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Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader

I was roughly five years into my marketing career when I began managing my first direct report. It was the biggest challenge I faced yet. I was now being evaluated on the actions, successes, and failures of another person—and I also knew it was my responsibility to give them the support and tools they needed to have more successes than failures. I felt as if I didn’t know how to influence, motivate, or persuade another person. But I was given the opportunity to try and to learn. I had a great group of bosses, mentors, and peers giving me advice, listening to my concerns or wins, and allowing me to make mistakes. Quite a few years (and many direct reports) later, today I have a much better handle on how to manage a team. And as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that my job isn’t just to manage people, time, projects, or priorities, my job is to lead. But it can be hard to make the transition from a “doer” to a leader. And the stakes are high. In fact, a recent study from TINYpulse found that nearly 50% of employees have quit a job because of a less than stellar manager. In addition, those who don’t feel recognized for their work are two-times as likely to be job hunting. Whether you’re stepping into your first management role, moving onto middle management, or you have your eye on the CMO office, as a leader it’s your job to inspire, motivate, and grow a happy and high-functioning team. The insights below are designed to help guide you down a successful path to a fruitful career and happy, supported, and motivated employees. 

Tip #1: Understand the landscape

Whether you’re managing one team member or an entire department, you’ll be setting goals and playing an integral role in setting the marketing strategy your team is responsible for driving results with. But to do that, you must understand the broad and niche context in which your organization, department, or service line operates. This means getting to know your customers, prospects, and competitors more deeply, so you thoughtfully can guide and educate your team:

  • Seek out opportunities to hold monthly or quarterly one-on-one calls with your priority customers. Ask them what they value most about your organization or product, as well as where you can do better. 
  • Regularly research your competitors. Subscribe to emails, follow them on social media, and attend industry events where they might be speaking. This will give you unique intel that you can bring back to your team.
  • Get out of the marketing silo. Brainstorm with the sales team. Talk to your customer service team. These teams are intimately familiar with the challenges your customers and prospects face.

Tip #2: Set goals … and exceed them

Yes, you’ve probably be setting goals at all stages of your career. As an individual contributor, your goals were likely focused on what you could individually achieve. In a leadership role, you’re likely responsible for setting goals for your team that will ladder to corporate goals. If you are new to a leadership role, achieving goals that map directly to the success of the company, can be a quick win to build trust within leadership and grow your team and influence. 

  • Keep your goals top of mind. Discuss progress, roadblocks, and wins with your team, your boss, and other leaders. The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. 
  • Incentivize if you can. Big and small incentives can keep your team motivated to achieve their goals.
  • Make it a number. In my experience, setting and achieving a numerical goal has more impact on the organization and is generally more impressive than an accomplishment-based goal. For example, make the goal double MQLs, instead of rolling out a new marketing automation system. The marketing automation system is a stepping stone to reach the goal, not the actual goal. 
  • Set goals quarterly. Ninety days is long enough to achieve something big-ish, but short enough to keep you focused. We’ve found quarterly goals helps us track for the year and keep the team more motivated. 
[bctt tweet=”The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. @Alexis5484″ username=”toprank”]

Tip #3: Focus on scalability

Once it’s time to step out of day-to-day execution and supervision and into leadership, you should focus more on optimizing and solving issues on a systematic basis, rather than local basis. When I was a new manager, I found myself constantly on the run putting out fires as they would pop up, instead of focusing on why it started and how to prevent it going forward.

  • Create make-sense processes. Identify the things your team does over and over again such as campaign launches, attending events, or adding new content to the website. These are replicable events that you can create process around and then optimize for efficiency, results, and so on.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stick to the status quo. Just because the marketing team has always had six copywriters, two content strategists, and an analyst, doesn’t mean that’s the ideal structure. Document the needs and functions of the organization and then map out the most make-sense roles to those needs. For the sake of the exercise, take the current situation out of it. You can employ a phased approach to get you from current situation to ideal. 

