Why Some Marketers Lie

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It is easy for many outside of the marketing profession (and some inside of it) to misunderstand what marketers do. For that reason, it is also easy to point the finger at marketers for scammy behavior by companies – both real and perceived.

As a marketer, it is sometimes difficult to defend the way that companies market themselves. Why? Because some of us lie.

Marketers lie for all sorts of different reasons. But those reasons all share something in common – that is that the lies are an effort to drive more sales. Some do it intentionally. Others do it mistakenly. Some don’t know they’re doing it until it gets pointed out to them.

Unintentional Lies

The unintentional lies are usually born out of some misunderstanding. The marketing team believes something about the company’s products that isn’t true. They then use this untruth in advertisements and promotional materials.

Just like anything else, ignorance is not a defense against false claims in advertising. They may be unintentional, but they’re still lies.

These types of lies are the result of siloed organizations that lack transparency and open communication. Marketers are not talking to sales teams and customer service reps and product developers. No one is telling them what is and is not a part of their offering.

To fix unintentional lies, marketing teams must invest in organizational development and training. Marketing should be fully integrated – from research and planning to development and sales.

Intentional Lies

The intentional lies are born out of fraud. These are lies that marketers are spreading in the marketplace that have no basis in reality. They are the kind of lies – like the VW diesel emissions scandal – that are intended to sell products to customers who would not otherwise purchase from you. The lie is what gets the sale.

Intentional lies come out of companies that don’t value honesty, that have failed to establish an ethical or moral culture. More often than not, these companies end up in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Giving Marketers a Bad Name

Whether marketers lie intentionally or unintentionally, they give other marketers a bad name. These bad actors are the reason why the public generally thinks of marketing as a disdainful profession. They don’t want to be advertised to, and they feel like all marketers are out to get them; that we have one hand in their wallets at all times.

To earn our reputations back, marketers must be willing to speak up. They must be willing to act in accordance with established ethical principles, and point out those companies or people (inside and outside of the organization) who fail to meet these standards.

If you have to lie about your product to sell it, you are marketing the wrong products.

Fill In Your Skills Gaps to Advance Your Career

Marketers of all stripes likely have ambitions to advance their careers. One can only assume that most business folks would like to someday get promoted, gain a larger role in their company or industry, or another. That’s the nature of business.

So the question is, what can you do today to set yourself up for the future?

One simple answer is, figure out what you’re missing.

If you know now what you’d like to do next, or what role you aspire to, there are a few steps you can take to help support your future ambitions. Begin by researching the skills and experience necessary for that kind of role. You can do this by seeking out and communicating with someone in this type of role today, or more simply by searching job postings around the web.

Once you have a good sense of what skills and experience is necessary to succeed in your future position, you should compare that to a list of skills and experience you have today. Put the two lists side by side, and identify the gaps.

These skill gaps are the areas should work to fill sooner, rather than later. You can do this through:

  1. Coursework and education
  2. Asking your boss to expand your current role
  3. Finding a mentor with these specific skills
  4. Joining a professional organization or meetup group that deals in these areas

It is on you to grow your career. You can do this by staying active outside your current role. Ambition is a choice.

Why Marketers Make Great CEOs

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There are many experts out there who will argue, based on their own research or experience, what makes a great CEO. So what follows is simply one person’s opinion.

Let’s start by defining to the role of CEO. The Chief Executive Officer is solely responsible for:

  1. Defining the strategic direction and priorities
  2. Managing capital and resources in pursuit of those priorities
  3. Shaping company culture
  4. Leading and growing the senior leadership team
  5. Delivering on overall company performance

At the end of the day, the CEO must be accountable for the overall success or failure of a business. He is the ultimate manager, responsible for all the resources within the company and how they are used in pursuit of the company’s goals.

So what makes marketers so good for this role?

First, company performance is inherent in the marketer’s job. Senior-level marketers have spent years holding themselves and their teams responsible for revenue growth. Knowing how to grow a company is at the top of the marketer’s resume.

Second, a good marketing leader has strong understanding of the marketplace. This means understanding both the competitive landscape as well as the customer. These are crucial areas when it comes to strategic decision making.

Third, today’s marketers are well-schooled in data and analytics. When it comes to managing priorities and making decisions based on projections, models, or past performance, a marketer is on familiar ground.

And finally, marketing is at the core of telling the company’s story. Both internally (with employees) and externally (with customers), a marketer can work to define the brand, the mission, and the values that go into creating and communicating a corporate culture.

