re not looking for somebody to spend time on email drip campaigns or improving onboarding. While important, this role is much broader than that. This also isn’t a job for self-described growth hackers.

This is a role for someone who knows how to mix a wild idea with a practical pitch. Someone who’s eager (but not annoyingly so) to pick up the phone and negotiate a major partnership deal. Someone who has an eye for talent, a nose for bullshit, ears close to the ground, and the creative mind of a conductor. Someone who’s previously managed large spends and helped a brand transition through a similar process. Someone who recognizes an opportunity when they see one, but knows how to steer clear of high effort low reward mirages. You see things other people miss, and you know how to put leverage to good use.

And while we’ll support your strategy with a multimillion dollar budget and creative support from the CEO, you’ll start this process without a dedicated internal team. While we have designers, writers, and a data analyst occasionally available to assist, we don’t have a marketing department or spare staff focused on everything you’ll need to get done. This means you’ll initially be expected to identify, vet, choose, and manage external vendors or agencies to help pull off your plan. Building an in-house team is something we’ll discuss down the road.

While some may see this as a disadvantage, we think it’s a big opportunity. You’ll be able to pull in the best agencies, freelancers, shops, and creative specialists to help pull off the plan. You’ll bring us creative ideas we’ve never considered in the past. You’ll challenge our thinking and help us see ourselves in a new light.

In addition to big picture strategy, you’ll focus on practical day-to-day work like fielding sponsorship opportunities that come our way. Keeping an eye on analytics. Reaching out to groups, organizations, movements, events, and other brands we should be partnering with. You’ll also be expected to regularly detail progress, setbacks, and marketing insights for the whole company.

We’re aware that at many companies, this is a multi-person position. Someone focused on the marketing strategy. Someone else focused on brand. Someone else focused on partnerships and sponsorships. And so on. We’re not expecting a herculean marketing turnaround with a single person at the start, but we absolutely believe the right person   can point us in the right direction, guide us, come up with campaigns, be resourceful enough to get them produced, manage the process, study the results, course correct, revamp, and try more things. We know someone has to own this, or we’ll end up where we are today.

Bottom-line, this is an impact position. In time, the business should look better with you on board.  A clear case of before and after. You’ll help us be noticed, be seen, and be found. We should also feel better about ourselves with you around. This is a big responsibility and we are here to support you, cheer you on, and make it happen. We’ve talked about having someone like you on board for years, and now we’re finally ready.

ABOUT YOU
You’re creative. You’re organized. You’re experienced. You’ve done this before. You want to do it again. You absolutely want to do it for us.

We value people who can take a stand yet commit even when they disagree. We’ll often subject ideas to rigorous debate, so you’ll need to stand up for what you believe, but we remember that we’re here for the same purpose: to do good work together. Charging the trust battery is part of the work.

Yes, you’ll need to learn how we work at Basecamp, but we’re also looking for someone to teach us how to work. And once we’ve figured that out, be able to share that story with the world. We should tell the story of how we changed our approach to marketing.

We’re not looking for a superhero who thinks sheer hours = good work. Excess doesn’t impress us – creativity and efficiency does. You’ll have 8 hours a day to work, and, we hope, at least 8 hours a night to sleep. What you do with the other 8 is up to you, never to us. You’ll report directly to the CEO.

ABOUT OUR PAY AND BENEFITS
The starting salary for this position is $181,000. You can read about how we set salaries here.

Our benefits are all aimed at supporting a life well lived away from work. None are about trapping people at the office or cajoling them into endless overtime. Just the opposite. We’re all about reasonable working hours, ample vacation time, summer hours, fitness, wellness, food, education, and charity. See our full list of benefits here. In fact, if you’d like you can browse the entire employee handbook as well.

Basecamp is a remote-work company so you can be anywhere, but you’ll need at least 4 hours of overlap with Chicago time in your normal work-day routine.

We strongly encourage candidates of all different backgrounds and identities to apply. Each new hire is an opportunity for us to bring in a different perspective, and we are always eager to further diversify our company. Basecamp is committed to building an inclusive, supportive place for you to do the best and most rewarding work of your career.

HOW TO APPLY
We want to get a sense of how you think. To that end, please use your cover letter to share with us your take on the following questions:

  1. Tell us how you’ve taken an existing brand to a new place by revamping their approach to marketing. How would you begin to approach figuring out where we stand and where we should be standing?
  2. Give us an example of a small-to-medium sized business that you think markets themselves particularly well? Who’s doing an outstanding job out there? And why?
  3. Since you’ll need to bring in outside talent to get the job done, which creative agencies or freelancers do you think are doing particularly interesting work? And why?
  4. Share an example of a time great marketing caught your attention and turned you into a customer.
  5. Tell us about something you almost bought recently, but decided not to. What failed to convince you?
  6. What’s inspired you lately? What’s the most creative thing you’ve seen or experienced in the last few years?

We value great writers, so take your time with the application. Keep in mind that we do not equate length with substance, so please keep your cover letter to fewer than 1500 words. Stock cover letters won’t do – tell us why you want this job, not just any job.