Tip #4: Shift the spotlight to your team

As you’re moving into leadership, you’re likely trying to build trust and show value to upper leadership, and it can be easy to lose focus on serving your team. Fostering a happy, well-functioning team is your top priority. Not only can you not do your job without them, but it is one of the best indicators of success to your boss and your boss’s boss. 

  • Shift how you find personal value from work. Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve, rather than the work we did ourselves. 
  • Clear obstacles. Be transparent when you can; have your employees’ backs. These things build trust and create a secure, happy, and productive team. 
  • Cultivate the next round of leaders. Understand what your team wants to achieve personally within their careers within the next five or 10 years, and help them do that. As leaders, we should always be identifying and growing the team members who want to move to the next round in their careers. 
[bctt tweet=”Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve. @Alexis5484″ username=”toprank”]

Tip #5: Stay fresh on the job

At all levels of my career, I’ve found the best way to build trust with a team is to help them solve a problem. The more you understand your team’s job function, the more able you will be able to help them solve problems, innovate, and provide feedback to improve the function of their performance. 

  • Stay fresh. I find the best way to do this is to jump in and help execute from time to time. So, write a blog post or create the tactical plan. This keeps you from getting rusty, but also helps you empathize with your team and the challenges within their roles. 
  • Ask questions. Sometimes you won’t understand the details of what they’re working on, particularly if you’re leading a cross functional team. But ask questions. Help them look at the problem critically, and it’s likely you’ll guide them to their own answer. 

Tip #6: Be the leader

One of the toughest transitions from individual contributor to leader, is owning your role as the leader. For the first few years that I was managing a small team, I was more likely to be found deep in the weeds, doing the tasks I did in my previous job titles, than actually doing my work as a leader. There were a couple reasons for this. It was comfortable doing the work; I already knew how to do it and I was good at. I also felt like I was most helpful to my team if I was helping them get the work done by actually doing the work.  This was not true. See tip No. 3. You (and I) are most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. If you’re always in the weeds, all you can see is the weeds.  [bctt tweet=”You’re most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. @Alexis5484 on being a #marketing leader” username=”toprank”]

Tip #7: Keep learning

The leaders I am most inspired by inside and outside of my organization are probably the most voracious learners. Continuous learning through a variety of mediums will help you continue to evolve your skill set, bring in fresh ideas, and help you be inspired to test something new. Here are a couple of the resources that I go to:

  • Read: HBR is a go to for great content on how to lead, manage and shape a business. 
  • Listen: Dear HBR has a great Q&A format about navigating workplace challenges. 
  • Attend: Industry events are great for providing outside perspective, networking with other leaders and inspiring the evolution of your tactics. MarketingProfs is a great event for marketers.

Take Your Place at the Leadership Table

Each stage of your career offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The way in which you handle those situations—tackling them head-on or leaving them for someone else—has the potential to make or break your success in that position… and the one that may or may not come after. Keep these pieces of advice in mind as you work to build your team, your organization, and career as a leader. Looking for more tips on how to inspire, motivate, and build a more effective marketing team? Check out our tips for getting your marketing team to work better together.

The post Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 B2B Brands Innovating with AR & AI Marketing

Successful corporate team of partners and coworkers.

Successful corporate team of partners and coworkers.

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence aren’t just for B2C marketers anymore, and as we move into 2020 we’re likely to see a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and towards more to B2C-like experiences. AR and AI are a key part of what consumers increasingly expect to find in those experiences.

The swiftly rising number of mixed-reality consumer app installations is expected to jump from 3 billion to 10 billion by 2024, with associated ad spending forecast to climb from $2 billion in 2019 to $11 billion, according to new Juniper Research data.

While AR and AI in consumer-facing efforts keeps expanding with a full head of steam, such as Warner Bros. first-ever embedded AR for its upcoming “Scoob!” film trailer and mobile app, many in the B2B landscape have scarcely begun to tap into the AI-infused technology available.

Let’s take a look at five B2B brands that are innovating with a variety of AR and AI marketing initiatives.

