- Stop worrying about your “personal brand“
If you deliver consistently excellent work, you’re emotionally mature and you’re of good character, your “brand” will take care of itself. (That “brand,” by the way, will be along the lines of “someone I’d refer to a trusted colleague, and someone I’d pick for my team again.”) But if you’re more concerned about image than substance, it will eventually catch up to you.
- “We hired your brain, not your”
That’s how a former boss reminded me that thinking, not doing, separates the best marketers from the rest. If you just do what you’re told — even if you do it well — you’ll earn no better than a “B” grade in most marketing departments. Consider the “why” as much as the “what” and the “how.” Add some juice to the strategic conversations.
- Champion the consumer
The consumer needs your help. Forces within the company are often aligned against her. Get to know your consumer well enough that you can be her advocate and guardian. Do right by her, and you’ll never go too far wrong.
- Stay humble
You’re not superior to your ad agency, the purchasing department, the factory personnel or anybody else. And you’re certainly not better than your consumers, the very people who actually pay your salary. Everyone plays a part in bringing the brand to life, and no one succeeds without help.
- Communicate with intent
The clarity of your language reflects the clarity of your thinking. Get to the point. Don’t litter your language with “um,” “like” and “you know.” Know when and how to best employ a meeting, a phone call and email.
- Work a level up
You can’t get promoted if people don’t believe you can do the job. I recommend you obtain a copy of the next level’s job description and target a few key areas to attack now.
- Ask for help
Marketing requires a unique blend of skills, and nobody is born with them all. If you feel deficient in a particular area, seek help — formal training, mentoring, tutoring or whatever you need. A good boss will appreciate the request. Don’t let pride inhibit your growth.
- Get out of marketing
The department, that is. Hit the field with the sales team. Work a few days on the production floor. Shadow a finance leader. You’ll learn things that pay immediate dividends, and you’ll strengthen personal bonds in the process.
It’s the most cost-effective way to borrow from smart minds. Target six business books per year. You can make time for that, and it will pay off.
- Save your money
As early as possible, set aside six months of living expenses. At some point, you’ll find yourself in a job you loathe or wanting to launch a new venture or unceremoniously downsized. You’ll be glad you knitted yourself a safety net. A solid financial base is freedom.
- You are a talented and capable force for good
You were brought into the organization for a reason, and you have much to offer. There are many ways to contribute, and they’re not always in the job description. Once, the most junior member of my staff appointed herself our de facto social chairperson, ensuring that birthdays, engagements and new arrivals did not pass unmarked. In an office where everyone was asked to carry a lot of water, it went a long way toward establishing morale and unity.
- Character wins
Nobody looks at a shouter, a gossip or a back-stabber and says, “There’s a future leader of the company.” If in doubt, behave in a manner that would make your parents proud.
- There’s more to life than marketing
Family and friends, fitness, travel, the arts: Whatever moves you, these pursuits will make you a happier, well-rounded person — and thus a better marketer. And if you find yourself in an environment where 80-hour workweeks are the norm, the best advice I can give you is to resign.