Tradeshow 101: The Most Important Thing to Buy for Your Booth

Image result for exhibit hall picture

“Dear Hannah,

I am a marketing manager with a non-existing budget.  This year my company wants us to have a booth at a major industry tradeshow.  We have a tabletop, backdrop and podium.  It’s enough to fill up a 10×20.  With limited funds I’m not really sure where to put the bulk of it?  Should I invest in giveaways or a better booth or something else?  If giveaways, what are your favorites?


Tradeshows happen to be one of my favorite topics.  In fact, in response to your email I’m going to write a series on my top tradeshow tips.

I know all too well how expensive tradeshows are and how unrealistic marketing budgets can be.

Here is hands down, the #1 most important thing you should buy for your booth:

Carpet Padding.

Image result for carpet padding tradeshow

It is the most under utilized, under valued and most important thing a marketer can spend money on for their booth.  More than giveaways, more than the booth itself, more than collateral… carpet padding is king.  And best of all, it’s cheap.

Carpet Padding can accomplish 4 critical things:

  1. Entice people to come to your booth
  2. Entice people to stay at your booth
  3. Keep your team’s energy up
  4. Make you look like an event marketing genius

1. Entice People to Come to Your Booth

Let me paint a picture for you.

Image result for professional woman outfit plusKelly works in an office and rarely gets to do something fun as part of her job.  Maybe she travels to other offices, but it’s rarely a good time.  For the most part she works at her desk, rarely has time to eat or exercise properly, and hardly ever gets to rub elbows with her company’s executives.

Her company decides that she will join several others at a conference in Las Vegas – now they’re talking!  She will be joining her VP and a few directors.  She decides to pack her cutest, professional outfits – which include heels.  Kelly doesn’t think about the fact that she’ll have to walk a mile from her hotel room to the convention hall.  She doesn’t realize the convention call is all concrete slightly covered by carpeting.  It never occurs to her that 3,000 exhibitors means spending an entire day on her feet in the exhibitor hall.  After 2 hours, her feet and back are killing her – and she has another 3 days of this.

Then Kelly walks past your booth and you complement her on her amazing heels and state Image result for feet are killing you“… but your feet must be killing you!  Come enjoy some carpet padding.”  She will shake your outstretched hand and come join you on the carpet, just to be polite.
Then Kelly’s eyes light up.  OMG!  Double carpet padding is instant relief.  Triple carpet padding feels like a cloud.

It sounds crazy, but it works 4 out of 5 times.  This is true of men and women alike.  Men’s shoes can be just as terrible, especially when you’re carrying a few extra pounds and are not used to this much walking.

2. Entice People to Stay at Your Booth

When they feel that relief, they are instantly in a better mood and are happy to listen to your elevator pitch.  If you opt for the triple padding, some people may actually take their shoes completely off.

They will tell you their life story for 3 minutes of relief from their feet and back.  Then you can better qualify them at the booth and hand them over to a nearby sales rep who can more expertly answer their question.

If people are running away from your booth, chances are you haven’t given them a good reason to stay.

3. Keep Your Team’s Energy Up

Image result for ready okayNo one should be sitting at the booth.  It is a hard rule at my events.  No one sits.

It is exhausting smiling, standing and being completely “on” for 8 hours 3 days in a row.  I get it.  If you expect your team to be “on” and on their feet, pay for the extra carpet padding.  Chances are they didn’t pack the right shoes either.  They will thank you.

4. Make You Look Like an Event Marketing Genius

geniusMarketing gets a bad rap for spending too much money (see a previous post on the topic), but you can reverse that when you demonstrate how much traffic you’re bringing in without having the nicest booth and coolest gadgets.  Point out to your team how other booths are not doing the same thing.  They have the coolest booth in the world and people are picking up their goody and leaving.  No valuable conversations at all.

When you’re team observes this, you can point out that you spent 1/3 of what the others did and we’ll probably get double the traffic.

You’ll look like a genius.  You’re welcome.

If anyone has any marketing questions feel free to email me at  I’m all ears and you may get a shout out on the blog.


3 Ways to Dominate a Department of 1

Image result for stranded on an islandMarketers often find themselves on an island.  No, I don’t mean wonderful President’s Club trips (we’re never invited to those).  I mean working alone.  This is one of those skillsets we just have to master.  But we’re not alone.  A ton of B2B roles find themselves alone, especially in smaller companies.  Field sales, HR, accounting, legal – they can all be stranded on an island, expected to do the work of 12 people with the accuracy of IBM’s Watson.

