You’re A Marketing Leader Now! Tips For Starting Your New job

Looking through a large tree dressed in green leaves and the sun shining through the branches.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired as marketing leader, having grown through the production ranks. You’ve paid your dues for years and now you’re the boss. You have direct reports, employees, a team of doers. You’re hiring employees. Now the buck stops with you. There’s so much to learn during these exciting times. Congratulations! You’re about to make a serious impact.

In a company growing as quickly as AIMCLEAR, we’ve been afforded plenty of experience cultivating new marketing leaders. I’ve had the privilege of shepherding mentees from the newly hired phase through years of service, into marketing leadership positions. Leaders are like trees. Seedling to sapling, pole to mature, new marketing leaders are branches in the professional forest, providing shade, food, and shelter from business storms. The fine professionals I’ve had the joy of guiding germinated, sprouted, grew capable and strong. Now these wonderful teammates teach me… and run AIMCLEAR.

A dear friend of mine was recently promoted to a position of marketing leadership, a well-deserved role for this accomplished, 15+ years professional. A few weeks ago I offered her some reflections as to what worked for me at AIMCLEAR, how she might utilize and grow individuals in her department.

Daily Training
Build a culture of innovation. Don’t fear doing things differently than they’ve always been done. To be innovative and modern, you will need to personally teach your staff what you know. Keep in mind you can’t possibly know everything — that does not make you weak. Your strength is to empower the team to self and mutually train themselves and you.

  • Set up daily training. Have each person subscribe to the Daily SearchCap, which includes MarketingLand posts as well as curated third party posts. I’ve been training aC on this daily email for 8 years. Get it by email because each day is only public for a few days. Using SearchCap means that Danny Sullivan’s incredible team pours through hundreds of blog posts each day and chooses the most important ones. Also, the SEL, ML teams include people like Brad Geddes, Chris Sherman, Barry Schwartz, Matt McGee, etc. If you want them even deeper in the weeds, has fantastic daily digests for SEO, PPC, social marketing and other digital marketing topical areas.
  • Assign each teammate areas of content/news responsibility, i.e. Joe handles social, Susan handles AdWords, etc. Tell them to skim the headlines each day and read what they think is important to themselves and their teammates.  Make it clear this has to happen every day. You want each person to be up to speed. In reality, you can’t keep up with it yourself so you’ll need your team to do so.
  • Get together for 5-10 minutes each and day for a “Training Scrum” to discuss important developments. Daily training as a group, no matter how brief, is crucial. Then each person can read important information on his or her own. Daily time should be used, not to delve into details, but to alert each other to what information should be followed. If any team members are virtual, do it by Skype. See each other’s faces.
  • Open a private Google+ Community just for your staff. Have them post the most important articles each day so there is a feed. Tell them you expect comments and dialog about daily training.

Directing Healthy Doers

Don’t be afraid of responsibility. Because you have a team, now you can move large swaths of earth with a single sentence of direction. For instance, you know about Google Tag Manager but you’ve never used it. You don’t HAVE to know how to actually do it. Ask your team to study the benefits — what would be involved in changing existing tags structure, what would be gained — to create a short brief and present it to you. Directing a team is like driving a Lexus; you don’t need to know how to service the engine. Your team does that. You need to know how to push the buttons and tell the teams what to service.

You can operate at a high level because, if you think about it, with maybe 5 people on staff, you’ll have something like a thousand hours a month of YOUR team to work with. BUDGET their time. Your staff may tell you they don’t have time for training, negative keywords or cleaning the sink. They are not leaders yet, they’re doers. It is healthy for doers to need priorities dictated to them. It’s your job.

Think about your team and make a master plan. You may not need to say, “Between 8:30AM and 8:40AM each day you will do this or that.” You absolutely will need to say, “This week you need to spend at least 10 minutes 3 days a week doing XYZ.” Be as directive and granular as need be for each individual. You will spot emergent leaders at the confluence of the most effective, efficient, and self-directed doers.

Consider having doers log their time as if they are in an agency, at least temporarily.  Call it daily updates so YOU can learn what they do. Tell them you know everyone hates time cards, but that the data won’t be used against them and it can be loose. You need the data at first, because YOU are responsible for THEIR time to YOUR bosses.  You’re the leader now.

Teach your team that you are their “Client.” They need to provide customer service to their client, as if their pay depends on it… because it does. The fact that you’re in-house presents the illusion of stability. In reality, you are a customer your staff needs to continually earn and keep.

Be The Leader
Act like you belong, because you do. Zoom out and don’t get sucked into production.  You doing production is a killer. Don’t take the bait if your team is cranky or takes shots. Look, YOU are the replacement for the impotent middle manager you experienced in those early professional years. YOU are the replacement of that former asshole boss who treated you poorly. YOU are the iconic industry leader you look up to. YOU set the tone, from PPC and SEO to human rights. You are the fix for that manager who had terrible boundaries. Set the example you’ve always wanted for yourself and you’ll be just fine. Create a remarkable culture and your people will follow you over broken glass and firestorms.

See things how they really are. Use your well-honed skills. Don’t see bombs and shit storms where there are none. Assume the best. Plan for worst case.  This new role for you is huge. Think about management as directing culture, people farming and not just marketing. Keep these tenants in mind and you’ll be so much more successful than even you’ve ever dreamed… you beautiful professional dreamer.

You are the people farmer now. Cultivate leaders from doers. Congratulations, good luck and we’re proud of you, a lot, a lot! Go get em!


Images: Copyright: Sunny Forest, Copyright: Singkham,

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