IF YOU are a marketing manager who has just joined a new company, chances are you will be watched closely by several key executives of the management team.
You will be expected to perform well within a short time-frame and expectations will be set high, especially if you are in senior management.
Since marketing is a strategic function of most organisations, where sales and revenues are key performance indicators for the shareholders, the management will pay more attention to the strategies and initiatives that you put in place.
Some of your immediate tasks could be a geographical expansion plan to a certain market, increasing the market share of a certain product line or raising the awareness of one of your company’s brands.
You need a sound game plan to survive well in your new environment. Here are 10 survival tips to help you better prepare yourself for this challenging role.
1. Corporate culture
Observe the type of people who are working in your company.
Do people behave in a certain manner? Are they all well-dressed and professional looking? Is there a sense of belonging at work where people are generally happy?
The rule is never to “rock the boat” early. Study the corporate culture and familiarise yourself with the environment before you try to change anything.
2. Make alliances
Get hold of the organisation chart and study it carefully. Identify the key leaders in the organisation. The CEO, COO, CFO and general manager are key figures you should get to know immediately. Remember to build good relations with the company’s HR director, who is the last person you would want to alienate.
3. Build rapport
If you are leading a team, the immediate task is to build rapport with your staff. Managing change is an extremely difficult task, especially with staff having to make adjustments to a new leader’s management style, working mode and ideologies.
Your staff may be sceptical about changes you make and will take a while to warm up to your management style. You need to build rapport early and get them to like you. Identify the unofficial “chief” within the team and work with him to influence and get the other members’ buy-in for what you plan to do.
4. Get feedback
If you get the chance to talk to the previous marketing manager, extract as much information as possible from him.
The key here is to get feedback with an open mind. Don’t get affected if you discern hints of negativity or an air of frustration. Stay positive and tell yourself that you can make a difference to the organisation.
5. Marketing plan
Check if a marketing plan is already in place. This is important, as the plan is the blueprint for every marketing department.
If it is a sound plan, devise a strategy to ensure that the plans are implemented well in the months to come. You will still score points even though the ideas did not originate from you.
6. Meet people
Meet with marketing vendors and talk to the sales and account managers to understand how things were done previously. You will also get a fairly good idea of how projects are approved by your top management. You might even get hints about your CEO’s or COO’s management style and how they influence the marketing development process.
7. Build a network
This is fundamental to your work. Network with internal and external stakeholders. Bring in your own contacts from your previous jobs. These are people you know who have a track record of getting things done well for you.
8. Be well-groomed
Marketers need to project a smart and professional image during meetings and when you meet fellow colleagues from other departments.
Since you are a new member of the organisation, the first impression you make will be based on the way you speak, how you dress and how you carry yourself.
9. Know your product
Apart from the 4Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion), a marketer needs to study the competitive environment in which the organisation is operating.
Look at various perspectives to help you devise the best marketing strategy to tackle the organisation’s current challenges. Be an expert in the products or services you are trying to market. If you are marketing electronic products, make sure you understand the technical jargon associated with them.
10. Think positive
As in all professions, having the right attitude is critical. People gravitate towards leaders who exude charm and positive energy. Be the change agent instead of waiting for things to happen.
Remember that as a marketer, you are a driver of the organisation. That is why you need to know where you are, where you want to go, and how and when to get there.