Your Admin Assistant Is Not Your Marketing Director Part 2: A Story "From the Trenches"

Published: February 19, 2014

You may recall my last post titled "Your admin assistant (or other non-marketing trained employee) is not your marketing director." Since publishing that, I've gotten some really great responses from people who have seen or been in situations like this and have thanked be for bringing this issue into the light.

However, one the best responses I got was from someone who lived though this specific situation and got to experience first-hand how frustrating it can be to have your company's leadership de-value marketing as a role and skill set.

With permission, I have included my reader's story here...

I am actually the admin. assistant that was passed marketing tasks. As such, I really appreciated your article. Mostly because your points about marketing are very, very true, but also because you didn't pander to administrative assistants either. Being respectful of their work while explaining they can't do it all was very refreshing. Things are great now, I work remotely, set my hours and have a direct impact on everything we do related to marketing. But it wasn't always this way. I still have a lot to learn, but if I know anything about this industry it's that you can never stop learning because everything is always changing. See below for my story. If you use any of it, please do so anonymously. I appreciate it!

I was brought on at the job in question in a medical office as the equivalent of an administrative assistant, but busier since on top of your usual administrative duties I was also helping patients, dealing with insurance and other more medical related tasks. I really had more of a role as office manager at my particular location as it was only myself and one other employee at that office, though we had 3 other offices elsewhere. I was asked just to help with some marketing duties to start and then was told if I did well I would be allowed more access to marketing tasks.

Not realizing what I was about to do to myself, I worked to the goal of getting more trust and more marketing work, which of course led to a crazed work state. I was trying to work on marketing while I was trying to complete my admin duties while I was trying to talk with patients all day and insurance companies all afternoon. Trying to meet deadlines was a nightmare amid all the other work, which was all very unpredictable since we had the patient element to deal with and sitting at the front desk I never knew whether it would be a slow day or a busy day with walk-ins, phones, etc..

I loved the marketing aspect of the job. Learning design software (no past experience), the marketing world, tracking, reporting, SEO and SEM, events, customer relations, all of this was an aspect of my job that, though more challenging and definitely less "scheduled" and "structured", I enjoyed more than anything else I was doing (outside of building relationships with our patients). I truly believed in the company I worked for as the best place for this service to boot, so getting word out about them was something I wanted to do, despite having an extremely difficult market, particularly when it comes to progressive, new or digital marketing. I learned everything I could, but my time was severely limited to learn what I needed.

At some point things just weren't working anymore. Since I wasn't well versed in design, it took hours to put something together and the fact that I was the sole front desk/administrative person meant there wasn't time for me to attend training, and online was out since I needed to be attentive to patients and phone calls during the day. I was trusted with more and more work, but both jobs and my sanity were suffering. I had to make a strong case that spanned about a year that marketing, if done right and effectively, was a full time job. Especially since a lot of design and campaigns were coming from in-house. At this point I was working as Web Master, Designer, Marketing Professional, PR Assistant, Social Media Manager and Creative Consultant (to myself), all while doing the tasks my other full time job required. But still, it didn't seem that anyone understood the amount of work I was putting in.

I finally had to put forth that for my own well-being, as all the stress was drowning me, I would have to ask that I only do one job moving forward. I made it clear I was open to either job, but that I just couldn't try to juggle both any longer. After putting this out there and discussing more, the marketing coordinator position was created for me. I now run marketing for all of our locations remotely, while still being valuable on the ground when needed in the communities we work with. We are about to open a new office in a large, progressive market and I feel confident moving in to this market that I am ready for the challenges we will face, but it was a long road, a lot of trial and error and painstaking work to get to this point.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to start in smaller communities and wonderful people that I met along the way helped me when I didn't know what I was doing or talking about and in a lot of cases I have surpassed even their knowledge. The positive part of this experience is that it helped me not to be afraid to ask questions and to refrain from pretending like I knew what someone was talking about even if I didn't. I had to know or I was bound to fail. The benefit of working marketing internally is I know my boss and what she wants her message to be, she is confident that I will do what is in the best interests of the company and that I have a good handle on what she does or does not approve of or have interest in pursuing, but will push for things I believe in and are valuable. It ultimately helps the company when I can walk in to a meeting, a publicity event or anything we are hosting or taking part in and say that I work for the company directly, then those we deal with come to know me as part of the company and that goes a long way in the communities in which we do business.

I hope this gives a full picture of what can happen in these situations. Luckily we were the exception, but I am educated, experienced and very diversified. Had the outcome been different, I don't know what would have happened, just that I was on my last leg when I made the proposal to take on only one job and couldn't physically or psychologically continue the way I was. On the flip side of that, my work in both roles was suffering notably and there was a good chance I could have been let go had I stayed in both roles. It was certainly a big risk to take both responsibilities and not one I would repeat in a position such as this. I certainly still have challenges since I have no other marketing team members to work with, but I am building a community of marketers to go to for brainstorming and taking on a mentor. I wish I had your article to refer to a couple of years ago. Thanks for putting it out there.

I really appreciate hearing this story from one of my readers and I'm glad it had a positive outcome. Thank you for sharing!