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How to help your marketing manager succeed

Sep 20, 2019

marketing manager deskOnce you’ve hired a marketing manager, naturally you’ll want them to thrive and succeed in your firm. Understanding your marketing manager is cut from a different cloth is the first step toward success.

Your marketing manager might work differently to the rest of your team. They won’t be  accustomed to sitting behind a desk dealing with numbers all day. They feel the freedom to create in ways that oftentimes accountants don’t (but that’s a whole other blog). 

The best business owners know that marketing is done with excellence. 

And excellence does not necessarily equal perfection.

 

Here’s the problem with perfection.  It kills creativity. 

 

Let’s get it straight- we aren’t telling you to put garbage content out into the world but we are asking for a little grace.  

Yes it’s good to have someone edit your blog.  Yes it’s good to give feedback. But hemming and hawing over every detail for hours on end is frankly a waste of your time.  

When your marketing manager sends you something for feedback, don’t send it to the whole team.  Unless your whole team is filled with marketing experts OR you’ve taken the time to educate your entire team in marketing.  Your team absolutely plays a role, but we’ll talk about what that looks like in more detail later.

Here’s why.

1) It undermines their authority.

You aren’t asking them to review your client’s accounts.  Why? Because that’s not their field of expertise.

When you ask other people who aren’t educated in marketing for their opinion on how something looks, that’s okay. Just know they aren’t looking at it through the eyes of someone who’s been educated in marketing.  

Remember when it comes to these types of things the final call needs to go to your marketing manager because they know their stuff.

2) It creates confusion. 

If you’ve given them full authority to make decisions, give them helpful feedback and listen for how they respond.  If their response is one of defensiveness it could be a sign you need to work on building trust into the relationship.

Let’s get it straight that defensiveness is not the same as defending.  If your marketing manager listens to feedback and takes direction but can still respectfully disagree and have an informed sensibile opinion about something, listen to them.  

Remember why you hired them. There was a reason you felt they were the right fit for this position.  If you are constantly giving the authority and then taking it away, they won’t stick around for very long.

Respect the creative process and see it’s value

 

All humans are creative, though it manifests itself in different ways.

However, there’s a difference between thinking creatively and executing creative work.

 

The mind of a creative processes things differently than others.  This means your marketing manager may need more time to think and engage with a concept before it comes to life.  Giving them short deadlines- especially if you want things to be excellent- is not helpful for them. “Throwing something together” is not in their vocabulary.  

Thinking of new ideas might mean not being glued to their computer 24/7.  This might mean taking a walk or going to an art museum. It often means doing something that isn’t directly related to work.  

It also means rest.

Churning out creative and engaging content day after day is exhausting and inspiring in a way that only other creatives understand.  If your MM says they need a day to give themselves some headspace, give it to them.

Creatives don’t always separate themselves from their work. 

 

They are good at what they do because they put not only their head, but their heart, soul and passion into the work they create.  

Be sensitive to this.

Chances are, like most creatives, your marketing manager often feels like an imposter- that they are faking it and that their work will never be good enough.  They will focus on the negative and struggle to find the positive.  

That’s the battle all creatives fight.  

Encourage them.  Tell them how they are succeeding and that they DO know what they are doing.  Thank and appreciate them. Put a reminder in your phone if you have to. Just know that this is one of the most valuable things you are doing for your employee.   

Your Marketing Manager is constantly putting things out into the world without knowing the outcome. That creativity is brave. It shows vulnerability. They are committed to building relationships with people who you want to be your clients, but haven’t even heard of you yet.  Often times, your marketing manager (or at least their work) is the first impression someone has of your firm. That’s a lot of pressure and your marketing manager doesn’t take it lightly. They need that encouragement to keep going.  

If you don’t understand how their brain works, that’s okay- educate yourself.  

 

Instead of reading a business book this month, buy all three of Austin Kleon’s books for yourself and your marketing manager.  They’ll be inspired and encouraged in their creative journey and you’ll learn more about what it means to walk in their shoes.

Good marketing managers are hard to come by and once you’ve got one, you don’t want to lose them simply because you didn’t understand them.  Educate educate educate. If you value your marketing, you’ll value the marketing manager.  

Don’t hear what I’m not saying.  Push your marketing manager to be excellent and always do better.  

Set expectations by telling them what you do and don’t like.

 

Feedback is just noise if you can’t tell your marketing manager why you do or don’t like something with an informed opinion.   

 

Give them a document that explains the style and tone of voice in which you like things written.  Make sure they know your brand colors and fonts.  

If they ask questions, answer them.  This all seems like natural stuff, but you’d be surprised how many marketing managers we talk to that can’t get a question answered- thus creating a bottleneck for moving a piece of content forward.

Allow your marketing manager to lead and allow yourself to be a student.

 

You can’t value something unless you understand it.  And your marketing manager desperately needs you to understand what they are doing.  

