The real career limiting moves that marketers need to avoid



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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. If you do not nail these 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. 

Managing your marketing career

The career limiting moves that will hold you back

1. Miss deadlines

Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, so if you begin to miss deadlines, things will stockpile on each other. Do not be the one who tries to negotiate extensions continually. 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 my 20 years in Marketing. I have never asked for an extension. 

2. Don’t know your business

Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as profit (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share 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 have 15 brands, and you only have 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. Not 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, “We need a plan.”

Take your brand knowledge to new heights with our Beloved Brands playbook

Beloved Brands is a comprehensive reference guide that covers the fundamentals of brand management. It goes deep on strategic thinking, brand positioning, and brand plan development. Furthermore, this book will help you with advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and the brand financials. Keep this book handy. Our readers tell us they reach for it every week.

Beloved Brands playbook

Marketers see Beloved Brands playbook as a go-to resource, as they keep it within arm’s reach for any new project. We are thrilled to see that it has received a 5-star rating from 85% of Amazon reviewers. Additionally, we have also created playbooks for B2B Brands and Healthcare Brands, catering to specific industries.

85% give Beloved Brands a perfect 5-Star rating!


The cheat code for future brand leaders!

It is without a doubt the most practical book for those who want to follow brand management that I have ever read in my life! Beloved Brands is written by a real, experienced marketeer for marketers. This book contains methodologies, tools, templates and thought processes that Graham actually used and uses in his career.


I have Brand Love for Beloved Brands!

As a 24-year marketing veteran at a Fortune 100 company, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about building brands until I started following Graham on social media. Graham has an amazing gift of bringing to life the critical elements of brand building and management in a delightful, easy-to-understand way and includes numerous examples and case histories that turn theory into practical reality for the reader. His tools and templates throughout the book make it VERY easy for the reader to immediately apply the critical principles of brand management to build a brand that consumers will love for the long term.


Such a phenomenal book

I know other new brand managers that have literally used this to review their business’ and create their annual brand strategy plans. Undeniably, Beloved Brands is phenomenal in concept and in execution. I highly recommend this book.

4. Fail to take control of your destiny

Act like the owner. The 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. You show up begging for help. When you are in charge of a brand, and know the answer, teach yourself to speak in a “telling way.” 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. Ignore 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. It would be best if you always were striving to get better. It is true; the best marketers are ambitious. They want to get better. It is perfectly acceptable not to 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. And, I have seen that look 100 times. That is 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 gets better each time. The worst don’t. 

6. Make decisions without listening to your experts

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.

Leadership behaviors

The leader behaviors of the best brand leaders

The leader behaviors of the best marketers include how to be accountable for results, use people leadership to build bench strength of your team, exhibit broad influence across the organization, bring an authentic style, so your decisions are clear, and run the business like an owner with decisions that drive the success of the business.

  1. You must be accountable for results, holding everyone accountable, getting things done, while staying on strategy and learning to work the system with every functional group throughout the organization. 
  2. Take on the people leadership, managing your core team, and being genuinely interested in your people’s development. You must coach, teach, and guide the team with honest assessment and feedback.  
  3. Exert broad influence across the organization, being the one to make decisions and control the strategy when executing through others, casting your influence into other functions by think of what others need. 
  4. Bring a consistent and predictable style, aware of your impact beyond your team, exhibit leadership under pressure. Be flexible and accommodating to others.  
  5. Run the business like an owner, accountable to both the long-term outlook and show-term profit of the brand, not you personally. Make decisions that benefit the brand, consumers, customers, marketplace, and society. Live and breathe the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand.  

I have broken each of these five leader behavior areas into 20 overall brand leader behaviors you need to be a successful brand leader. As you move up in marketing roles, these leader behaviors become equal in importance to the skills you collect along the way. 

Marketing Careers

On a classic marketing team, there are four key levels:

  • Assistant Brand Manager.
  • Brand Manager.
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
  • VP Marketing or CMO.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.

At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.

When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.

Our Beloved Brands Marketing Training program will make your team smarter.

If you are running a marketing team, you will always benefit from having a smarter team. When you invest in our marketing training program, you will help your team gain the marketing skills they need to succeed. As a result, you will see them make smarter decisions and produce exceptional work that drives business growth.

We’ll work with your team to help them learn more about the five core marketing skills: Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. Most importantly, your marketers will learn new tools, concepts, and ideas to trigger new thinking. To help their skills, we get participants to take each tool on a test run. Then, we give feedback for them to keep improving. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

Strategic Thinking:

Our marketing training teaches brand leaders how to ask tough strategic questions to slow everyone down and engage in debate of options to move forward. To start, you will be given various tools to approach strategy in a thoughtful, analytical way. Importantly, marketers need learn how to change brain speeds to move from a strategic thinker style to uncover what is holding back a brand, and onto an instinctual thinker style on marketing execution. 

