It is that time of year when your mind starts to think about your career and where will you go next. You just had your performance review, salary increase or bonus check and now you’re thinking, when will I hit the big time? Here are 5 questions that you should be asking yourself at every point (at least once a year) of your career:
- Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
- Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
- Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
- How long do you want to keep working?
- Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?
Identifying your natural strength
I have so many friends and colleagues who want to move up in their organization. I’m always up for a good career debate and probing on strengths and weakness, yet there is one question, no brand leader likes to answer:
If I forced to pick one natural strength out of these four choices, which would you pick: Running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or leading people?
It should be a pretty easy question to answer, but we have trained ourselves to want to present ourselves as “generalists” and avoid the specialist label. We believe the only way to get promoted, get more money and more power is to become pretty good at all four. But that’s really a lie. I’ve met thousands of great Marketers over the years, but I’m yet to meet any that are great at all four. Everyone normally has natural strength and a natural gap. No matter how hard they work at becoming a generalist, that gap keeps showing gup. Early in my career, I was all about Marketing Execution and had some weakness at each level in leading and managing people leadership. In the back half of my career, I became more strategic, but still had that same nagging gap in leading people.
Let’s make this a game using the board above. We will give you 4 chips, forcing you to put one at the high, two at the middle to support the strength, and let go of one at the low. You have to have a natural lead strength and be honest about your gap.
- Do you like running the business and managing products
- Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
- Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
- Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?
There is this belief that generalists rise higher and make more money. That is if you stay on the client side of Marketing. You can make just as much money and feel just as powerful by moving outside the organization and finding a place that suits your true calling. Try asking yourself this question, because I’ve asked it hundreds of time and no one ever answers it the first time. Nearly every time I hear “I’m pretty good at all four”. And then I ask 5 more times till we get the real answer.
Core Strength: Running the business and managing brands
- You’re 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 business opportunity.
- You like product innovation side more than advertising. You are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re 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, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. Consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business.
Career Options for those who are strongest at running brands
- Product Management
- Shift across industries
- Lead Private Equity Turnarounds
- Lead Acquisitions
Core Strength: Marketing Execution
- 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. You are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. You respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader.
- Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an executional role. You may be frustrated in roles that would limit your creativity. Moving into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject matter expert type role in an internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.
- Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on a subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.
Career Options for those who are strongest at Marketing Execution
- Executional Agency
- Subject Matter Specialist
- Ideation Brainstorm Facilitation
- Business Development
Core Strength: Strategic Thinking
- 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 suggest 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 build 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.
Career Options who are strongest at Strategic Thinking
- Global Marketing
- Thought Leadership
- Adjunct Professor
- Business Development
- Writing/Speaker Series
Core Strength: Leader of People
- You find natural strength in leading other. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. You are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others.
- 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 into 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.
Career Options who are strongest at leading people
- General Management
- Stay within Brand Management
- Cross functional roles
- Partner in Entrepreneurship
- Personal Executive Coach
Follow your natural strength to realize your full potential
At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Careers in Brand Management to inspire teams to find their full potential as a Brand Leader. This workshop looks at building your career around your natural strength as a Marketer, we provide a full assessment that looks at skills, behaviors and experiences, we provide tips for how to succeed at every level in Marketing. Where is your career now And then we talk about ways to help build your personal brand, around an idea and a plan. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:
Beloved Brands: Who are we?
At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.
We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.