But the big question is how do you do that?

This post is not about how to get your boss to hire more people or how to lower expectations.  It’s about truly dominating your field – all by yourself.

Image result for marketing plan funny1: Make a Plan

If you’re going to be stranded on an island, you should probably start making a list of what you need to do.

  1. Build a shelter
  2. Find food
  3. Figure out how to make fire…

You get the point.

In work it’s no different.  For marketing, that plan is fairly straight forward.  Their called “marketing plans” and you spent 4 years in college doing nothing but preparing for them.  In large organizations marketing plans are usually a luxury.  They are time consuming, cumbersome, and the only people who care about them are the people on your team.  Many small or medium B2B companies will tell you they are a waste of time too, but don’t listen.  When you are doing everything on your own, your marketing plan is your saving grace.

A well crafted marketing plan can do many things.

  • Create buy-in from executives on time spent, budget, priorities, etc
  • Define where you want to focus your efforts
  • Show exactly how big an undertaking many campaigns can be
  • Document your value to the company

It doesn’t have to be the massive business document you designed in school.  When you’re a department of one, you can skip a lot of the pageantry and get straight to the point.  Here is the outline I use:

  • What I accomplished last quarter/year.
  • My goals for next quarter/year.
  • Marketing Mix
  • Budget
  • Calendar

I don’t need to go through SWOT or Competitive Analysis.  I can just speak to those when asked.  The only people who ever read those are marketing anyway.  I dare you to find a small business executive who wants to read marketing’s SWOT analysis.  Go on, I’ll wait.

The other thing I highly recommend is writing them on a quarterly basis.  Business moves too fast for an annual marketing plan.  It normally takes about 3 months to throw them out anyway.  Do them in 3-6 month increments and they’ll be much more useful.

2: You are the expert – Act like it.

Image result for expert funnyIf you are running a department by yourself, it is your job to execute.  No one wants to babysit you and no one has the skill set to help.  You are the expert – act like it.

This is one of the reasons I love my quarterly plans so much.  I can take the time to think through what I want to do and why, rather than being put on the spot every 30 seconds when someone has a question.  Planning breeds confidence, which breeds trust.

Pro-Tip: Ultimately the trust of those around you enables you to dominate a department of one.  If they don’t trust you, you cannot lead.

Keep one thing in mind.  Experts don’t know everything.  They just know more than everyone else in the room.  I am not the world’s foremost expert on marketing.  But I am the expert on my team.  And if I don’t know an answer, my expertise tells me how to find it.  And 99% of the time, that’s good enough.

3: Know Your Limits

I had a VP once who called me “Wonder Woman”.  The nickname was so prevalent that for secret Santa one year he actually gave me a pair of Wonder Woman pajamas (they are insanely comfortable).  He gave me this nickname mostly because of the sheer volume of work I could churn out in a small amount of time.  This ended up being my downfall.  I got overconfident and determined to do anything and everything to succeed.  I over committed.  I made mistakes.  And because I moved so fast, it took a while before anyone (including me) realized.

Image result for exhaustionIt was embarrassing, but the entire experience taught me a very clear and simple lesson – know your limits.  Had I simply pushed back and told him I was going to start dropping balls if I took on any more work, he would have probably backed off or taken something off my plate.  Just because I’m the resident “expert” does not make me a superhero.  I can make mistakes and I can forget things, just like everyone else.  Part of being an expert is knowing how far you can go before you have nothing left to give.  It’s a hard lesson, but a critically important one.  Especially when you’re all alone.

Working alone does not have to be a death sentence.  You have all the creative and prioritization freedom in the world.  The question is whether you will rise to the occasion.

All marketers do is spend money… and other stupid crap people say.

Image result for eye roll memeI have no idea why marketing gets such a bad rap.  I’m sick and tired of it personally.  I can only guess that people are jealous because marketers have an awesome job where we get to throw parties and design cool stuff and don’t have to talk to customers every day.  I would probably hate me too.

But here’s the thing: No one’s job is a walk in the park.  Here are a few of my favorite stupid things I hear from non-marketers about marketing.

All Marketers Do Is Spend Money

I’ll admit, marketing can be expensive.  Especially at organizations that struggle to pay their employees regularly.  But here’s the thing.  Good marketers pays for themselves.  Marketers actually hate spending money, because we know we have to prove an ROI for every dollar we cost the company.  I have never met a B2B marketer who’s like “I have this massive budget.  I can’t wait to burn it on display ads and liquor!”  It just doesn’t happen.

