Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FOr the Strathclyde Uni Student of Marketing...Now progressing their career.

You now, with my advice and coaching, have your first or even second job. WHat next?

Firstly you have to ask yourself if you have not already deliberated on whether or not this is a career making job or a stepping stone?

Remember at this stage money is very much second fiddle to experience...look at the requirements for the more seniro jobs advertised, and think about your other functionaries in marketing. Talk to them about what tasks they are landed with and what skills they develop: these are usually not very academic, certainly outside market research anyway. For example they may need to develop good lsitening and talking skills, steering /moderating group skills, negotiating, purchasing and general selling ideas skills.

There will also be some key projects which are tick boxes you need to cross off. Likely are: project managing / hands on with at least web site if not whole e-comms or even better, e-commerce solutions. Buying in a new agency and media planning. Buying in and managing print and DM service. Developing a contacts database or managing / working or specifying a CRM. Writing and executing PR is a good hands on one. Running events with customers, consumers and sales force . Budgetting and getting value for money! NPI- launching a new product.

If you are moving the right direction you will be "ticking many of the right boxes " above. If you are very focused in an area, such as database/CRM then you have to ask yourself if you need to broaden out your skills and experience to acheive your goals especially if that is general marketing management. Being specialist is a very double edged sword. At some point it will either hold you back or force you to taking on responsibilty in a large, stressful firm- whilst the general marketeeers boss you around!

It can be best to get yourself out and work a year or so in a small to medium, full service agency which has for example, CRM solutions, but in which you will be hands on for wider projects- this is exactly what I did and in retrospect, I should have been paying them to work there!

So now you are in a job, the last thing you want to stop doing is looking for other jobs. You should, at home, look at the key recruitment agency web sites ( MPM etc), look at the web sites of the most attractive companies you know of, register at the best of the web-recruit web sites and at work read the marketing "comics", the business pages / financial times to learn about new developments.

TO revist promotion and the key to earning really good money- in marketing this means becoming a people manager. Now, managing people is a rare commodity in the flat structured , multi functional marketing department. For a typical medium firm or department there would be director and a couple of spesialist leiutenants, with a completely flat structure under that. It's very easy at this size, or in larger firms to get stuck at say Product Manager level because the firm restructures above you into "business area managers" which are usually managing more people and intended to be heavier into influencing the sales channel than the traditional stand-off marketeer. Ok you may attract the name "senior PM" or even "group PM" but you will be unlikely to be actually man-managing more than one or two APMS.

so...."GO UGLY EARLY" ...

Companies set such a high price on man management and group reporting on budget and performance at a board level meaning, that they will recruit people with very diverse industry backgrounds. ALso a given company may have a strategic agenda to move towards sales or integration to that other industry or want to have some of the management style important and translated from there. The best example is in Biotech, where bosses now are often recruited from pharma/medical equipment manufaturers into marketing to get "closer to the patient and work in a more regulatory environment". To an SMB biotech this is the kiss of death for many a flexible marketeer as they bring in all the baggage from MBA challenge management and matrix reorganisation... but that's another story. It may be that a particular company bring in a marketing manager/director who is very CRM / IT experienced with heavy hands on project and people management from a totally alien industry for another example.

Okay, so going ugly early means picking out the girl in the disco who will provide experience for the virgin man-manager whilst the others chase after the skirts of the glamerous ad agencies, FMCG companies and big IT companies. Going unglamerous to get a position to manage and even better build up a marketing / >S&M team is really a good idea as you can always jump back into something more glamerous later. Trying to climb the man management tree in a down sizing, super profile company is just making your odds to high unless you are a very talented marketeer and politician.

