First 100 Days: How Digital Marketing Leaders Succeed

April 18, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

One key ingredient helps set the right trajectory in your first 100 days.

As John looked back on his first three months as new head of digital marketing at a leading hospitality brand, he felt the “honeymoon” went well. He engaged key stakeholders, aligned the digital team around his vision, and even managed to credit a successful early win to his team and build trust in the process. When a peer at another company asked John what factors made his entry into the new role successful, John answered with one word:


A successful agenda for the first 100 days, noted Ewan McIntyre, research director, Gartner for Marketing Leaders, should establish strong relationships with your peers and communicate a clear vision of the strengths, weaknesses and evolution plan for your team.

An effective 100-day onboarding plan contains five overlapping phases: Preparation, assessment, planning, acting and measuring. Great communication is integral in all phases and can greatly enhance your chances of success.

First 100 Days Roadmap

Adopt these communication practices to ensure a great 100-day honeymoon as a new digital marketing leader.

Prepare (10 days before to 15 days after start)

Don’t wait for your start date — before the first day on the job, connect with your supervisor and your agencies. Take time to see what the organization looks like from a customer’s point of view. Prepare simple introductory communication material about yourself, your background and your initial thoughts on joining the organization. This will help you hit the ground running on Day 1. On start day, meet and greet your new team and key stakeholders to deliver the introductory message and observe the team dynamics, skills, politics and concerns. The goal is to listen and learn.

“Keep your communications simple and focused on outcomes.”

Assess (Days 1 to 30)

Continue the dialogue following your initial meetings. At this stage you’re still very much in information-gathering mode, so don’t go for the “endgame.” Identify supportive stakeholders and start to build connections because they will be key to your success. Talk to your supervisor — share your observations and get feedback and opinions.

Plan (Days 15 – 45)

In the planning phase, it’s time to validate your assumptions and create a clear action plan, stating realistically what you’ll deliver in the near term. Support your plan with data and state caveats where there are holes or assumptions. And don’t forget to delegate (important) projects and celebrate their success.

Act (Days 30 – 80)

Keep your communications simple and focused on outcomes. Be collegial and consistent in communications with team members and stakeholders. Solicit and deliver feedback to demonstrate engagement and a willingness to improve.

Measure (Days 45 – 100)

Communicate lessons and correct assumptions while keeping the message simple and to the point. It’s important to make your story fact-based using data. If the early wins didn’t materialize, stay focused and demonstrate how you learned from the experience. Be alert and poised for what lies ahead.

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