The 7-step process to onboard yourself into a new marketing role

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You’ve just landed a brand new job — congratulations! 

In an ideal world, the onboarding process is smooth sailing. You’d breeze into your office on the first day with everything you need to know ready and waiting for you. In reality, starting a new role is often more like a bumpy road with a few missing signposts along the way.

While some companies absolutely nail the onboarding process (looking at you, Atlassian), many companies fall short when it comes to integrating employees in a meaningful and effective way. This is despite the fact that the first days, weeks and months on the job are critical to a new hire’s success

Make no mistake: onboarding a new team member should be the employer’s responsibility. With that being said, there are a few things that you can do to make the transition easier and hit the ground running sooner. This 7-step marketing onboarding plan will help us as marketers take ownership of the onboarding process and better set ourselves up to thrive in our role.

1.  Research your new 9-5

Preparing for your new marketing role involves more than just a quick Google search. After acing your job interview, you need to do some additional groundwork prior to your first official day in the office (or your first day logging in online).

Here are four areas that you should be looking into:

  • The company you’ll be working for
  • The team you’ll be working with
  • The industry vertical you’ll be working in
  • The product or service you’ll be selling

Ideally, you’d already have some of this intel interviewing your employer at your job interview. Now it’s time to dig deeper and research these aspects across multiple channels. 

Go all in. To be a top marketer you have to live and breathe like your customers, just like what actors and actresses would do for their role preparation.

Start out by going through their sales process and experiencing the product or service as a customer for the first time. Read up on their top positive and negative customer reviews. Take a look at the type of social media posts they do, and the engagement levels across each platform. Sign up to their company newsletter. The goal here is to get an idea of how an outsider sees the company before you join it. After all, your fresh perspective will bring a lot of value when you join your new team.

Use this time to also fully immerse yourself into your company (and their customers’) world. Subscribe to industry blogs, follow key influencers in the space, set up Google alerts, and follow their competitors to get an idea of the playing field. Give it a week or so, and you should begin to see social and display ads from competitors creep into your browsing as well (or you can skip the waiting game and manually update your ad preferences on Facebook or Google). 

Take this time to also research your new manager, teammates, and other key stakeholders  on LinkedIn. You’ll quickly get an idea of who you’ll be working with, the experience they’ve had, the role they play in your team, and where your experience fits in.

2. Map out your onboarding timeline

You were offered the role because your interviewers believe you can add value to their team. You accepted the offer because you believe the role is going to benefit your career and personal growth. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, it’s natural to want to jump in and impress, stat.

So what do you need to do to achieve some quick wins to meet stakeholders’ expectations? What will you need to do to build credibility in this new workplace? And what will you need to do to reach the next level? These are all questions you need to ask — and answer — in your onboarding timeline.

The Muse has an amazing template by Teddy Nykiel that helps you plan out what the next 30 days, 60 days and 90 days in your job would look like. If you’re not quite sure, don’t be afraid to reverse engineer it with your employer. This will reassure your managers you have a plan, you’d like them on board, and you’re ready to jump in and get started.

3. Meet, greet, and seek to understand

You’ve arrived at the office, or logged on to your team’s email/Asana/Zoom/Trello for the first time. It’s game time.

In your first few days and weeks, be a sponge. Prioritise meetings with key stakeholders who will have a direct impact on the work you deliver, and prepare a list of questions to ask based on the research you’ve done in Step 1.

Listen to understand, not to reply. Soak in everything, write down your thoughts, and question later once you’ve gathered your thoughts. This is your first opportunity to build long-term relationships with people you’re going to kick big goals with.

Don’t forget to meet with the teams you’ll be indirectly working with as well. It benefits both you and the other teams to have a better understanding of how the business works. Plus, you never know where that information will come in handy down the line, as I saw firsthand during my time at Youfoodz.

The Customer Service, Data, and Marketing teams were sitting in a room discussing ad campaigns, and found out that customers wouldn’t buy our 6-meal bundles if there was just one meal that didn’t suit their preferences. From here, we sat down with the eCommerce team and brainstormed some ways to allow customers to customise their own meals, then ran ads on Facebook with a unique one-time offer. The result? A crazy 1:19 ROAS — all by talking to other teams.

