How To Be Wicked Smart At Marketing

I think most of us remember the movie Good Will Hunting starring a very young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  One of best scenes is the movie is Matt's character, Will, dressing down a Harvard snob and getting Skylar's (Minnie Driver) number.  Just after the penultimate moment in that scene Chuckie (Ben) says, "My boy's wicked smart."  Each one of us strives to the smartest marketer we can be, so here are some tips on how to be the Will Hunting of your marketing department.

  • Understand your business - most marketers come into a company and focus all their time on the job of marketing and not the business their company is in.  Take the time to know about the market your organization operates in, how they work and ultimately how they sell and make money.  You will be a better marketer for them by knowing how to make the donuts.
  • Keep one step ahead - only a few marketing departments are really good at training and development and it's usually the ones with brands you know.  For the rest of you, it will require your interest in keeping up with what's happening in the marketing world outside your business and see how it can possibly add value to yours.  Looking to the horizon to see what's next will help you be ready for future challenges as well as the ability to provide added insight into everyday meetings and conversations.
  • Add value to the revenue line - much like understanding your company's business, doing things that generate revenue, either directly or indirectly, will pull a lot of weight with senior management.  If you are contributing to the top line it's a pretty good guess that you will not just keep your job, but grow it.  This has always been hard for marketers, so take the time to make those cases known and it will help raise your profile.
  • Answer the tough questions and take the heat - a lot of marketers shy away from the tough jobs and tough questions asked by senior management.  As best you can, be the person that stands in the gap between that question and the answer.  Even if the answer is, "I don't know but I'll find out and have an answer for you next week," it will show people how committed you are and that you are willing to take the tough jobs.  Not only will you learn something, but what you find will add some tokens to your jar.
  • Be a good leader...and follower - I always said that if you want to be a leader you have to make sure people will follow you.  That usually means showing people how to follow through action and emulation as well as breeding a culture where the right things happen the right way.  You have to be really smart or really lucky to be an egotistical, maniacal leader and usually no one is.  Show how to work from the driver's seat as well as the passenger's and people will respect you not just for what you know, but who you are.

Regardless of your career aspirations, we all want to be good at our job and these rules of the road apply to coordinators and specialist just as much as CMO's and SVP's.  Hopefully, we'll all have a better car than Will Hunting did when he drove off to find Skylar, but the same level of excitement and satisfaction he had in the effort.