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Marketing is an ever-changing, yet rewarding business. Successful marketers must have their fingers on the pulse of not just popular culture, but also shifting trends within specific industries, from beauty and entertainment, to auto, packaged goods and technology. Marketing, some could say, is the “Renaissance” profession of our hyper-specialized modern world — it encompasses all. That said, the past 15 years have especially seen rapid changes in technology, having given birth to marketing and networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. October marks the 15th anniversary of Vertical Marketing Network, and while many of my colleagues acknowledge these are exciting times — fast-paced and full of possibility — they are not without challenge. In addition to looking forward, marketers must also honor the basics, and communicate and connect in thoughtful and strategic ways. These are two tenets of Vertical Marketing’s philosophy. The third is to create, which is where that aforementioned cultural pulse comes into play.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like — in marketing — true creativity depends on successful communication and meaningful connections. Marketers must focus on the latter to nurture the former.
To celebrate Vertical Marketing Network’s “Big 1-5,” Blogging Out Loud asked agency associates to reflect on their top marketing insights and/or lessons learned since 1996. Last week, we explored the challenges of identifying and maximizing quality sourcing, the concept of the remarkable, and the importance of reflection. Below, 8 more ideas for your consideration:
1. The Power of One — Vertical Marketing President Phil Saifer says empowerment is the key to the success of any service business. “Placing experienced professionals on a client’s business is the most valuable asset an agency has to offer. And when you empower your professionals to run their accounts as if it is their business, you achieve the best of the best in client service.” You also bolster brand loyalty.
2. Mentorship — Everyone needs someone to guide them, especially at the start of their career. Project Manager Alice Lin believes quality mentorship prepared her to handle what she calls the “projects within projects” puzzle. “No detail is too small,” Alice says, “and organization is key.”
3. Sincerity — Organization also helps Assistant Account Executive Cristina Vazquez build close and sincere relationships with clients. “Treat your client well,” she says. Listen to them and respond to them. Cristina suggests: “Send a birthday note or get well card — anything that shows they’re always top of mind.”
4. Like Family — Financial Administration Coordinator Tiffany Gann says not only should clients be top of mind, but so should your coworkers. She shares: “The biggest thing that I’ve learned at Vertical Marketing is how close everyone is. The genuine care that everyone has for each other and the business is evident.” Responsibility and empowerment seem to go hand-in-hand.
5. Face Time — Senior Creative Director Jeff Courtney sees actual one-on-one time with clients as a renewed challenge. While he’ll admit that he and his clients quickly warmed to time-savers such as email, instant message and text message, “we can all too easily slip into the mistaken impression that simply being virtually available anytime our clients need us is enough. It is not.” We agree.
6. Talk the Talk — Vertical Marketing’s Executive Director of Insights, Betsy Berman, knows a lot about, well, a lot. Still, she says one of her greatest marketing lessons is admitting otherwise. “If you are unsure,” she says, “ask. It’s better to feel foolish than to really make a fool of yourself and/or make a big and — most often — costly mistake.” Walking the walk starts with talking the talk.
7. Assimilation — Perhaps no other person has experienced the changes in our technological world over the past 15 years more than Group Financial Director Meryl Kotin. It seems laughable to think that a decade ago accounts were managed and reconciled manually. Meryl shares: “With any changes there are growing pains, but being part of creating new systems is rewarding.”
8. Know Yourself, But Know Your Client More — Phil Saifer shares an appropriate anecdote: “I took home five varieties of a food product from the test kitchens to prepare at home. After doing a tasting, my wife and I concluded the product was a dud. Flash forward two weeks later, when we conducted taste-testing focus groups in the middle of the country, and the target audience loved everything — the taste, the texture, the ease of preparation.” We are not always the target audience. Phil adds, “Always open your eyes to other perspectives before making a final recommendation to a client.” Well said, boss.
Whether you’re new to marketing or a weathered veteran, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the above and the past 15 years. Please share in the comments section below, or on Vertical Marketing Network’s Facebook page. And, as always, continue to create, communicate and connect — with us, with others.