1 - Microsoft's Reddit-Powered Chatbot Tech

Microsoft DialoGPT

Microsoft recently announced a natural language enhancement program that will add a new level of human-like responsiveness to chatbots, with its DialoGPT initiative that taps into an archive of nearly 150 million conversations from social news aggregation and discussion website Reddit.

The project seeks to lend a more conversational and human tone to the AI that powers chatbots, and by incorporating Reddit’s unique blend of tech-savvy online scenesters and cut-to-the-chase real-world solutions, the next generation of chatbots that arise from Microsoft’s DialoGPT endeavor are likely to be a noticeable change from those we use today.

Microsoft took efforts to clean its Reddit archive to include only relevant and helpful conversation history, but has issued a warning that despite its best efforts some of the chatbot responses could still contain the type of content that may not yet be ready for typical B2B environments.

Although the project is still in testing, Microsoft has made it available to AI researchers looking to take their chatbot game to the next level, and not surprisingly Reddit users have also turned their attention on the new development.

2 - HubSpot’s HubBot Chatbot


Chatbot technology’s usage has grown steadily since its introduction just a few years back, and more B2B firms are making chatbots a prominent component of their business models.

HubSpot website visitors are welcomed by its HubBot chatbot, which serves as an automated gatekeeper to put the company’s existing or potential clients in touch with the most relevant human to answer any questions it isn’t able to answer.

HubSpot also provides personalized chatbots with its HubSpot Conversations, and a variety of other AI-powered tools, so it makes sense for the firm to showcase a powerful chatbot for its own site.

3 - Drift & Sigstr’s Conversational Email Chat


Account Based Marketing (ABM) software company Drift and email marketing platform Sigstr recently joined together on a new service that joins together email signatures and real-time conversations with either chatbots or real people.


We’ve written about Drift before, most recently during the #B2BSMX conference, where company vice president of marketing Dave Gerhardt shared a variety of helpful conversational B2B marketing tactics.

Sigstr has also made our previous list of “5 Examples of Remarkable Content Marketing in Action,” and now with its Drift partnership the combined firms are leading the way by merging the decidedly-classic tech of email with modern chatbot functionality in an ABM environment particularly well-suite for B2B marketing efforts.

4 - Adobe's Aero & #ProjectPronto

Adobe Terminator

Adobe* recently demonstrated the latest work on its Aero products, aimed at making it easier to create augmented reality campaign content for mobile devices, using the launch of the “Terminator: Dark Fate” film as the theme for its Terminator Max Experience, a showcase for how B2B and B2C firms will be able to use the product to produce impressive AR experiences.

Adobe’s Terminator Max Experience demonstration also let participants work with the technology on an actual set using cues to act out their own scene.

Below is a video from one of several sneak-peaks Adobe shared at its recent Adobe MAX 2019 developer conference, showing some of the eye-opening AR possibilities that the technology will enable for B2B firms.

Adobe also shared more information about its #ProjectPronto initiative, which uses AI to build real-time AR scenery within video.

5 - Cisco’s AR & VR Interactive Catalogs


Cisco has used both AR and virtual reality in its latest generation of online interactive product catalogs, allowing existing and potential clients to get a fresh take on the firm’s massive slate of technology offerings.

Cisco has brought what has traditionally been considered typical “Boring-To-Boring” content to new life by using vibrant and immersive AR and VR, a great example of how even catalog content can breathe fresh air into a B2B firm’s marketing and customer experience efforts.

With both a desktop version from B2B software firm Kaon Interactive and a variety of app versions available through Google Play, iTunes and others, Cisco has done an admirable job in making its interactive AR catalogs readily available.

Cisco Software

Moving Ahead with New Tech for 2020

The campaigns we’ve explored here from Microsoft, HubSpot, Drift, Sigstr, Adobe, and Cisco are examples of the type of AR and AI innovation that may become increasingly widespread as we move into 2020 and a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and to more to B2C-like experiences.

In closing, here are five of our most recent articles exploring some of the other areas where B2B marketing will change in the months and years ahead.

* Adobe is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 5 B2B Brands Innovating with AR & AI Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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