This week is a big one for my brand team. After months of planning and preparation, they get to present their 2010 brand plans to the sales team. This is a crucial event in any marketer’s career. It’s where you either become an inspirational brand champion or experience that confidence-destroying moment when you lose the dressing room and are dismissed as a flakey who has no idea of what happens in the real commercial world.
The team has worked long hours this week pulling together PowerPoints, mock-ups, product samples and a ridiculous number of flashy concept boards and videos, all of which are delivered by courier and recharged with interest by our agencies.
As a blossoming marketer, you tend to serve a rather surreal apprenticeship. You are exposed to the glamour of the marketing industry, yet are not yet accountable for business results. It is a special phase that should be cherished. It would be fair to say that the majority of young brand managers are not lacking in confidence and many quickly develop a sense of ego and self-importance way beyond their station.
The sales meeting has a nasty habit of bringing a few individuals back down to earth with a bump. Perhaps the most common problem is that as a young marketer you may not yet fully understand just how important the sales team is to your brand. After all, you are far happier spending your time with agencies than dealing with customers. The only fund you are asked to manage is the marketing budget, and provided you don’t overspend, you will have done a fine job. Budgets for the sales team are of course a far more serious matter and involve actually selling your brand.
In a few days’ time, my team will find themselves thrown into the “Dragons’ Den” of the sales team conference. They shall stand on stage and explain their brand plans. Those plans, which seemed so logical and obvious when discussed around a big table with the agency team, shall suddenly need to be translated such that they are understood and motivating for the sales team. Marketing jargon is likely to fall on deaf ears as the account managers ask how many more price promotions are being run next year. It will be interesting to see who copes best in the real world.