Drew Frost is currently the Sr. Growth Marketing Manager at Sam’s Club, heading up marketing efforts for Sam’s Wholesale mobile app as well as their in-club shopping app, Scan & Go.
But Drew is so much more to us here at Liftoff. As a Mobile Hero, Drew was not shy in jumping on a Best Practices in Marketing Shopping Apps webinar, sharing UA performance results in a case study for his Scan & Go e-commerce app, or writing a blog on metrics, creatives and opportunities. But our favorite contribution is Drew’s recurring character as “Ice Man” in the Mobile Hero Comics.
More recently, we caught up with Drew to discuss his career path and what advice he can offer to up-and-coming mobile app marketers.
Walk us through your career path at Sam’s Club
I’ve been at Sam’s Club for nearly six years and my current role is in growth marketing. Prior to this role, I worked in product marketing, primarily focused on our mobile app. Before that, I worked in loyalty, back-end systems and monetization. I’m probably the oddball, but I also spent a little over a year and a half working in a Walmart store before making the jump to “the office.”
How did you get started in mobile?
I had a really good mentor. I was looking at the commerce space overall, and apps was where it was happening. I was looking at the space thinking, “Everything’s moving to mobile, I should get with the program.”
I had a colleague who believed that in order for you to become better at what we call an “office employee,” you needed to first experience what the problems were in the company – on the floor. He was very passionate about this, so he sent me to the field and said, “If you go out there and can hack it for at least a year, then we can see about finding a role for you here at the office”.
After proving myself on the ground at a Walmart, I got an opportunity to move to the office. That year and a half working in a Walmart store set my mobile marketing career in motion.
What qualities do you think are the most important for app marketers to have and why?
One is curiosity. Question everything, even when someone tells you something is completely standard.
Two, and the biggest advice I can give anybody is, don’t be afraid to fail.
Three, is to realize you don’t have to do anything by yourself. There are tons of resources available. I had a conversation with a good friend recently who pointed out — the app community is supportive and takes care of itself.
What has been your most career defining moment?
Four and a half years ago, back when I was based in Arkansas, my director at the time put me on a plane and gave me a large problem to handle. He flew me to our tech office on the West Coast and said, “You’ve got this.”
It was a sink or swim moment, but all the lessons in mobile that I shared as good qualities for marketers to have completely applied in this instance. I couldn’t be afraid of failure, I had to ask for help, and I was just naturally curious as to why we were doing things the way we were doing them.
Who has been your best advocate or mentor in the mobile industry?
In the app industry you really need a couple of mentors: 1) a mentor that’s tech savvy and, 2) a mentor who knows advertising and marketing.
For me, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by a variety of people that are skilled in both disciplines. To this day, I think I learn more from side conversations with them than I do in formal meetings in my day-to-day job.
Who are some of your career inspirations?
Growing up, I was absolutely, positively a Steve Jobs fan. That man could do no wrong in my eyes. As I grew up and learned more about him, I came to understand that he is in fact human, and makes mistakes. But still…
When I look at the advertising space, kudos to Liftoff and the team that you guys have built – you’re on top of the game.
What are three tips you could offer to new mobile app marketers to help grow their careers?
One, is to just get involved. Everybody wants to tiptoe into new things, but that’s not really how the app world works. If you think you have a problem that you can solve, speak up. You’ll learn very quickly that in this world there’s no such thing as a dumb idea.
Two, don’t be afraid to let your curiosity flow. Think outside the box. There’s always the option to swim upstream if you think you have an idea that’s better than anyone else’s.
Three is to find mentors or folks that you’re really comfortable with. I think one of the bigger challenges, especially if you’re new to the space or just coming out of college, is finding these people. Some think, “Oh, I really need to find a mentor that’s been skilled for twenty plus years.” In our industry, this doesn’t really exist. A mentor could easily be somebody your own age who has a different skill set or perspective than you do.
What are the biggest challenges marketers need to overcome to succeed in the mobile industry?
One, is to keep your ego in check. Apps are a hot commodity, and they will be for a while. Just remember that trends ebb and flow, and while apps are what’s in right now, they may not be in a couple of years. So always prepare for what’s next.
Beyond that, it’s an understanding that app marketers are basically technologists. If you don’t follow tech trends, you’re going to be lost. It’s one of the coolest parts of my job, and until people work in this space, they don’t realize how much app marketers talk about technology, growth stacks, and numbers.
There is relatively high turnover with mobile marketers. Do you see that as an advantage for the industry or a disadvantage?
Overall, I see it as an advantage. When folks hop around, they are showing growth and spreading different ideas which is positive. The trick is weeding out folks that are just here for the buzzwords.
What advice would you offer new app marketers?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If I could go back in time, I’d smack the back of my head over and over again and tell myself to slow down.
What resources, blogs, companies, sites, etc. are most valuable for mobile app marketing?
I’d say the one that really kicked it off for me is grow.co. They do a phenomenal job and are very inspirational as far as growth practices. I’m also a big fan of anything that Peggy Anne Salz does. And, of course, you have the standard resources that people follow like MarTech, eMarketer, etc. The trick to any publication is identifying what is app specific and of value to you.
Read other insightful Q&As with leading mobile app marketers in the industry.