Image result for marketing dilbert

If you have a marketer on your team that you feel “only spends money”, most likely they have fallen victim to a few shortfalls:

  • They didn’t state the projected return before spending the money.  Doing this results in two outcomes – (1) Stated goals keep them honest and (2) Helps them get everyone on board with the expense beforehand – which avoids uncomfortable discussions later.
  • You are making them buy crap for no reason.  (Yes, this is a real thing)  Don’t get mad at marketing for low ROI when you insist on buying thousands of pens to put at your $60,000 tradeshow booth that costs $20,000 just to ship.  No wonder your event marketing isn’t working.  You are setting it up for failure.
  • They’re not tracking or reporting their return in KPIs that mean anything to you.  Marketers speak marketing.  “KPI” stands for “Key Performance Indicators” and if you didn’t know that chances are you don’t speak marketing.  If marketing insists their campaigns are working and you’re not seeing evidence of that, most likely you have a failure to communicate.  Explain to marketing exactly how you define success and ask them to explain to you how they define success.  Without an agreed upon set of KPIs, you’re likely going to have a tough time understanding their value.

Those who can’t do, teach.  Those who can’t sell, market.

Image result for marketing liquor and guessing

I understand how this misconception would come to be.  I tried direct sales.  I did not enjoy it one bit.  I’m not talking about the cooshy stuff most B2B account reps do.  I mean I literally walked around Home Depot for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week trying to get people to sign up for in-home kitchen cabinet refacing consultations.  I was paid $25 a lead.  They called it “direct marketing” – I called it bullsh*t.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t sell.  I have been told by many sales directors over the years that I have the personality and ear for it (whatever that means).

However, I don’t like being called 400 times a day to see if I’ve moved the pipeline $2 further than yesterday.  I also don’t like to be in constant competition with the people on my same team. The stress of doing sales day in and day out is miserable.  But somehow the puzzle of click-through-rates is exhilarating.  It’s not that I can’t do your job – I just don’t want to.

Marketers are the drunk frat boys of the business world

Image result for marketing dilbert

Screw you.  We all know that’s sales.

Marketing isn’t a real business discipline

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Marketers have a bad rap for being stupid.  People claim we don’t know anything about how business is done and, I’ll admit, I’ve perpetuated that stereotype from time to time to get out of boring meetings.

But the fact is that statement doesn’t make any sense.

I graduated from one of the most prestigious marketing programs in the world, Penn State.  (WE ARE!)  At the time our marketing program was ranked 16th in the world – THE WORLD!  But they wouldn’t let me graduate with a business degree without also studying managerial accounting, finance, statistics, calculus and a host of other classes every business student studies.  I just took a few more marketing classes than you and a few less [insert discipline] classes.  That doesn’t mean I don’t understand business and you sound like a moron by saying that.

In conclusion, haters gonna hate.  Marketers are going to continue to be professionally awesome.  Also, I love Dilbert and you should buy all of their products.  (No they did not pay me to say that.)

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams


What is MDF and why every B2B marketer should know about it

Image result for marketing budget memeIf your marketing department is like most, you probably beg, borrow and bleed for every dollar you receive.  This is a guide to getting more money.

Do I have your attention now?

MDF stands for “Marketing Development Funds” and it is the! (Yes, I just dated myself)

Image result for blew my mindEssentially, think of it as free marketing budget from another company.  Is your mind officially blown?

Why would some other company want to give you money to throw events and write whitepapers?

Answer: They have a vested interest in your success.

Here’s how MDF works.

Your company sells a solution to the market.  You – as a marketing manager – market said solution.  Sometimes it’s a physical Image result for supply chainsolutions, sometimes it’s software, sometimes its a service.  Regardless, your company pays other companies in the supply chain for pieces to make your solution. Thus the supplier has an interest in you selling more of your solution.  The more solution you sell, the more you buy from them to sell more solution.

Let’s break this down another way.

Example #1: Your company has a SaaS solution.  It lives on servers somewhere.  The bigger you grow the more servers you have to buy to run your SaaS product.  The server manufacturer wants you to sell more software, so you can buy more servers.

Example #2: Your company does pharmaceutical testing.  You buy tons of equipment and test tubs to do all this testing.  The more testing work you get, the more equipment you buy.  It’s in the equipment manufacturer/distributor’s best interest to help you get more testing orders.

I could go on and on.

How to get these companies to fund your marketing?

