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Amazon's Job Description Gave Away Strategic Plans -- What Can You Learn About Your Market's Competitive Strategy from Job Posts?

Companies can be plenty secretive about their sales numbers, product roadmaps, and go-to-market strategies, but frequently lay out these details in plain sight: in job descriptions. Last week, Amazon showed us exactly that: a now-deleted job posting revealed a new business line, “Whole Foods Pickup on Prime Now,” a grocery pickup option to complement their recently-launched Whole Foods delivery service. The job description, for a finance manager, noted the role would be responsible for building out “the Whole Foods delivery and pick-up service on the ultra-fast Prime Now app and enable our Prime customers to shop from a set of marquee third party retailers.”

While Amazon has since taken down this job posting, many companies freely and regularly post job openings with similarly revealing details. It comes with the territory after all - companies that want candidates need to share job details to attract and qualify potential employees. Job descriptions are filled with details about sales, product plans, and more that give you insight into the company’s strategies -- here are just a few more examples.

See Upcoming Marketing Investment: Sun Basket Ramping Up Advertising Campaigns

Sun Basket, a healthy meal kit delivery service, is hiring for a Director, Performance Marketing, “who will develop and oversee an in-house media team and own new customer acquisition metrics,” the job posting says. The description specifically mentions paid social, SEM, and display campaigns, as well as direct mail and affiliate marketing. There is also a mention of potential future team growth, including the duty of hiring and managing “a team of media traders” to execute on campaigns. Marketing job postings especially can showcase the types of campaigns that are garnering investment.

Get your free copy of the Guide to Competitive Intelligence >>Reveal Market Expansion: Toast Builds Momentum in Minneapolis Market

Restaurant point of sale company Toast has built out local teams across the country, and you can track the expansion by job postings. The first mention of a Minneapolis role - a district sales manager - appeared in the summer of 2017. Since then, a few more roles have opened up, a sales role (October) and field services role (November). Currently, they have an opening in St. Paul, MN, too. Clearly, the company is growing in that local market. Tracking job postings by department, location, and business line can show you which areas are expanding and which are suffering.

Identify New Initiatives: Square Plans for Bitcoin, Carbon Black Digs Into Data

Square processed nearly $18 billion in transactions in Q4 2017 and they continue to expand… now, into bitcoin. Recently, the company was hiring in Compliance Operations to focus on bitcoin transactions specifically. This role, responsible for regulation, fraud monitoring, and other compliance issues, states the focus on bitcoin right in the job title. You don’t have to go much further to get valuable insight into the company’s initiatives.

Similarly, Carbon Black’s job opening for a Chief Customer Data Scientist shows an increased effort to leverage big data. “This role will be a thought leader in exploitation of big data tools, techniques and technologies in a commercial context, leveraging the insights into practical actions to increase sales productivity, focus and customer retention.” Not only is this a new role, but it’s the start of a big initiative - this person will lead a whole Customer Data Science team, the job posting says.

Uncover Product Roadmap: Vimeo Doubles Down on Creator Tools

Video hosting company Vimeo has provided early indications that more creator tools are coming. They’ve posted both a Product Manager and Lead Product Manager opening on the Creator Tools team, “the group that builds tools and products for Vimeo’s community of Creators.” In addition to those two roles? A Principal Creative Technologist for a newly formed Creator Labs team, an internal brand storytelling team. “We explore new storytelling mediums and technologies (e.g. Unity, VR, AR, and AI). Through research and prototyping, we may build new products, design patterns, and technology.” We now have an early warning of what’s to come from Vimeo.

Dig Into Sales Details: How Ceridian Targets Mid Market Accounts

Sales job descriptions can unearth a variety of details about how a company’s sales team is structured, how they reach prospective customers, and how they define their best targets. Ceridian’s posting for a Mid Market Business Development Executive shows that this “mid market” role focuses on companies with <300 employees, that they do a mix of phone and in person meetings, and that they use a variety of email, phone, webinar, social, and event activities to reach prospects. Each company’s job postings may offer different information. Other details you can find in sales job descriptions include sales quotas, relative investment in different markets, and go-to-market strategies such as direct and channel approaches.

Job descriptions are rich with insights on a company’s strategies, unmanicured unlike the rest of the company’s website. What have you learned from your competitors’ job posts?

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Ellie Mirman
Ellie Mirman, a Crayon alum, is currently CMO at Mulberry, the consumer-first product protection platform. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at Toast, where she built and led the marketing function across demand gen, content marketing, product marketing, branding, and customer advocacy. Ellie also held multiple marketing leadership positions at HubSpot during its growth from 100 customers to IPO. She loves working at the intersection between marketing, sales, and product, and building marketing from startup to scale-up.