Big Ideas

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Pro Marketing “Team” Failure is Rampant: RESCUE IT! aka: The Case for Marketing Directors

This is not a blog – well, maybe it is, but it’s also an impassioned rant and plea to you to STOP THE INSANITY!

Susan Powter stresses over your marketing woes circa 1990’s.

Remember the 1990’s crazy lady Susan Powter (SP?) who with her Sinead O’Connor style of shaved head screamed at us all to STOP THE INSANITY! Well… In my best Susan-Moment…


I’m going to generalize this to not throw any friends or clients under the proverbial bus but I have seen a trend in my world that is going to hurt people and I need to help you see it, stop it, and install the 1 key person who can fix it (and no, it’s not me necessarily, so this is not a sales pitch – it’s a VERY CLEAR idea on how to fix a BIG problem).

Case 1: A very well-to-do and highly successful client in one industry has come to us asking us to help them launch into a related but wholly different industry. “Cool”, I thought, “this should be fun”. What I have discovered is that I am one vendor of many – he has a podcast vendor, a strategy coach, a funnel planner, a web designer, a graphic designer, us for video content, and a course-video creator, (oddly, no course designer). That’s a lot of people. He also has an internal director of operations who, given the empowerment and skills might be able to manage all of these vendors. Unfortunately, not one of these vendors is being encouraged, empowered nor compensated to work with each other to march to the beat of the same marketing drum. As a result, there are many smart people who each are capable of being strategists doing something that feels strategic to them and ultimately does nothing for the client. Also, as a result, I sense that we may each find that we’re questioning the abilities of the others or the ideas they are implementing because they fail to align with other efforts.

Case 2: Another high-powered person I am working is a celebrity team leader within a large national brand. His team has many vendors both internal and external. Internally is a video shooter, an email strategist who implements campaigns, and a social media vendor from an out of state corporate office that holds a lot of passwords and posts ultra generic blather. Enter outside vendors, we’re one and then there’s the printing/mailing company. Each of us acts generally on our own but we rely on assets from each other. Some don’t answer emails. Others “will get to it”. And many don’t know where the password file is to fix problems.

I have three more cases just like the two above at this very moment and in each case, I can tell you that there are 2 failures and 1 solution that must be openly discussed and celebrated.

So frustrating to watch your team failing, isn’t it?
Leadership often is a part of this failure and it can be avoided.

Failure 1: Unwitting Client-as-Coach

Have you ever worked on a team where people don’t answer phones or email? Or maybe, one or more people hold important info or forget to share it? Situations like this are doomed to low performance and situations of frustration. There are more surprises and “fix this now” moments from failed communication strategies than I’d like to admit. If you have a “team” that you have assembled to work on your behalf you have chosen to be the leader of a team. Think about that. You picked a group of people you believe in to work on your behalf on one thing – Marketing – and now you are the de facto leader. Unfortunately, most people who do this miss a crucial truth, that you are the Client and Coach. You technically call the shots on money, direction, and all collaboration. Congrats, you are running a small ad agency now and you didn’t know it.

Failure 2: Separate but Unified

Many times that people create a team – and don’t see that they’ve become Coach – have assumed that the separate vendors are somehow magically enabled to be unified in their vision and execution. There seems to be this implicit belief that marketers just “do their thing” and if they’re really pros then they’ll all align. This could not be further from the truth. There are a million ways to skin a cat (weird and outdated phrase but I’ll use it anyhow – I hate cats anyhow) and because there are a million ways there’s no likelihood that any small group of marketers will align their 1M ways with each other’s and the permutations on this are astronomical. We don’t just mystically gel, we work together through collaborations that take time, effort, and presence.

Solution: Marketing Director

If you’ve ever wondered what a Marketing Director does for a business – they solve this exact problem. A marketing director is a manager of vendors and staff. A marketing director knows how to do a lot – from blogging to web design to video content creation and PR and crisis management and more! Interestingly, a properly empowered marketing director does little to none of that. A properly empowered Marketing Director (or Director of Marketing or CMO or VP of Marketing… they get a lot of names) manages people and processes to usher in sound strategy, messaging, and execution from their team who is likely made up of some internal and many external vendors. This director empowers people to interact often and gathers them to interact as a group through team huddles and meetings. A marketing director is as much a traffic cop and therapist as they are a well-heeled and highly competent marketing mind.

The middle ground.

If you’re an entrepreneur reading this and you do not have a budget to hire a Marketing Director today I want to challenge you to make this a goal and set a date for it. Pick when you’ll have one and hold yourself to it. In the short term, I have a shortlist of suggestions that will help you implement leadership on your own to act as your own interim Director of Marketing while you get to your goal.

  1. Create a list of every vendor & their contact info PLUS exactly the skills you expect them to deliver for you AND the skills they have that you do not currently use (Use Excel for this)
  2. Tell every vendor that you are going to introduce them to each other in a meeting and empower them to interact with each other directly to discuss your needs. Let them know that this is a move to allow them to work more effectively and empower them, there ought to be no threat of competition in the room.
  3. Schedule regular (monthly or quarterly) team meetings for all of your team to meet and review your marketing efforts – include post-mortems on completed work, planning conversations for immediate work, and visions for eventual opportunities.
  4. Hold people accountable to the following important life skills:

Accountability. Timely Communication. Professional Anticipation – the art of seeing needs and meeting them BEFORE they arise. Winning Loser’s Mindest – the belief that the only true failure is when one chooses to see imperfections as anything more than a learning opportunity.

Josh Pies

We at C47 Films are beginning to lead the charge of coordinating and organizing our client’s teams as an outsourced CMO type role. Someone has to be a trusted leader. Perhaps you have someone in your world who could do this for you – lead the team of pros you trust to work well together on your behalf. I challenge you today to seek this out in your world and aspire to delegate marketing wisely so you do not have to become an expert in it.

Elon Musk’s successes as a space-aged innovator are not done in a vacuum.
His team has everything to do with his ability to create a new future for us all.

The Greatness of Elon.

Just today one of my clients who is allowing us the honor of leading their team of vendors made a wicked smart observation today. He said, “How can Elon Musk launch rockets, design electric cars, solve energy problems in Australia, plan subway trains in Miami and lead the charge on brain implants to repair memory and my marketing vendors can’t spell a postcard?” (We’d just found a vendor had put Loris Ipsum in place of proper text on a mailing that almost went out.). He was right – Elon is a master delegator and he has managers who can lead with world-class abilities. It takes intentionality and trust. It takes accountability and communication. There’s no corner on the market for these life skills. You simply must demand that they occur and have the grace to help nurture them to grow in humans who are willing to try. Elon clearly is a genius – we can’t all be that – but we can surround ourselves with greatness and set the stage for their more powerful genius to come to light. What is “their more powerful genius”? It’s the power of the team. And, in this context, your leader can usher that power in. Your leader is the CMO or Director of Marketing.

The Big Questions

Can you do this yourself…. get a team together and usher in collaboration? YES.

Do you have the time and expertise to lead your marketing team for your business? Maybe – only you know if you do.

Do you have someone to quarterback your marketing efforts? Are you in a position where you accidentally became the Ad Agency lead or the CMO and you know you aren’t supposed to be doing that job? IF that’s you, you are NOT ALONE.

You are one of many and you absolutely can break out of that role and get back to work. Step One starts now… Fill out the form on the right and make sure you tell us that you read this blog and you need help.

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