How to Be a Great Marketer

Last Updated Apr 8, 2009 2:16 PM EDT

If you're new to marketing, welcome to a function that nobody understands and everybody thinks they know better than you do. Why you chose this career is beyond me, but it helps if you're a bit of a masochist and have thick skin.

On the other hand, there is a certain amount of job security in being an expert at something nobody understands, least of all the CEO.

Why did I choose marketing? I didn't; it chose me. It was sort of a natural progression from engineering to sales to marketing. I think it helps if you have a good right brain - left brain balance. I guess my mind works that way. Go figure.

Looking back on a long career, I learned a number of lessons that I think contribute to being a successful marketer. They dispel some popular myths and you'll notice some common threads. It's hard work and there's simply no way around that, but it's worth it. Seriously.

12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer (Part I, Rules 1 - 6)

  • Sales is your friend. The whole "natural tension between sales and marketing" thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales' ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don't understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they're all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such.
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your "process;" it'll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it'll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it's an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results - both good and bad - to stakeholders. Do it.
Click here for Part II, Rules 7 - 12, and the thrilling conclusion of How to Be a Great Marketer!