Talk to people. Listen. Learn. At the very least, it shows your new employer that you’re engaged in your role and the company. But 9 times out of 10, you’ll unearth incredible nuggets of wisdom to use in your future marketing efforts.

4. Map out how things are, then map out how things should be

At this point in the onboarding process, you’ve probably got a lot of thoughts swilling around in your mind. Now it’s time to distil them, take a birds-eye view of the company, and translate thought into action.

Go back over your notes, analyse the responses from your teammates, review your industry landscape, and deep-dive into the company’s business and marketing performance. This method will help you identify where the gaps are for improvement, and where the new opportunities lie for this company and your industry vertical. Do this step as soon as you’re comfortable, while you still have a fresh pair of eyes. This window of opportunity doesn’t last too long.

The solution is to focus on aspects within our control. We hold ourselves accountable by setting our own baseline goals and stretch goals. Start documenting everything you’ve done daily or weekly. It’s a tedious task but will help you reflect on your professional growth. And provided you’re delivering quality work, it will also make discussions easier at your performance reviews.

It’s also a good time to familiarise yourself with the marketing KPIs for each department, and understand how you’ll be contributing to those.

A word of warning here: you might find during your research that there are unrealistic targets for your role/team, or that the metrics don’t line up with the company’s North Star. The solution is to focus on aspects within your control. Set your own baseline goals and stretch goals, and discuss these with your manager as openly and transparently as possible. Focus on delivering quality work and solving problems, while documenting everything you’ve done daily or weekly basis. All of this will go a long way when it comes time for your first performance review.

5. Play a supportive role 

Your teammates are integral to your success. Period. If you can support and synergise with your team and other teams, you’ll make the entire onboarding process easier on everyone (and kick goals faster and harder).

You’ve probably spent a good deal of time with each of your teammates and managers at this point. Now, it’s time to figure out what type of communication style and work process would suit each person. It’s a lengthy and iterative process, but it helps make everyone’s work life better — including yours.

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Are they a Driver who prefers to get straight to the point, or are they a Guardian who likes exploring every aspect and detail before proceeding to execute the marketing plan? Are they a pioneer who thrive with blue-sky thinking, or are they an Integrator who values people over ideas? And how does your style fit in with theirs? Hint: take the test here to figure out. 

Once you’ve done this, you can begin to join the dots between different teams, projects, and goals. 

It’s common for small-to-medium-sized companies to not have a dedicated project manager to oversee the overall project status or take a holistic view of the company’s situation. Even the smallest teams can work in silos or find themselves running forward with their heads down, without an end goal in sight. As a newcomer, you’re in the perfect position to break down these barriers without offending people too much (or at all).

The ‘listen to understand’ principle applies here as well. Ask questions to understand why things are done the way they are, keep other teams in the loop when working on projects, and consolidate your activities where possible so you’re using the company’s resources more efficiently and reaching your goals more effectively.

6. Optimise current work based on ones adding the most business value

If you’ve ever stepped into a job and felt your to-do list growing exponentially (along with your stress levels), you’re not alone. Unfortunately, a lot of companies wait a tad too long before creating a much-needed position, or have difficulties finding the right fit for the job.

Step back and breathe. Having acquired a better understanding of the company and its product, you should be in a position to think slow, digest all the information, and focus your efforts on where they’re most needed. Remember: working smart and hard beats working smart or hard.

Start the optimisation process by prioritising your tasks based on their business value. Apply your best principles from your experience, then adapt to your team’s best practices. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) will help with your time management and task prioritisation.

7. Take full ownership and implement new initiatives

You’re over the hurdle and you’ve crossed the finish line. Having built a reputation and credibility through working on the foundations, you’ve now finally completed your onboarding process for your new role.

After fully integrating with your new team (and hopefully smashing through some goals along the way), you can get cracking with your next objective. Perhaps it’s implementing new marketing initiatives, or maybe you’re looking to become a T-shaped marketer in your organisation. 

Either way, you’ve survived — and now it’s time to thrive.

If you found this article useful, you can download the summarised 7-step marketing onboarding plan here.

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