It’s graduation season, which always accelerates the dawn of a new job! Over the course of my 14 year career in the marketing world, I have had my share of jobs. I will be the first to admit, I love the “new!” The new office, the new people, the new commute and the new lunch choices! I am an advocate of change and love the challenges that ensue when moving into a new role. Ever since I experienced a brief layoff early in my career (which was a company shutdown), I learned one thing… I never wanted to be in that situation again and will now be in control of my career.
I understand that some are not so fortunate. What I do know is that setting the tone of what type of leader and/or contributor you want to be in your organization starts on your first day. As I have moved up in my career, I have learned what is the most important:
– First impressions are everything
– The learning curve (no matter what anyone tells you) is shorter than you think in marketing
– Those people who have organization, defined plans and goals win
So that begs the following questions. Where do you start? Is this only for those in a marketing leadership role? If you are an entry level marketer, does this still apply?
I am convinced that no matter what experience level you are when starting a new role, you need to incorporate the following areas into your 30, 90 and 180 day plans. It can only benefit you to understand the lay of the land in your office, your current marketing activities and the overall competitive landscape. This simply gives you the ability to market better.
Every time I start a new position, including my most recent move a month ago, I focus on what I think are the crucial marketing areas to understanding where you can make a visible contribution to the company:
1. Identify the Marketing teams skill sets, personality traits and departmental needs. It’s important to know who are the main influencers, the experts, the strong personalities, the quiet, but cautious and the worker bees. If you manage people, this is even more important as you will want to know how best to communicate and motivate. No matter what, I always ask my team about their goals, their pains and the tasks that they like the most. This helps me identify not only what they will do well now, but what they can do in the future. It’s all about setting the team up for success.
2. Make friends with your internal customers. This is crucial. Every department has internal customers that they serve on a daily or weekly basis. In Marketing, our main customers are Sales, Operations and IT. I always suggest that my people (including myself) spend time with each stakeholder during the first 30 days to understand their perception of marketing, their past dealings and what I/they can do to solidify the relationship.
3. Research the marketplace and competition. This is pretty self-explanatory and vital to understanding your business. Look at sales reports, market share data, rank, customer reviews and anything else that will help frame up the company’s rank in the marketplace. This also will give you a benchmark to improve.
4. Review vendors. Anytime I transition into a new position, this is one of the first things I do. It is important to understand who your vendors are and their track record with your company. The areas I look at are: pricing structure, vendor-generated reports, company results either in cost-savings or additional revenue generated. The idea is not to come in and completely wipe out existing vendors, but it always helps to understand what they are doing for you in your first few months. You may be asked to do this anyway, but I would make it a priority. The result could become additional cost-savings or simply a better process.
5. Breakdown the budget. Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. If you can get access to the marketing budget, I would. It helps to see how the budget is divided among tactics, programs and internal support. Remember, data always wins and an even bigger win is data tied to dollars. Understanding what is spent on marketing programs or various tactics can help identify opportunities with better vendors, new programs or cost-saving ideas.
6. Inventory the marketing tools. As a new person, you are probably going to be filled with a ton of excitement and with that, new ideas. Before you start proposing 40 new programs, it’s important to inventory what you have right now. Getting a good sense as to what your marketing department is using right now along with understanding the budget will give a good picture as to what is realistically available to spend. In my experience, proposing new programs with a current situation, i.e. what is currently being done with approximate spend and results, attached to it always goes much better.
As a new person, you have a great opportunity to come in with fresh ideas and a new mindset. There will be pressure to produce and the stronger the title, the shorter the learning curve. What will make you successful is to come in with an organized plan that will allow you to methodically review what is currently being done and quickly act on the low-hanging fruit. The result is small, quick wins giving you additional confidence to be a driving force in your company as the expert marketer.