At MarketPro, the leading marketing executive search firm, we have the privilege of working with a lot of executive marketing leaders… and we thought, how can we tap the insights of these executives and encourage the next generation of marketing leaders?
So we created a simple podcast concept called Just Three Things. These are short interviews highlighting three pieces of advice from a marketing leader who is willing to share their experience.
Our first guest was Graham Robertson, author of the book Beloved Brands. An industry expert, Robertson has more than 20 years of marketing experience at Coke, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, and Pfizer. Brand marketing executive search firm dives deeper with Robertson to understand three things that will help you become a better brand marketer.
Beloved Brands author Graham Robertson Shares 3 Things That Make You a Better Brand Marketer With Marketing Executive Search Firm:
Welcome to Just Three Things, tips and tricks to navigate your marketing career, part of MarketPro’s leadership podcast series. Our guest is Grahm Robertson who is the author of Beloved Brands. Today Grahm is going to give us just three things that make you a better brand marketer.
Today on Just Three Things we’re talking to Graham Robertson who is the author of a great marketing book called Beloved Brands and the subtitle is A Playbook for How To Build A Brand Your Consumers Will Love. In addition to being an author and in-demand speaker, Graham has more than 20 years and marketing at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, Pfizer, among others and today we’re going to talk about just three things that make you a better brand marketer.
Alright, the first thing I believe is you have to really understand your core strength and then build everything around that and I map out that there are four real core strengths whether it is people leadership, marketing execution, building out your business, or strategic thinking, and rarely have I met anybody who’s great at all four. I believe that we all have one core strength. For me, I was better at running the business and marketing execution than I was in the role. As I matured, I moved over to strategic thinking but honestly, for me, people management was never my core strength. Now others have that as their core strength so I always said I would never leave marketing, but if your core strength is people, you could become a sales leader or a general manager or up to the CEO but be honest with yourself and that’s what really was an awakening for me when I said you know what I can manage people but it’s not the best thing I do, I’m pure marketing. Now you might be that or you might be something else so try to master that.
And know your strengths and your weaknesses which is amazing, yeah, yeah.
What’s number two?
So the number two is to really build out the skills that you have and again this is you know we need to look at skills in terms of strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand planning, marketing execution, and then the analytics. So those are the five areas I mainly focus on and trying to really build the skills within those five areas as you move up and you’ll get better and better. There is a sense of repetition in marketing but that is a chance to learn each time. So an assistant brand manager you might be a week on the job doing a business review and it might take you weeks and that may same skill will be useful when you’re a CMO and it might take you five minutes and so keep mastering those same skills.
That’s great and what’s your third point?
The third point is marketing knows a little bit about everything, never is the expert. So we kind of have to deal with advertising people, in-store people, finance people, production, supply chain, forecasting sales, everything, we are in the middle of all that. We have to know a little bit about everything and never go too deep on anyone’s skill because you’ve got the expert there and you know you have to manage them and respect them because they’ll always be a better copywriter, better at adding up the financials and you know selling into Walmart or wherever you’re selling into so be that uh skills that you do a little of everything and the knowledge seeker on a lot of topics.
That’s great advice and I think you know as I read your book and I see the insights in your book you know how to ask the right questions. You might not have to be the expert but you have to know enough to be able to keep people on track and on-brand.
Yeah and I use to remind myself one of the small things I did and I only got this probably in the second half of my career, I used to go into meetings and I said you are the least knowledgeable person in the room and that’s a strength and so once you can start to recognize that because then you can ask questions. You know my last chemistry class was grade 10 but you might be dealing with a Ph.D. from Oxford on biochemistry and you have to understand how it can impact your brand and same with finance, my mom wanted me to be an accountant, I didn’t want to be. I can still do enough in the numbers and ask the right questions to still be able to do that kind of thing. So being the least knowledgeable person has a real strength in that room as long as you use it.
And having that attitude of being humble and inquisitive.
Exactly, they’re all experts around you. They can all do it better than you but you ask the right questions and then that’ll get you into the right space of where you need to go to make your decisions.
That’s perfect Graham. Thank you so much for sharing your insights today, we really appreciate it.
All right well have a great day.
You can learn more about the book Beloved Brands at Graham’s website, beloved-brands.com or you can pick up beloved brands at most online retailers. Thanks for joining us on this edition of just three things, part of MarketPro’s leadership podcast series. MarketPro is the leading high-end executive search firm delivering top-performing innovative marketers. Find out more at Marketproinc.com.
Know Your Core Strengths
Robertson believes that most marketers fall into one of four core strengths: people leadership, marketing execution, building out a business, or strategic thinking. Graham states it is rare to meet anyone that can excel at all four. He goes on to say everyone has one core strength. You have to know your strength and build a team around those other areas.
Graham’s core strength at the beginning was marketing execution. As he matured, he moved to strategic thinking. People management was never his strong suit. Knowing where he landed within those four core strengths, he was able to find roles that better suited him. The best advice he gave was “be honest with yourself”. Don’t try to be good at everything. Master your strengths.
Build Out Your Skills
Robertson indicates that the key skills you have to build in your marketing career fall into five main categories: strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand planning, marketing execution, and analytics.
You may naturally be better at one over another but the more you do the ones that don’t come naturally to you, the easier it will become. Don’t avoid those uncomfortable areas but continue to work on them and progress and learn. Over time, the repetition of the work will lead to more efficiency and speed. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger you will get.
He encourages marketers to “keep mastering those same skills”.
Be A Seeker Of Knowledge
A great marketer has a broad approach to business with a wide view of knowing a little bit about everything. Brand marketers are typically in the middle of all of the functions of a business— from finance to supply chain to production to IT etc. You should know enough to competently navigate cross-functional teams but you don’t have to go too deep on these outside functions. Know enough to be intelligent about the subject but also rely on the subject matter experts.
A great tip Graham shared is that he will go into meetings as if he was the least knowledgeable person in the room, an approach that became a strength for him. When he started to implement this mindset, he was able to stay humble and start asking questions. From there, he was able to learn how it could impact the brand and start improving it. You have to know enough to ask the right questions to keep people on the right track and on-brand but having an inquisitive mind was an approach he highly recommends.
Thanks to Graham for sharing these tips on how to improve ourselves personally to be better brand marketers. For more tips, and to learn how to build a great brand that consumers will love, check out Graham’s book, Beloved Brands.
Author: Rob Collins