Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: If I Were New to Marketing

If I Were New to Marketing

A see a lot of questions from high-tech marketers that find themselves in the role of marketing without a background in the profession. Usually it is someone who succeeded at something else within the organization and has been asked to play the position.

Sometimes it is someone who did not succeed at what they were doing, usually sales, but that management does not want to fire or one reason or another. Let’s put them in charge of marketing! For heaven’s sake, marketing is so simple. Anybody can do it, right?

I worked with a sales manager once who proposed hiring people straight out of college because the enthusiasm they had was far more important than the knowledge. All though I won’t go so far as to say that he was right, there is a kernel of truth to this. I will take someone with enthusiasm, a natural and intense curiosity, and a willingness to learn over someone who already “knows it all.”

So, for those of you with the drive to succeed but with no background in marketing, here’s a list of the things I would do, knowing what I know now, if I were in your shoes.

1. Skip the formal education such as the MBA. If you are looking to succeed in your current role, you don’t have time for it. Of course, if you are getting an MBA for future advancement, by all means do so. I’m only referring to getting an MBA to help you in the short-term.

2. Sign up for MarketingProfs and watch every single webinar they offer. With rare exceptions they are well worth the time spent. You can sign up as an individual for about $250/year and get access to all of their premium content free.

You should see if your company will pay for your subscription. If they won’t cough up even $250 for your professional development, consider that a powerful omen.

3. Attend a marketing conference every year. I admit that I have been so busy attending IT conferences that it has been awhile since I attended a marketing conference. I have made it a personal goal to start attending these again. The knowledge transfer, even for old-timers, is thought-provoking and reinvigorating. You’ll realize you are not alone as you talk with others who have been in your shoes.

4. If you don’t know ask. If you have a question about marketing ask someone who has been there. There are many forums filled with marketing people who are happily sharing their expertise. Marketingprofs and LinkedIn are the two I am on most often.

5. Hire outside help. I worked with a guy once who was very reluctant to hire outside help. When I asked why, he said it was because he was afraid people would think he couldn’t do it himself. If the truth hurts, just tell your boss that outside help will help the team move faster.

Use this time with outside experts to learn from them. SEO, PR, branding, e-marketing are all areas filled with consultants who are ready and willing to help you and educate you at the same time.

6. If you are a Product Manager or Product Marketer attend Pragmatic Marketing. I was thrown into Product Marketing from sales many years ago and I credit them (and a great mentor) for turning me into a professional.

7. Read practical books. Skip the motivational and flashy stuff – for now. Read the how to books. There are many “Idiots” and “Dummies” guides in specific areas of marketing. When I first got into blogging, SEO and Google Adwords, I bought one of these guides for each of these areas. I like them because they are written at an entry-level and the advice is practical and of immediate value.

8. Save the advanced initiatives for later. Blogging isn’t going to help you if you are not doing the basics like targeting your market, creating messages that resonate, driving opportunities and creating supporting sales materials. Save the social media stuff and other breakthrough initiatives for after you have the foundation built.

9. Know what you are accountable for. To a certain extent it doesn’t matter what marketing is if your boss is only evaluating you on your ability to drive opportunities. As you learn and grow you’ll realize there is so much more value you can add, but you’ll never get a chance to if you don’t meet the metric the company holds you accountable for.

10. Breathe
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