Over the last twenty years White Marble has had the privilege of training hundreds of ambitious marketers around the world, representing a wide variety of industries. Despite these aspiring individuals knowingly improving their skill set and abilities, one common theme continues to raise its ugly head - 'imposter syndrome'.
Something everyone can feel, outside of work or in employment, is the feeling of not belonging. Feeling like they are standing somewhere they shouldn't be and are in a position they don't deserve to be. To our continuing surprise, many successful, high-profile marketers live in fear of one day being 'found out'.
Our Chief Learning Officer Quentin can certainly relate to this. Quentin's experience is a common one and below he shows how that helped him create an approach to alleviating the scarily common 'imposter' syndrome.
Causes of Imposter Syndrome
Twenty years ago, I was promoted to the main board of an insurance company. The room was full of accountants, lawyers, underwriting and compliance experts, most of whom were at best ambivalent about marketing. It was a struggle to be taken seriously and have my voice heard, this situation immediately began to turn into me believing that I was "in the wrong place".
When a marketer has their hard work rewarded with a position at board or director level, they frequently face the issue of speaking a different language to others on the board. Even the most technically competent marketers are all too often perceived as lacking commercial acumen. Talking about abstract concepts such as brand awareness (rather than hard finance and ROI) doesn't exactly help matters.
In B2B sales-dominated cultures, marketing and marketers are often referred to in patronising terms. Meanwhile, fee-earners argue that marketing is a 'nice to have', something for the good times. At best marketing is a support rather than strategic function. Is it any wonder then that marketers lack confidence?
Solution - Four new Ps
So how can we overcome 'Imposter Syndrome'?
A while back I had what might be described as an epiphany during a catch up with five marketing leaders for our bi-monthly 'mastermind' gathering. From our discussions four new Ps emerged that neatly address 'Imposter Syndrome'.
Among our 'mastermind' group is Leigh Simpson - an expert in construction marketing. Leigh sees construction as a force for good and is compelling in his reasoning. Leigh effectively challenged the group to think more deeply about the role of marketing. Do we marketers really believe that what we do is a force for good?
Unlike most marketers, Leigh has a tangible sense purpose or as Simon Synek would say - his 'Why'. (Check out his brilliant Ted Talk here). It is not easy to achieve, but marketers should be able to clearly articulate their purpose.
Once you have a clear sense of purpose, then you must voice your opinions and become a thought-leader.
Marketers need to build personal profiles and speak with passion and conviction. It is no good just to be competent, we marketers must push ourselves out of our natural comfort zones.
Thankfully, Leigh is not alone as a marketing leader raising his game. Alumni from AIM's Leadership programme are building their personal brands; talking about subjects such as client centric branding, financial illiteracy and millennial investor behaviour.
How do you build that profile? You must perform both on and offline. Commit to creating high quality content including blogs, webinars, vlogs and who knows, maybe a book one day.
Marketers must 'swallow some brave pills' and present - regularly. Develop your public speaking skills starting with internal meetings and progress to industry events. Many of AIM's Leadership alumni are learning their craft presenting at Expert Speaker events and Academy sessions.
Have a goal. Is there a major industry event that one day you could present at? Have it in mind and start working towards it.
Having a purpose, developing your profile and performing can be extremely difficult to achieve alone. You will need help. You need third parties to coach, challenge and reassure you.
Keep investing in your personal development. As the saying goes 'if we stop learning, we stop living'. Find programmes and 'mastermind groups' that will help you develop as a leader.
You will find that you are not alone, and more importantly you will have a support network to overcome any sense of imposter syndrome you may have.
For more support in tackling the issues above, discover our suite of investment marketing courses, designed for a range of career levels