Introducing the Marketing Manager’s Survival Guide

Our guide to building resilience for the road ahead, with ideas, experiences and insight from across sectors and business sizes

July 23, 2020

Introducing the Marketing Manager’s Survival Guide

Marketing managers are an organisation’s shock absorber. Their role is to soak up pressure from above and below while cushioning the impact on others, and keeping the business and its marketing strategy running as smoothly as possible. Over the last few months that shock absorber has been working overtime. Over the months and years to come, its role will be more important than ever.

As a marketing manager it’s impossible not to feel squeezed by the additional pressure coming your way. We don’t just need to plan for how the business and its marketing needs to adapt.

We need a plan to manage our own emotions, energy levels and resilience. The better we’re able to adapt to and accept change, the better we can help our teams and businesses navigate through it.

We’ve created the Marketing Manager’s Survival Guide to help. It’s written by marketing managers for marketing managers, pulling together experiences and insights from people in roles like yours. It includes input from the likes of Hootsuite, Adobe and Telefónica, from marketers in different sectors, and from businesses large and small. We explore the journeys that managers have been on and the coping mechanisms and techniques they’ve developed. And we’ve filled the guide with actionable advice for coping with the unique circumstances that marketers find themselves in today.

Top tips for staying resilient

Many marketing managers have been leading a professional double life. For their colleagues, they stress the importance of work-life balance and setting clear boundaries between professional and personal time. For themselves, they’re working longer hours than ever, struggling to find time to get things done in between keeping peers and managers updated on video calls, and risking anxiety and pressure in their personal lives. We look at strategies for coping with this often-punishing paradox. They include different approaches to planning and prioritising, thinking of the situation in terms of different phases, seeking support in unfamiliar places and respecting key aspects of physical wellbeing.

Principles for iterative marketing planning

Marketing runs on plans. One of the most disorientating aspects of the current situation is that those plans have to change – but we’re not in a position to firm up exactly how. We examine the principles of iterative planning, including acknowledging that priorities will shift between different phases of the current situation, being clear about what hasn’t changed as well as what has – and sense-checking which metrics are becoming more or less relevant. Distinguishing between factors that you can control and those that you can’t is often the key to setting meaningful objectives for yourself and your team.

The key elements involved in managing upwards

In a world of unknowns, the role of a manager isn’t just to take instruction from above and execute on a set business strategy. It’s equally important to help identify how the needs of the business are changing – and make proactive suggestions for how your marketing can respond to them. The challenge is finding ways to communicate upwards when you don’t have the opportunity to see senior managers on a regular basis. We explore the key elements to prioritise, including the data that you use to prioritise activities, and managing expectations on KPIs.

Taking the opportunities for more collaborative cross-functional relationships

Many of the marketing managers featured in our Survival Guide report a transformation in how they engage with the business as a whole. Communication with other teams is far more deliberate and intentional – and the value of the marketing skillset is more widely appreciated. We discuss how to use this opportunity to drive greater alignment, while developing techniques for managing your time and balancing different departments’ needs.

An actionable toolbox for managing and supporting remote teams

Marketing managers have stepped up to the challenge of managing compassionately in a crisis, identifying and responding to the new needs that their teams have. Many have been able to increase productivity in difficult circumstances. However, keeping people motivated and engaged when working remotely isn’t just a challenge that you solve once. In the Survival Guide, we look at the techniques that managers are adopting to make the new world of work more sustainable. They include new attitudes to productivity, new approaches to structuring and scheduling meetings, and the importance of creative thinking for maintaining your team dynamic.

Marketing managers face a future where many have to do more with less – and in less time. We need to protect others, embrace new responsibilities and provide a sense of direction, all while trying to safeguard our own energy levels and sense of optimism. However, it can help to focus on the progress that we’re making as well. We have an opportunity to reset expectations of marketing and regain visibility for ourselves and our teams in positive ways.

The Marketing Manager’s Survival Guide is a resource for building resilience and a toolbox of techniques and tactics for coping with the unique challenges of this time. At the same time, it’s got the ideas and inspiration you need to help find opportunities on the road ahead. Don’t forget to pack your copy!