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5 Things I've Learned Being a One Woman Marketing Show

Originally published on my LinkedIn page, July 2016.

When I started my very first marketing job in 2007, a co worker told me something as we were in the middle of removing stickers off of hundreds of boxes of chocolate: marketing isn't glamorous. Sure, you do get those flashes of glamour sprinkled in, but for the most part, marketing requires you to get your hands dirty, have thick skin and multitask like a mother of ten. Think "juggling chainsaws" to give you a mental picture of what marketing might feel like at times.

I began my marketing career as a member of a five person department. When I left that position in November of 2013, we had grown to a department of close to 20, each person responsible for specific marketing efforts of the business. It was almost a mini ad agency where you had people who could write copy, people who could design collateral, build websites and those who managed our larger accounts. I had a team of people to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with and at times commiserate with. I learned a lot from each person and I think that as a whole, we worked very well together because we were the same brand of crazy. 

I have moved onto another company and a completely different industry; and I now find myself in a department of one. The last two and half years have contained some of the best professional moments of my career. These moments haven't come without the frustrating times (that's why it's called a job; it isn't always sunshine and unicorns). I've learned a great deal about myself as a marketer as I've had to wear multiple hats to serve the needs of the company that I work for. And some hats are more glamorous than others. As a One Woman Marketing Show, here are five things I've learned along the way.

1. There's a chance you'll need to know how to use products in Adobe Creative Suite; learn how to use them and you're a marketing double threat

You might have the option to work with an outside agency to have them develop all of your creative pieces, and it's probably the best solution out there if you've never used the programs. However, when I talk with marketing students, I advise them to learn the programs because it will only help them in the long run. You may not have the option to work with a designer and you can add value to your company if you're able to develop your own creative pieces. Plus, it's really fun! 

2. It will become obvious quickly what skills you need to work on

Because you're a department of one, you don't have the luxury of reaching out to fellow department members to handle some copywriting or new design layouts. It's on you. As you switch hats within the marketing realm, it's going to be clear what you need to work on; and I think that it's a good experience to go through and learn from. For me, I realized that writing copy and content was a weakness, meaning it took me FOREVER to crank it out. I came out of college with decent writing skills and sitting down to write at the beginning of my career was an easy, pain-free task. Since then, I had a co-worker who was great at writing copy and I leaned on her while I focused on other tasks. I let the skill lapse. Now that I'm back to writing for myself, I struggle with it at times. But, just like any skill you possess, practice makes perfect.

3. You will be teaching your co-workers about marketing and how it fits into the vision of the company (and why it matters)

You are going to be constantly teaching your peers about your marketing efforts and why it matters that everyone's email signatures are the same (as an example). It's up to you to not only tell the company's story to external clients, you need to tell the story within the four walls of the company. You or your business development team can't be everywhere at once; sharing the company story with the entire company gives you a multitude of brand ambassadors.

4. You have this fantastic blank slate to make your own

"With great power comes great responsibility." As scary or weird as it might seem to you, YOU'RE THE EXPERT. The guru. The man (or woman) with the plan. It took me a while to be comfortable with this in the beginning because I was used to reporting to someone who had the ultimate say in our marketing strategy and had their own set of ideas. Now I'm the one coming up with the ideas, vetting them and being responsible for them. Sure, I will get shot down from time to time, but a great deal of trust has been bestowed upon me. And while it can be really scary, it's also very fun and very rewarding to make those decisions and see the results of all of your work. It forces you to take ownership. People at your company are going to look as you as the expert (or maybe not - it probably depends on where you work). The best analogy I have come up with to describe this type of freedom is that I got handed the keys to a brand new Ferrari and told not to wreck it. 

5. You will learn what makes you tick as a marketer

Since I've settled into my position and I've learned about the industry that I now work in, I've also learned what I really like about marketing and what may not be applicable to the company that I work for. For example, I love content marketing. Using content marketing wasn't an option at my last job and being able to use that tool from the marketing toolbox helps me to position our company as a thought leader. I'm also enjoying taking what I've learned at my last job and applying it here. Some of the lessons may not apply, but the ones that do have brought a fresh perspective to the way that we tell our story. 

Being a department of one can be intimidating or it can be a challenge to accept with enthusiasm and an open mind. If you're willing to put in the work and get your hands dirty, you learn a lot. The learning curve might be a little bit tougher, but if it were easy, where would be the fun in that?