Click here to apply. We are accepting applications for this position until June 28th, 2019. We’ll let you know that we’ve received your application. After that, you probably shouldn’t expect to hear back from us until after the application deadline has passed. We want to give everyone a fair chance to apply and be evaluated.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

26 thoughts on “Basecamp is hiring a Head of Marketing

  1. As a big fan of your books, I wanted now to ask you a few things. Why now? Why not 15 years ago? Why not 1 year later? How do you know now that your passive marketing has reached its limits? Is it about seeking more growth or about covering more expenses?

    Also, you mentioned “we haven’t gone far enough supporting and sponsoring events and like-minded organizations”. What kinds of things would you consider sponsoring? Can you name a few like-minded organizations?

  2. Why now? Feels like the right time. The business is turning 20 this year, and big milestones are always a good time to reconsider assumptions and positions. We’re excited about seeing what’s possible when someone owns this.

    As far as knowing when something has reached it’s limits… It’s also a feeling. There’s no real way to know. We’re making a bet.

  3. I used Basecamp at a larger agency for a few years. Tried to use it with a Fortune 25 client to manage a growing and evolving project. No good, seemed like it was built with obstinance and arrogance.

    Any decent marketer who’s not full of BS should be able to easily provide the 6 proofs you’re asking for in the application process. People love to talk about their past fondly, but what kind of head of marketing do you want?

    This is not made clear – do you want the vanity metric marketer or the marketer who’s hardcore about making cash money for the team, company and shareholders in a wholesome way that people can’t do anything but love?

    1. I don’t think there is a perfect “type” marketer that would help any good product/company and even if there is, how can a single characteristic marketer be considered for Head of marketing!

      I would guess it’s the blend of different things. In this case, I bet the blend of those 6 answers would be unique for each “decent marketer who’s not full of BS”

    2. “do you want the vanity metric marketer”

      If you got that feeling from the ad, then I failed miserably. To be clear: No we don’t want someone focused on vanity metrics.

  4. Talking about my own experience rolling out Basecamp in my startup, I can see a much much deeper crossroads for this position: the Basecamp way vs the entreprise way. The entreprise wants to comply, specify, manage and the Basecamp way wants to promotes people to communicate from within.

    I am failing everyday to roll out Basecamp in my startup since the last 4 years and it’s one of my biggest disappointment that people just don’t see the supreme value of BC. The freedom it brings to them. The absence of meetings and manager dispatchers. I just can’t get some teams to use it. Every 6 month or so a brand shiny new idea pops up : jira, wrike, pivotal tracker, Redmine, Trello, GitHub project,sometimes even google sheets….And I see todos posted-and-forgotten on slack again…

    And every time the global communication in the company suffers, because people think in their little optima and don’t see the reward of a good, global communication. They say that it takes them too much time to communicate and organise their work and they can’t see clearly what they have to do. They fail to see that if they had communicated well they would see what to do of have the space to create (there comes the manager dispatcher again….).

    So the issue here is that the concept of autonomy and self sufficiency doesn’t come well with a dictatorially imposed communication tool (which advocates autonomy and self sufficiency).

    I’d recommend this position making self sufficiency and autonomy a broader topic inside the entreprise, for the people. It’s a long shot, and I would love to see you succeed at that.

    1. Fascinating. I think there is something to be said about rolling out company-wide tools. How effective they are, how can you get employees to buy-in, not because you told them to, but because it makes their job better.

      Basecamp could build an entire marketing campaign around this — changing the way companies adopt software.

      On your particular predicament — my guess is you may be confusing the tool for what needs to get done (communicating), are the executives onboard? have you tried progressive iteration, i.e. getting small team adoption, validating, then expanding?

  5. I see the craft in the message and I feel that when you calling for a M now, they should have a little more clear picture of how you (the CEO) wants to see the brand in 2022.

    Basecamp is a mature product so knowing where you want to take it in next three years, helps the person craft their application!

    1. Would absolutely discuss this in detail and at length with candidates, but it doesn’t make sense to post this as part of the job ad itself. It’s far more nuanced and detailed.

  6. $181K seems… surprisingly low! The CMO position at any company is often the highest paid by a large stretch, because it represents The Scale Machine.

    It’s rare to see a head of marketing position for <200K in the mid-Atlantic area, let alone SF.

    Are there other comp items, like profit sharing, bonuses, etc.?

    However you arrived at 181K is I’m sure perfectly reasonable; I just wonder if you’re truly going to get A-level marketing strategists at that price.

    1. It’s not a CMO role. There’s no team to manager either. It’s an individual contributor role to start. If we build out a team in time, then it could turn into a director or CMO role. $181k is correctly benchmarked at the 90th SF percentile industry based on this particular role and responsibilities.

    2. No beef about the $ — I live in SF, and it still sounds fair to me. I would love to inquire, however, whether you would consider partnering Head of Marketing with a project manager? I have engaged in long-term contract work for a huge chunk of my career, and often find myself writing project briefs for clients (for my own sanity and clarity more than anything else)

  7. Jason,

    Would you consider an incredibly organized, innovative, Basecamp evangelist who has been using your product almost since inception?

