Building Bold Brands: Melissa Rosenthal’s 4 Essential Insights

Snoball Editorial Team

Written by: Snoball Editorial Team | Snoball Editorial Team

Last Updated: Jun 19, 2024


Melissa Rosenthal shared her incredible journey through the marketing landscape, offering insights from her experiences at BuzzFeed, Cheddar, and ClickUp in this episode of the Snoball Effect podcast. With a career that epitomizes innovation and strategic thinking, Melissa's story is a treasure trove of lessons for aspiring marketers and brand builders. Let’s take a look at her career journey and four key lessons she’s learned along the way.

Melissa's Career Journey

Logos for BuzzFeed, Cheddar, and ClickUp

Melissa Rosenthal’s career began with a fascination for disruption. Fresh out of college, she joined BuzzFeed as an intern when the company had only ten employees. "I really believed in the future of digital media," she recounted. "BuzzFeed, even in the MVP version of itself… the technology they had built just in the way that you could actually track content and what content resonated was just the amount of insights that I was able to get from that."

Her experience at BuzzFeed laid the foundation for her next big move: joining Cheddar, a company that aimed to revolutionize live news. Melissa was instrumental in creating a post-cable network focused on live and on-demand news for millennials. "We went from an hour a day of live to 24 hours a day of live… We had two studios. We had anchors, we had guests… We had done 50 million in revenue in three years and it was beyond my wildest dreams," she recalled.

After Cheddar, Melissa transitioned to ClickUp, a SaaS company, where she took on the role of Chief Creative Officer. Here, she focused on building a bold, vibrant brand that stood out in the B2B space. "If I could build a bright and vibrant, funny and contrarian brand to everything else in B2B SaaS... we would have the same outcome as media companies," she explained.

Melissa has learned many lessons on how to navigate the marketing world through her experience at these world-class companies, and she was kind enough to share many with us on the podcast.

  1. Embrace Disruption and Innovation
  2. Prioritize Strategic Experimentation
  3. Maintain a Customer-Centric Approach
  4. Focus on Organic Growth

1. Embrace Disruption and Innovation

Melissa Rosenthal is a testament to the power of embracing disruptive ideas and technologies. Throughout her career, she has consistently sought out opportunities where innovation is at the forefront. “I think from day one I've always been fascinated with disruption. The idea that something we built years ago could be completely rethought and reimagined.”

Innovation brainstorm

Her willingness to dive into uncharted territories has allowed her to stay ahead of industry trends and drive significant growth in her roles. Whether it was recognizing the potential of digital media at BuzzFeed or predicting the shift towards OTT and streaming services at Cheddar, Melissa’s knack for identifying and leveraging disruptive trends has been a cornerstone of her career. Her passion for innovation is contagious. Don’t be afraid to take risks and search out roles in which you will be challenged to innovate and make a difference.

2. Prioritize Strategic Experimentation

A key part of Melissa’s success has been her commitment to relentless testing and data-driven decision-making. “We became a household name because we understood the formulaic way of creating viral content... It was a machine. It was a really exciting time to be there,” she explained, reflecting on her time at BuzzFeed. This approach was all about understanding what worked, refining it, and scaling it.

Melissa embraces the philosophy that "growth isn't clean." She acknowledges that in the pursuit of growth, “There's a lot of failure. Things break, things don't work, things slow down, things stop working, new channels come up.” She describes the process as “looking for crumbs everywhere” and assessing if they “taste good.” The key, she notes, is to “follow these crumbs until there are either no crumbs left or you find an entire pie.” She encourages the adoption of this mindset, because this relentless stream of experimentation, combined with a focus on agility and grit, enables you to move quickly, learn fast, and ruthlessly prioritize what works.

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Pro Tip:

Adopt a "growth isn't clean" philosophy. As Melissa advises, follow the crumbs until the trail is gone or until you find the pie. In other words, "Experiment fast and quick."

3. Maintain a Customer-Centric Approach

Throughout her career, Melissa has maintained a strong focus on understanding and addressing customer needs. At ClickUp, this customer-centric approach was a cornerstone of the company’s success. “They had done a lot and what they really did was they listened to their customers,” Melissa said. “Zeb was so customer-centric… in the tonality and the response rate and how quickly we responded to them and where we were and how visible we were across social and every touch point.”

Building a brand that resonates with its audience involves more than just marketing; it requires a deep understanding of customer experiences and pain points. Melissa believes that a brand is defined by what customers say about it, emphasizing the importance of delivering exceptional experiences consistently. This attitude helps in creating loyal customers who become advocates for the brand.

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4. Focus on Organic Growth

Paid strategies are important, but Melissa pointed out, “CAC is really hard to scale and it's expensive and you want to be able to have something that offsets that hopefully by 50 percent or more.” Because of this, she emphasized the need for a strong organic growth strategy. “What does the future of organic growth look like for the company, for the product? Because that's going to outlive paid,” she noted. Organic growth provides a sustainable foundation for long-term success and helps build a resilient brand.

Melissa profile picture

Melissa Rosenthal

Former creative exec


"What does the future of organic growth look like for the company, for the product? Because that's going to outlive paid."

An organic growth strategy involves leveraging content marketing, SEO, and customer advocacy to drive brand visibility and engagement. At ClickUp, Melissa implemented strategies that balanced both paid and organic growth, ensuring that the brand could scale efficiently while maintaining a strong presence in the market. This holistic approach to growth has been instrumental in her career.

What’s Next for Melissa?

After an impressive run at several unicorn companies, Melissa Rosenthal is embarking on a new venture, co-founding a startup that aims to revolutionize content tech. "I am going out on my own with a co-founder, and we have built a really amazing product in content tech that I think will do a lot of the things that I've needed throughout my career," she revealed. This new endeavor focuses on creating net new value rather than merely extracting it, blending content marketing with AI to address the evolving needs of the industry. 

Melissa is energized by the opportunity, saying, "I get rallied up every day and I feel like I am uniquely kind of poised to solve this through my career in media and my career in SaaS and sort of banging my head against the wall with some of these challenges." Although the project is currently in stealth mode, it promises to bring a groundbreaking product to market within the next month, combining insights from the SaaS space, AI advancements, and media trends to meet the needs of various companies.

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