Secret Marketer: Being a good manager is like being a good marketer – you need to know your audience

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Knowing your audience is key to being a good marketer but it is just as important when it comes to managing your marketing team.

We read, talk and hear about marketing management all the time – the ‘how to’ of both the processes and the programmes of work associated with marketing. But we rarely talk about what else is implicit in the term marketing management – the ‘how to’ of leading and managing a team.

Part of the problem is that on the way up the greasy marketing pole – via marketing assistant, brand manager and product manager roles, often preceded by four years in university – we are promoted as we attain a level of skill and success, but do we really get trained to be a manager? Great strategy and great skills are useless unless you can lead and manage a team. Like other marketers, I have had my fair share of good and bad bosses, and spent too much time grumbling about them.

Sure, there are great companies that have incredible processes and structures in place to create great managers and leaders. And there are literally millions of books, blogs and articles on leadership. They can’t all be right, can they?

This is where I believe the understanding of consumer behaviour skills that we develop as marketers can become a key factor in our success as managers and leaders. The ability to see inside another person’s mind, to walk in their shoes and see how they think, is one of the most important ingredients in becoming a great marketer. It is the application of that self-same insight capability that can make us great managers and leaders.

I always start with what the team member’s primary motivations are, what makes them personally satisfied and proud, and what they think they are good at.

Are they a project person, who wants to get stuff done on a particular date and to a deadline but does not have a creative bone in their body? Are they looking to learn something new? Are they a ‘self-manager’?

Knowing your consumer – in this case, the fears and frustrations and the dreams and desires of your team – is the starting point to becoming a great manager. From this starting  point, you can start applying the team goals needed to get the work done.

I am well aware that these are good ideas in principle but sometimes they can be a bit tricky to put into action.

So the next time I get cranky over a plan not delivered to my satisfaction or a goal poorly executed, I should stop and think that maybe the marketing team is not wholly responsible. Maybe I am the one at fault here; the bad manager who has not practised what he preached.

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