While other functional areas may produce strong CEOs, for these reasons I feel strongly that marketers are best-positioned for success in the top spot

Day One Strategy – Part 9

Welcome to the latest installment of the Day One Strategy series. This is a weekly blog series that will address how to start from scratch. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic and offers tips for the business that is taking their very first step. Last week’s topic was Signing a Marketing Agency.

Today’s Topic = Hiring a Marketer

The way you build your company matters. But there is no one-size-fits-all model. Some companies begin with a marketer as a key member of the founding team. But many do not. That’s who we want to focus on here, the companies that are out there looking to hire someone to manage their marketing.

Defining the Job

Before you start the process, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. No two marketers have the same set of skills, so it’s important that you outline your goals for this position before you start looking or interviewing. Develop a job posting that is as specific as possible, including what tools you expect the person to know, how much experience they should have with different processes, what they will be held accountable for.

A well-crafted job ad should narrow the pool of potential candidates to those who can actually do the job. And it will be used by you, the hirer, later as a measuring stick for who fits the bill.

Conducting the Search

Use all of the tools and channels at your disposal. Online job boards, LinkedIn, employee referrals, and head hunters can all help you find the right person. If this is your first marketing hire, it will be important to find the right person. You don’t want to settle for the first decent person you find. Your goal should be to find as many qualified candidates as possible before you start narrowing them down during the interview process.

When candidates apply for the position, look for a clear demonstration of skills on their resume and in their application. Weed through the cookie-cutter cover letters and find the people that are truly passionate about this position. A good candidate can prove that to you in his or her application.

Interviewing

If your candidate pool is large, start with a brief phone interview to narrow it down. With some prepared questions, you will be able to find out who knows what they’re talking about and who is not telling the truth on their resume.

Bring the best people in to meet with you in person. Use the interview to get to know the person, remembering that it is important you can work with them day in and day out. Are they passionate about the business? Are they coachable? Can they demonstrate expertise in the areas you care about? How would they respond to real-life situations they are likely to encounter if hired?

Testing

When you narrow it down to your top two or three people and still can’t make a decision, it can be a good idea to test them. Offer them a real-life scenario and give them a chance to tell you how they would handle it. This gives you a sense of their work style and creativity, and can help the very best candidate shine.

Hiring and Managing

When you do find the right person and make them an offer, be sure to do two things right away. First, make sure everyone is on the same page as far as roles and responsibilities. This way the new hire knows exactly what is expected of them. Second, set a timeline for reviewing progress. By making it clear from the start what is expected and how you will judge performance, you give the relationship the best chance to succeed in the long run.

In the end, hiring the wrong marketer is a costly mistake, so you want to handle this process with care and find the person that is going to really help you grow your business.

Stay tuned next week for another installment. If you have a topic you would like to see covered in the Day One Strategy blog series, use the comments below or contact us today.

Is Donald Trump a Great Marketer?

A rather interesting debate unfolded in my office the other day, and its premise was the question posed in the headline of this post.

Before we attempt to answer the question, let me say that this is not political commentary. Regardless of your feelings on the Republican nominee for President, the question is still real. And we don’t have to agree with his politics to answer the question.

Is Donald Trump a Great Marketer?

Donald Trump is a marketer. His name is perhaps one of the most widely known brands in the world. Does that make him a good marketer?

It is difficult to tell, based on who you trust, how successful his many companies have been. Many of been bankrupted. One is being sued for false claims in their sales and marketing activities. But I imagine that Donald himself was not the one in control of the marketing for many of them, given how hands off he seems to be, simply attaching his name to things and waiting for the royalties to roll in.

How about the campaign?

His campaign has tapped into an emotional undercurrent among a seemingly large population in the United States. He is exceptional at stoking their fears, and people truly feel that when he speaks, he speaks for them. Most marketers would love to be in that position.

Whether it’s on purpose or not, he is an expert at persuasion. He uses textbook principles of persuasiveness, such as confidence and certainty, purpose-driven anger, repetition of key points, speaking at a lower reading level, etc. Good marketers know how to persuade.

If you believe that all press is good press, than the Donald is the best PR man in the world. He can’t eat chicken without it being the subject of about 1 million news stories. Sure, he seems to get press for the wrong reasons more often than the right ones, but the question remains whether or not that matters.

Debate aside, he incites passion in people on both sides. Not many people have passive feelings about Donald Trump. You either love him or you hate him. And while most of us would rather people not hate our companies or brands, we would love to get them the kind of attention Donald Trump gets.

So the debate continues… Tell us what you think. Is Donald Trump a great marketer?