The (Girls’) Guide to Marketing Success

GC and Femmes

There are as many ways to succeed in marketing as there are marketers. But there are also approaches and attributes that increase the likelihood of success. Significantly.

This became especially evident to me after editing the 15 profiles highlighting the accomplishments of the DMN 2016 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees, interviewing 14 powerhouse chief marketers at the 2016 Marketing Hall of Femme Leadership Summit and Awards, and listening to panel discussions featuring eight other standout female marketing leaders.

I’ve culled their advice into a to-do list of sorts. Think of it as your 2016 guide to marketing success.

  1. Be a leader, not simply a manager. Leadership today is about collaboration, within and across teams; inclusion, through such efforts as cross-functional collaboration, gender equality, and diversity; and transparency, inside an organization and externally with customers.
  2. Be authentic. Be true to who you are as a person. And, just as important, ensure that your brand is authentic, too. Simply put, that means delivering on your brand promises.
  3. Listen — to learn and respond. Listen, closely, to feedback from customers, colleagues on your team, and peers from across and outside of your organization. But don’t stop there. Act on what you’ve learned.
  4. Be fearless. Don’t ever be afraid to ask a question or voice an opinion. Command the room when necessary. On a personal level, own who you are, recognize your strengths, and use all that to your advantage. On the business side, get comfortable taking risks. If you don’t test and try, you can’t grow, learn, or optimize.
  5. Engage on an emotional level. Customers can always find the low-price provider. Create emtional connections that will set your brand apart. This is as valid in B2B as it is in B2C. As the adage goes: People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people.
  6. Show your passion. Be passionate about marketing and about your brand. Hire passionate people and give them opportunities to use that passion to make a difference for your customers.
  7. Be a storyteller. Translate data to insight that drives decision making by using it to tell stories about your customers’ behaviors, preferences, expectations, and needs.
  8. Let data be your guide. Yes, use your gut instincts and be creative, but use data to confirm (or dispell) hypotheses, support your recommendations, and inform your strategies. It’s hard to argue with data.
  9. Consider all the alternatives. In many cases there’s no one right answer, there are many right answers that work best in concert (think: contextual relevance, personalization, variety).
  10. Connect marketing to revenue. Think of marketing as a business driver and act as if it is; if you don’t, no one else in the organization will. Link marketing KPIs to sales whenever possible.
  11. Walk in your customers’ shoes. Don’t just assume that you understand all there is to know about your customers and their buyer’s journey. Gather customer input, spend time in the field with them. Then, think from their point of view when planning and strategizing.
  12. Be trendy. Track and respond quickly to trends, but wear shades so you don’t get blinded by shiny objects.

Photo by Erica Berger