I’ve never been one of those gals to wear a tiara on my birthday. I count my blessings, allow myself a few extra calories, and then treat it like every other day. But this week, I’m having a seriously big birthday. It’s okay…..really, I swear! There are so many benefits of being “experienced.” My daughter would absolutely say that I’m a better mom. My own mom is starting to view me as an adult. And I have tucked away lots of wisdom – especially related to the marketing profession – and have never been more fired-up to share it.
I find so many aspects of my work challenging, fulfilling and inspirational. Nurturing ambitious, smart marketers tops the list. Fellow marketers, please celebrate with me and let’s toast to health, happiness and many more years of fabulous marketing campaigns! Get ready to bookmark this post and the four to follow. Here are my first ten of fifty tips for the ambitious B2B marketer:
- Specialize Sooner than Later: Marketing has quickly become a discipline of specialty areas including Marketing Strategy, Lead Generation, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web Development, Social Media Marketing, Public Relations, and more. Savvy B2B firms are passing over traditional advertising agencies and marketing generalists to create custom-fit marketing departments of specialists including in-house and outsourced professionals. What type of marketing stokes your fire and plays to your strengths? Select your niche early and commit to being the best!
- Align with Vendors that Educate:Some vendors keep their specialized knowledge close to the vest out of fear of losing future business. The ones who care about you and your professional growth, however, will be happy to share knowledge. FocusMX Website Design, 31 Productions, and HubSpot have accelerated my learning curve in quite a few areas. My clients receive direct benefit from the insight I’ve gain through these relationships. Don’t be afraid to flat-out ask a vendor about his/her position on providing education prior to making a selection.
- Avoid the “Black Hole Syndrome”: This is a tried and true Marketri core value. Maintain frequent and consistent communication with every client (internal or external) so they never wonder where things stand with regard to your marketing efforts. This helps to give peace of mind that everything is being addressed so that others can focus on their functional areas / core business.
- Excel at Writing: Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Public Relations, Collateral Development, Web Content and more all point to the fact that marketers need to have strong writing skills at all levels of marketing. In fact, I would hire an English or Journalism major over a recent marketing graduate. That’s how important writing skills are, and I find they are harder to teach than marketing fundamentals. Need exceptional advice on writing? Check out Ann Handley and read all of her books. She’s phenomenal!
- Avoid the “Check Box” Mentality: The “check box” mentality turns the saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” on its head. It involves completing a marketing task with the primary end goal being the completion of the task. Check that box and move on to the next item! While shortening the “to do” list may feel spectacular in the moment, it is a sure-fire way to achieve a low return on marketing investment. Read Beware of the Marketing Check Box Mentality for more information on this tip.
- Read. Read. Read: Marketers need to love change, read about changes, and be prepared to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations on how their firms should embrace change. Set up a Feedly newsreader and bookmark all of your favorite thought leaders by topic. My Feedly – which is categorized by B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing, and Marketing Strategy – is an invaluable resource for efficiently keeping me in the forefront.
- Never Present Drafts: When I was 30 years old I had the toughest and also the greatest boss of my career, J.P. Bolduc. He ran a Fortune 100 company and accepted nothing less than exceptional. He firmly expressed the high value of his time and how it shouldn’t be wasted reviewing anything less than a finished product. He was right. Throughout my marketing career, I fumbled the ball anytime I presented a draft to a client. It was as if they immediately forgot it was just a draft and begin picking it apart. The end result was the client losing faith in my ability to successfully deliver. First impressions are arduous to change so make sure they’re good ones.
- Track Your Time by Project: A marketer’s salary is likely the biggest marketing expense line item in an agency’s or company’s budget. It’s interesting to me that firms will nitpick over a $1,000 expense and yet not care more about how their marketing professionals spends their time. How can a firm measure return on investment without this information? Insist on using your internal time and billing system to set-up codes by marketing category and project. If you don’t have an internal time tracker, try FunctionFox. I’ve been using it successfully for years.
- Watch the Marketing Speak: Last year, I found out through the gossip mill that one of my colleagues – a friend – referred to me as “formal.” Huh? I’m professional but not really a stuffy gal. What did she mean? When I finally got the nerve to ask her, she asked me to limit using baffling marketing buzzwords like conversions, workflows, engagement, PPC and the like. Speak so your audience can understand what you’re saying and what it means to them.
- Equip the Sales Team: Marketing departments are responsible for equipping the sales team for success. As a marketer, I can get pretty self-absorbed when tasked with large projects such as a website, a firm re-brand, and multi-touch marketing campaigns. Sales collateral – including presentations, project profiles, proposals, and trade show materials – quickly get relegated to the back burner. Sales needs to view marketing as valued go-to resource in the company. Be mindful of what they need to fulfill their annual sales plan. Frequently ask what they need and prioritize accordingly.
If getting older means getting smarter, I’ll take it with only an ever-so-slight hesitation. But, the best thing about my 50 B2B marketing tips five-part series is you can accelerate your wisdom today without gaining a wrinkle. Be sure not to miss Part 2 and subscribe to my blog, the Unmuted Marketer, now!