Target Audience: Jim McMillen, Sales and Marketing Consultant
Jim McMillen is a sales and marketing consultant with more than 30 years of experience.
You have over 30 years of sales and marketing consulting experience – how did you arrive where you are today?
I guess the short answer is, in my current role more recently, I was let go due to COVID.
The longer answer is, I have a background in communications as well as engineering, and so I really have a penchant to be able to explain really complex things. So, I ended up kind of interfacing a lot with clients directly because of that ability to explain what it is that we do in marketing for them.
A lot of people don’t understand what we do in the digital marketing world. With SEO and PPC, marketing has become a little nuanced.
You’ll see this in every industry. It’s not even marketing, but just the “hockey stick” growth of technology in every industry has made it so that we can track how many times our customers sneeze. But at the end of the day, it’s like, do we really need to know that? What is our business and what are we trying to do here?
We, as marketing professionals, have to kind of bring everybody back to that point and use these tools for the best ROI.
What advice do you have for emerging marketing leaders?
I think it’s still important to try to specialize in a particular industry.
With the explosion of social media and we’ve got the gig economy now, everyone’s wearing a lot of different hats, but if you look at [the] behaviors of people that you follow on social media or the people that you’re interested in, they really specialize in one thing. Even if it’s on TikTok and they’re just simply funny.
So it’s important to start figuring out where that is that you want to kind of settle in at. It’s going to take a little bit of juggling to figure that out, but I think we got to specialize more than anything.
What about your marketing roles surprises you?
I think the thing that surprises me most is just how much creativity is out there!
Again, the explosion of technology has made it so that everybody can now be seen and heard. There’s a lot of creativity out there and how people are using technology, how they’re getting noticed, how they’re simply communicating and connecting with people in somewhat of a dull format.
Speaking of creative skills, what are some other essential marketing skills?
I think it’s really getting good at [deciphering] what the data is telling us. We can measure anything – that’s great – but we really need to be able to step away from what we’re measuring and not just quantifiably deliver those results, but [ask] how is that impactful? Why do we care?
There’s a great quote I love from James Barksdale, the President and CEO of Netscape, and he said, “If we have data, let’s look at the data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” It always brings me back to just really what is that data telling us? We all have great opinions; we all have great ideas. But what is it that we’re really trying to solve?
Are there any tools you regularly use that make your life as a marketer easier?
Oh yeah! I really enjoy using Canva for content creation. That’s a really good one. I use InVideo typically for doing a video.
Other than that, using any video recording tools like Zoom, what we’re using now, or Loom – that’s really important in terms of sales, pitches, and communication.
Also, the entire Google Suite of stuff. Especially even – I know it sounds mundane – I even use Google calendar just to make sure that my day is blocked out so I’m using my time efficiently. I think in today’s age, it’s easy to get distracted, and we forget what we’re supposed to be focused on.
There’s a lot of good tools; the trick is to just not let them become a distraction for you.
What recent industry updates might have an impact on your work?
So, in my role, I tend to kind of stay at that 30,000-foot view and overlook everything as a whole. So not just things that are happening in technology or privacy, but what’s happening in the world. I’ve worked with manufacturing clients and they’re very responsive to what the price of steel is, you know? So, all of those things have an impact.
But also, kind of partnering with that, it’s important to find companies like yours, like Perfect Search, because [it goes] back to one of my earlier answers about needing to specialize – if you’re trying to get good at what you’re doing, you can’t learn everything. I mean, you can, but you’re not going to be effective because you’re not going to have time to implement any of that stuff.
So, you really need to partner with good partners like you guys who can keep tabs on all that technology and know what it means to business owners.
What are some common industry traps that young marketers can fall into?
When you’re first starting out, there’s a lot to prove. There’s a lot you know and there’s a lot you don’t know, and there’s a lot you’re learning.
So, I think it’s the ability to know when to say no and to keep on that path that you’re on. You at least got to give it a little bit of a chance before you switch tracks again, but if you end up trying to do too many things or trying to learn too many things, you’re just not going to be effective.
That’s what people are going to remember more than you knowing how to use a whole suite of software.
What would your career be if you were alive in the 18th century (1701-1800)?
I would probably be a blacksmith. There’s just something about the sheer physicality of pounding metal, but there’s also the artistic and science element to it, you know? I just really find that fascinating.
If I wasn’t a blacksmith, I’d probably be a millwright. Those are the guys that come in and set factories up and automation and all that kind of stuff. I’ve got this desire to kind of learn how things work and how can we make it work a little bit better.
What’s the first thing you would make as a blacksmith?
I would probably…I would probably make a sword. You know, McMillen – I’m Scottish – so a nice big broadsword is probably the first thing I make!
What’s your pump-up song?
Oh, I have a lot of them. I don’t know who doesn’t love music; it can just bring everybody together.
For me, I think it would have to be Spirit In The Sky, only the ’86 version with Doc and the Medics. I’m kind of dating myself just a little bit there, but that’s probably one that was at the height of my high school basketball career. It’s hard to go wrong with that 4/4 rock beat and fuzzed-out guitars.
Anything you’d like to leave us with, Jim?
Just keep striving, guys. Keep doing your best to stay focused on what you do well. That’s what makes you unique and different in this world. Good luck!