My company has a (not so) unique challenge. As is the case with most companies our size or larger, we have multiple marketing departments with multiple teams. The corporate marketing team is grouped into 4 organizations, which has several sub-organizations in each one. In addition corporate communications sits in investor relations and each product has the option to develop their own dedicated marketing SMEs.
To be successful you need a carefully crafted balancing act. Who does what, when and why?
I’ve been in this role for nearly a year. In that year I have learned a ton about managing expectations, collaborating with other departments and keeping my cool when people tell me things can’t be done. Here are a few lessons learned I’ve developed that you may be able to leverage too.
1) No one likes a know-it-all
I am the first one to admit I struggle with this one. I’m the first one to raise my hand and explain how my point-of-view is the right one. Over the last year I’ve tempered this part of my personality. The fastest way to get people on your bad side is to embarrass them in a meeting – especially with their boss or stakeholders. Intentional or not, correcting people is never the way to go.
So how do you let someone know that what they’re doing is wrong or dumb?
I have gotten really good (if I do say so myself) at saying two things:
- Playing devils advocate, what if…
- I like that. We could also…
No one is going to fault you for saving their ass, but the more you correct someone in public the more they will circumvent you in private. Many books call this, “giving them an out.” Don’t leave them with egg on their face. Give them an opportunity to still look professional in front of their stakeholders while course correcting from the rocks.
2) Include them in the process
Regardless of which marketing department you’re in, don’t go it alone. I struggled with this a lot in my product marketing days. One day corporate marketing came to me and said, “We love all your ideas, but if you don’t include us we can’t help you. Let us know what you’re doing so we can be there to support you.”
They had a point. I wanted to keep all the glory, but I was also taking on all the work – and failing at both. When I started leaning on them for support, not only was I able to move projects along faster, but had more success in other ways. They had visibility into dynamics, politics and sometimes budget I didn’t. And by involving them in the planning process, they had a vested interest in supporting my programs, which made everyone more excited.
Now that I’m in corporate, I have to do the same thing the other way. By involving vertical marketers, product marketers and business development leads in the planning phase I get more resources and more buy-in earlier. It raises my professional brand and sets me up for success longer term.
3) Share Success
Just like no one likes a know-it-all, know one likes someone who hogs the spotlight. If someone helps you reach success with a project, or in your career, acknowledge it. No one gets where they’re going alone.
In my previous role, I introduced SEO to the company by piloting it on my own product. I paid for it. I hired the company. I reported the outcomes. But corporate helped too. They helped me implement my vision and did a lot of extra work to make my experiment a reality.
As a thank you, I would never dream of not giving credit where credit is due. In every read out I would use the phrase, “We partnered with the website team to…”
Even if they don’t own the vision, outcomes or barely lifted a pencil, share the love. If they see you do it, they will reciprocate one day.
(Plus, everyone knows what you did. No need to wallow in it.)