6 Marketing Experts Share Their Mentors’ Best Career Advice

6 Marketing Experts Share Their Mentors’ Best Career Advice

“What’s the best career advice you ever got from your marketing mentors?” That’s the question we asked six top marketing experts. Their answers are intriguing—and highly useful, whether youre starting out or well along in your career.

So here’s the world’s best career advice for marketers and business people, according to six top marketers—Shep Hyken, Ross Quintana, Stephanie Thum, Mellissah Smith, Marsha Collier, and Chris Penn. Maybe someday, when you’re ridiculously successful and a marketing mentor yourself, you can pass these ideas along.

Getting the Client Is Everything

A business can not be successful if it doesn’t get customers. “That’s what the real job is,” said Shep Hyken, chief amazement officer at Shepard Presentations, LLC. “You can manufacture the greatest automobile in the world, but if there are no customers, you’re not successful.”

Shep credits magician and marketer Bud Dietrich for instilling this insight into him as he was starting his career as a keynote speaker. “Bud said, ‘Shep, you need to look at your day. If you spend eight hours a day talking to people about the value you bring, you’re going to get clients. But that’s eight hours a day, five days a week. Don’t include writing the speech and doing paperwork as a part of those eight hours. You can do that in the evenings and on weekends.”

The bottom line? “The job isn’t doing it, it’s getting it,” Shep said. “So, for me, the job isn’t writing the speech or creating a training program, it’s getting the client.”

Everyone is a Salesperson

“You’re always selling something.”

Stephanie Thum, customer experience (CX) consultant and practitioner, heard this piece of wisdom from a former boss. Stephanie is not a salesperson, so what did her boss mean?

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“This wisdom may seem relevant only to salespeople influencing and selling in a traditional sense,” Stephanie explained. “But it relates to many types of relationships in the business world, including the relationships customer experience (CX) leaders have to develop with their colleagues to get buy-in for customer projects and programs.”

The point is this: We need to be acutely aware of what decision we’re trying to “close” when we communicate with our colleagues. Is our intention to gain consensus for a new customer engagement program? Do we need funding for a new piece of martech? Whatever your goal, know your audience, and build your case based on their specific needs.

Just Keep Going—But Also Know When to Stop

“Just keep going,” is a simple phrase used in some martial arts traditions. For Chris Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist at Trust Insights, this mantra helps him navigate daily obstacles.

“You can interpret this phrase a whole bunch of different ways,” Chris said. “But the way I’ve personalized it is to keep going when I don’t want to, especially as I go, ‘This is boring. This is not fun. This is not exciting. This is not the kind of thing I want to be doing right now.'”

While this mantra helps Chris power through the monotony, he admits it isn’t magical advice for everyone.

“Now for somebody stubborn, that could be the worst advice.” In that case, Chris says, “Stop doing what you’re doing. Don’t keep going. Learn when it’s okay to throw in the towel. Because otherwise, you may be wasting enormous amounts of time and energy.”

For Chris, it all comes down to understanding who you are and what will drive you forward. “Be real honest about what you’re good at and what you’re bad at, and then try to find ways to mitigate those weaknesses.”

Focus on What You Have

When asked to share the best career advice she received, Mellissah Smith, founder of Robotic Marketer, said, “There will always be a new idea or a new opportunity, but before you take it, think about what you have and what is possible with the resources and environment that you have.”

Instead of chasing the next shiny object, think about what’s possible with the “bird” in hand. You might not have money to invest in every attractive piece of martech that comes on the market, but are you maximizing what you have? While that new career opportunity looks hot, have you made the most of your current position and your current company?

Be Contrary

The most influential brands are strongly differentiated and have compelling, unique selling propositions. But how can marketers adopt a novel approach to their thinking, product development, and marketing?

Ross Quintana, CEO of Social Magnets, believes it can be as simple as flipping conventional wisdom upside-down. “Look at what everyone else is doing and do the exact opposite, and you will probably be highly successful,” Ross said, echoing direct sales entrepreneur Bill Gouldd.

If You Do the Work, You’re Going to Win

For Marsha Collier, president of The Collier Company, Inc., it all comes down to two things: quality and perseverance. Says Marsha: “Quality is the number one thing because there’s so much crap on the internet—so many experts who aren’t experts that it just hurts my soul.”

As proof of the importance of perseverance, Marsha points to lessons instilled in her “eBay for Dummies” books.

“A man wrote to me and said, ‘I bought the second edition of your book, and I thought it was, honestly, too much work. So I took a bunch of online classes, and I went to seminars, and I signed up for this merchandising plan.’ And he said, ‘I’m $20,000 in the hole now. I’m back to buying the new edition of your book and this time I’m going to do the work.'”

“But that’s the same thing for writing posts on the internet, writing books, or teaching classes. Just keep working on it,” Marsha said. “Because the truth is, if you do the work—be it marketing, e-commerce, or any career—you’re going to win.”

6 Marketing Experts Share Their Mentors' Best Career Advice

Build Your Own Success

Mentors can help marketers achieve amazing things. The above experts are just a few examples of people who credit the support and advice of mentors as a secret to their success.

If you already have a mentor, congrats! If you’re still on the hunt, there are lots of places to look for a mentor. Who in your network has a career path that you admire? Is there a person at the gym who has it all worked out? Once you’ve found a good candidate—or two—the next step is cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship. It takes work, but, as our experts show, it can be worth it in the end.

Make sure you don’t miss the next dose of career inspiration: subscribe to the Arm Treasure Data Blog for marketing tips, advice on using data in marketing, and intelligence on the latest in retail trends, and much more.

Lisa Stapleton
Lisa Stapleton
Lisa Stapleton is a former editorial director at IDG and former senior editor for InfoWorld and InformationWeek. She has written extensively about enterprise IT, business and environmental topics, and now serves as a senior marketing content manager for Treasure Data. She holds an MBA from Santa Clara, an Applied Math undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, and an MA in journalism from Mizzou. She also enjoys being a Toastmaster.
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