In our previous instalment of ‘How I Got My Job’ interview series, we spoke with Babbel’s Elliott Rayner. The company’s Head of Product Marketing, (and storytelling expert) revealed the route to his role, his roles, and responsibilities, plus much more.
We’re switching our attention from the popular language tuition app to a leading hotel comparison product, and speaking to Bettina Jakobsen, Head of Nordics & France/Global Strategic PM at trivago.
Since its launch in 2005, trivago has been met with critical acclaim, with its extensive catalog of global accommodation featuring approximately 2.5 million hotels in over 190 countries.
With prices compared from 180+ booking sites, 230+ hotel chains, and 11,000+ independent hotels from around the world, the platform has contributed significantly to international tourism.
We’ll be focusing on:
- Bettina’s journey to her current role,
- Her roles and responsibilities at trivago, and
- Tips on how to follow in her footsteps.
Bettina Jakobsen, Head of Nordics & France/Global Strategic PM at trivago
Bettina Jakobsen has established herself as an established Marketing and Business Development expert, following periods studying and working in a selection of countries including Sweden, Cyprus, Spain, the USA, Germany, and Hungary.
A PMA Ambassador, Bettina has experience in multiple areas, such as project management, business development, sales, digital marketing, and customer relationship management, and since she started her journey with trivago in 2017, she's flourished ever since.
Let’s check-in and discuss How She Got Her Job as Head of Nordics & France/Global Strategic PM.
Bettina’s journey to Head of Nordics & France/Global Strategic PM
What was your dream job growing up?
From a young age, I enjoyed building things from scratch, and I loved learning. A dream of mine was to study in the US, and thanks to many scholarships and my family´s support, I was able to make it happen in Silicon Valley.
During this experience, it became clear that I wanted to work in marketing either in retail or in the tech industry and one day also launch my own business.
Does your role resemble what you wanted to do growing up?
My experiences working in retail with Procter & Gamble, and in tech here at trivago are both experiences that I’m incredibly grateful for.
My current role as Country Lead is something that has been challenging me from the offset and includes product marketing, business development, cross-functional leadership, and a lot of amazing, interesting projects.
Plus, the cherry on top is that I can do all of these things at trivago, a company with an amazing ´test and learn´ culture. Starting my own business is still on my to-do list though!
How did you get into product marketing?
I got into product marketing at Procter and Gamble, where I was responsible for the Müller drug chain business and the full sales and marketing strategy in and outside stores for brands like Ariel, Lenor, Pampers, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, and many more.
I led the Go-to-Market strategy to Croatia and Slovenia, and I only realized later that it was not only customer business development, which is how it was internally called, but also product marketing as it became a unique ´startup like´ business unit.
And fun fact: Product marketing is originated from brand marketing; this was born at Procter and Gamble!
What challenges did you face en-route to your current position?
Coming from a giant FMCG company (P&G) with a more corporate company culture, trivago was having many differences mostly on communication and company values.
While at P&G, I was communicating with colleagues face-to-face, whereas at trivago Slack was everyone´s best friend, so I had to get used to written communication and train myself to be more efficient in writing executive summary-like pieces.
Trivago is also incredibly data-driven, so you need to dig deep and set use cases to get the buy-in from stakeholders.
In the beginning, it is challenging when you work on high complexity projects, multiple markets, and channels, but as I love learning this was an amazing journey and shaped my knowledge tremendously.
With the power of hindsight, is there anything you’d do differently?
In the case of skill set and jobs, all of them played an important role in my personal and professional development. I also worked in six different countries; I plan on expanding that number further, as working in different countries also shaped my view of the world.
What I would change is my focus on practicing languages much more, which could open even more future opportunities for me and could change the way I interact with my colleagues.
Which product marketers have inspired you the most, en-route to the role you occupy today, and why?
I thought a lot about this, and I never had role models; my focus has always been on becoming a better version of myself and a better professional - that served as my highest source of motivation.
Bettina’s role as Head of Nordics & France/Global Strategic PM
What does your role entail?
At trivago, our goal has been for a long time: ´To be the traveler's first and independent source of information for finding their ideal accommodation´ and we keep working on broadening this mission further.
As a hotel metasearch, we always want to make sure that we create a product that benefits the users in their accommodation search throughout their whole journey from finding their ideal destination to booking their hotel on our partners` sites.
My team, the Country Leads, are constantly monitoring user behavior, competition, product positioning, and working on spotting opportunities for shaping our value proposition, targeting, and communication on the different markets with our existing and upcoming products.
If you had to explain your job to someone with zero knowledge of product marketing, how would you explain it?
A product marketer is an expert on the customer or the user of the product and finds the best ways to reach customers in the right channels, with relevant messages to demonstrate the value of the product.
Do your family members and friends understand what you do?
Maybe to a certain extent, they know about the trivago TV spots I worked on. The role is quite complex and there aren’t any members of my family who work in the industry or marketing, so we sometimes laugh together at their interpretation of the digital world.
How is your product marketing team structured? Has this changed since you entered the role?
Product marketing strategy has been led by Country Leads, together with the Marketing and Product pillars.
Country Leads are responsible for the market performance and through the years this team has been a Global function. It’s joined Marketing and now it is part of Finance, which has been a quite interesting journey.
In 2019 internally, we started calling this team Country User Projects, where we fully focused on product marketing projects globally to find new targeting and communication opportunities with a brand-new user segmentation, while we kept the country responsibilities as well.
Tips from Bettina
What does an entry-level PMM aspiring to eventually work in your role need to do so?
Foster your entrepreneurial spirit, push yourself to be out of your comfort zone and surround yourself with smart people and ask questions to keep learning.
What advice would you give to a product marketer plying their trade in the current circumstances?
Be curious, get to know yourself with the help of different tools like Myers-Briggs, Strength Finder, ask for feedback and reflect on your past experiences constantly to spot where your strength lie and know your developmental areas.
Also, being a mentor at trivago for four years allowed me to explore my leadership style and develop coaching skills and I highly recommend that everyone does this; you learn a lot about yourself and others in the process. So don´t be afraid, find a mentor and become a mentor yourself.
What would you consider to be the most important quality needed to succeed in your role?
You need an appetite for learning, eagerness to connect the dots, patience if things don´t pan out as planned, and you need to trust your cross-functional teams in the process. These will help you to thrive in the role.
Are there any extra-curricular activities you can recommend to someone who may want a role similar to yours can do to improve their knowledge?
I enjoy PMA´s content: the webinars, discussions, online conferences, both on the B2C and B2B side.
On marketing channel knowledge, Facebook´s Summits, Google´s trainings, case studies from similar companies are essential and keeping up with the specific market and marketing trends in the industry.
I also think a lot of product management tools can be integrated into marketing too. I would recommend the Product School´s webinars, courses, ProductCon conferences, and the hands-on Real-World Product Management | Coursera course by AWIP where particularly I loved the customer journey mapping.
What are your future aspirations?
After experiencing the exciting world of B2C marketing with P&G and trivago, I’m switching gears to B2B and will be joining another tech company next month as a Product Marketing Manager.
I’m looking forward to challenging myself further in my new role.
And the advice doesn’t stop there…
Our specialist resource PMM Hired offers everything you need and a whole lot more to climb the product marketing career ladder, including interview advice, vetted and tested resources from respected PMMs, and exclusive articles, with invaluable insights also available to PMMs with a PMA Membership.