The best Brand Managers must take ownership, provide the strategic direction, work the system, handle pressure and get the most of their direct report.
Success factors for Brand Managers
I’m going to go through each of the five success factors to make it at the Brand Manager level As someone who managed and promoted many Brand Managers, these are what I would use to measure success.
- Take ownership of the brand.
- Provide the strategic direction
- Work the system
- Handle the pressure
- Get the most of their direct report
1. Take Ownership of the brand
Many Brand Managers struggle are with the transition from being the helper to now being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away the idea that someone will hand you a project list. Not only will you make the project list, but you should also come up with the strategies that set up the need for the projects.
Make a shift in how you speak with your boss. Speak with a telling voice, rather than an asking voice. It is ok to ask questions as feelers, but a great boss will want you to tell them what you want to do, and let the debate begin from there. They do not want to do your job.
People on your team will look to you for the decisions. While they want to be heard and have their expertise recognized, but they want you to make the decisions.
2. Provide Strategic Direction
Create a vision for the brand that can serve as a rallying cry for your team. Let everyone know where you want to go. Make sure the strategic choices and your brand’s execution matches up with your vision.
As the brand owner, you become the steward of the strategy. Reject everything that does not line up to your vision. Think with three strategic pillars, so you can steer a consistent delivery of the brand through the various functions and agencies who support your brand.
3. Work the system
You have to be able to see how the organization works and appreciate the motivations of various key stakeholders. You have to be able to understand the layers of the organization, with varying goals and motivations. Use that knowledge to begin to work the system.
Inspire, challenge and push your key subject matter experts to you their best. Understand their motivations and tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best.
4. Handle the pressure
The unknown of ambiguity and the time pressure of deadlines can work against each other. Figure out how to work them to our advantage, as they evoke the right balance of patience with ambiguity and persistence in getting things done. Be organized, disciplined and work the system, so it does not get in your way.
Another significant pressure for Marketers is when the results do not come in. It can be frustrating but is a reality we face. Force yourself to course correct, re-examine the underlying issues, and regroup with your team to look at other options, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.
There is pressure in relationships that many Marketers feel, but are unable to fix. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out the motivations and frustration points in those you work with before they become a problem. Common ground is usually not that far away.
5. Get the most out of your direct report
Most Brand Managers struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self-evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each direct report.
It can be a struggle to shift from “do-er” to coach, as it is tempting to think you can do something faster, so you may as well do it. The problem is you just become the “super ABM.”
Many Brand Managers fail to share the spotlight, so it becomes hard for you to showcase your Assistant Brand Manager. You must believe the work of your Assistant Brand Manager will reflect positively on how good of a manager you are.
Provide your direct report with positive and negative feedback, delivered in a timely fashion. Too many new managers are afraid to “go negative” so their ABM is left in the dark or left believing they are doing a good job. Take the time to teach up front, give them room to try it out and then provide hands-on feedback in real time.
Here are the 10 reasons Brand Managers get fired
- Struggle to make decisions.
- Not analytical enough.
- Can’t get along with others.
- Not good with ambiguity.
- Bad people manager.
- Poor communicators with management or partners.
- Never follow your instincts.
- Can’t think or write strategically
- You don’t run the brand; you let the brand run you.
- Sloppy with budgets and timelines.
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