I’m sorry to keep harping on this arrogant white male thing, but this one was too precious to ignore.
About a week ago, an AWM named Robert J. Levin testified before Congress’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about the goings on at Fannie Mae circa 2006-2008. Levin was Fannie’s chief business officer at the time. When he was asked during the hearing whether Fannie should have redirected attention away from the low-income segment, Levin answered, “That wasn’t done at my pay grade.”
Between 2000 and 2008, Robert J. Levin reportedly made roughly $45 million. One wonders what the pay grade is at Fannie Mae that signifies a level at which an employee could or would make adult decisions. An AWM who is also a DB.
Your business meetings probably aren’t Congressional hearing material, but you should treat them as if they were. They are your chance to shine (or, like Levin, to make a fool of one’s self). Take heed below. And if you are on in years, then consider the following topics advice you can provide as a mentor.
Just The Facts
Never make a point or argument in a meeting without a fact to back you up. Cite a third-party research finding, or better yet, some analysis from your own company’s database. Be known as the guy (or gal) with great insights…not the guy who pulls stuff from his butt.
No Samples of One
Blurting out “Well, I never watch TV anymore” or “I thought that TV ad sucked” proves only that you don’t understand the context of the topic at hand. A marketing meeting is about the customer’s perspective, not yours.
Know Thy Enemy
Refrain from talking about the obvious, direct competitor. Chip in with your observations about indirect competitors or emerging threats. In most industries, these are the types of players that cause the most significant disruption.
Forget Where You Came From
Using your previous company as a reference for how things should be is a nonstarter. Watch the eyeballs roll as you talk. By definition, you are no longer at your ex-employer, and there is probably a good reason for that.
Business As Usual
When you make a recommendation, include the impact on the business – more sales, profits, new segments, market share, etc. It’s the only reason marketing exists.
Follow these meeting-behavior pointers, and you just might end up in front of Congress. Not as a Robert J. Levin, but as an expert marketing witness.