We introduce our Strategic ThinkBox that allows marketers to interrogate their brand. Importantly, our ThinkBox pushes you to take a holistic look at the brand’s core strength, competitive landscape, tightness of the consumer bond, and business situation.

Brand Positioning:

Our brand positioning process teaches how to decide on the target market, consumer benefits, and reasons to believe. To start, you will learn to define the ideal consumer and frame the definition with their biggest needs, consumer insights and their enemy. Then, we provide our benefit cheatsheets to help learn how to discover the functional benefits and emotional benefits that a brand can deliver. Importantly, marketers need to make a decision on trying to stake out a unique space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for the brand. 

Learn to use our brand idea tool and see how it helps to communicate the brand idea to everyone across the organization. Finally, marketers will learn how to take the brand positioning work and translate it into a brand concept, brand story, and a brand credo.

Marketing Plans:

We see the marketing plan is a decision-making tool on how a brand will spend their limited resources. Moreover, the marketing plan communicates the expectations to everyone who works on the brand. Importantly, we teach marketers how to put together the vision, purpose, goals, key issues, strategies and marketing execution plans

Learn how to write key issue questions and strategic statements that forms the foundation of the marketing plan. In addition, our marketing training provides various marketing planning templates including our one-page brand plan and ideal Marketing Plan presentation deck

Marketing Execution:

Our marketing execution training starts with the concept of our Marketing PlayBox that matches up to the Strategic ThinkBox. To keep marketers on strategy throughout the execution stages, our Marketing PlayBox helps find in-the-box ideas that meet four dimensions: they are focused on our target, fit with the brand, deliver the message, and execute the strategy. 

To start, we show how the creative brief sets up the PlayBox, serving as the bridge between the plan and execution. We go through the creative brief line-by line  and give you examples of the best and worst. Importantly, you will learn to use our Creative Checklist to help make smarter decisions on creative communications. We workshop how to give feedback to your agency based on gaps you see with the checklist. 

Learn to make media decisions that match up to your consumer’s purchase journey. In addition, we provide a similar Innovation Checklist to compare innovation ideas. 

Brand Analytics:

Our comprehensive brand analytics training teach brand leaders how to lead a deep-dive business review. We outline the best analytical thinking so you can become a well-rounded marketer. 

Learn to look at the marketplace, consumer analytics, channels of distribution, competitors or other brands in their industry. And, learn assess the brand itself. Importantly, you will learn how marketing funnels can help assess the brand’s performance. We provide 64 analytical questions that marketers can ask of their brand. Finally, we show how to understand the financial performance indicators of the brand.

Our training looks at three specific streams; Consumer Marketing Training, B2B Marketing Training, and Healthcare Marketing Training. With each program, all the of the examples are tailored to the type of marketer. Undoubtedly, we believe marketers will be at their best when the can see the concepts or tools working on their type of brand.

Take a look at our Marketing Skills assessment tool to see how you or your marketing team measure up.

For more information on our Beloved Brands Marketing Training programs, click below or email Graham Robertson at [email protected]

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The cheat code for Brand Managers

It is without a doubt, the most practical book for those who want to follow brand management that I have ever read in my life! Beloved Brands is written by a real, experienced marketeer for marketers. 


I have Brand Love for Beloved Brands!

As a 24-year marketing veteran at a Fortune 100 company, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about building brands. Graham has an amazing gift of bringing to life the critical elements of brand building and management in a delightful, easy-to-understand way. 


Beloved Brands is a phenomenal book

I know other brand managers who have used this to review their business and create their annual brand plans. Undeniably, Beloved Brands is phenomenal in concept and execution. Highly recommend.

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the playbook for how to create a brand your consumers will love

With our Beloved Brands playbook, you will learn to think strategically, define your brand positioning, write a marketing plan, make execution decisions, and analyze your brand. Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands as a reference tool to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. We are proud that 89% of online reviewers have rated Beloved Brands a 5-star. As a result, Beloved Brands has been a #1 bestseller in brand management. We also have the B2B Brands playbook and our Healthcare Brands playbook

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The smarter your team, the better the results you will see!

As a marketing team leader, you know that your team’s success is essential for your company’s growth. Our Beloved Brands marketing training gives your team the skills they need to make strategic decisions, produce exceptional work, and drive business growth. They will learn to define brand positioning, write effective plans, improve brief writing, make informed execution decisions, and analyze their brand’s performance.

We have designed our marketing training program to build the fundamental skills to help your team reach their full potential. We will work with your team to help them learn to take on Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. 

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