For Erin Hinson, “routine” is a four-letter word. The way she sees it, every day should be different—and not just because it’s a new date on the calendar. So, it’s no surprise that over the course of her career, Erin’s job duties have run the gamut from assembling focus groups for dog food market research, to managing the tour schedule for a belly-dancing troupe, to chasing down advertising dollars from local gentlemen’s clubs. “I get bored easily,” she said. “Once I figure something out, I need to do something else.”
Luckily for Erin, product marketing—especially in the ever-changing realm of technology—is a field ripe with challenge. As WebPT’s product marketing manager, Erin is responsible for bridging the gap between WebPT’s suite of products and its market of users to ensure rehab therapists are not only getting the solutions they need, but also maximizing their use of those solutions. “Product marketing is a great role for me, because I’m never doing the same thing,” she said. “Some days, I get to be the geek in Excel, and some days I get to write [content]. I have to balance the strategy with the tactics—the forest and the trees. I like the way it aligns with my split personality.”
According to Erin, that division goes all the way back to her childhood. Growing up in Stockton, California—which, she says, is a perennial pick on the Forbes list of the worst cities in America—Erin always preferred marching to the beat of her own drum. Actually, she marched to the beat of TLC, her favorite band at the time. In fact, she once went so far as to ask for a T-Boz haircut from her mom’s stylist—and went home “with a straight bowl cut.” It wasn’t her best look, but being the fiercely independent person she was, she rolled with it anyway.
As an only child, Erin developed a strong sense of self and an appreciation for solitude. “I was precocious and sarcastic,” she said. “My parents never babied me. They’d do adult things, like go to adult dinners, and I had to go sit with them.” While she never particularly wanted a seat at the kids’ table, Erin says that acquiring six step-siblings at the age of 12—right after her parents split up—was “one of the best things that could have happened.” All of a sudden, “I was forced to adapt, to share things, to interact with other people,” she said. And while she remained firmly rooted in who she was, Erin opened the door to a whole new—and much more collaborative—side of herself that she didn’t even know existed.
In high school, Erin’s social butterfly tendencies really took flight. In addition to rocking her jock skills in volleyball, track, and soccer, Erin perfected the art of hosting house parties—though she can neither confirm nor deny coming up with an ingenious system for stacking trash bags to hide the evidence from her dad. Of course, Erin’s high school experience wasn’t all extracurriculars; academically, she gravitated toward writing. In fact, Arizona State University’s journalism program was one of the main reasons she decided to attend college in the Valley of the Sun. “I wanted to write for Maxim,” she said. “I used to read women’s magazines like Glamour and Cosmo, and I just didn’t find them interesting. I couldn’t relate. So, I’d read Maxim because I thought the articles were really interesting...there was more personality to them, and they talked about things I talked about in real life.”
Once she actually started attending classes, though, she found herself drawn to sociology. So, she ended up adding that as a second major to her mass communications degree. By the time she graduated, she wasn’t 100% settled on a career path, but she knew she wanted to find something that would challenge her on a daily basis. And while some of her early positions—like the one in a newspaper classifieds department and the one at a market research company—provided a lot of variation and plenty of good experience, she craved a job that would allow her to see projects through from beginning to end. Enter: software.
Eventually, Erin landed a gig at a web development boutique. “It was basically an agency model,” she said. “I learned a lot about software—how it’s made and the order you make it in.” From there, she took on her first product marketing role at a Chandler, Arizona-based sales and marketing software company. “I think I lived ten years in two years at that place—in the best way possible,” she said. But when she was ready for something new, she immediately thought of WebPT. “I had seen Heidi [Jannenga] speak at an event, and I thought wow, she really knows her stuff,” Erin said. So, she set up a meeting. “[Afterwards] I thought, she’s somebody I can work for. She understands that I get bored easily, and there is a ton of opportunity here to not get bored, because there are a lot of things to figure out.”
One of Erin’s first challenges as product marketing manager: ramping up WebPT’s efforts to create, brand, and position its Outcomes product. “Not everyone is a data person,” she said. “Not everyone likes to dive into Excel and pivot-table the hell out of it; they just want to quickly see if if they’re in the green or the red. That’s why this product is so great; you don’t have to be a data scientist to use it. And it puts the power of decision-making back in the hands of the people who should be making the decisions.”
When she’s not digging into WebPT’s product strategy, Erin enjoys jamming out at small concerts—Crescent Ballroom is one of her favorite venues—and “reading” audio books. She also loves carving up snow-covered mountains on her snowboard—she’s taken snow-cations to Colorado, Idaho, and California—and killing it on the spin bike (mostly so she can enjoy the weekly post-class dinner totally guilt-free). Above all, she’s constantly focusing her sights on new challenges ahead—though she’s pretty confident none of them will involve belly-dancing.
Fave Five with Erin
- Favorite food: Macaroni (especially from the Vig)
- Favorite movie: Anything with Edward Norton (e.g., Primal Fear, Fight Club, and American History X)
- Favorite sports team: San Francisco 49ers
- Favorite band: Geographer
- Favorite place: The top of a mountain before you snowboard down it