Colin Lewis is a CMO, columnist, educator, and investor working with a wide variety of brands and businesses across the globe helping them understand and apply marketing fundamentals that get results and generate revenue. He’s a multiple-award winning MBA qualified marketer with strong commercial nous, he also drives F1 sports cars, and today he’s here to shift your understanding of the marketing profession into high gear.
According to LinkedIn, marketing roles had the highest turnover rate of any job function at 17%. The global turnover rate is only 11%. Along with creative burn-out, long hours and tight deadlines, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the marketing function within the realm of business, making a career out of marketing has never been more difficult.
What are some of the barriers the present moment is throwing at marketers looking to make a career out of this profession?
“The barriers are three-fold,” says Colin. “Firstly, there’s the conception of trajectory. Most folks in business erroneously believe in onwards and upwards trend lines, and with marketing careers, the trajectory is more like a sine wave. There will be ups and downs, but if you stick with it and respect the swings and round-abouts, you can establish a marketing career that has longevity.”
“Second, is that there is a lot of negativity in marketing careers,” explains Colin. “Now is the best time to be in marketing. Prior to this, you needed to be in a big city and have experience with a known agency or brand. Now, you can be in Lagos, Los Angeles, or London, and if you have a steady WiFi and a decent computer, you can do business anywhere. For the first time in forever, your domain expertise can speak louder than your previous work experience.”
Colin goes on to explain that the third barrier facing marketers is an internal one. “Due to a high turnover rate and the threat of being out-of-touch with fashion and the FOMO related to “the next big thing,” many marketers feel that they’re not good enough or lack critical experience. But because of the ease of doing business in an interconnected world, it’s more important to remain open-minded and ask the right questions, mainly getting to a point where you understand the levers, tools, and channels that are necessary to pour fuel on the business fire.”
Colin believes that a key to maintaining a career in marketing is to always refocus on business objectives and goals that hit your target customer segments.
“Marketers are mainly focused on promotions. But that’s only one P of the 4 Ps of marketing. The key to having a long lasting career in marketing is knowing how to persuade your clients, and artful use of politics, which is how the world works.”
Colin goes on to explain that most marketers and businesses getting into marketing talk only about what they should do, but never focus on what they can do. He believes that politics is the art of the possible, which is why persuasion and politics are so important.
When the question of data and analytics was broached, Colin had some hard earned reflections to share.
“Data-driven marketing is in nearly every marketing job description, and of course it’s necessary to understand financial metrics, campaign metrics and all of that. But really, data is just data. In order to leverage into business actions, you have to first gather the data and information, form insights, derive action steps, and then embed all of this thinking into implicit knowledge. That’s the key. Data needs to speak to you, dashboards need to say something, and that level of insight is only possible through embedded knowledge and experience.”
The conversation goes on to discuss and dive into Colin’s experience as a career coach and a jazz enthusiast, how Sigourney Weaver’s dad invented the 30-second TV ad, and how we’re living in what he calls ‘the third renaissance.’
“The time we are living in today is the best possible time to be in marketing,” says Colin. “Anybody with access to the internet and a 5G phone can own the factory and the means of communication.”