By Jessica Houston, School of Marketing Ambassador
As marketers, we’re often reactive - on any given day, something urgent or new can come across our desks and throw our plans out of the window. We’ve learned how to be agile and respond to those changes as and when they happen. However, it’s also essential to be proactive. You need to stay on top of the latest trends and technologies and find new ways to reach your audience. But sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. So we’ve written this blog post to show you how to stay ahead of the curve and become a proactive marketer.
A proactive marketer takes control of a situation or creates opportunities to address things before they happen. Individuals may approach this from different angles, but they all have something in common - a growth mindset. This means they want to learn and create better opportunities for themselves, their teams and their businesses. The great thing is that anyone can do it, making you stand out from the crowd.
Being a proactive marketer has many benefits. We know that the marketing industry changes at a pace, and therefore being proactive means you can keep on top of the latest trends and knowledge to ensure that your skill set remains relevant and your work is incorporating these learnings - which in turn will drive better results.
I remember receiving a piece of advice in my first job, which was; if you find yourself in a lift with a stakeholder or client - always have a topic of conversation up your sleeve. To do that, you need to research what is happening in the world (and their world) to find something of common interest. This could be related to marketing - being able to talk and have an opinion on some of the most important topics of debate or associated with a specific industry or business idea. In the early days of my career, I remember working at a Pesticide conference in York, and afterwards, a group of us went out for dinner. I was surrounded by scientists and experts in their field and felt entirely out of my depth - I had no idea what anyone was talking about, and that’s when I made a promise to myself that no matter the industry I worked in, I would make it my mission to at least understand the basics and you should too!
Being proactive can also harness a test and learn culture within the organisation. Bringing new ideas from outside the business can help teams identify what does and doesn’t work for them and their customers, which helps us all learn faster. Companies need to reinvent themselves or risk becoming stale, so new thinking and creativity are essential - plus, it’s fun!
Finally, proactive thinking can help individuals to grow in their careers. Thinking about how you want your career to progress and what is needed to help you get there will allow you to make a plan. This ownership sits with the individual and seeks out the right opportunities and people to help you get to where you want to go. Of course, asking for help and advice is essential and is a vital role of any manager or career coach, but ultimately it is down to the individual to make this happen. For example, is there a new skill you want to learn? Or a new industry you’d like to get some experience in? Are there opportunities internally to get involved with different projects or be put forward for a secondment? As a proactive marketer, you should be asking yourself these questions and then from here; you can make a plan.
Proactiveness is all about action.
There are many ways to become a proactive marketer to help yourself and those around you, so we’ve compiled a list of top tips to help you on your way.
1. Never stop learning
As previously mentioned, individuals can’t afford to get a qualification and then tick the box for learning complete. Continuous learning is crucial to developing your skills and knowledge as you progress throughout your career. The great news is that so many resources are out there to keep you engaged. You could;
read marketing columns and blogs (like this one) every week
attend webinars and conferences to hear about the latest trends
make LinkedIn part of your daily routine and follow the top marketing leaders of today to see what they are talking about
spend time speaking to your peers and team - learning from each other is important, and sharing learnings from campaigns can help enhance the quality of marketing at your firm
immerse yourself in the advertising world - which brands are experimenting with interesting creative ideas?
find a mentor to help you navigate the world of marketing
enrol in a course (there are many free online courses available to help you upskill, or you could look to get a more formal qualification).
2. Look for new opportunities.
Identifying new growth opportunities is a great way to demonstrate your proactiveness. I challenge you to think about the company you work for and if there is an opportunity for you to get involved in something new - think of this as a stretch project. Is there a project or event that interests you or a team you want to spend more time working with? Approach your manager and discuss why you want a new challenge and how you feel that it will benefit your career. Of course, there may be reasons why it won’t work; however, if you don’t speak up and approach the subject, they’ll never know.
3. Stay on top of market trends.
Gathering the correct information and insights to do your job well will help you succeed. Identify the areas or topics you need to learn about and make it your mission to know these in depth by spending some of your week immersed in the content. All industries have a news site that details the latest trends, so it is worth researching what these are and then favouriting them in your bookmarks and signing up for the mailing list.
4. Embed a test and learn culture into your team
Whether you work individually or within a team, embedding a test and learning culture is critical to success. If this doesn’t already exist, think about how you can be proactive in setting up a rhythm of sharing insights and learnings with other peers and then how you implement these into your daily work. Maybe this is about meeting once a month to bring in exciting ideas from other brands to discuss or carving out a small part of your budget for each campaign to try something new.
5. Pay it forward
The notion of paying it forward is important to me. Individuals who use their time to upskill themselves and share these learnings with others are the ones who shine out from the crowd. So, as a final step to becoming a proactive marketer - think about how you can share your newfound wisdom with those around you in a way that suits you best.
A final note on becoming a proactive marketer. People want to help proactive and passionate people. They are more inclined to give you time, support, and guidance if you can show you are willing to learn. It’s not going to be an easy ride, but it will be worth it.