The missing skill that fuels career growth for in-house marketers

3 minute read
3rd October 2019 - Steve Brennan

After 20 years serving in-house marketers we know the questions we are likely to be asked when we meet them.

There are recurring themes about wanting clearer plans and strategies, and often there are questions about specific digital channels or tactics too.

Recently however we noticed a new theme that doesn't feature in the questions they ask, but is a recurring issue that, it seems, many in-house marketers would benefit from addressing.

The customer you really need to serve

We know that great marketing starts with a deep understanding of our customer.

But in-house marketers have customers within the walls of their own company too.

I'm talking about the owners, marketing directors and sales directors who fund each in-house marketing hire.

What makes an effective marketer-manager relationship?

Many marketers we speak with are frustrated with management at their place of work. They say things like "they won't back me with the budget I need", "they won't hire the assistant or agency I need" or "they just don't get digital".

More often than not their tone is one of frustration, and sometimes blame.

But what happens when we take responsibility for these relationships and consider changes we could make that would improve them?

What is our manager really interested in?

Consider for a moment what it means to be the owner or manager who hired you into your in-house marketing role.

First, they took a chance on you, and invested a huge amount of budget in you. The total cost of hiring and managing any employee is their salary plus up to 50%. So they will feel they should see a clear and obvious return on that investment.

Second, they hired you to deliver goals and results for them. They are busy in their own roles and spinning many plates. So they want results without you taking up too much their time, or without you giving them issues to deal with.

As the in-house marketer you're in competition against many other issues, objectives and priorities your managers have and it's your job to present to them in a way that will make them appreciate you and want to back you.

Ways in-house marketers can present better to their managers

Consider what your managers will be looking for when you present to them. Some of examples of how you can improve your presentations to them are:

1. Focus on objectives. Your managers are responsible for delivering business objectives so show you know what they are and show the results you've achieved directly help to deliver on them.

2. Report bottom-line wins. Show increases in leads & sales. Improvements in traffic and social followings are nice, but results that impact the bottom-line are what delights managers.

3. Show expertise. Explain in layman's terms how you've achieved the results you have. It isn't your manager's job to understand the technicalities of your role, they pay you for that. Let them see you understand why results are as they are.

4. Project forwards. Don't just look back down the mountain, look up it too. Show workings for what more investment in certain tactics will result in. If the business has made extra profit because of some work you did, show workings for that, and show what investing in more of the same would result in.

5. Be concise. Everybody wants more time. Show your managers you respect their time with short, factual presentations, with simple recommendations. Show what you don't need to spend on as well as what you would like budget for.

Really understanding your managers helps you too

In simple terms, if we get to know our managers as well as we know our customer we're able to pre-empt how they will feel about our presentations, and gear the focus of them accordingly.

Getting to really understand your managers is a win-win. Not only does it leave you better placed to deliver awesome results for your company, it's a great move for your long term career progression too.

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