I count myself one of the lucky ones. Over the 18 years I’ve worked in marketing, I’ve been lead and mentored by some incredible business leaders and one outstanding marketing mentor in particular. Their influence is still evident in how I deal with people, how I strategise and approach problems, and in the work I deliver now. Thank the lucky stars for those people (you know who you are).
Recently, off the back of a surge of pleas for marketing mentoring, I realise there’s a real need out there for good B2B marketing mentors. But there’s a lack of understanding as to:
- when they might come in useful,
- how they can support you and
- the ways in which can benefit both a business and its marketers.
Read on for a few pointers on when a quality mentor could make a big difference to the performance of your marketing function and to the professional growth of senior marketing professionals.
When to consider a marketing mentor
Looking back there’s a few points over my professional career where outside mentoring would’ve helped me through a tough project. Or a time where my capabilities were being stretched by new demands from a business. When I add those scenarios to those of my clients, typically there are five situations where a business marketing mentor’s services can prove valuable:
- Lone ranger – where a marketing individual or small team is fighting marketing’s corner in a business full of non-marketers (i.e. there’s limited senior marketing experience to support them and help them grow).
- Off the back of a nice meaty promotion – promotions can call for new skills, dealing with more senior stakeholders, greater responsibility and accountability, and more plates to spin.
- A growing team to nurture – taking on a new or larger team, particularly for a first-time manager, presents a whole host of new challenges to marketing leaders.
- A change in business direction – examples ranging from entering new territories and building new products or services, to merging or acquiring and internal structural changes, bring challenging new demands on marketing.
- A whacking great project to take on – new projects can prove taxing for many reasons and is often where outside expertise can ease the pressure.
Act like a soldier – bring in the cavalry to fast forward progress
It can be a smart move to pull in the cavalry. When weighing up your team’s or your own coaching needs it’s quite possible that you can get there yourself. But finding the time to study and read up on the subject matter, set out a training programme and checkpoints (and everything else that’s needed for successful mentoring) takes time. Mentoring also requires a skillset and approach that’s not inherent within every manager or leader.
The right mentor on-board and you can be fast-forwarding progress and saving significant time.
What results should I expect? I want ROI!
First, map out the areas you want to address (e.g. potential skills gaps, tasks/hurdles which seem unmanageable…). Next discuss these with your mentor-to-be. Their role will be to set out suitable milestones and KPIs (key performance indicators such as putting learnings into practice, tests or run-throughs to see what’s been learnt) and regular review points. These reviews are when results will come to the surface and you can assess success.
Consider whether it’s feasible to factor in measurements or goals which relate to the mentoring subject matter. For example, add them into Personal Development Programmes, for added incentivisation and visibility. Gathering feedback from relevant stakeholders can also be a valuable checkpoint to see whether progress is evident.
Learning from an experienced professional is good for your career
A marketing mentor’s job is to make you look good – to arm you with new skills, approaches, mindsets, tools… helping you towards your next professional milestone is what motivates them. Your growth is their success. This should be a serious consideration if you’re keen to climb the career ladder and reach new heights.
For more tips on getting in professional support check out The Guardian’s article, “How to find a professional mentor“. And here’s what not to do from Fast Company, “8 Successful People Share How Not To Find A Mentor“. You can find out more about Your Allies’s mentoring and coaching services here.