Christiana Henry is Rightpoint’s Vice President of Marketing. She joined the organization in April 2017 to establish and lead the marketing and brand strategy for the organization. As part of our #WomensHistoryMonth series highlighting women in leadership at Rightpoint we asked Christiana to tell us more about how to place value on marketing, and the importance of being your own best advocate. This is part 5 in the series; read our interviews with other women in leadership at Rightpoint throughout this week.
Marketing can be an underrepresented and undervalued field within agencies. Why is that, and what advice do you have for marketers trying to prove their value?
Within agencies, everyone is a marketer! I think the primary reason many organizations don’t establish marketing practices is because they think have it under control themselves. But in-house marketing for an agency looks different than the marketing team for a B-to-B product company , or B-to-C brand, and not all companies are invested in looking for people who specialize in what they need.
In marketing, we’re telling new stories all the time, to our internal stakeholders and our external audiences. If you’re a marketer within an agency or B-to-B organization, shifting the perception of what value marketing drives is about getting a seat at the table. And once you’re there, tell the story of your work, tell them how the marketing team is making change. You need to do your own internal PR and demonstrate your success in order to prove your – and marketing’s – value. There isn’t a magic formula for it, but that’s how it starts.
What is one thing you’d advise people to be cognizant of in their career?
Similar to learning to demonstrate the value of your work in order to get a seat at the table, self-advocacy is also important. Mentorship and sponsorship are both great to have as supports along the way in your career, but you have to be your own advocate first and foremost. When others can’t provide you with new opportunities, don’t hesitate to create your own. Eventually, you will get your seat at the table and a voice, and this will lead to you (hopefully) helping to mentor and advocate for others.
If you could give a piece of advice for men or women who want to succeed on a marketing team, what would it be?
I do talk a lot about advocacy, but listening is also so important. Especially on a marketing team, where you are representing both the company brand messaging and the voice of the customer, there are a lot of details to be heard. I’d say to do more listening than talking and observe context, subtext and nuance. When you ask a question, make sure you’re as informed as possible. Sometimes there’s external processing that happens in a room where it may not be the right moment or place for a question, but if you time it correctly, you can obtain the answer you need. A lot of people call this “reading the room,” and it helps you know when it’s appropriate to chime in.
The second piece of advice is, be really good at writing. At the advent of tech and social media, it is critical to know how to write, both short form and long form. It will set you apart.