    No marketing experience, but he’s someone that hits a home run with every project I’ve ever given him!

    Best, Jim

    1. We’ll consider anyone who properly applies for the job, answers our questions, and makes their case.

  8. The job specification made me happy because its the bio I never created 🙂 although I am not looking. In my humble opinion “Building an in-house team” is something you should be discussing with the candidate from a cost-saving and productivity perspective.

  9. Beautifully written.

    I was wondering though, how did you arrive to the conclusion that you need someone with a focus on your brand and to change the brand?

    It seems to me that is done beautifully already. The brand is obviously informal, authentic, laid-back, open-minded etc. All the good stuff that you are about. Your brand can easily be absorbed by reading your books, watching your lectures or even trying out your product. To me it seems the brand is exactly where it needs to be. The brand communicates everything that the company is and stands for (helping small businesses) quite clearly.

    It would be almost a shame to change something just for the sake of changing it.

    Or did i miss something?

    It seems to me that you need someone who will focus more on how to take the brand that already exists to its potential customers which have never heard of or have not yet tried Basecamp.

    I imagine this could be done through a smart, global PPC/SEO acquisition strategy paired with amazing content similar to Hubspot’s blog to get the brand, the company to its potential customers. This would mean you need more of a performance marketer than a brand marketer

    No?

  10. > This also isn’t a job for self-described growth hackers.

    Seems like “Growth Hacking” practices have been successful for a lot of Saas companies, could you expand why you are against this?

    1. I’d like a lawyer, not a law hacker. I’d like a doctor, not a health hacker. I’d like a chef, not a food hacker. I don’t like the implication of anyone thinking they’re “hacking” something. No shortcuts, no magic, no secrets, no tricks. I want work we’re proud of, and I want to be proud of the way we work. Sound work, smart work, clear work. Solid strategy, clear tactics. Self-described growth hackers need not apply.

  11. Honestly, I’m not sure that Basecamp needs a Head of Marketing. You’ve made all of the right moves and are at a level of profitability and users that most companies only dream about.

    However, it’s this line that intrigues me: “And right now we’re working on something new that’s going to surprise people.” Without giving away the details, is this an entirely different product that’s distinct from Basecamp camp? Or is it a reworked version focused on a different market?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  12. Man, what would i give to work for you Jason. Big fan of you and David.

    I like the decision to hire a head of marketing – excited to see it’s result.

    Good luck!

  13. I imagine a good fit is someone who’s worked their way up through a variety of positions around marketing and sales involving hands on work, to managing spend and teams, but now misses that more hands on work.

    Most in-house marketers are tired of martech tactics, catering to shortsighted metrics, and the trend toward marketing being annoying at scale. So I bet you get a lot of applications.

    Why is experience managing large spends important? Just curious.

  14. “Is Basecamp available in other languages?
    Basecamp 3 is only available in English…”

    Here you’ll find a path, out of many, to grow your market(ing).

  15. Here comes some reflections from Sweden.

    The first marketing book was Scientific Advertising – The secrets of successful advertising by Claude Hopkins released in 1923. It revolutionized all industries claiming that advertising would drive sales and heavily affect the need & demand relation. By advertising you would sell more no matter what you produced.

    Another great book is Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by being Remarkable by Seth Godin in 2003. A favorite of mine.

    As a satisfied customer of Basecamp I truly believe that your success comes from being A Purple Cow. Being remarkable and having a fan base which ”sneezes out” word of mouth to new potential user have for sure worked great for you. Now however is the time of heavy competition and a lot of noise and disturbance from a number of ”potential” competitors of Basecamp. Hence making things harder when deciding what project management tool to evaluate and choose.
    I do believe that you are on the right path and focusing on reaching out to new early adopters, early majority or whoever they are.

    My big concern is that you have made it difficult for innovators and early adopters within a start-up or a long-distance company to become a user hence a paying customer when your price is $99. I am certain that several companies over time could and would be glad to pay that amount but it would take 1 or several users a longer period of time to evaluate and persuade more people at their company to start using Basecamp. When changing to a marketing approach I believe you should evaluate making it easier for individuals to become initial users. $99 might be a big obstacle to them. Most marketing activities that you take on will reach users but who not necessarily will be the ones responsible for the cost. Making it easier for them is pivotal in having successful campaigns. But who am I to say. My own business proposal service company have the highest subscription fee in the world…still very affordable which I also believe $99 is for Basecamp =D

    Love your product and your contribution when it comes to how to manage a company!

  16. I am very excited about this announcement, for various reasons:

    a) The decision to create this role and how it will affect the marketing of Basecamp.
    b) The affect that this new role will have within Basecamp, which up until now has had quite “complementary” roles of programmers, designers & customer support (plus data & admin).
    c) The discussion in the comments reminds me of a peak era of Signal vs. Noise, with a lot of thought-provoking comments, sometimes numbering well over a hundred comments to each post.

    Looking forward to following this discussion and future projects resulting from it!

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