  1. Pull a list of the vendors with which your company spends the most money annually to deliver your product/service.
  2. Schedule meetings with them to discuss your marketing vision and how they can benefit from your growth.
  3. Ask if they have an existing MDF program – note that it may have a different name.
  4. If not, see if they would be interested in partnering with you in the form of MDF dollars (pounds, euros, whatever).  This could be in the form of a spend commitment or shared lead generation or something completely different.  Get creative.

Things to keep in mind

  • Expect more than 1 logo. Most companies footing the bill will want their logo on anything they pay for.  That usually comes in the form of co-branding.
  • Bring your A-Team.  Be sure to pull in your accounts receivable and accounts payable teams so that everyone is on the same page – depending on how deals are structured.  Legal is also a good person to have at the table.
  • Image result for marketing budget memeBe vigilant about communicating the value of the program.  If your MDF partner is not used to doing this type of engagement it will be important to meet with them semi-regularly (I’d say once per quarter) to discuss how the program’s going and it’s ROI.  Remember that they have bosses to answer to too.


Getting funding for your projects can feel like hunting sometimes.  Hopefully this gives you a new weapon.

1 surefire way to make a marketing job application stand out

Image result for job application meme

I despise job searching.  During the summer of 2015 I was laid off and must have sent my resume to 200 companies up and down the Front Range and around the world.  After 4 months I started to lose hope. At month #5 I was struck by inspiration.

That summer was one of self-reflection and improvement.  I went to yoga every day – since I didn’t have anything better to do.  As a result, I lost 20 lbs!  (Don’t worry.  My desk job has caused me to gain it all back.)  I also had plenty of time to volunteer with local dog rescues – a cause that I take very seriously.

Around month #5 two interesting job listings came on the market for Denver-area companies.

One was for Sports Authority (RIP), working on their website’s customer experience.  Since I’d lost a ton of weight recently and now lived in yoga pants, Sports Authority had become a favorite spot to loiter and the role seemed very enticing.

The second was at Kong – the company that makes those red cone-shaped dog toys.  They have “office dogs” and employees get all sorts of dog-related perks.  What self-respecting, crazy dog-lady wouldn’t want a job there?!

I had applied to both companies multiple times already, without so much as a phone screen with HR.  Resumes were not working.  My online portfolio got clicks, but not enough.  I had to do something different – make myself stand out.  I was a marketer for crying out loud!  Certainly I could come up with Image result for brilliantsomething brilliant.

I thought about my experience.  What is something I could do to get their attention and highlight my strengths?  And then it hit me.  I will build a website specifically to show them how much I want to work there!

Okay, that’s not exactly true.  

My (now) husband sent me an article about a girl who wanted to work for AirBnB so badly that she did a special project and built an entire website to deliver it to them.  AirBnb was so impressed that she got an interview.

I thought, “I could do that!”

And I did.  I made each of them a custom WordPress website to talk specifically about how much their companies meant to me.

I talked about my weight loss journey to Sports Authority and included before & after photos.


I also talked about ways I thought they could improve their website and what I was seeing in the market.


I told Kong about my lifelong devotion to their product lines and included photos of my dog, Delilah, playing with their toys.


I also included a section on how I thought Kong could improve by targeting the millennial market more effectively.


It was aggressive and heart felt.  I put it all out there, desperate to make an impression… and it worked.

What actually happened

I tweeted, emailed, facebooked, and LinkedIn’d (that’s a verb, right?) both websites directly to their respective companies.  Somehow someone was going to see them.

Kong actually picked up the phone and called me.  Although they did not want to bring me in for an interview (they wanted someone more senior), the VP of Marketing did apparently see the website and was extremely impressed.  I will note that I was shocked they didn’t at least bring me in to meet me, but they politely said they’d keep my resume on file in case something more appropriate became open in the future.  Blah, blah, blah…

Sports Authority, however, did bring me in for an interview.  They were so impressed with the website that they sent it to the recruiter managing the account, who phone screened me.  When she was satisfied I wasn’t a crazy person, I was actually brought in for a face-to-face interview with real hiring managers at their physical headquarters.

It was obvious that the team was taken aback by me and my unexpected website application.  It definitely made an impression.  Someone let it slip that they were going to give the position to someone internally, but when they saw my website they had to meet me first.

Long story short, I didn’t get the job.  In honesty I wasn’t quite right for that job either.  But I got in the door and that was the whole point.

As marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about pipeline development and how to increase opportunity volume.  In a way job searching is very similar.  The more opportunities in the funnel, the more likely you are to get a job.  But first you have to get in the door.  And sometimes that requires a degree of creativity and willingness to go above and beyond.

