How did you get into marketing? What were your expectations?
I remember seeing graphic designers’ art back in college and thinking how cool that career path would be, but I wasn’t an artist. I couldn’t do that job. Besides, I had other career paths in mind.
Years later, I found my way into marketing by picking up a book on HTML and practicing for 3 months until I could actually do some coding. Someone gave me a chance after I found a job interview via Craigslist, and I’ve been in the field ever since. (No one lets me near code anymore, and that’s a good thing.)
I went from basic coding to SEO and social media to marketing within healthcare and the medical device industry.
Certainly not what I would have ever thought when I started the journey. (Confession: I still get squeamish at the sight of surgery.)
Success in a Different Flavor
David Baker shared an article recently where he talked about the fact that even though we didn’t expect this particular path, we were certainly capable of some type of success. And we weren’t wrong. The dressings of that success probably looked different, but we’ve come a long way to get to where we are now.
I’m thinking about this a lot for a few different reasons.
- I recently attended Mark Schaefer’s “Uprising” retreat for marketers. A lot of us talked about how wild it is that we have the exact jobs we do and how our past experiences helped lead to this moment.
- My oldest child is a freshman in high school and is trying to figure out what life looks like after leaving the house. Where is he “supposed to” go, and what is he “supposed to” do?
- Our jobs are completely different than we expected (probably), so how do we keep a fresh view on what’s possible in this era of massive change?
The Nature of Our Roles in Marketing
Yes, marketing is about creative campaigns and launching products. It’s also about listening to our customers and stakeholders. The job demands reconciling budgets and figuring out what is going to have the most impact. It requires excellent project and resource management.
You need to constantly be in learning mode:
- hearing your customers’ stated and unstated needs
- working with key opinion leaders to shape attractive marketing materials
- deciphering what emerging tech trends are going to be relevant to your industry.
You need expertise in a variety of flavors to keep up with everything. More importantly, you need experts or a community where you can get someone else to “translate” or curate the relevant bits you actually need to know.
Yes, it’s a lot. But, we’re not the only ones who need to weave our way through multiple areas of knowledge to get our jobs done.
I’ve long been fascinated by how movies get made and the many disciplines that go into the field. Marketing leadership looks a lot like the role of a person you may not pay much attention to in filmmaking: the film producer.
Not The Movie Director?
First of all, why not the director? We have to have a vision for what we’re going to create, and we have to work with folks from other disciplines.
Yes, this applies to the movie’s director, but that individual is one hundred percent focused on the creative execution of the project. Maybe that is your role, but I’ve met plenty of folks in the industry who can’t spend all of their time in creative mode. They get to be involved, but they’re working with other folks who have to dedicate their time to that role.
And this really depends on the size of your company and your department. If you’re a one- or two-person team, then maybe your job is a combo role of movie director and producer.
Or, maybe you’re like Steven Spielberg (IMDB). You get to write, direct, produce, and still somehow find time to sleep. Good on you!
But at a certain size and in certain types of company, leadership becomes more removed from the actual job of day-in, day-out campaign creation.
The Film Producer’s Job
Ok, what about the producer?
Producers, according to Make Storyboard, “are there during inception, staff coordination, managing the production process, controlling finances, and even working with the editors.”
In other words, producers are involved in everything needed to get the film done. They are the ones to hire the directors. Producers work with the marketers to get the film out. They may help out with hiring the big name actors.
Here’s a tidbit I didn’t know: the producers are the ones who accept an Oscar for best film. (See some of the most nominated producers for a better idea of how the best select the right projects.)
I see more marketers taking on this role of producer, leaving specialized jobs for team members or vendors who can help them leap ahead of the learning curve. It’s the leader of the project that keeps the vision and keeps pointing people back to the main objective and the why behind the entire project.
The producer / marketer has to get outside of the single campaign to see how all the campaigns fit together.
A Producer’s “Information Diet”
If a producer must be able to rapidly switch context, depending on the problem to be solved, then this person needs fresh material on a regular basis to help keep current. It’s not enough to just know marketing trends. You need news, healthcare / medtech info, tech information, competitor information, and more.
Here are a handful of recommended resources to help you keep the pulse of these different areas. Also, I’m constantly looking to add to my list of reading materials, so please let me know your go-to spots for information.
(Mostly) Neutral News:
- AI for Humble Humans – AI in a marketing context. I just met Karine Abbou, and she definitely has her finger on the pulse of how AI and marketing are coming together.
- Exponential View by Akeem Azhar – Received this recommendation last week, and I am just digging in. Really interesting content so far. For now, I’m on the free subscription.
- John Nosta on Medium – I’ve read John’s work for some time and find the overlap with healthcare to be rather intriguing.
- Medtech Dive – news website
- Fierce Medtech – news website
- The Future of Digital Health – LinkedIn newsletter from Bertalan Meskó, MD, PhD
It’s Not Enough to Consume
Whatever you read, take a step back once a week or once a day to make some notes about what you need to do with the information. How can your business adjust, capitalize, or defend against these trends? What is the next step, and what should you be doing next year?
Start the conversation so that your company is constantly evolving to what your customers need you to be.
Michael spends a great deal of time with the healthcare industry both professionally and personally, which gives him the perspective of what stakeholders on either side of the care equation need.
He began coding in 2008 and subsequently shifted his attention entirely to online marketing. Michael completed his MBA in 2018, focusing on the intersection of healthcare and marketing.