We’re going to talk about something a little bit different this week. This is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately and that’s how some businesses out there seem to not really understand marketing, marketers or really devalue their worth to an organization.
This hasn’t been on my mind due to anything that’s been happening to me directly but its more from some of the things I’ve been seeing online, especially in terms of job listings out there. I have a lot of friends who are in the job market and they’ve been sharing some of the more ridiculous posts they’ve seen out there with me and, naturally from that we started talking about that and some of the more blatant acts of disrespect marketers have had to endure on the job. That got me to thinking and, well, this post was born.
So, without further setup, let’s get into some of the nonsense out there and exactly what I’m talking about:
If You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys
I love this saying. I first encountered it during my time as an English teacher in China when an older British teacher said that about a job offer he turned down at a different language school. Let me tell you something about this guy to put it in context: he was rude, he was arrogant, he was insufferable and, personally, I couldn’t stand the guy – but he was one hell of an English teacher. He was one of the best in the entire city and no one could deny that.
He knew his job, he was reliable and he had been in the game for years, seen people come and go and every school wanted him because he had that reputation – and some school offered him the same rate of pay they would offer some twenty-something backpacker who is just in China for ‘an adventure’ who didn’t know the first thing about teaching English apart from it was their native language. It was demeaning, it was laughable and it was downright insulting.
So why am I telling you about this in an article about marketing? Because it happens to us all the time.
Do you know how many people are out there reading job listings that go something like this:
“We’re looking for someone with 5 years of SEO, 5 years of PPC, a solid content marketing background, Hubspot and Marketo certified, familiar with HTML, CSS and JQuery, Python would be nice. We offer 40,000 USD per year!”
Or what about the next one, which is even more common:
“We want a social media manager who can do organic and paid social, manage our brand, maintain our content calendar, manage our online communities, stay on top of industry trends and increase engagement! We pay $9 an hour!”
I mean, come on. Are ya’ll being serious right now?
In the first scenario, you’re basically asking for an entire marketing department (including web development skills) for what, in most areas, isn’t even a living wage.
In the second one, the first thing that comes to my mind is that nobody in your company understands what social media marketing actually is. Your CEO and/or hiring manager is probably super old and thinks its the same as their grandkids who are always ‘booking the faces’ and on that dang ol’ Tickety Tock! I mean why should you pay good money for someone to just twoot their tweets and snap their chat faces all day? In fact, why are we on anything at all except good ol’ LinkedIn? That’s the only place for serious big business big shots like you to be, right?
Either way, it’s completely degrading.
What if you saw an advertisment for your job asking for 10 years of experience, several certifications, some web development, and a ton of other skills and they say ‘we’ll give you a shiny nickel and a pat on the head!’ like you should take it and smile?
Do ya’ll understand that being a social media marketer isn’t something you just ‘do’ for a few hours per day? You DO understand that even when a social media marketer is off work, they’re NEVER ‘off work’.
Why? Because social media is never ‘off’ and if someone decides to be a jag off and write a ton of curse words, racial epithets, negative comments about your business that are completely baseless, trolling, bullying or anything else that happens on the internet on YOUR business’ social media accounts, guess who’s got to deal with it.
That’s right, the person you pay $9 an hour to ‘book the faces’. Whether it’s at 2pm or 2am, it’s on them to sort it out.
If your company is doing things like this, it’s time to reevaluate your ideas on what marketing is and really understand what it does for your company – or could do if you let it. Which brings me to this next one…
Stop Letting Non-Marketers Pretend To Be Marketers
Have you ever worked in a place that let the HR team write the app code? No?
What about somewhere that let the network engineers scrub the toilets? No, again, huh?
Project managers doing graphic design?
So why in the hell do so many companies out there let various teams in their building pretend to be marketers?
You’ve got product managers writing ad copy – and in some cases having approval authority over the marketing team. You’ve got directors that your team rarely even sees wandering out of meetings randomly killing projects that are already launched that are converting because, ‘I don’t like it’. You’ve got literally everybody in your company writing crappy articles to throw up on your company blog like it was a bathroom wall.
Everyone in your company is there for a specific reason and it isn’t to cosplay as a marketer.
If this is happening in your company, again, it goes back to a lack of respect for your marketing team and a complete lack of understanding what good marketing actually is and how it’s done.
Apparently, someone high up in your company thinks that marketing is just so easy that literally anyone could do it so that’s what happened – they literally let anyone do it, common sense be damned. Your actual marketing staff is usually left bitter, confused and looking for new jobs at this point because no matter what they do, it’s just going to either be killed off, downvoted by some random person with a job title bigger than theirs or someone will complain to their boss, who in turn, will yell at them – so much for marketing having the courage to TRY anything or…DO anything, right?
