Maansi Dommeti | Pinterest
August 4, 2020

InterviewsMaansi Dommeti | Pinterest

Meet Maansi - Product Marketing Lead at Pinterest HQ in San Francisco, California. Maansi talks to us about building the Pinterest shopping functionality, how to get the best out this tech, and the inspiration she takes from women and the arts.

Maansi At Work

Are there any brands or campaigns that have caught your eye recently?

I love brands that can tell a story and link to current events in a profound way. Guinness did this well for St. Patrick’s Day in March. They confidently established their connection to St. Patrick’s Day by grounding their storytelling in history and tradition. They then urged their consumers to stay home during the pandemic, claiming they weren’t going anywhere and would celebrate again, creating a kind of nostalgia for their product. Despite its nostalgic and familiar tone, it was a very clever way to speak directly to new customers for 3 reasons:

  • Cement their link to this holiday. Most people already associate Guinness with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day- but in case that wasn’t the case for any prospective consumers, this campaign helped solidify that connection.
  • Show their relevance to the current climate The campaign focused on the idea that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations would be quieter this year due to the COVID pandemic and “shelter in place” (“social distancing” in the UK) ordinances around the world. Guinness directly made its product relatable to every single consumer affected by the pandemic.  Given how top of mind the pandemic has been for everyone this year, this tactic likely made them relevant to new demographics of consumers that they may not have previously reached with their advertising.
  • Position themselves as a socially responsible brand By stating that they weren’t going anywhere and that they would still be there for the years to come, Guinness was urging its customers to skip out on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year and saying, “Don’t worry about purchasing our product this year, we’re okay! Do the responsible thing.” Which of course increases their favorability in consumers’ eyes and keeps their brand top of mind for the holiday, however they may be celebrating.
Can you talk to us about clients, campaigns or projects you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

I work in Product Marketing at Pinterest, so I get to help build products that make it easier for brands to advertise. Most recently, I’ve been working on our Shopping product suite – designed to help merchants get their products on Pinterest at scale. We launched a product-feed ingestion tool called Catalogs in March 2019 and have since onboarded a large number of popular household brands globally. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done on this product and the time I’ve spent talking with merchants of all sizes to make the product better and improve this offering.

What advice would you give to small businesses using Pinterest to raise awareness and develop client and sales leads?

Not all digital platforms are created equal – they have different uses and strengths. It’s important to not treat them all the same. Pinterest is where people come to find inspiration. They’re actively planning their lives – whether it’s what meals to eat, how to set up a WFH station, how to furnish their new home, or plan a wedding. Use that to your advantage.

Think about how your brand inspires your own customers and allow Pinterest to be a vehicle that connects people to that inspiration. Think about how long people plan before deciding to purchase your service or products and work backwards to be there, on Pinterest, through that entire planning process.

Why did you decide to work in-house? And what’s it like working at one of the world’s biggest social media companies?

I come from an advertising agency, where I optimised digital performance for clients. It was fast-paced – with constant innovation, we were pushed to deliver better results and be industry leaders in everything we did. I learned a lot, but the environment required a lot of me. Overtime, I couldn’t execute with the same passion that I started with. I decided I wanted to spend my energy working to improve a company I already used and loved. I often found myself spending hours scrolling through Pinterest, finding new ideas and inspiration for my tired mind and one day thought – why not work there? At the time I joined Pinterest, the company was very much still in the early stages of monetizing and I felt that I could really contribute something valuable to the team, given my performance marketing background. I ended up joining to help build out their search advertising and shopping advertising products.

It’s been an absolute dream working for a platform that so many people love everyday. I’ve been at Pinterest for four years now, but I still feel warm fuzzies everytime someone recognizes where I work and starts gushing about how much the product has changed his or her life. I feel proud that I work there and contribute to making the product better, but I also completely empathize, because I used and loved Pinterest before I ever started working there. As a marketer, I think having that connection to your product is so important – it adds a layer of authenticity to every project you touch.

What’s the biggest learning you’ve had in your professional life to date? Good or bad.

8 hours a day, 5 days a week is a lot of time to dedicate to anything. You will become really good at whatever you do in that time. If you do something you love, something that aligns with your long term goals for success, you will absolutely get there. What is the point of being really good at something you don’t want to do? It’s simply too much time. If you spend that time driven by passion and belief, you will absolutely find success in your endeavors.

Maansi After Hours

What key things got you to where you are today?

Being prescriptive about what I was looking for has been key. Whether classes in college that I knew I could grow in, being thoughtful about my first job, thinking through which projects I wanted to work on, or understanding when it was time for a change and identifying the next step. I have spent a lot of time breaking down my feelings into specific things I am looking for. For me, it has never been good enough to say “I’m ready for a change” or “I want something different.” I’ve held myself accountable to answer what exactly that “something” may be.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Don’t give up the subjects that light a fire within you! In school, I made the mistake of discontinuing subjects I loved, like orchestra and visual arts, in favor of taking more STEM classes. Science and math classes are definitely valuable in developing your mind, but so are arts courses! When work gets stressful, it’s the arts that refresh my mind. I’m only recently getting back into many of these subjects that I gave up, decades later. It’s so much more difficult now, but it definitely feels worth it.

Who or what inspires you?

Females who have made an imprint on the world inspire me. There are so many remarkable men and women in this world, but lately, I’ve found myself really moved by the stories of women in particular because I see people like me who have had to juggle and balance the many roles that women have to play in unique ways and make a difference despite it all. I find it fascinating to listen to Melinda Gates talk about balancing work, charity, and family life. I find it comforting that Michelle Obama says it’s okay to swerve, despite being settled in your career. I find it so motivating to learn about how Ruth Bader Ginsberg studied law as one of the very few women in her law school, while raising a toddler, and helping her husband through his illness at the time. Women are such incredible creatures because of the immense strength they carry. The thought that I may have a similar strength, untapped, is really inspiring to me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Ask for what you want – in the worst case scenario, the answer will be no, which puts you right at where you are if you don’t ask for it.

I have never felt comfortable asking for things – I spent so many of my early years hoping that good things will just happen to me (waiting for good Karma?) I got this advice early on in my career and it was lightbulb moment for me. The very notion that I could drastically increase my chances of getting what I want by simply asking for it and putting the idea into the universe was so simple, but so brilliant. It has been a game changer. Years later, I still get so nervous every time I have to ask for something big, but the truth is, it has almost always worked out well for me when I’ve asked.

What’s your favourite quote to live by?

There is a poem by Erin Hansen with a line that I absolutely adore, 

“…you ask ‘what if I fall?’ 

Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?”

This is a question I often find myself asking right before I’m about to take a risk or do something big and intimidating. “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” For whatever reason, I find it so encouraging to repeat this line in my head when I’m nervous. It is exhilarating, optimistic, and encouraging all at the same time and just generally a wonderful way to approach the challenges in life. The thought of coming out on the other side soaring always makes diving head-first into a big life step that much easier.

Pinterest Shopping Functionality

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