 

No matter how much a part of the team or how long they’ve been around, they feel alone.  

In most accounting firms, there is typically only one person in the role of marketing.  Everyone else is an accountant. Everyone. They know all the funny jokes about why your client is an idiot for only looking at revenue or the frustrations of someone who can’t seem to separate their business account from their personal.  Your marketing manager, unless they’ve been in the accounting industry before, doesn’t get it. They can laugh along and fake it but at the end of the day- if they aren’t educated as to why this is funny or why that is frustrating- it creates further isolation.

Giving your marketing manager time to educate yourself and the team closes the isolation gap.

 

If you have weekly meetings, give them an opportunity to update the team on the marketing efforts and what’s happening.  On a monthly basis, allow them time to give a more extended report on the numbers, how things are going, and what’s happening in the next month.  And whenever you have longer retreat times, or planning times, give your marketing manager time to continually educate your team on all things marketing.

Involvement from your team is a requirement, not an option.  

 

Once they’ve been educated and know why content marketing is important your team can get involved in your marketing.  

If your marketing manager recommends that you are writing blog posts once a week, assign a different team member each week of the month to write that content.

You’ll probably receive push-back but trust me, your marketing manager is more frustrated that you or your team won’t sit down and write a blog once a month, than you are that you have to do so.  

Think about it from their perspective- which probably isn’t too hard- you face it all the time.

Recall for yourself the client who you’ve been nagging for the past month for that one piece of information.  Or how about that client who never, ever gets you the payroll information on time so you can get things out the door and their employees are paid.  Frustrating right? 

That’s how your marketing manager feels when they are asking over and over for their team to do something and the team doesn’t follow through.  

Now, fortunately for your client, they’ve got a bit of added motivation- they are paying you to do this for them and fortunately for you, if they don’t get the information to you, you still get paid- it’s frustrating, but ultimately it’s on the client.  

If your marketing manager suffers, so does your marketing. 

 

Your marketing manager will feel frustrated and even more like an outsider when they are limited to the content only they can produce because they don’t know the ins and outs of your clients problems like you do.  

Give your marketing manager everything they need to get good marketing done.

For yourself, your marketing manager, and your team buy the books “They Ask You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan and “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller   Make them required reading and then discuss the books as a group.

These books have just about everything you and your team need to understand to be successful in your marketing efforts, and to support your marketing manager. 

Because marketing is a constantly changing industry, it’s important that you build into your budget continued education for your marketing manager. 

 

Send them to a well known marketing conference once a year.  

It’s going to be expensive.  And it’s going to be worth it.  

Invest in marketing support for your marketing manager, give them a budget for books and online resources to educate themselves and require them to take time in their work week to make education a priority.  They will always feel like there is too much work to be done and they will get to education when “there is time.”  

There is never time unless you create it. 

 

Give your marketing manager the freedom to spend two hours a week in education- reading books, watching Youtube videos, scanning online articles.  Make sure they know they are getting paid to do this and that it doesn’t mean they have to work two extra hours a week to make up for that lost time.  

Speaking of budgets, give them one.

 

Truly consider your marketing efforts, talk with your marketing manager about firm goals that can be achieved through marketing.  

Let them make decisions and give input on what the best swag is for an event, whether or not you need to be paying for advertising and when or how you engage at different conferences and events.  

They have good ideas and sometimes they just need to be asked.  A good marketing manager gives a damn about all of these things and will most certainly have an opinion.  

Take your marketing manager to all types of events.

 

It doesn’t matter if they aren’t an accountant- it’s important for them to learn about accounting.  How can they sell your services if they don’t know what you do or what they mean? 

 Industry specific events are especially important.  They will gain insider knowledge on the industry you work in, which helps them engage better with marketing ideas that will appeal to your niche market.  

In turn this gets you more leads and more clients. 

Not only that, it gives the people in your firm (that aren’t you) a chance to build relationships with people in the industry.  

Not only will they be learning at these events, they will also be marketing them.  

 

They’ll be the first one to remember to take a team selfie at dinner and post it to Instagram. They’ll be live-tweeting, filming insta-stories and posting quotes, because they view events through a marketing lens.  

They notice opportunities to tell the world where your firm is, what they are doing, and how you are educating yourselves.  

A common misconception is that sales comes before marketing because it brings dollars through the door. 

 

The goal of marketing is to build relationships and trust with your potential clients.  So much so that when the clients is finally ready to sign a proposal, they can think of no better firm than your own.  During events, a good marketing manager uses their skills and does all the sales work for you.  

This blog is titled ‘How to help your marketing Manager’ succeed. But understand that their success is your firm’s success. Nurturing their creativity and understanding them will result in more nurtured potential clients and a better understanding of your target market. Take a step back as boss and become the client and the student. Who knows, you may just decide you love marketing.