If you’re in digital marketing or ecommerce, here’s a thought provoking question for you: How big is your job? No, I’m not talking about the size of your P and L or how many people you manage. I’m talking about your impact on the organization. Any idea? You may not know the answer to that, but you can bet your landing page that your employer does. Don’t confuse this with whether you’re a “rock star” or an “A” player or a “Mahatma Ghandi” of paid search. What I’m referring to is the relative value of your work within your organization, and the impact this has on your future digital marketing opportunities.
Put another way, does your job really make a difference?
When people think about the importance of their job and their digital marketing opportunities, many tend to focus on their willingness to take on added responsibilities, or how hard they work, or maybe how well they perform under pressure and in challenging conditions. These are certainly all highly valued attributes. You would think, therefore, that individuals with these particular qualities would rank among the most highly valued employees in the company. That sounds intuitively obvious. But I can give you example after example of ecommerce managers and digital marketers I know who possess those qualities and yet feel undervalued. In fact, I hear it often: “I believe I’m really good at what I do, and I swear I’m the hardest working member of the ecommerce team, but I just don’t feel like I’m valued by my employer.” Of course, I also hear the complete opposite. In fact, I remember once talking with two individuals who held similar positions within the same company, sitting in cubicles literally right next to each other. One told me she felt undervalued, the other told me he felt highly valued.
How does that happen? What exactly does it mean to be “valued”?
I have a theory. It’s what I call the “Bernhart index of relative value.” After placing countless hundreds of marketing candidates over the past 28 years, the one characteristic that all “valued” marketers seem to share is their ability to have a direct strategic impact on the business. Those who are valued the most are not always the ones who make the most money, or have the biggest titles or budgets, or were the hardest to find. If that were true, then junior-level employees would never be highly valued. Yet, I hear about “most valued” employees at all levels of the org chart. I remember one hiring manager who said he valued one of his interns as much as anyone else in his department. Your relative value is determined by much more than just your proficiency in fulfilling the duties and responsibilities on your job description. Your relative value is largely a function of your strategic influence. For example, if a Manager of Digital Marketing is able to successfully penetrate a new market, and if this was an important strategic goal of the company, then that outcome will very likely score him some big value points.
Why is all of this important? Because being valued by your employer a good thing when it comes to opening up digital marketing opportunities. It can mean a promotion, it can mean a raise, it can mean more perks. Generally speaking, the senior-most digital marketing and ecommerce leaders in an organization are going to have more impact on the overall business than those they manage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a significant impact if you don’t sit at the boardroom table.
If you’re a lower or mid-level ecommerce or digital marketing manager, don’t forget that “bigger picture.” How is your work affecting the overall business? It’s a question you may not think about often, but it gets right to the heart of why you were hired in the first place, and has important ramifications for digital marketing opportunities in the future.