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Day In The Life of an Associate Brand Manager

There is no real “typical” day for an ABM, but this gives you a sense of what a day might entail.

By JR BLASZEK

Have you ever wondered what the life of a brand manager is all about? I know that before I became a brand manager I always wondered “what exactly do you do”.

While there is not really a “typical day” for brand managers, the following snapshot should give you a good idea of the diversity in job responsibilities of a newly minted associate brand manager.

6:00 AM – Wake up and exercise

I usually wake up around 6:00 so that I can get in a good workout. I like exercising in the morning because it gives me energy to make it through the day. Plus, I never really know when I’m going to be done with work so this adds a bit of consistency to my life.

8:30 AM – Get into office and start answering emails

I try to get in by 8:15 or 8:30. This usually gives me 30-45 minutes to catch up on emails before my meetings get started at 9:00. Nothing crazy this morning. Just a few business updates that have come through and an invite to a coworker’s birthday. Sometimes I get a “fire drill” email early in the morning and I have to rearrange my entire day. Luckily, today isn’t one of those days.

9:00 – 11:30 AM – Customer Meeting Team Preparation

This is the time of year where we are doing a good amount of planning with customers (think Walmart, Kroger, etc.). Today we have a 2 ½ hour meeting to prepare for a meeting. It’s a little ridiculous, but we need to make sure we’re buttoned up for our conversations with the customers. We spend the majority of the time talking about the customer’s goals, our goals, and the plans we can make to have a successful year.

I spend most of the time taking notes and chiming in if there are any questions specifically related to data, insights, or business performance.

11:30 – 12:00 – Catch up on emails

I have some down time before lunch that I use to catch up on emails. I just got a notice that a shipment of product will be delayed due to bad weather…I need to figure out how to communicate this bad news to my manager. I’ll flag that and come back to it later.

12:00-1:00 – Lunch & Learn

Every now and then, we bring in guest speakers to keep us updated on the best practices in the marketing industry. Today’s presentation is about how to use Twitter to grow your brand.

While the content is usually engaging enough, I think the only reason so many people attend these meetings is for the free food. We don’t make quite as much money as our banking or consulting counterparts, so we tend to jump at the opportunity for anything free!

1:00 – 2:00 – Creative Review

Switching gears, I have a meeting with my creative agency to give feedback on our latest holiday packaging graphics. It’s always a lot of fun to see how an agency can take an idea that you’ve given them and bring it to life…unless they come back with something completely off base.

Today’s review went pretty well. Only some minor changes are necessary and then we should be ready to print! 

2:00 – 3:00 – Business Review Presentation 

Today also happens to be the day that I have to present our monthly business results to the team. I take the team through our sales data, profitability, and a special topic that the team requests.

It’s a ton of work to prepare for these meetings, but it gives me an opportunity to present to a large audience and present a compelling story. One thing is certain…a good storyteller always seems to rise faster in the company than a person who isn’t a great storyteller.

3:00 – 4:00 – Meeting with External Partner

We’re working on a cross-promotional program with another CPG company that makes products that go well with our own. Today we are meeting to discuss the details of the partnership.

My goal is to have the external partner pay for a majority of program costs (coupon redemption, sweepstakes fees, etc.) while we pay for the creative costs. For me, the creative costs are built into my annual retainer so if I can accomplish this goal, the promotion will essentially be free for me to execute. This is HUGE since my budget is already running low for the year.

4:00 – 4:30 – Demand Meeting

We had an emergency meeting to discuss an unexpected demand. Apparently Walmart placed an order that was way higher than we had expected (definitely not a bad problem to have). The problem is that we don’t have capacity in our plants to meet Walmart’s demand. We need to find a customer who will take less product so we can fill Walmart’s orders.

At this point I wish that I had paid more attention in my Supply Chain and Operations classes in business school.

4:30 – 6:30 – Email, Data Analysis, PowerPoint

Meetings typically end around 4 or 4:30. Finally, I can get some actual work done.

I spend the next two hours pulling data in IRI (our sales database), creating PowerPoint slides to explain that data in a visual way for my managers, and answering emails that I didn’t get to during the day.

