Have you ever heard of an entry-level benefits clerk getting promoted to Director of Human Resources? Probably not. Would you take a kid fresh out of trade school and make him your CIO? I would hope you know better. Or for that matter, would you just assume that anyone who can start a lawnmower is qualified to take care of your lawn? If so, I can only imagine what your yard looks like.
These questions sound kind of dopey, don’t they? Yet time and again, I’ve seen corporate executives – from companies large and small — who make this same kind of mistake when it comes to marketing. There seems to be a popular belief among many of these execs that anyone who has had the TV on during an Apple commercial is somehow qualified to run a marketing department. That idea is both laughable and tragic.
I suppose all the good marketers of the world are to blame for this phenomenon. We apparently make it look so easy, everyone thinks they can do it, and by extension, that anyone to whom they give the job can do it, too. Honestly, though, I don’t have a good explanation for any of this. It continues to confuse, irritate, befuddle, anger, perplex, mystify, aggravate, nauseate and constipate on a daily basis.
You don’t care why your car won’t start, right? You just want it fixed. Well, I don’t care why you think any Bozo can handle your marketing, either. Heather and I are your marketing mechanics and we're here to fix your head by telling you the three people not to hire to run your marketing.
The Software Power User
Marketing is all about creating pretty stuff, isn’t it? You know what I’m talking about. Gorgeous brochures and animated webpages and emails that just won’t take no for an answer. So it stands to reason that the guy or gal who can dazzle you with Photoshop and Illustrator and who knows what else from the Adobe Creative Suite should be able to put together an incredible marketing program.
Except marketing isn’t all about creating pretty stuff. Marketing is about influencing thought. And while it’s true that you can, to some extent, influence thought visually, nice collateral and a decent webpage are merely the cost of admission to the marketing cheap seats. The software power user will never get you where you need to be.
The Former Salesperson
Marketing is a sales support function, isn’t it? Marketing’s job is to generate leads for the sales team. So it stands to reason that the guy or gal who can dazzle you with an amazing sales track record should be able to put together an incredible marketing program.
Except marketing isn’t just a sales support function. Marketing, on the whole, is a very big-picture undertaking. Salespeople, on the other hand, are generally very myopic when it comes to marketing – as well they should be. They’re focused on the part of marketing that’s going to benefit them the most right now. Things like lead generation, for example. If you put a salesperson in charge of marketing, you’ll end up with a lead-gen team instead of a full marketing team.
The Crowd Pleaser
Marketing is all about making the rest of the internal team happy, isn’t it? When the sales team is happy and the executives are happy, it means that marketing is successful. So it stands to reason that the guy or gal who can dazzle you with enthusiasm and an eagerness to please should be able to put together an incredible marketing program.
Except marketing isn’t just about making other people happy. It’s about getting results. And sometimes to achieve the desired long-term results, you have to be willing to piss off a couple of people in the short term. That’s just how it works. If the person running your marketing can’t look your sales manager in the eye and say, “No, we’re not going to do that,” your marketing will always be watered down and ineffective.
The Bottom Line
Believe it or not, marketing is no different than any other discipline. It takes skill, it takes talent, it takes passion and – most important of all – it takes experience. Would you rather be the brain surgeon’s first patient or her 500th patient? No, I’m not saying that marketing is brain surgery. What I am saying is that experience is extremely important in any hiring decision you might make – including marketing.