Being a successful marketer in today’s complex ecosystem requires a dynamic set of skills. Modern marketers must be highly adaptable, tech-savvy, and analytics-focused. While I’ve certainly acquired many of these necessary “hard” skills over the course of my career, the “soft” skills, like leadership, communication, and teamwork came as a result of a much more difficult (and rewarding) job: being a mother.
As I’ve found myself in more of a leadership position, it’s hard to turn off the “mom” switch when dealing with teams, clients, and industry colleagues. So, as we prepare for Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you four lessons I’ve learned as a mom that have made me a more effective marketer.
- Amazing Negotiating Skills: Whether dealing with clients, vendors, or members of my own team, negotiation becomes a critical component of the marketing function. Making responsible deals that satisfy all parties is certainly not easy, but it is far easier than convincing my daughter to go to bed on a school night, or my 10-year old son that he can’t go and see that rated-R movie all of his friends are talking about.
- Perception of Needs: Often times, what a customer or colleague says she wants is shielding a more important underlying need. In marketing, it is our responsibility to understand the needs of our customers and help our sales and accounts teams to properly position our platform against those needs. Recall Henry Ford’s famous quote when referencing the introduction of the mass market motor vehicle, “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” Though it appears he may have not ever actually uttered those words, the sentiment partly holds. Good marketers listen to their customers, and to the market trends, and craft meaningful marketing experiences as a result. Of course, for mothers, our audience often thinks they know what they want or need, but it’s our job to be highly perceptive and intake context clues to help make decisions.
- Breaking Concepts Down to Bite Size: One of the most hyped characteristics of children is their innate curiosity. It also happens to be one of their most endearing qualities, and one that adults could learn from. Children always want to get super granular, and will ask “Why?” on repeat until you can no longer handle it. But underlying that line of questioning is a desire to understand the components of a concept. In marketing, we often speak at a very high level about grandiose ideas that will “change the world.” Instead, we need to think small in order to achieve something big. Smart marketers understand that they need to break complex concepts down, and educate their consumers instead of selling to them immediately.
- Nurturing a Team: Finally, understanding the nuances of a team, and how to mesh conflicting personalities is a skill every mom develops. Having two children means playing mediator and peace-maker, but it also is a constant opportunity to help them grow, learn, and develop their personalities. Similarly, as a marketing leader, one of the more rewarding parts of my job is working with a talented team and helping put them in a position to succeed. Nurturing their growth (though they aren’t my children….not really), makes the job exceedingly meaningful.
Of course, someone need not be a mother to be an effective marketing leader. But it has certainly helped me throughout my career. Happy Mother’s Day to all of my marketing moms out there, wishing you a great weekend with your families!