6:30 – 9:30 – Go Home, Dinner, Family Time

When I get home I refuse to do anything work related until the kids are in bed. It’s extremely important to me that my family gets my full attention for at least a portion of the day. This also gives me a chance to unwind so I can come back to work with a fresh perspective the next day.

9:30 – 10:00 – One last email check. Sleep

I usually do one final email check before I go to sleep to make sure there aren’t any emergencies (i.e. a new report that my manager NEEDS by 7 AM the following day).

Nothing crazy happening tonight, so my phone goes off and I go to sleep.

So there you go. This was a “typical” day in the life of an Associate Brand Manager. Some days will be crazier than others, but one thing is certain…each day will be different. There is always something new happening and that’s what keeps the job interesting.

Do you want to know more?

Let us know by leaving your questions or comments below!

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Day In The Life of An Associate Brand Manager

2 thoughts on “Day In The Life of An Associate Brand Manager

  • December 4, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    Permalink

    Dear Blaszek

    That was pretty insightful. I wonder how a day of a Brand Manager would sound like? Would you kindly let us visualize that as well?
    Few more things –
    1. How is the stress like when you meet an year closing?
    2. How long it usually takes to become a Brand Manager from Assistant/Associate level?
    3. Do you get vacations/leave very often or when required? How do you manage being in touch while on leave? Any real fire fighting you ever had to deal even while you are away? How are weekends?

    Thanks in advance!

    Sushil

    Reply
    • January 17, 2018 at 5:41 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Sushil,

      Great questions! At the Brand Manager level, the day looks similar to the ABM level. To be honest, not much changes until you get to the Director level. The main differences at the BM vs ABM level are that you might be involved in more strategic planning meetings. You will be working directly with agencies to lay out the entire brand vision for the following year (before handing it off to your ABMs to execute). You will also be meeting more regularly with sr. management to align on brand plans and budget constraints. Finally, at this level, you are more likely to be out meeting with Customers (i.e. Walmart) to “pitch” your brands with your sales partners. You become much more of the “face” of your brand externally as a BM relative to an ABM.

      Also, here are my answers to your other questions:

      1) I may be different from others, but I don’t necessarily feel “stressed” during the busiest parts of the year. I feel pressure, but not stress. Pressure in the sense that my senses are more active when I’m under tight deadlines are have expectations looming, but I’ve never really considered that stressful. I enjoy meeting expectations and, if you plan your day correctly, this time period shouldn’t surprise you. You will know that work hours will be long, but the end result is typically something tangible that you get to say you “owned”.

      2) This really depends on the company. I would say the average is 3-5 years, but I’ve seen up to 7 years at some CPG companies. It really just depends on how the company structures their roles.

      3) You definitely get vacations. I tend to take two week-long family vacations each year and then quite a few long weekend vacations (2 or 3 days at a time). When I’m on vacation I try to “unplug” as much as possible. I always make sure my team knows who to contact (besides me) in case of a business emergency. With that being said, I do have a habit of checking my work email every night (even when I’m on vacation). Most of the time, the email is not urgent and responses can be delayed. The main reason I do this is not necessarily to “do work” while I’m on vacation. It’s mainly because I hate coming back from vacation and seeing a cluttered inbox!

      I have one fire drill story that comes to mind. I was taking my wife and family on a road trip to an amusement park the same day that packaging needed to be locked for a new product I was launching. I made sure to get everything ready to go well in advance of my trip so that nothing could go wrong. Unfortunately, I couldn’t predict the worrisome nature of my legal team! Literally 1 hour into my 4 hour long road trip, I got a phone call from my legal partner stating that we “MUST” put a legal disclaimer on the packaging due to some silly reason. This change isn’t as easy as it sounds. It actually impacts the entire design of that package. So we stopped the car at a rest area and my wife took over driving. I pulled together my manager, packaging designers, legal team, and everyone else I could think of to literally “redesign” the package over the phone before the packaging had to go to print. Within an hour, we had a new design, approved by everyone involved, and made it to the printer on time. After that, I shut off my phone for the rest of the weekend and enjoyed the time with my family!

      Hope this helps!

      JR

      Reply

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