In case you’re worried, I did eventually find a great job – and it only took 6 months.

Image result for got a job

How to do market research with no time or budget

Image result for market researchMarketers get asked to do a ton – branding, sales enablement, event planning, content creation, lead generation – it never seems to end.  It’s even worse when you have to do it all by yourself.  Here’s one more skill any marketing manager worth their salt needs to master – market research.  Dun DUN DUN!

Here’s the thing.  You don’t have to be a big data or industry analyst to do it.  You already have all the skills you need to do basic market research.  You don’t even need a budget.  Just the willpower to try.

Here is my step-by-step guide so that you look like a marketing rock star at your office:

Image result for audience1) Determine your audience

Who will consume the information?  When I produce reports I direct them towards two groups – sales leadership and product leadership.  You may need to provide useful information to your executive team or business development.  Figure out who you’re writing for and it will direct every decision from there out.

2) Create a report template

Image result for reportI find it’s 12x easier to do almost anything when I have a framework to work inside.  Here is the framework I use for my reports – feel free to copy or edit it for your purposes.

Header – States title and date

Industry News – I use this section to focus on news that is relevant for the entire industry.  This could include shifts in the market, new technology, or any other trends that may be happening at a macro level.

Competitor News – This section breaks down each of our competitors and what they’re up to publicly.  This could include product announcements, executive changes, public filings, important customer announcements – anything I think my audience would find valuable.

Word on the Street – Finally I have a section dedicated to the rumor mill.  Nothing is substantiated and nothing is verified – it’s just a few people’s opinions on a particular topic.  This is by far the most popular section month after month.  This is the stuff you’ll never read on a Google alert and is the hardest to capture.

3) Sign up for everything

Image result for sign upThere is a smorgasbord of information out there.  It’s your job to compile it.  Sign up for daily or weekly email updates from the following sources.  They get delivered to your inbox regularly and you won’t have to spend whole days doing research.  But it will look like you did.

  • Google Alerts – I recommend starting with 3-5 keywords that are most often used in your industry.  Then setup a Google Alert for each one of them.  Also set one up for each of your top competitors.  Every day you’ll get a few emails automatically from Google and you can file them away until you’re ready to read through them.
  • Business Publications – Whether it’s the Wall Street Journal or your local downtown newsletter, these things are packed with the best and most useful information you can find.  Most are free and are more than happy to send you a daily synopsis email.  Sign up for publications that cover your industry or geography or however you breakdown your business.
  • Industry Rags – Every industry has super niche publications.  Do a quick Google search and find them.  “_____ industry news” ought to do the trick.  I used to do marketing for the B2B drug testing industry.  My team tested workers’ comp patients for opioid abuse and marketed to risk managers.  You don’t get any more niche than that.  There were actually 3 websites I used that discussed little more than just this topic.  Trust me.  There are resources out there for whatever you sell.

4) Set a reminder to plug and play

Image result for copy and pasteNow set two 1-hour meetings on your calendar a month; one in the first half of the month, one at the end.  Open up that folder holding all your automatic emails and skim through them.  Click the links that interest you and copy/paste the best content into your report.

Be sure to include a link that reads “Full story” in case your readers want a deeper dive, but catch the high lights in your report.  Don’t include more than 2 paragraphs for any listing.  I actually prefer 3 sentences or fewer.  My audience is mostly made of VPs or higher so they don’t have time to read everything.  Get to the point and give them a means to learn more if they want to.

PRO TIP: No email to an executive should ever take longer than 30 seconds to digest.  Why do you think people created “executive summaries”.

5) Do some custom research

I mentioned my final, and most popular, section is called “Word on the Street”.  It never takes me longer than 2 hours to complete and it’s the most fun.Image result for research meme

  1. Identify a topic
    -Competitor pricing in a certain market
    -How a certain vertical uses your product
    -A new technology that your readers need to know
  2. Identify an expert
    If you’re looking at how competitors are behaving in a certain market, call the local rep that handles that territory and interview them.  What feedback is he/she hearing from local customers?  Where is your pricing being undercut?  What product/solution/competitor do folks love and hate?

    If you’re looking at a particular vertical, go for academics.  Professors love to talk – it is what they do for a living.  Let them tell you what a vertical needs.  Here’s an example.  I was doing a piece on the video gaming industry one month.  I found that Carnegie Mellon has an entire school dedicated to video game design.  I went to the website, emailed everyone listed and requested a 30 minute interview about the topic I was researching.  Within 2 hours I got 2 replies.  One of them, I later found out, also ran her own video game design company.  She was a wealth of information, was happy to let me pick her expert brain and didn’t charge me a dime.

