The beginning of a new year often inspires people to make big changes, and thus my email box is filling up with inquiries from marketers looking for new and better jobs. The key question -- how to find a company whose management is serious about being market-driven and thinking like the customer?
Today I received a message from a guy who quit his job because the company simply refused to consider the customer in any business decision. He asked me for a list of companies that send people to the Pragmatic Marketing seminars, thinking that this would be a good place to start to find market-driven companies. He somehow missed the irony in his question -- he knew me only because his previous employer had sent him to the Effective Product Marketing seminar. Hmmm.
Having fielded this question many times in the past, I've developed a short list of questions that I recommend to anyone who is interviewing employers for a marketing job. Note the emphasis on "interviewing employers." An interview is a mutual exchange of information to make sure that your expectations are compatible with the company's. Therefore you should be well-armed with questions that will help you to assess the company's commitment to listening to their customers and acting on what they hear.
Here is the short version of my recommended questions. You can use these for a new position or when evaluating an internal transfer to a new marketing position:
1) To what extent will my job include time to interview people who are not customers and who are not in the sales pipeline, so that I can understand their business priorities?
2) What are the key performance metrics for my role? (If the metrics include product profit & loss you are on the right track, but you'll need the right answer to the first question or it will be hard to succeed)
3) What is the company's commitment to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation tools, or other methods of measurement that evaluate overall sales process throughput and not just leads developed?
4) Is there a project management function in the development organization, or does the product manager perform this function? (if development expects marketing to do this job, you won't have the time to be strategic)
5) What influence will I have over the decisions about investing in particular sales tools and marketing programs? (If someone else owns these decisions, you don't want responsibility for product profit & loss outcomes)
Keep in mind that very few companies answer all of these questions as we would want them to. Thus you are often better served by helping your current employer to evolve the marketing role. But if you are on the search for a new marketing job, put these questions on your list.