The Trophy Bride

Having said go ugly early, that's all well and good, but perhaps you do want to work at some hot shop agency or marketing department. The trophy girl freind is a strange phenomenon- a middle messig guy suddenly pulls and keeps an absolute stunner. The shine rubs off as now he attracts a lot more attention from other girls and respect from the guys. As a youngster, maybe they split up, but he gets back in with a chopice of girls and hey-presto- another stunner! Sound trite to you?? Well no, it is a real effect and happens in business life. Guys are mostly not clint eastwood, whilst there are more recognisably pretty girls out there. And girls are way better at jusding the relative looks and appeal of other girls, so you get rated second hand. Also the guy who has dated Miss Dakota, becomes far less afraid to approach other glamerous girls, who may actually be fed up with the smooth, arrogant shaggers and possive maniacs they usually get propistioned by. Just so in business life. I worked quite a short time at McCanns, but still people pull this out in interview or conversation!

Having a trophy bride on your CV pays dividends because you get a lot more respect. It builds a branded credibility for you. It's outright unfair. You can actually be a little threatening for small companies thereafter in fact, but extablishing you wortked within a small, tight knitted team at Coca Cola is probably a way around it.

People believe there is somethign magic about working for a blue chip- I think there is something magic about working for a start up or gazelle SMB but there you have it! Big companies work with more reporting and hot air meetings than small. Instead of the owner-director megalomaniac there is the divisional manager/director job nazi. It's suprisingly similar to work for a small company in rapid expansion with demanding investors. In a large company you maybe have a tighter sphere of authority but must influence more people to get things done. You get promoted in any company by doign a good job and being sureptisoulsy up the bosses ass.

Small, established companies tend to have directors who mingle in networks outside and actually spend a lot of time with hot air and eye-off the ball. Fast moving companies can't gaszp for breath and shoot from the hip. A trophy bride helps them buy you.

After some more years of experience and especially given you have a speciality, like bitoech or IKT/CRM, then you have to decide if you are going to be a big company salary and benefits guy, join a gazelle at the right time or actually start something yourself. I've decided to join a pre-gazelle when ever I can, or a start up incubator as an internal consultant, exiting with the best firm I can. I think the risks of not succeeding are less than the big company risks of merger and downsizing!

But if it's blue chip and divisional director /silo manager you name it for you here are some tips

1) get in the door with a clear possibility for advancement: your back ground fits and the employee before you is promoted. If you can't get a good entry job or there is some magical glass ceiling, like having an PhD or MBA, work around it: get either a trophy bride or man-manage with a go-ugly-early girl, erm, job!

2) work hard, work visible! get browny points and jump through hoops. Assume responsibility and authority over some projects you get the chance to, and exclude your enemies. Get recognised.

3) expand your MSc into an MBA

4) suck up to the right bosses. Be relaxed and a little below the radar with the wrong ones and the top ones - let them gather your reputation from your line management. Be a very can do, solutions provider/finder. Be modest and fauning to those above you and kick ass to those who become your subordinates when you get a ball to run with.

5) develop a good personal branding...the do-er, the thinker/solver, the peace-maker, the people-manager , the nice guy, the triangle, the go-getter, the tight shipper ...

6) threaten to leave if you dont' get a promotion, a raise, or an advantageous job move internally.

7) work your meetings- pre-sell participants on those you can win, and wreck those you can't. Avoid ambushes.Set goals for your meetings and make structure. If the boss is leading them, kiss their ass and let them get out asap. When not running meetings, always take as much decision making off line, winning people one to one, working your way around the houses. Avoid using e-mail for anythign but approved internal comms and announcements and chittle-chattle decisions; press the flesh instead.

8) keep below the radar with the big bosses in your first year or two. If it is a smaller division, with only one director with two layers of separation, then charm them in your introduction and then ...keep below the radar. Flagg all problems to your boss and problems with your boss to personnel.

9) if an enormous multiheaded beast, network with the MBA types and avoid socialising with the lepers...these are often totally different groups between two companies...IKT can be the nerds in one while the gods in another, sales can be the untouchables in one and the marajahs in others! Get a profile with the new level of up and comers in and especially outside marketing..they are likely to talk about you as a candidate because they like you.

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