Drinking from a poisoned chalice ….

…. or from a fire hose?

I love a challenge and an opportunity to use my skills to fix something….so I was both excited and nervous when I was asked to change roles and look after the Enterprise Marketing team. Quite a number of people had taken this role prior to me and I had witnessed the challenges they faced and success they delivered first hand.

So I took a deep breath and dived in.

The main obstacle the I needed to overcome was convincing the sales leadership team that marketing could add real business value beyond sales support with events & hospitality. Working in partnership with them I needed to prove we could be a true growth lever. Many marketers have faced this age-old problem! I knew that the only way to gain respect was by building strong relationships with the key sales stakeholders and together with my team secure agreement from them on what marketing success looked like e.g. value of qualified pipeline and percentage of business that marketing would sign up to deliver.

An agreement was struck and then the heavy lifting began.

We quickly found out promising qualified pipeline sounds easy enough, but it was at a time when there was no marketing automation and so we had to pioneer a manual process. This meant painfully designing, developing and hand cranking a system that collected each customer lead and then converted it to a qualified opportunity for the sales team to follow-up. An early experience of something that is becoming the norm in our digital marketing led world e.g. marketing being more about science than art!

The top 3 issues we faced in creating a leads to qualified pipeline process were ….

  1. All new leads would come from existing customers requiring an account based marketing approach and associated campaign management with effective sales & marketing alignment
  2. No existing processes or systems/tools to collect, track, nurture or convert leads – meaning initially a resource intensive solution would be required
  3. No agreements between the marketing team and sales account managers, apart from ad-hoc campaign by campaign examples.

My excellent team threw themselves into the challenges and worked with the existing IT & Data services group and were able launch the new systems, tools and processes required. The sales teams were very helpful and provided great feedback on what was working and not. Truth be known it felt like drinking from a fire hose! Some positive, some negative, all valuable and a fantastic learning opportunity.

We learned a lot, made a number of mistakes and ultimately achieved the seemingly impossible.

That is my experience, please share yours

It’s not about me ….

…. it’s about you, or is it?

Working on ‘Special Projects’ is a difficult place to be – everyone thinks it’s not a real job! I found myself in this position when pregnant with my 3rd child. The Marketing Director at the time had accepted a position in APAC and was leaving imminently, so someone needed to manage things whilst a new one was hired. I had been in the business for many years and knew the marketing department well so I was not surprised when the GM asked me to me to step in and manage things. Everything was running smoothly right up to the point when he asked me to on-board the new Marketing Director as well.

A new Marketing Director was found from outside the business with a suitably impressive background.   Speculation and excitement about what this meant to everyone was running riot across the department. Everyone was buzzing about the new guy and what he would be like and his expectations of everyone. For me this was very pertinent given my position.

“Would he appreciate the skills and experience I have when I came back from my mat leave? Would my face still fit?”

I needed to impress ….

I knew if I did a good job there was a much higher chance that there would be an appropriate role for me to come back to. Faced with this opportunity, and one where I had a huge vested interest in getting it right, I sat down and thought through what it takes to on-board someone effectively.

As anyone who knows me will tell you I like to go about things in a structured way. So, I set about developing an on-boarding plan that would ensure that the new Marketing Director would get exposure to everything he needed but at the same time would not be overwhelmed. The plan focused on three things:

  • The Marketing Team – who they are, their skills, performance, challenges, skills gaps and open positions.
  • The Marketing Plans – overall strategy, what’s working, what’s not, budgets and investments.
  • The Key Stakeholders – who is who in the zoo and how best to work with them.

We spent several days going over each topic together. We explored what was working and areas for improvement. The most rewarding part of this experience was being able to see the business through fresh eyes and insights. He provided new energy and thinking with a depth and breadth of knowledge that was impressive to say the least.

Towards the end of the on-boarding program he kindly thanked me for my support. Personally I felt I gained more from him than he learnt from me!

Leaving for maternity I was excited about the birth of my next child and quietly confident I was leaving a Marketing Department in great hands. I must have done something right as I returned several months later to a new rewarding challenge.

If you would like to know more about our Marketing On-boarding and Mentoring Service may be of interest to you.

That’s my experience, please take a moment to share yours ….

Julie

It’s not WHAT the number is ….

…. it’s WHY the number is the number and HOW you are going to change it.

When I first started in a Product Marketing role this lesson was drummed into me at velocity. Coming from a technical sales background I thought success as a Product Manager was understanding the market place, the product, it’s value proposition and my intended target audience. For the first couple of months in the role this turned out to be true. Then I experienced my very first Quarterly Business Review and the real purpose of my role became a lot clearer.

Wanting to make a great impression I loaded up my biggest laptop with Excel, connected to the sales reporting database and DRILLED for England. Spending 100% of my time slicing and dicing numbers, working out my Qtr on Qtr % and Year over Year %, performance vs budget and forecast. Then I did comparison vs the US, Germany and France. After that I diced the numbers at a Product SKU level. Rapidly followed by a pricing and licencing perspective. I memorised the numbers. I could quite literally recite an entire A3 piece of paper filled with 8 point Arial data off by heart. Walking into the review armed to the teeth I had an attitude along the lines of “Bring it on pal, I know my numbers so let’s do this review thing!”

I settled into the meeting eagerly awaiting my turn. Relishing the prospect of 30 minutes of data wallowing glory followed by accolades on my numeric prowess. The review began and I started my monologue with a torrent of data that rivalled the world’s fastest auctioneer. Only to be stopped after 5 minutes with a question from the boss.

“On the performance vs forecast, can you tell me why the number is over?” my rapid response was “Over performance in Enterprise Commercial accounts, notably the finance sector, with a 22.4% increase in our volume licencing agreements.”

This was followed up with a repeat of the question and my first slap down. “Yes I can read the spreadsheet too. What I would like to know is WHY the customers are buying the product?” Undaunted I ploughed on and promptly dug myself into a bigger hole. “It is the British Market we are 10% ahead vs Germany and 17% ahead vs France, British customers like this product!”

Stillness then fell over the room with a silence that can only be described as deafening. I awaited slap down number two with mounting trepidation. Thankfully my boss decided this was a coaching opportunity. “Understanding WHY customers and Partners are buying our products is fundamental to your role. It allows you to identify HOW best to market the product in the future.”

I took the lesson to heart and never looked back.

It’s not WHAT the number is, it’s WHY the number is the number and HOW are we going to fix it. A formulaic expression being Data + Intelligence = Insight. Putting this into practice I subsequently spent 15% of my time drilling and analysing numbers, 60% of my time speaking to Customers, Partners, Sales Teams, Press and Analysts and then 25% of my time brainstorming and creating marketing campaign proposals based on the Insights I had learned. The lessons you learn the hard way are often the ones you never forget. Taking knowledge from these lessons, and then adapting accordingly, helped make me a stronger marketer.

If you are interested in securing Insights in your business then our Connected Marketing Planning or Marketing On-boarding & Mentoring Services may be of interest to you.

These are my views, please take a moment to share yours ….