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October 7, 2013
A Walk on the Client Side
 
I spent the last 16+ years at a few marketing firms (most recently over eight years at one agency) and am in the midst of the fourth week at my new job on the “client side.” I thought some may find it interesting to read about my most noteworthy observations following this career change, so here goes.
 
#1: Marketing Truly Impacts the Entire Company
The one definition of marketing that I prefer is, “the ongoing development of relationships with consumers in order to drive the business.” Now that I’m part of a jewelry design and manufacturing company, it’s obvious to me that every department really does have an impact on consumer buying decisions. Each division (management, operations, finance, HR, creative design, product development, manufacturing, fulfillment, sales, and marketing) must work together to ensure that the end consumer is always top-of-mind. In other words, the target’s wants and needs should drive (at varying levels) every action within the company.
 
#2: The Marketing Department Must Clearly Understand Business Objectives & Strategies
One of the first things I did when I arrived at the new job was ask for a copy of the short- and long-term business plans. I wanted to know how the company defined success and how they planned to get there. Without this information, it would be nearly impossible for me to be successful in developing and marketing our brands. It would be like to trying to find a buried treasure without a map. Going forward, I plan to be involved in the development of these plans to ensure I bring the consumer’s voice into the conversation.
 
#3: It’s Easy to Be Distracted by Tactics
"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." This saying couldn’t be more meaningful to me now that I’m in the thick of it. In today’s chaotic world of marketing with so many tactics to consider and so many channels to manage, one can easily be sidetracked by new and different ideas. I find the best way to avoid potential distractions is to do two things:
(A)   Take the time to create a long-term strategic integrated marketing program. Ensure that it is designed to accomplish the business objective, reach a narrowly defined target, and articulate your distinct brand positioning. Stick to this plan.
(B)   Set aside a small budget for experimental marketing projects.
 
#4: Change Is Good
Changing careers and embarking on something new and uncertain can be difficult, but it’s exciting to have a new set of challenges to tackle. It’s great to work with different people and personalities. It’s productive to look at things from another point of view. A little patience and a lot of positivity can go a long way to ensure that change is good — both on a personal level and within a company.
 
The art and science of marketing is complex and my experience on the agency side provided me with the fundamental knowledge of this craft. Being on the company side has given me new perspective and allowed me to put these marketing fundamentals into practice.

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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