  3. Write it all down.
    Take everything you just wrote notes on and translate it into something useful for your audience.  Stick it in your report.  Done.

6) Format and Distribute

You’ve collected all this information and interviewed experts.  Now you just have to put in a form that’s pretty and distribute it to your audience in a way they want to receive it.

After a year, what you’ll find is that you actually become the expert on your industry and people will start asking you for your opinion.  That’s when you know you’ve created something valuable.

Image result for expert meme

Pretend You’re Good At It: Wise Words From a Stranger

I am obsessed with two authors right now, Amor Towles and Jenny Lawson.  This post was inspired by Jenny Lawson and has absolutely nothing to do with Amor Towles – but you should read his books.  They’re incredible.

Image result for furiously happyIn Jenny Lawson’s 2nd book, Furiously Happy, she dedicates a chapter to the story of narrating the audio version of her 1st book.  In it, she talks about being scared by her inexperience as a vocal actor and that she might miss the opportunity to narrate her own story.  Then a friend sent her a simple text message.

“Pretend you’re good at it.”

She went on to do an incredible job.  I know this because I’ve listened to the audio book and she nailed it.  As I listened to the story I couldn’t help but remember my first years in marketing and how I attempted to do just that.

I started my career in marketing as a drive through teller – a bad one.  I have trouble sitting still and doing the same thing over-and-over-and-over… which is basically the whole job.  I was so bad at it they moved me to the slowest branch in town, where I worked the drive through.  I was sent to training after a few months, where I learned about what the bank called “referrals”.  95% of a customers’ interactions with a bank are with tellers, so we could “refer” business into the bank by nurturing that relationship.  Strangely enough, I had never actually witnessed someone do this.

So I gave it a shot.

Image result for drive through teller

Just a dramatization.  My desk has never been this clean.

I would peer into people’s cars and ask questions.  If they had a car seat in the back, I would ask “Have you started saving for college yet?”  If they had way too much money sitting in their checking account, “Did you know that you qualify for our wealth management program?”  Then I’d fill out a piece of paper and hand it to the people who actually had offices.  I’m still not totally sure what it is they did.

In a month I brought in a quarter million dollars for my bank.  I thought to myself, “I wonder if someone would pay me money to do only this?”

Eventually I learned “referrals” are actually called “leads” and yes, some companies will pay you to do it.

The next few years were a blur.  I taught myself HTML so I could build crappy websites – which I took great pride in.  That got me a job at a digital marketing firm – where I had to learn what SEO Research meant and then teach it to others.

Eventually I left North Carolina to help run digital marketing for a small agency outside
Washington, DC.  This is where I hit a wall.  I was completely out of my depths.  In two years I’d gone from miscounting cash to giving marketing plan presentations to clients.

Image result for i have no idea what i'm doingTo say I was bad in the beginning would be an understatement. I was not a strong speller –
and writing is about 50% of my job.  I wasn’t confident in my knowledge when people questioned me.  I had never even run an email campaign before.

But now I had clients so I had no choice but to pretend I was good at marketing.

Many times I drove home in tears, unsure if I would ever make it as a professional marketer.  Then I’d sleep and the next morning I’d walk into the office with a smile on my face determined to land the jump today.

With time, I got better.  I no longer spelled Executive Summary with an -ery.  Eventually I learned that letting other people proofread my writing made me more professional, not less.  Eventually I learned how to harness the power of data to differentiate myself and operate at a higher level.

Eventually I got it.

It took years before I didn’t feel like a fraud anymore.  Experts call this “impostor syndrome.”

Image result for gumptionBut as I look back over my career I notice a trend.  People kept giving me responsibilities I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.  I ran digital marketing for an agency 2 years in.  Then I ran my own marketing department only 3 years in.  At my last company, I actually ran their corporate rebrand!  I wasn’t technically ready for any of these, but people saw gumption in me and they gave me a chance.

What I’ve discovered in 10 years is that if you give people a chance, they will often rise to the occasion. We all “pretend we’re good at it” for a while.  Eventually, if you stick with it, you will be.

Don’t give up on yourself, because “potential” eventually turns into “expertise”.

That goes for you too Jenny.  Can’t wait to listen to book #3.

Image result for imposter syndrome meme