I've had some incredible career experiences. I've worked for fantastic marketing agencies (GFK, Underwired, Publicis Dialogue, MediaCom Worldwide, etc etc) and great brands (Audi, Visa, RBS, Unilever, Shell, O2, Aviva, Microsoft, P&G, VW, EA, T-Mobile, IBM, Nissan, Diageo etc).
I thought I'd share 17 things I've learned over my 17 years in Marketing:
1. Marketing is a strategy and tactics game
You need to learn the rules of the game. You need to know the players. You need to continuously work on your tactics but always visualise your end goals. Always strive to be a better player.
2. A good marketing leader becomes a problem solver.
Your role is to solve problems. Make sure you understand the difference between what your customers want and give them what they need. Solve their problems. Add value.
3. Brands don't care about your product or service
What brands' care about is their problems. You need to give them a solution. But you need to be good at investigating brands' problems.
4. Fall in love with your customers
Be ready to change everything if needed - keep moving, keep changing, keep innovating. Brands' know what is best for them, not agencies.
5. You have to be willing to fail and make mistakes
Otherwise you will never find the right path. You need to be prepared to learn fast and adapt.
6. The questions are the answers.
Ask yourself the right questions and you will get the right answers.
7. You can’t know who is doing well when the economy is growing.
An economic downturn quickly expose the shortcomings of weak strategies. It is then that the strong survive and the weak disappear.
8. Getting customers is easy
Keeping customers is the harder part. Your goal should be winning customers and keep them.
9. Know the road ahead is the ultimate advantage
When you know what is coming, you can prepare your business to the challenge. Play the game better. Reaction is not good for business.
10. Your business success is based on the decisions you make. You have to anticipate market shift. Constant improvement in the areas that are crucial for your business.
11. Focus on constant strategic innovation. Find a way to add more value to your clients. Go beyond meeting the need, add more value - do it in a new way, all the time.
12. You can't sustain growth without a solid foundation
Build an underlying base that will support growth.
13. Find the superstar team to help you grow your business
Hire new voices into your agency to ask better questions. You can completely shift your agency with a decision.
14. Never start with HOW
Understand the WHY. The HOW will become more clear. Hire people with brains. Breakthrough strategies need big thinking in order to be successful.
15. Marketing success leaves a trail. If an agency is consistently successful at specific areas of marketing, they have a strategy - learn, adapt, optimise and maximise.
16. Marketing is a business of insight and creativity
Ensure that communications are targeted only to those customers who might be interested. Customers exchange information in return for a series of benefits that accrue to them over time.
17. Performance measurement
Understand your past to better invest in the future. Extract value out of every effort. You need to love your data.
I've learned a few things but I have a lot left to learn. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I know almost nothing. Life has many lessons left to teach me, and I’m looking forward to them all.
Ivan Fernandes, Founder and Managing Director at Digital Business Partners