CEO to CEO: Marketing is either your baby or your fault
When you think about what Marketing accomplishes, are you usually excited or puzzled?
I’ve been lucky enough to own my own marketing company for over 25 years. I also consult with companies that want to boost the performance of their internal Marketing team as well. Previously I worked as a designer/director at other agencies, at corporations and even as a state employee.
On every occasion, I have found the boss’ attitude and approach towards Marketing to be the biggest difference-maker in accomplishing goals and obtaining highly successful results. Those that understand that good marketing is a wise investment, not an expense, do pretty well. But those that understand that GREAT marketing is an INCREDIBLE investment do even better.
That’s why I wanted to share my recommendations on how to turn a mediocre Marketing Department into the growth engine of the future that you need:
1. Marketing should be headed by no less than a VP.
On your executive team, does Marketing have a seat at the table or are they mostly responding to directions from someone else?The CEO’s attitude towards Marketing helps set the tone for everyone else on the executive team. That’s why your Marketing person should at least be at the VP level, because they need the authority and resources to get things done. They need to have a seat at the table so they understand what solutions are needed on a strategic level, and so they have a hand in setting policy. They need to be given your support, and they also need to be held to the high standards expected of the rest of your team.
2. Stop hiring people who can draw.
The last person you need on the payroll is someone who only knows how to lay out your newsletter, write your ads or update your brochures. You don’t need someone who can “sort-of” use layout and image editing software — those talents can be bought from an outside source whenever you need them, without paying for salaries, sick days, desks and computers. Think of it this way: $40K salary + $10K benefits = a whole lot of great outside creative work, and hiding overhead $$ in the HR budget isn’t a very efficient use of financial resources.
3. Hire for strategic talents instead.
Marketing can help you grow faster than any other department. That’s why you need people who can think strategically and think for themselves, see the Big Picture, connect the dots, and plan ahead. Hire for vision, creativity, and leadership. Hire people who have the potential of moving up to your job (when you are done with it, of course.)
4. Stop filling chairs and start filling needs.
Instead of looking at candidates as a way to fill a vacancy, focus on finding people with specific talents:
Big Picture Producer
The most important person to find is someone who can see and understand what needs to be done, and has the power to plug in the people with the talent, creativity, expertise and perspective to meet those needs. Your Big Picture Producer should have the flexibility, authority and access to the resources needed to enact change, not just maintain the status quo.
Your brand is more than a logo or business card; your brand is what the world thinks of you. That’s why someone has to live and breathe and tend to your brand every day. Does this promotion fit with the image you want to portray? Does this new fee help or hurt your image? Should we support this non-profit organization, or this one? Your ideal Brand Champ should be someone that understands the power of a unique, true, and emotional brand, that leads and lives the organization’s brand culture, and is a strong advocate for the member/customer/user experience.
Training staff and connecting to the community has never been more important. You need a never-met-a-stranger, business development/PR pro on steroids, the person who knows how to combine social media with handshakes in order to connect people together and get results. Confident, enthusiastic, and often extroverted, she should be able to communicate with all audiences, even those very different than herself.
New Product Designer/Disrupter
Who better to create products that people will want to use than a creative that understands people? How many things can be improved over “the way we’ve always done it”? You want someone with the unique ability to see things that your IT and Operations people may not, that is willing to push the envelope and never settles for boring or bland.
These people are extremely hard to find. Education and job training can produce workers that do their job. Only occasionally do we get the brainstormers, the innovators, the creatives with minds that make intuitive leaps, the people that keep throwing out new ideas and just can’t turn it off. If you see one of these, hire them immediately, then figure out what to do with them.
5. Some of the staff you have now may actually fit these roles – if you give them the opportunity.
Stop pigeon-holing them in the jobs they have and challenge them to show you what they can do. Remember, when expectations are low, so are the results.