The non-negotiable behaviors that will destroy a Marketer’s career

I like to talk about the skills, behaviors, and experiences you need to succeed in Marketing. However, this list in today’s article is not about growth, but about what could destroy you. To succeed in your Marketing career, you must hit deadlines, know your business, be open with communication, take control of your brand, be able to use feedback, and then listen to the experts around you, before you decide.  

Trust me when I say this: if you do not nail these six behaviors, you will eventually annoy someone enough to get rid of you. You’ve likely heard of CLM’s, also known as “career-limiting-moves.” These six behaviors are non-negotiable CLM’s, and if you miss them continuously, you will be gone. Fix these.

For many Marketers, these could be a blind spot. You could be amazing in all other aspects of your job. And when one of these brings you down, you will be left wondering what happened.  

1. You must hit deadlines.

Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, so if you begin to miss deadlines, things will just stockpile on each other. Do not be the one who is seen trying to negotiate extensions constantly. That might work with a University essay. But in the real world of Marketing, there are no real extensions. Just missed opportunities. If you miss one, two or three, your behavior will be viewed as a pattern. I went to school with someone who always asked the prof for a deadline on everything. The professor always said yes. And she thrived in school. Yet, never made it in Marketing. In 20 years in Marketing. I never asked for an extension. 

2. You must know your business.

Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as profit (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all significant competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. I was lucky in that I grew up a baseball stat geek, so I could easily remember every number on my business. I was never the type of manager who openly tested people for the sake of it. But, when I had 15 brands and you had one brand: how do you think if I felt when I knew your numbers better than you did? It is your job to know your business and your numbers.

3. You must be open with your communication.

There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. If something could go wrong, make sure everyone knows. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it. And when something does go wrong, have a plan ready in place, action items laid out, before your boss says “Oh man, we need a plan.”

4. You must be able to take control of your destiny.

Act like the owner. Tthe best Marketers run the brands; they never let the brands run us. Always be slightly ahead of the game, not constantly chasing your work to completion. Once you are chasing, you can never catch up. Instead, you should always be proactively looking for an opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage. Watch your tone. When you don’t know something, it is perfectly acceptable speak in an “asking way,” but do so with a limit on how many times you show up begging for help. When you are in charge of a brand, and when you know the answer, you have to teach yourself to speak in a “telling way” even to the CEO.

Once you are given the reigns of a brand, it is expected that you tell everyone what to do. As your boss, I would rather that I have to step in and push back on something, rather than to have to encourage you to voice your thoughts. 

5. You must be able to use regular feedback for growth.

Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Do not think of it as a personal attack or setback. Identify gaps you can close, never think of them as weaknesses that hold you back. You should always be striving to get better. It is true, the best marketers are ambitious. They want to get better. It is perfectly acceptable to not enjoy getting negative feedback. I would never judge someone’s reaction at that moment.

I have worked with many amazing marketers, who looked devastated and ready to quit, in the heat of the feedback. I’ve seen that look 100 times. That’s perfectly fine. However, I also know, those same great people came in the next morning, ready to make a change and ready to demonstrate it to everyone who was watching. Marketing is an iterative career. Honestly, we repeat the same 20 key skills over and over again, at junior, mid and senior levels. The best get better each time. The worst don’t. 

6. You must listen first; then decide.

There is a somewhat bizarre relationship Marketers have with subject matter experts. We don’t really do anything. We don’t make the product, sell the product, make the ads, buy the media or make the event happen. But as the ultimate generalist, we do decide everything.  Very early in your career, you must figure out the magic in using your subject matter experts to teach you everything you need to know about your job, while still leading them, even if they are 10 or 20 years older than you. These subject matter experts have seen hundreds of marketers come through the door, and if you do it right, they will quietly teach you more than your boss ever will.

As you hit the director or VP level, you must figure out how to use these same subject matter experts as an advisor or sounding board to the toughest of issues or what you think are great ideas. Subject matter experts don’t want to make decisions. They want you to do that. Subject matter experts don’t want to be a leader. They want you to lead them. At these senior levels, you have to learn to listen to them and make sure you really hear them out. You can question and challenge them. And, then it is expected that you will give the direction that pushes them towards the end goal. While you make every decision, if you don’t manage this unique relationship well, they will influence the decision to get rid of you. 

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

To order the e-book version or the paperback version, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

How to build your career on your true, core strength

To succeed in your career, you have to realize everyone brings a core strength as a marketing leader. What is your strength? Running a business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or passion for people. While marketers are usually trained as a generalist, maybe it’s time to make a decision around your one true, core strength. And then, go build a new career around that core strength.

Here’s a tough career question for most marketers to answer

What is your core strength? Pick only #1 strength as a marketer from these four potential choices:

    1. You like running the business and managing products
    2. You have a passion for marketing execution
    3. Strategic thinker writes strong Brand Plans
    4. As a leader of leaders, you can get the best out of others

I know it must be a tough question because everyone refuses to pick just one.  Even if you are well-rounded, explore what might rise or fall based on skills, feedback, success, passion, or interest. Be honest with yourself. 

Let’s take it a step further. Here’s a game you can play to force your thinking. Look below at the diagram. You have four chips. You have to put one on the highest strength, two at medium and force one to be at the lowest.    

If you still say, “I’m pretty good at all 4” then push yourself, I might not believe you. No one is equally great at all four. You have to know your strength. As you make your next move, each choice may lead you to 4 different career choices. 

If you like running the business, your career choices could be product management, private equity or new industries. If you are into the marketing execution, explore switching to an Agency role. It could be a brainstorming ideation leader or become a subject matter expert. And, if you are a strategic thinker, you could move into becoming a consultant, professor or go into a global role. Finally, if you feel your strength is on the people leadership side, you can keep moving up to GM, explore the entrepreneur world or become a personal coach.

When your strength is running the business

You are naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity.

You like product innovation side more than advertising and you are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution. You can work with each functional areas to the benefit of the products. Moreover, you may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you are comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution. 

My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, consider new verticals before you venture into new career choices. You should consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into entrepreneurship, where you can leverage your core strength of running a business.

When your biggest strength is marketing execution

When you are the type of Brand Leader, who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. And, you are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. Moreover, you respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what a good or bad idea is. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader. And, you likely see answers before questions and frustrated by delays.

Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an execution role. You may be frustrated in positions that would limit your creativity. Stepping into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject-matter-expert role in internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.

Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

When you are naturally a strategic thinker

You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would indicate that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.

If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or builds a strong team of business leaders beneath you.

Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

When your biggest strength is leading people

You find a natural strength in leading others. This would be when you are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential and you are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others. Moreover, you are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.

If you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross-functional shift in sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future. 

After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Focus on what you are best at doing, and what you love.

Good luck.

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

To order the e-book version of Beloved Brands, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eUAgDgS

And, to order the paperback version, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911