You hired marketers for a reason. Let them do their jobs.
Product managers should be creating, improving and doing R&D on products, not writing your email copy.
Your engineers should be…engineering…not writing garbage blogs that no one is going to read because, well, have you ever TALKED to most engineers? You think someone wants to READ that crap in their spare time on a blog?
Your C-suite should be leading the business and managing people, not wandering out of board meetings and yelling at marketing because they didn’t like the color scheme of the last campaign.
If your business has everyone cosplaying as marketers, that means they’re not spending enough time doing their real jobs and then you have a failed business – but that’s not a problem for them because of the next thing on the list…
Stop Blaming Marketing Teams For Fundamental Business Issues
This one is a great pet peeve of mine because I’ve seen it far too often in many different places and I’ve heard about it even more.
So you’re a product manager and you told marketing to run a campaign for something and it was a TOTAL FLOP.
Nobody bought anything, all that spend was wasted, all that time was down the drain and now you have to go back to your boss and your stakeholders and tell them that you just burned a few thousand dollars and got negative ROI.
Wait a minute – wait just one minute…I know what to do!
It’s not YOUR fault – it’s MARKETING’S FAULT!
Yeah, that’s the ticket!
They were the ones that came up with the campaign, the budget, the copy, the imagery and everything else! It’s on them, not you!
Now you feel better because you can tell them that your overpriced, non-market researched, no-demand-for ‘Piece-of-Useless-Crap 5000’ didn’t get one single buyer because of marketing!
It certainly wasn’t because the item was developed in an out-of-touch echo chamber full of people who haven’t really worked in the industry you target in the past fifteen years, the technology was 10 years outdated, the entire market moved on five years ago, the cost was about $500 more than your closest competitor and that literally nobody in your target audience asked for this thing, it’s marketing’s crappy campaigns!
I’ve seen this nonsense happen again and again and again at so many places and nearly every marketer has a story like this no matter where they work or what industry they work in.
Look, marketing can only do so much to help you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t sell a punch in the face, no matter how you try. Even the best campaigns won’t sell useless garbage nobody wants. Sure, you can say ‘its marketing’s job to MAKE them want it!’ but you tell me how you would sell a kick in the teeth and make someone go ‘OH BOY!! SURE!!!’ without blatantly lying, giving away money along with it or not ending up being sued for false advertising. I’ll wait.
If you sell things without really having good, solid channels to gauge user demand, competitive price points, focus groups beyond two dudes in a room going ‘oh, you know what we should make next?’ and other actual business decision making tools and data, you’re going to fail. Plain and simple.
For example, if you’re selling a training for $800 and you didn’t bother to do a simple Google search and find out that you can learn every single thing in your class for free on YouTube already, there’s not much I can tell you.
If you’re selling T-Shirts for $30 a pop and everyone else sells them for $10, unless you’re like Ralph Lauren or another famous fashion designer, you’re going to have a bad time.
If you’re trying to sell a piece of software and you don’t know that your target market is in a lower income country but you’re selling it for thousands of US dollars – well, don’t be surprised when you don’t sell but maybe one or two copies and thousands of pirated versions show up all over the internet.
If you’re in the computer industry and you’re still selling crap for like the Apple IIe or selling cell phone accessories for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6 and not updating your stock for the latest versions coming out, I hate to tell you this but the world is leaving you behind, not the other way around.
Some things are beyond marketing’s control – how you run your business and develop your products are two of them. You can’t blame marketing when you fail to plan properly.
The Bottom Line
Look, I don’t want to tell anyone how to run their business but it’s time for your marketing team to actually be a real marketing team and get the respect and support they need.
Even if your company isn’t doing a lot of what I mentioned here, there’s usually room for improvement somewhere.
You hired these people for a reason, let them do their thing with guidance, not micromanagement from people who aren’t even in their team or have a clear understanding of what it is they do or even what marketing as a discipline is.
Also – PAY YOUR PEOPLE WHAT THEY’RE WORTH. You don’t want to see what happens when you get an intern doing your social media channels or if that person you pay $9 an hour to decides ‘they don’t pay me enough to monitor these channels at 3am’ and the next thing you know you have all kinds of comment spam in there that someone will spend the next four days deleting but by then it’s too late because it’s been on your page for HOURS and tons of people have already seen it and think your company is a joke for letting that stay up.
If you don’t really understand the impact marketing has on your business, try going without it for a month and see what happens. You’ll learn pretty quickly.