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Marketing

Justin Flitter, CMO at PlayBooks

Marketers are almost always undervalued and the complexity of today's marketing landscape is growing. We caught up with Justin Flitter, CMO at PlayBooks to hear more about his career journey into tech, as well as his insight into what an effective marketer needs to be successful.

He also gives some further insight into what he and the rest of the team at PlayBooks are building and why he is loving working on the problem they are addressing. Thanks for sharing your story, Justin.

“I make sure the whole neighbourhood knows about your orange juice stand, not just the passersby.”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I make sure the whole neighbourhood knows about your orange juice stand, not just the passersby.

And for the adults, what does your day-to-day as CMO at PlayBooks look like?

I connect people to the products or services they’re looking for (to help their business grow) using technology, data, copywriting and design. It’s a beautiful combination of people, partnerships, creativity and tech.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in marketing?

That you can just hire a good marketing person and it will all start happening for you. In today’s complex marketing landscape, the diversity of skills and perspectives you need to win new customers needs a team, tech and partnerships to get the best results.

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

At 15 I knew high-school couldn't teach me what I wanted to learn. So I worked my but off to get University Entrance and left after 6th form (year 12). I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so went to Massey University to study Business and majored in Marketing.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Playbooks?

My career can be pillared by the communities I’ve founded, kick-started and got involved in. 

  • Out of University I created one of New Zealand’s first Business Incubators on the top floor of the Wellington Railway Station.
  • While working for Student Job Search I founded the Wellington Young Professionals Group with the Institute of Management.
  • After attending a Social Media Club event in San Francisco when working for Zendesk I returned to Auckland and started the Auckland event. We even hosted the Auckland Tweet-up Christmas Party - those were the days!
  • For 10 years I’ve worked with the TEDxAuckland team, helping to produce some of the largest TEDx events in the world.
  • In 2017 I founded NewZealand.AI, a community and events program to help business leaders understand and utilise Artificial Intelligence.


And throughout all that worked for some incredible B2B SaaS and Professional Services businesses, building community, brand, communications, partnership programs and running events for them

“I’ve seen in almost every company I’ve worked in, how poorly internal and external meetings are managed and run. The productivity loss is immense.”

Can you share some more insight into what that transition from your last company was like?

Soon after the first Level 4 Lockdown in 2020 I was made redundant. The company had huge potential, still does and I was gutted to leave. But the power and importance of your social network proved invaluable as people started referring marketing work to me and I picked up enough freelance contracts to keep me busy. 

I love the hustle, the challenges working in start-ups (that keep you up at night), the pressure to find your market fit, the proposition that works, the customers that love your product is a thrill. 

When the opportunity to join Greg Sheehan and his growing team at PlayBooks.live it was a no-brainer decision. I’ve seen in almost every company I’ve worked in, how poorly internal and external meetings are managed and run. The productivity loss is immense. Businesses today just can’t afford that lost productivity and I see PlayBooks.live has a huge part to play in solving that global problem.

What is it specifically that you like about working Playbooks relative to your past jobs? 

I love the hustle of growing a business. The challenges demand resourcefulness, a willingness to experiment and hunt for a better solution. And it’s the people, the team you get up to work with everyday that make it fun and energising.

Do you have any career advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker? 

When I had the idea to create the Business Incubator in Wellington in 2000 I started attending all the after-5, business networking events I could. Often I was out 3-4 nights a week, talking to people, finding out what they did, writing names down and doing some research on them.

LinkedIn makes that way easier nowadays. Meeting people, listening, sharing ideas to refine my proposition was key to understanding my audience and how I needed to present the value I could bring to the table.

If you’re interested in Artificial Intelligence come along to The AI Show events I host Monthly in Auckland. You’ll hear talks from some super smart people and meet leaders in tech and business that could help you discover your next opportunity.

“You need to have thick-skin and immense drive to work in a start-up. There’s a constant microscope on your work and the impact you’re having on the business and it’s customers.”

Playbooks continues to evolve.  What kind of candidates do you think Playbooks is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?

You need to have thick-skin and immense drive to work in a start-up. There’s a constant microscope on your work and the impact you’re having on the business and it’s customers.

PlayBooks is growing. We’re always keen to hear from people passionate about our purpose and the opportunity to create another Kiwi success story.

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