Marketing is Hard

I remember the first time I heard the word marketing in the context of a job. Surprisingly enough, it was in an office at UMass Lowell’s career services center. My advisor and I were chatting about some potential internship opportunities that I could pursue during my last year at school when she asked, “well have you thought about marketing?”

I hadn’t.

At UMass Lowell, liberal arts majors and those in STEM and business concentrations were separated, quite literally, by a river. I took a marketing internship at Teradyne, or rather they took a chance on me, without having any experience whatsoever.

Flash forward to today, and I love the crap out of marketing. Everything. The emotions, the data, the charts, the content and above all, the excitement of being that person to drive marketing impact for a business.

But here’s the thing: marketing is hard.

More so, especially at the startup level or in a job where you have lots of responsibility, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You want to track all the things, convert all the leads, and drive the most traffic to the website or CTA.

But you need to focus.

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way to help make your marketing much more meaningful to the business.

  • Focus is everything. Set up your weeks in sprints rather than a few weeks or month at a time. Better yet, assign a theme to that sprint. For example, maybe you want to increase the quality of leads sales is getting from the website or content behind forms. There you go, now you can focus on doing the most impactful things to drive change where it’s needed most for that week (obviously this will be an ongoing effort, but you get the idea).

 

  • If you have a sales team, or people selling things, get in on as many meetings as you can. Listen to how they pitch, how they demo, how they talk about the company and the problems y’all solve. Remember, you’re in this together, so building trust and a continuous loop of feedback with the people on the front lines will be huge when you’re tweaking messaging or working on marketing campaigns down the road.

 

  • Similarly, befriend the product and engineering team. Even hand them a coupon for an iced coffee. Trust is everything. It also builds a relationship of value, where you aren’t viewed just as someone doing “marketing things” and more as someone that can provide feedback based on what you’ve been hearing and seeing out in the wild.

 

  • Talk to customers. Too many marketers will just talk to sales or look at the data, and not truly understand why their customers are their customers. Was it something in the product they couldn’t live without? Maybe that feature isn’t anywhere in your newest marketing campaign, so go ahead and work it in. Was it a pitch they heard that really resonated? There you go, now you can revisit the glorious company one pager and tweak it. Feedback is everything, and there’s no such thing as learning too much about your customers or users.

Marketing is hard. I think the hardest thing about it is that many times, the data you want or the performance of something you’re doing isn’t predictable. So, you need to be nimble and pivot quickly when things don’t work, and double down when they do.

But above all, stay focused. Marketing is less hard that way.

Ryan MacInnis