Non-marketers should stop telling marketers how to do their jobs

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Every marketer in the world has suffered the stop-by at the desk, having to listen to the dumbest ideas ever. The finance person, plant manager, even the CEO all stop by and say, “You know what would be a great idea…” And we have to listen and smile, and then say “great idea” no matter how dumb or lame the idea is. This is the curse of being a marketer because non-marketers always tell us how to do our jobs. 

No one ever tells a pilot, “I hear the Pittsburgh airspace is good today” or tells a surgeon about a new scalpel their taxidermist uncle uses. I don’t even think accountants get non-accountants stop by their desk and tell them how to do accounts payables. 

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account can believe they can now say they are a marketing expert. And every marketer has to endure the ideas of the non-marketers.

The commentary that I see coming from non-marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious.

When I see people on LinkedIn writing, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer,” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers started doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.

When I hear, “Marketers should analyze data,” again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a significant part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.

Do you even know what marketers do?

When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand,” I think, “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system.” Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger.

The best marketing-led organizations have bottom-up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President.

The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks, “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are like sports coaches, who are hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results. Or is it the impatience of not implementing the dumb ideas? 

When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you don’t understand the job….typically, advertising is 10-15% of the job. The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touchpoints. 

Marketers don’t just “do marketing.” We run a business

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there, and then learn like a ton for a few years. 

I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for ten years, and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20. It is a never-ending learning process. 

Marketing is harder than it looks. 

We are not experts in anything. While marketers don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace, and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a brand leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it to our brand. 

Brand management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist brand leader. Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute, and analyze, using all parts of your brain, energy, and creativity.

This is everything a marketer must be able to do

brand management

The crucial skills marketers need

To achieve your full potential in your career, brand leaders must know how  to think strategically, define the brand positioning, build a brand plan that everyone can follow, inspire creative marketing execution that drives brand growth, and analyze the performance of the business.  

  1. Concerning strategic thinking, you need to use challenging and interruptive questions, take a holistic view of the brand, lead strategic debates on the issues, and make smart strategic decisions.
  2. To define your brand, you must know how to find the consumer target, understand the potential functional and emotional benefits, create an ownable and motivating brand positioning statement, then build out a brand idea that guides every consumer touchpoint on the brand. 
  3. To write a brand plan, you need are to lead all elements of the plan, turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements, present to senior management, and develop smart execution plans. 
  4. For marketing execution, you must be able to write a brief, lead the project management aspect of any marketing execution, inspire the experts, and make smart decisions. 
  5. When it comes to analytics, you need to know the sources of data, be able to dig into the analysis, lead a deep-dive business review, and write an analytical performance report.
 
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