Marketing. It’s a word we’ve all become familiar with but what does the job entail exactly? For many of us, the concept can seem ambiguous, but in short, marketing is really all about storytelling. Just ask category director of personal care at Dyson, Caitlin Murtha. Her career trajectory from intern to dream job is inspiring and proves that hard work, commitment, and grit are traits you can always count on to get there. After speaking with her for this story, we can say with honestly, I want your job.
Ahead, Murtha shares the importance of internships, how she scored the gig at Dyson, what their marketing secret sauce is, and advice for other young professionals who want her job too. Grab your notepad because you’ll want to write these down.
Describe your career journey—how did you get your foot in the door and land where you are today?
I received my college degree in marketing and always knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. I did several internships while in college, which were all very different such as working at Chanel (RTW), Women’s Wear Daily, and Estee Lauder (BeautyBank). I knew the importance of interning, getting that experience prior to graduating, but equally using those experiences to help guide me and give me a better understanding as to what marketing was.
My first job was in retail working at Macy’s doing their events. After a couple of years, I moved to New York City to work at Bath & Body Works on their Public Relations team. While I loved the pace of that job, I knew I wanted to do more marketing, particularly around beauty. An internship opportunity came up at Coty working on the new Beyoncé Heat fragrance. While it was a huge risk going from being fully employed to doing another internship, I felt it was the right thing to do for my career and ultimately help reach my goals.
I worked at Coty for a few years, moving from the U.S. brand management team to the Calvin Klein global marketing team. I progressed in my career while at Coty, helping to launch the CK One Color line and then eventually moving over to the fragrance side of the business. A move to Chicago afforded me the opportunity to work for a smaller beauty company for a couple years, which eventually led me to Dyson. Ironically, I had been following Dyson for a couple years as I was intrigued by the company as much as I was about their products and technology.
I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself too much by continuing to work in beauty and felt it was important to gain more experience outside of the industry. So I took a leap of faith by accepting a job at Dyson looking after the Environmental Control (purifiers, fans, heaters) products, but ironically was soon tapped to head up the personal-care category. It was a nice way of telling me that I belonged in beauty.
Dyson is such a respected name in the personal-care category, with high-tech beauty tools loved by many. When a new technology is released, what’s the process you and your team follow to market it effectively?
The beauty about working at an organization such as Dyson is that the technology and products really speak for themselves. Every product launch is unique in its own right and may be approached differently depending on the overall objective of the launch and the audience we are trying to reach. However, there are a few critical pieces we try to follow:
1) Having the right technology and offering for the consumer that truly solves a problem.
2) Continuous testing and research pre- and post-launch.
3) Work hand-in-hand with our cross-functional team members—it takes a village!
We work well in advance of a launch to really understand the technology, the problems it solves, why it’s different (and better) and identifying what the white space opportunity is.
Social media has changed marketing so much these last few years. Can you share a time you’ve pivoted your strategy to adapt to a new feature, algorithm, etc.?
We always try to stay abreast of the newest technology within social platforms as it is a great way to engage with shoppers and our owners. As their moods and interest evolve with the technology, we need to be ready with the right message to the right person at the right time and being on top of trends and technology allows us to do that.
What advice would you give to young professionals trying to break into the marketing industry?
Don’t be afraid to take risks. It’s okay to fail, as long as you learn from it and keep moving. And don’t be afraid to work hard and ask questions especially early on in your career. I learned so much about marketing in my first few years of my professional career (and still am) by asking questions, getting my hands dirty to really understand the foundation of a business, how it works, etc.
What’s a marketing initiative you’ve worked on recently that you’re particularly proud of?
We recently launched a campaign refresh of our SupersonicTMhair dryer, which was the first technology in our personal care category. It’s a big moment for Dyson because the campaign features a variety of models, influencers and real women with various hair types and needs that are relatable. This most recent launch stemmed from James Dyson’s desire to enable the Dyson SupersonicTMhair dryer to style better, while continuing to protect hair from extreme heat damage—irrespective to whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly or coily. It’s been exciting to see this come to life.
Where do you go to get inspiration?
Inspiration comes from a variety of places and while that differs for everyone, based on the types of things I am interested in, I always look outside the industry I play in. Look at the world around you and what impacts you. That can come from magazines, social media, music, books, friends, and family.
Can you share one woman who paved the way for you to be where you are today?
My mother is the one woman that has paved the way for me to be where I am today. She had a successful 40+ year career in the beauty industry and has taught me so much both personally and professionally having raised two children as a single mother. I can confidentially say I would not be where I am today without her.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Focus on empathy and perspective as it allows you to see the big picture and understand decisions from all perspectives.
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