My last two jobs have been marketing to marketers. Marketing to the market you belong to couldn't be easier, right? Wrong. What has me thinking about this? While the hip thing right now is using social media to target marketers, I'd posit that the pool is very small. Most marketers are behind the eight ball.
Marketers come in all shapes and sizes. While you would might assume that most marketers a degree in marketing, that's simply not the case. Many marketers have degrees in English, Journalism, Engineering (yes, true!), Business Administration, Fine Arts, Sociology, etc. and some do not have a degree at all, but have a ton of business experience. Having dissimilar educational foundations leads marketers to having completely different outlooks on what marketing is and how to execute it. Some end up being great marketers and others... not so much. The other consideration is the sliding scale of dedication to the profession. For many, it is just a job and for others, it makes up who they are as a person, it is their identity. One final consideration is what silos marketers place themselves. Marketing professionals tend to like specialties versus generalities. All of these things wrapped up make for a complicated market.
I have worked with all sorts of marketers and here is what I have found over the years:
- Marketing Executives Don't Hire Agencies. No matter the size of the company-start-up to mid-market to F500-Marketing executives typically do not hire agencies. Executives will pass along an email or call from an agency trying to get in the door. Executives will sit in meetings with agencies to provide muscle. Executives will offer their opinions. But they leave the hiring (and firing) to their managers and directors. Why? Because they do not want a tarnished record of a bad agency hire. The perception that executives make agency selection decisions usually gets agencies in trouble. Thinking that they have an automatic "in" with management, often guides them to troubled waters. The biggest example I have seen of this is going above the heads of the 'minions' and it is a mistake that usually gets them fired.
- Marketers don't use search to find vendors. The majority of marketers don't use search to find agencies or consultants. They typically rely on WOM or recommendations (usually from their friends in the AMA, PRSA, IABC or BMA) or Top 100 lists. Why? Normally because they usually swamped and don't have time to search for and vet new agencies. More importantly, they do not want their decision to jeopardize their job/career on an unknown agency. They want to use an agency that has been successful for someone else they know (whether that be another company in the industry or a friend) or that already has an "in" in another division. And if they do use search, the agency or consultant is still vetted through the above process.
- Marketers like bling. Flash is bad when it comes to SEO. We savvy marketers know this. But most marketers like shiny things. They like Flash and case studies and cool graphics and themes. Marketers are visual people. The overall bling of a site attracts them first. Then like moths to a flame, the content sucks them in! Remember COOL sites translate into COOL work that will be done for them!
- Marketers don't get data and analytics. Often, they don't even get things like planning or measurement. Analytics and connecting the dots on data is a new-and scary-area for most marketers. In most cases, analytics lies with the SEO team or agency (depending on how large the marketing operation is). Marketing management likes data and analytics as long as it's the "right" data and analytics. READ: Analytics that help my case politically. Sometimes what analytics uncovers isn't always the most welcomed!
- Marketers, brand managers, PR manager are vendor managers. Depending on the size of the company or the complexity of the product or service, most marketing, brand and PR managers are vendor wrestlers. They act by campaign, not by strategy, which typically falls to the agency or consultant. Most managers ride the waves of each campaign. Once the lead pipeline is full, they move on or lose interest.
- Marketers are behind. Permission Marketing - It's the hot new topic! Enough said...
- Marketers are addicted to unique selling or value propositions. Having a killer UVP is what will move product, right?! Alas, most marketers are clueless as to what their market wants or why they are losing customers right and left . They provide the inside-out generated value prop and it's the agencies job to give them a magic strategy will make things all better. If the agency does not deliver (even if one arm and leg were tied behind their back!) it's time to face the firing squad.
- Marketers like to specialize. I personally don't get this one, but marketers tend to like to silo themselves into buckets like direct marketing, branding, e-mail marketing, SEO, PR, product marketing, etc. It's great that they might specialize and be an expert, but what happens when the industry has moved on?
- Marketers are stubborn. If it is not broken, why fix it? Campaigns on auto-pilot make the marketers life easier. Besides, all that new-fangled social media stuff? That's what the agency is for!
Based on my own experience through the years of working with, talking to and teaching upcoming marketers, these truths have been my reality. I've written this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I think it is a fair assessment.
I think these 'truths' might unveil what's broken-or not best (or effective) practice-in the industry. Until we all understand that, we can't fix it and market to the best of our abilities. That said, no matter how hard we all try there will always be marketers who just don't care (it's just a job) and are happy to be 5-10 years behind their customers.
What truths would you share?
[Image: American Red Cross]