October 16, 2018

The New Marketing Leader

Looking across e-commerce, there's something interesting and fun going on. A new generation of Marketing Leaders are being put in charge of marketing. Nine years of reasonable business performance coupled with a large generation of newly minted marketers learning mobile techniques yielded a cohort of smart people who have worked their way up to the Director / Vice President level.

These folks deserve a better outcome than the generations that came before them.

It's been 21 years since I became Director of Circulation/Analytics at Eddie Bauer - my first marketing job where I allegedly had responsibility for a budget (about $150,000,000). I lasted two years in the job before I tried something different. At first, my problem was the team I inherited. They weren't thrilled that I was their boss. As one individual said, "you don't know anything about this stuff, so I guess we'll have to teach you so that you can look good." Zing.

Fortunately I had run many of the analytics outlined in Hillstrom's Total Package (Click here to purchase on Amazon). I knew what I was up against. I inherited a complete mess, one that took two full years to rebuild. The analytics in the booklet helped a few of us put the business on the right path. The analytics surfaced key merchandising issues that we (well, not me) were able to solve. Two years later we were posting record profit.

Now, if I didn't have the analytics and processes outlined in this booklet, I'd have gone down a different path and I'm not confident the business would have been fixed. Business would have been better, but not fixed.

New Marketing Leaders are put in bad places. They're typically asked to fix a situation that needs to be fixed by the merchandising team and/or creative team, and when the problem isn't fixed by the merchants / creative team, the marketer gets blamed. Worse, the marketer is typically fired, and another inexperienced and unprepared Professional is thrust into a no-win situation.

I do not want to see that happen to a new generation of Marketing Leaders. We have highly bright individuals with endless e-commerce and mobile skills moving into situations where they have to fix problems that are not their doing nor are anything that the new Marketing Leader has control over.

This booklet outlines a process I developed during my tenure at Lands' End and Eddie Bauer ... the process was used far less at Nordstrom for obvious reasons (discussed in the booklet). In the past three years, I increasingly see Marketers who are put in bad situations, and are then blamed for problems that aren't of their own doing. By reading this booklet, the new Marketing Leader can set the organization down a "path of accountability".

More on the topic tomorrow.

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