10 ideas for your first 100 days
By Rachael Wheatley
Your first 100 days in a head of marketing role is challenging, nerve-wracking, exciting, important. I have set up, developed or inherited several marketing and business development teams in my time. If you are in a similar position, then here are some ideas from 25 years’ of experience to help you get the marketing essentials right.
- Get to know your team. Find out about their motivations, roles, where they would like to develop, any skills gaps, what they feel works well, what they feel doesn’t, frustrations, recent successes, and so on. This knowledge is fundamental. At some point soon you’ll need to both set out your stall for how you want to shape the team and get them alongside you to help make it happen.
- Have meetings with heads of business units. Typically these are the people with whom your team will be working to support them in growing the business and one of the first things you’ll need to do is build your knowledge of the business, their marketplace, opportunities, targets, competitors, influencers, regulators, plans, activities, preoccupations, challenges and drivers.
- Speak to your counterparts. These are: people heading up sales, finance, IT and HR. It is crucial that sales and marketing work closely together so a common vision and plan will really help make sure the business ‘engine’ operates smoothly and yields results. In addition, you’ll need to understand how the sales team works, the cycle, targets, their view of the marketplace, challenges and opportunities. Similarly, in its operation, marketing has – or should have – a lot to do with finance, IT and HR so best to have good collaborative working relationships with these departments. Make friends with the finance director and find out how the business makes money, and what drives profitability in different areas of the business. Also find out what management reports are available, either that exist or that are possible to put in place so that you can delve deeper than gross revenue and margins.
- Find out more from employees. Some of them, or all of them if the business is small enough! Ask about their day to day work, their role, how they work, what their customers say (good and bad), their view of how to improve, what works really well, what customers like.
- Make sure plans are in place. If not already in place, you’ll need a route map for where the business wants to go. Once you have a business plan, then you can put together a sales and marketing strategy and tactical plan. If a business plan already exists, review it, the objectives, products, customers, and business drivers. If a sales/marketing plan already exists, again, worth reviewing this and understanding what’s happened, will happen, metrics, expectations, and check the resources are there to deliver. Both the business and marketing plans might be excellent, so don’t change just for change sake or because you feel you need to prove something in a new job.
- Review your budget. And make sure you get a good understanding and control of it. Identify any ‘quick wins’ where it looks as if money is leaking out and you could cut back without any impact on the company.
- Use processes and technology to make your life easier. These can include: CRM systems, guidelines, ways of working, templates, reporting software, e-marketing tools, protocols, regular meetings, anything which will take the burden out of what you and the team do. This will ‘release’ time and resource to enable your team to deliver a more bespoke service.
- Agree with the team “standards of service” and how you deliver excellence. My experience has been that marketing teams can be criticised for not delivering, not demonstrating return on investment, not producing qualified leads, and so on. Pre-empt this:
Find out who the company’s key clients are. And if there is a plan to manage, protect and develop those clients. If not, consider how to set up and run a key client management programme and who it would be good to get involved. Arrange to meet those clients.
Ask, listen, learn, build relationships. That’s what this first 100 days is about. You’ll be finding out what the politics are, but stand back from this – now is not the time. However, do share your approach and beliefs around marketing and sales. And, by the end of that time, do have some plans and proposals that you can share about how you’d like to shape the marketing team in the future.
- Talking to your internal customers will help you to manage expectations; agree with them service standards, and what you can (and can’t) do to help them grow their business.
- Discuss with the team what kind of team you want to be (advisory, change-maker, regulator, doer, or mix of these) and how you would like to position yourself in the firm. This can do wonders for their motivation.
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