How to start strong in a new marketing position
Advice on how to start a new marketing job on the right foot.
“As marketers we naturally have good salesmanship, but sometimes we lean into that too much,” said Ashley Small, founder and CEO of Medley, Inc., a PR and digital marketing agency headquartered in Houston.
Small was offering advice to marketers who might find themselves switching jobs and brands, thanks to the disruption of 2020, which seems likely to continue into 2021.
What are the best ways to start strong at your new job? “You need to remove yourself from the scenario for better insight,” said Small, “and start by putting yourself in the seat of the consumer and judging that experience, including their fears and frustration.”
Check out the competition
“[When you start a new position] immediately look at three or four big initiatives,” said Lacy Surber, VP of customer experience at Hyperlocology, a multi-location marketing platform. Surber, a former Salesforce executive, joined Hyperlocology in August. “Make sure the initiatives are nimble enough, and see how they could be done better. This always means looking at the end-to-end customer experience and immediately identifying better ways to communicate with customers.”
In the transition prior to starting the new position, conduct research about the customer experience delivered by your new employer’s peer companies in the industry and identify their strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, a new set of eyes reviewing the internal customer experience and journey never hurts, and can lead to identifying ways to make it more effective — a quick way to score points with the C-suite.
“When you start a new position look for situations that have created long-term customer success and build upon that,” said Surber. “Start with reviewing data and taking a close look at national campaigns and seeing what is working.”
Rethink the budget
Marketing departments of all sizes in all sectors are having to do more with less as they prepare their budgets for 2021. For Small, shifting budgets to online advertising and video production tools should already be a given. The new marketing executive needs to do research to identify the history of the marketing department’s budget, identify what has been cut, and why.
“Look at what has worked in the past years and in today’s new environment don’t be afraid to rethink the way you see traditional budgets,” said Small. “You might want to eliminate billboard ads since there has been a dramatic decrease in auto traffic, and you will also want to take a hard look at the value you are getting from print advertising. Leverage digital ads, but more than just the big four of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.”
Small recommends that marketing executives take a long look at using Pinterest for advertising, as the 86% female user base increasingly uses it for retail purchases. Small also highly recommends shifting advertising budget to YouTube, if the company is not already doing so.
“YouTube has a lot of visibility for a very affordable investment,” she said. “That is important when everyone is trying to make the most out of their budgets.”
For marketing executives assuming a new role and looking to implement consistency in content, Small suggests a guideline of 40% content being informative, 40% of content tailored for consumer engagement and 20% of content being about corporate branding.
Marketing executives should identify what their current content ratios are, and then find out why the current balance exists. Is it done for specific strategic reasons, or is it just a random carried over balance from previous campaigns, strategies and tactics?
“New executives need to look at social media content, newsletter content and overall marketing content,” said Small. “Use that data to leverage existing sources and rely heavy on how that content is performing with key demographics.”
Product and processes
Marketing executives in new positions should get a feel for how much influence they will have on operations before determining strategy on product and processes. Once that is known, marketing executives should then jump in and take a proactive role in product meetings.
“Work with product leadership to help drive what you are hearing from the field and bring that back to the product team,” said Surber. “It is an ongoing process and one where you do not need a lot of company experience to take the lead.”
If the company is not having regular product and leadership meetings, find out why not. Also discover if certain decisions behind processes and product come from designed strategies and tactics, or old rolled-over planning from previous executives and personnel.
“Large enterprises can have legacy codes and legacy processes that are in place,” said Surber. “Find out why and talk to the people who are using these everyday to gauge the real level of efficiency.”
Preempt the pitfalls
Starting a new job should always be a positive experience, but enthusiasm can give way to cynicism if the new marketing executive becomes frustrated with the people, processes, product or service. Marketing executives should avoid carrying over past experiences and thinking they are walking into a similar situation as past positions, even if the job is in a similar industry or sector.
“Walking in and making assumptions, especially at the enterprise level is never a good thing,” said Surber.
To successfully execute from the start, both Small and Surber strongly suggest that marketers abandon a know-it-all attitude, take a step back, and embrace the learning curve to establish long-term success.
“Have a beginner’s mindset when you enter a new job,” said Surber. “Take a step back and ask beginner questions and simple questions. You cannot come in saying, ‘I’m the VP with all the answers.’ It is a whole new world now, and we are all learning as we go, so embrace it.”