What does it take to build a successful career in marketing? With Martin George, Waitrose

Author: Joe Glover
Martin George, Customer Director of Waitrose

What does it take to build a successful career in marketing? We asked Martin George, Customer Director of Waitrose. 

Martin George is the Customer Director of Waitrose: in effect heading up the famous supermarket’s marketing operations.

And while this role is impressive in itself, it comes after a storied career that has seen Martin in roles as varied as BA to the Post Office.

In this webinar, we hear what a career in our industry has taught him about careers in marketing, the models that have been useful throughout, and getting buy in from the rest of the business on marketing activity.

Just some of the Q&A with Martin George, Customer Director of Waitrose

 

I’m increasingly finding that everyone in the business thinks they know how to do marketing… (ops, finance etc.) and are questioning and challenging everything I do. Which I find a complete blocker to progress. How do you handle that?

You are not alone. It’s not uncommon.

I think if people step back, they can see brilliant marketing changing businesses. So for me, do two things.

1. Draw examples from the outside world, show that success;

2. show the link between what you do and the business impact/profit.

 

Would you advise people working in very small companies to look for mentors externally? How would you recommend doing it?

Identify people you think could mentor you and why. Generally speaking, people are generous and want to give back.

As a starting point, think about the areas you are less capable and then try to find the ying to your yang.  Find someone that’s you think you can benefit from. Ultimately, life is a journey of discovery and mentors will often get as much back from their mentees as the other way round.

 

How long is the right amount of time to spend at a job. When is the right time to move on?

For me, it’s more about the journey you’re on.

If you’ve given it your absolute all, have tried everything, don’t feel like you’ve grown. Or don’t feel fulfilled, sometimes it just isn’t right. Give it your best shot, minimum 12 months, but If it’s affecting your health or affecting your family… then that’s crossed the line and it’s time to move on.

 

What are the key skills marketers of 2021 need, and are there any tools you keep going back to?

There are a number of points here.

First, curiosity is vital, constantly asking questions and putting customers first.

Secondly, you have to be constantly improving yourself by seeking out opportunities to learn and improve.

Next, you must understand data and marketing tech, you have to understand that, or you need someone around you that does.

You have to understand what going on in CSR space, and purpose driven brands. You have to understand diversity and inclusion 

Finally, you have to be financially competent, and understand the financial wellbeing of the business and speak in that language.

 

When we are in a junior position, how can we persuade our managers that we are ready for more responsibility, particularly when we have committed ourselves to extra learning, and have got the knowledge

Say yes to everything. Always be willing. Volunteer. Be the first to have your hand up, it will bring opportunities. 

 

The best thing to do when working for a tiny brand…?

This is the best possible marketing training. When you have no budget, you have to be more creative and innovative. Use social media… use PR, get people to talk about your brand. Have an opinion, an attitude, get yourself noticed. 

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