Best Marketing Lessons My Bosses Taught Me
By Travis Tyler
I am hesitant to admit this, but I have never taken a formal marketing class.
Yikes. That’s kinda awkward given the title of this article – I know.
I have, however, gained a healthy amount of real-world knowledge over the years. And nearly all of my professional accomplishments can be credited to the bosses that mentored me throughout the process.
Regardless of their title, length of supervision, or general disposition towards me, my last three bosses gave me three lessons that can benefit all of our marketing careers.
Lesson #1: Your Personal Brand Matters More Than You Think
One of my first jobs in college was as an artisanal ice cream scooper.
Also, worth noting, I was hired and fired from this job all in the same day.
Long story short – I showed up late, took too many breaks, and (the cherry on top) was caught taking a phone call in front of a customer. Needless to say, my boss, Megan, rightfully fired me before I could even collect my first day’s (not-so) hard-earned pay.
Megan didn’t feel the need to sugarcoat my firing when she said, “Maybe next time you should take what you’re doing a little more seriously.”
The Takeaway: Being a brain surgeon, an ice cream scooper, or a marketing professional requires the same amount of dedication and focus. Being successful is more than about being good at what you do – it’s about taking pride and ownership of your work. Bosses, and when it comes to marketing, audiences will be more apt to notice your work when it’s the creme de la creme of your personal brand.
Lesson #2: Be Opinionated, But Be Helpful
It was easy to tell if my former boss, Jake, walked into a room. Because if his fashion doesn’t catch your attention, his attitude certainly would. Jake contained a shrewd sensibility towards just about everything, from hair products to powerpoints.
And when it came to marketing, Jake always analyzed a brochure, a landing page, or an email template with a hilariously discerning eye.
Whenever I challenged him on his bold observations, he never got defensive or condescending. His approach was simple: be opinionated, but be helpful.
Jake always reinforced his charming sass with solid reasoning. Never was this more apparent than when he said, “If all I’m doing is complaining, then I’m not helping. I want to help as much as I want to criticize.”
The Takeaway: Nothing is more subjective than marketing. Everyone has an opinion on collateral that they think is great. Just remember, before you open your mouth to comment on someone’s work, make sure you have a solid way to improve it.
Lesson #3: Give People A Reason To Invest In You
I am now one of those “modern” employees that talks to my current boss, Jen, through a computer screen. This is because she abandoned me a year ago to work remotely from Massachusetts. Boo Red Sox!
But being remote didn’t stop Jen from teaching me the value of problem-solving.
Problem-solving is so much more than the abstract skill we see on resumes. It requires curiosity, patience, and gumption. When I hit a roadblock, Jen expects me to exhaust my resources. Give Google a try. Watch a YouTube video or two. She wants me to own my problems because solving them gives people a reason to invest in me.
Jen’s philosophy of owning the problem was helpful especially when it came to learning new software. I remember early on when I’d come to her frustrated with Salesforce or Pardot and she told me, “I know this isn’t easy, but come back to me with a few ideas on how you want to solve these issues. I need you to become the expert.”
Takeaway: Marketing is becoming more about software prowess than just about anything else. Take the time to invest in yourself by figuring out your own solutions to daily challenges. Go above and beyond each day by becoming an authoritative figure on technology like automation tools, lead generation or reporting software. It will force others to look at you differently, as they begin to trust and invest in you.
So, whether you love your bosses or you hate them, take the time to learn something from them.
Like most tech sectors, marketing is an ever-evolving field, and it’s up to you to bring your A game, lest you become unreliable and irrelevant.
Every job is a chance to take pride in your work, be helpful, and invest in yourself. Now get out there and make your past, present, and future bosses proud!