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Real Marketing is Not Sexy

By: Michael McMillan

When you hear the word marketing most people instantly think of some graphic, presentation, or article they saw put together by, “those marketing people.”  The thing most people don’t realize is that well before the copywriting and graphic design teams got to do their part, a very serious, and not so glamorous part of marketing had to occur.  What is that part?  An in depth data analysis of buying habits and preferred communication methods within the market space your company operates within. Or for all us non Marketing geeks reading this article, “it’s a team of nerds had to sit down and weed through a ton of data to help them understand what the people who buy your stuff best interact with and why.”

So why did I feel this was so critical to write an article on?  

Because right at this moment a team is about to make a purchasing decision in a marketing department not based on the data, but because he/she thinks it will look cool!  

As I am writing this I am getting frustrated by how many times I see this……

Yes, it is fun to buy things for the business that look cool and trust me, I love doing it and wish I could do it more, but the cold hard truth is that if something is not going to produce the business a return on the investment it is simply a waste of money.

People seem to forget that businesses are built to make money and to support the dreams and goals of the people working within the organization.  When we, as leaders, start to make decisions that conflict with this simple principle we are simply inhibiting the ability for our teams to achieve their dreams, and that is mean!  ;-)

So how do we ensure our Marketing teams are making fact based decisions for our business? Well that answer starts with the people we are hiring.  In marketing, there are two types of people that are both critical for a successful marketing department to exist.  

  1. The Artist: This is the person who wakes up each day with the simple mission of creating beautiful things based on their preferred outlet.  These are your graphic designers, copy writers, etc…  Typically I find that I know if a person is in the artist category before they even open their mouth in an interview which makes them easy to spot.  I love that about them! 
  2. The Analytic: These are the rare unicorns of marketing that when you find them you need to do whatever you can to keep them close and not let them get spooked.  The Analytic is very commonly not a Marketing person by degree, but at some point accidently went to the wrong office and ended up in the marketing department and did amazing.  Why? Because as you should have already figured out above real marketing is all about the numbers.  This is why when you find a true analytic in Marketing you want to hire them immediately, and if they are up for it look to place them in a planning or management type role, but only if they have the chops for it.

Now it is important I also mention another type that you will run into that is very dangerous.  I call them “The Hybrid.”  The Hybrid is an Analytic who fancies themselves an artist and dabbles too often for anyone's liking, or visa versa.  From the outside looking in, a hybrid sounds like the ultimate unicorn prospect for your team, but I can tell you from experience it is just the opposite.  The Hybrid is the weakest of them all as they are only mediocre at many roles, and not an expert in any.  This sets your team up for major delays in delivery, and commonly missed objectives as the quality of work will not be up to par.

So as you sit down to evaluate your team, here are a few things to seriously look at:

  • Do I have a good mix of analytics and artists?
  • Are my policies, procedures or goals for my team artificially forcing the them to become hybrids?
  • Is there a better way to separate out the work to draw from my team's strengths, while still covering all the work that needs to be done?

In medium and large organizations it is not normally a huge issue for separation of duties as the department budget can allow for the amount of staff needed to see this happen.  In startups and small organizations this is commonly a huge problem, and where we see the hybrid role come to light all too often.  This is why I typically stress to small businesses to outsource the creative and retain the strategic analytic person in house.  This keeps costs way down, and typically will show a much higher ROI in the long run.

To Your Success & Prosperity!