6 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Starting a Career In Marketing

I recently did an interview with Authority Magazine. They asked me what are the five things I wish someone told me before I started my marketing career. Thought I’d share those here (and I added one more). You can read the full article here.

  1. Empower yourself. No one is going to swish a magic wand over you and say “You are now empowered. Go forth and conquer.” I admittedly waited for someone to empower me and at some point realized it was up to me to empower myself. No magic wand or pixie dust needed.
  2. Take control over the go-to-market strategy. A bit controversial, but I believe that Marketing should own the go-to-market strategy, including defining the product roadmap (from the standpoint of prioritization, viability, and pricing at minimum). The way it is set up now, Marketing is often not part of the go-to-market strategy, yet they are responsible for the execution and success of it. Start by understanding the customer journey, then align that with the corporate goals, and map your programs to align.
  3. Build influence and trust as early as possible in your career. Don’t think you need to have years of experience before you can start influencing. Find mentors, sponsors, and allies in every role and company. Focus on the corporate strategy and align your programs to these. Then share results from this perspective. And remember who your audiences are and what they want to hear and see.
  4. Be a storyteller. This goes without saying and we’ve all heard it ad nauseam, but it really is key to helping your prospects and customers identify with you. I work mostly with B2B companies, so this is really critical as you are building a relationship and partnership with folks for the long term.
  5. Own a revenue target. Trust me, it will make you a better marketer. You could even go as far as thinking about yourself and the team as a Revenue Knowledge Center. Marketing knows which programs and areas we should be investing in as well as divesting from. We know when to pivot. When a company is behind the target, who do executives go to for help? When there aren’t enough leads or pipeline or revenue, who gets called in to fix it? Who knows which programs and channels perform the best, or worst? Who can influence programs and tactics in almost every facet of the customer journey, adding value and having a huge impact? Who knows which levers can be pulled, why, and when to increase lift and conversion? Who knows how to flip a huge in-person event into a virtual event without missing a step? That would be marketing.
  6. Data is your frienemy. If you are like most marketing professionals, data, not sales, is your nemesis. You usually don’t have any, don’t have enough, don’t have quality data, have it, but don’t have the tools or people to analyze it, or my personal favorite, can’t find it. You get the point. For marketing professionals, good, quality data is more elusive than Big Foot. Also, let’s face it is, beautiful data is expensive. The systems you need aren’t cheap and need to be continually updated. It’s a bit of a catch-22 for marketing professionals. We need data to show our value to get funds to build a better data machine. While having good, clean, beautiful data is costly, it is exponentially more expensive to have bad data. Not only is bad data costly to your company, it puts you on the spot and does nothing to help you show the results, the impact, and your value, because you either don’t have the correct data to pull from, or no one believes the data. Bad data also does not help you make good recommendations on where to invest (or divest). Data should be at the forefront of every decision you make as a marketing professional, yet you often can’t find it or trust it. Inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, and entirely absent data is your enemy. So make sure you can find it, access it, and analyze it.
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