Last Updated Apr 9, 2009 3:59 PM EDT
In the mid-to-late 90s I was VP of marketing for microprocessor-maker Cyrix and then National Semiconductor when the companies merged. During that time, I got to bond with some of the best semiconductor design engineers in the world, work hand-in-hand with sales to penetrate top-tier PC makers and develop new worldwide channels, compete head-on with Intel, be an irreverant spokesperson, and usher in a new era of low-cost computing that benefits all of us, to this day.
The stakes were high, as were the risks, the challenges were often insurmountable, and the sleepless nights were many, but the rewards were immeasurable. Opportunities of that magnitude are rare, but as a marketer, you can aspire to be the next Steve Jobs, launch the next great product, or found and grow a business empire. It's all up to you.
But first, let's complete the lesson, shall we?
12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer (Part II, Rules 7 - 12)
- Listen, listen, listen. Most of your "brilliant ideas" will come from others - internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your "process." Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It's a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
- Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn't mean waste customers' and sales' time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you've got something important - from their perspective, not just yours - to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It's invaluable.
- Get close to your competition. I don't mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events - they'll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don't bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
- Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I'm not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
- Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
- Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It's easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don't do it, who in your company will?