My daybook and I: How I survived my first 90 days as a marketer
Louise Robertson, global MD at Xchanging, reveals her top three tips for anyone new to the marketing world
My marketing career did not have the most conventional of beginnings, as I was actually working in the sales department at Bayer before being appointed the company’s Head of Dental Marketing, aged just 24. I really had to find my feet by trial and error in my early marketing days and of course I made mistakes, but taking on a role with such responsibility early on meant that I had to learn and adapt quickly. I have learnt a huge amount since that first job, and these would be my top three tips for anyone new to the marketing world.
1) Listen and learn
The most important piece of advice I can give any budding marketer in their first month or so is to do nothing but listen. When you start, you will be introduced to so many different people that you almost certainly won’t be able to remember them all. Make sure you get a daybook and capture the names of everyone you meet, when you meet them and what they have to say.
I have had a daybook for over 20 years now and at the end of each day I reach out to people I have met face to face and personally connect with them on LinkedIn – my own personal CRM system! LinkedIn is not only a good networking tool, but also an extremely helpful way of getting a feel for how people position themselves in their professional career.
Starting a new job is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle and the first couple of weeks should be spent getting the edges in place so you can work out how the company works and how your team fits within the bigger team. You can’t do anything until you know exactly how all the pieces fit together. In the first few weeks of your marketing career, knowing and understanding your organisation is equally, if not more, important than knowing and understanding your customer.
2) Upskill yourself
After the initial ‘listening’ period to work out the lay of the land, the second month is all about upskilling yourself and getting up to speed with everything needed to do your job – including the more boring tasks like making yourself comfortable with the company’s technology and learning the CRM. I’ve used Salesforce in a variety of roles and every time I join a new company I discover a whole host of new functionality.
Now is the time to start developing relationships across the business to build up your holistic network of people who can support you in your role. You don’t want to constantly be inundating your boss with questions or problems so remember what people do and how they might be able to help you out. This second month is largely about interpersonal skills and a bit of schmoozing and charm goes a very long way, so make sure you start with “please” whenever you are asking for something.
You need to make sure you are taking the best version of yourself to work every single day in the first 90 days, so make sure you are polite and respectful, even to people that you don’t particularly like. It is important to bring your personality to work but you also have to tone yourself to suit your work environment.
3) Act professionally
It sounds obvious but make sure you act in a way that’s appropriate to the job you are now in, and not like a student. Be aware of the dress code and take a good look at your wardrobe before you step into your role. You can go into work in your beach shorts if you want, but it won’t get you a promotion. I was only 24 when I was made Head of Marketing and I am the first to admit that I didn’t translate my dress code from being a young sales rep to a manager in the office. Please don’t make the same mistake! About 30% of the impression you make over the first 90 days are a result of how you present and carry yourself so make sure you get it right. I would even suggest staying clear of alcohol at the start of your job before you have managed to work out your relationships with everyone – again, something I didn’t do but looking back I wish that I had!
I know it may sound daft but make sure you are prepared in terms of what you bring. Take a pen, pencil, calculator, or whatever it is that you might need. I have been carrying the same calculator in my briefcase for the past 20 years and it is still passed around meetings today. And, don’t forget your all-important daybook! I really can’t stress this enough. It definitely helps to keep you on track if you have got a written list of things to do, so invest in a nice one, it’s the best investment you will make!
Above all, make sure you go in with an open mind and treat everyone around you with respect, whatever role they’re in. You need to understand the culture of the business and where you fit into that environment. Remember – you are your first impression and you don’t get a second chance. And, remember your daybook!