Career Advice for Marketers

Joseph Liu is a career consultant, keynote speaker, columnist, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast. He helps professionals relaunch their careers by more powerfully marketing their personal brands. His work is informed by 10 years of global, client-side marketing experience in the US & UK managing brands including Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Gü Puds, and Häagen-Dazs, his involvement with four major brand relaunches, and 500+ hours of professional career coaching. He now applies principles used to build & relaunch consumer brands to help professionals and business owners build & relaunch their personal brands. He's been a speaker at TEDx and MarketingWeek Live, and served as a judge for The Drum’s Social Buzz Awards.

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Five keys to success during the first 90 days of your marketing role

You never get a second chance to make a first impression in your new marketing role. An effective start can lay the foundation for success. On the other hand, a rocky start can create an uphill battle for you.

Being new to a marketing team can be quite overwhelming. You have to quickly get to speed on the brand — the latest strategic initiatives, KPIs, share drivers, promotional plans, precise tone of voice, competitive activity, recent campaigns, key business challenges. But beyond that, you’re building up your own reputation from scratch among your cross functionals. Following these five principles can help you hit the ground running.

Focus on developing relationships

Strong relationships are one of the key pillars to success within any marketing team, where you’re often having to balance your marketing interests with those of your cross functionals.

When you’re new, building your internal network is especially important because you’re disproportionately dependent on others to help you navigate projects, teams, client/agency dynamics, organisation politics, even how to work the printers.

Get to know your fellow marketers both within and outside your team, cross functionals, clients, agencies, buyers, and other key stakeholders — what are their key priorities and experiences with your brand? They may have advice for you. If you’re client side, familiarise yourself with other brands on the business, and be sure to establish a tight linkage with your sales team, critical partners in selling in your initiatives and products to customers.

Understand your manager’s marketing style

Take the initiative to proactively manage your relationship with your manager, which is one of the most important relationships to nurture.

Get clear on your work styles and your approaches to marketing so you can understand your respective tendencies on projects. Some marketers are conservative whilst others prefer a bold approach. Some marketers make decisions based on research, others based on gut. Clarifying the similarities or differences in your respective styles will be critical for effectively and efficiently gaining her alignment on key projects.

Insist on regular one-on-one meetings with your manager to ensure she’s clear on your projects, workload, and approach. Take it upon yourself to proactively solicit candid feedback on your performance as you’re integrating into the organisation, as all brands have a certain philosophy when it comes to marketing, and you want to respect those conventions, especially when you’re just starting out.

Score a few marketing wins

One of my best managers emphasised the importance of getting some early points on the board within the first three months on the job. While you do get a bit of a pass because you’re fairly new and still learning the ropes, it never hurts to have some key accomplishments under your belt as soon as possible to demonstrate you have the capacity to create impact.

You won’t necessarily get a new campaign rolled out right away, but pushing yourself to identify three key marketing projects where you can have immediate, positive impact helps you build a positive momentum and reputation.

Don’t forget internal PR

A brilliant piece of creative doesn’t do much good if no one sees it. The same principle holds true when driving PR for yourself within an organisation.
Completing projects and generating results is only half the battle. Driving broader awareness and internal buzz around your impact and key accomplishments is as important.

If you’re like me, and a bit introverted, you may feel less comfortable touting your accomplishments. Keep in mind that internal PR doesn’t mean you necessarily go around flaunting every single accomplishment or bragging about all of your key wins. It does mean forcing yourself to be proactive in communicating how you’re spending your time and what marketing priorities you’re addressing with your efforts.

Just as we marketers seed ideas with the media, you need to constantly share snippets on the positive impact you’re having on marketing initiatives with key internal stakeholders.

Find a mentor

Find a well-respected senior marketer in the organisation or even an experienced marketer outside of your organisation who’s willing to provide you with input and guidance on your projects and career development. A senior marketer on another brand can work especially well.

Getting an outside perspective from someone outside of your immediate team gives you a chance to freely discuss issues with which you’re wrestling or get a fresh set of eyes on your projects. It also provides you with a chance to solicit some seasoned wisdom and feedback from someone who has seen what has and has not worked for the company in the past.

Some of the most valuable marketing wisdom and advice I’ve received in my career have come from these types of mentors and coaches.

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With over eight years of client-side brand management & marketing experience at Fortune 500 FMCG and start-up companies in the US & UK, managing brands that include Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Gü Puds, and Häagen-Dazs, Joseph Liu helps professionals & small business owners relaunch their careers with resources to help them navigate career change and more powerfully market their personal brands at josephpliu.com. He's also the host of the Career Relaunch podcast, featuring inspiring stories of career change. 

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