About ten years into my career, I decided I get a Master’s Degree in Journalism at the University of Oklahoma. The program featured a highly regarded writing instructor named Jack Bickham and it was a great experience. But towards the end of the program, I needed one more elective, so I decided to take a “marketing” course. After all, I was producing television programs at the time and I assumed marketing was all about advertising and creativity, so it should be fun, right?
Boy, was I in for a wake up call. I quickly discovered that real marketing was about pricing structures (or donor development in non-profits), product development, customer service, lots of research, and a million other things I knew little to nothing about.
During that class I gained a new respect for the art and science of marketing. But since that time, it’s also caused me to get increasingly frustrated when a company, non-profit, or church hires someone for “marketing” who doesn’t have anything close to those skills.
More likely, they think (like I did all those years ago) that they should hire someone with sales, social media, or writing experience.
Seth Godin mentioned the dilemma on his blog:
Marketing isn’t paying for ads, changing the logo or building a social media presence. Marketing is product design, customer service, pricing, customer delight and creating and living a remarkable story. Marketing is creating the conditions for the network effect. And yet, the typical Chief Marketing Officer isn’t in charge of ANY of those things.
He calls most marketing directors “The Chief Hype Officer” and he’s exactly right. Hype is about all they can do, because they’re probably either the wrong person in the role, or they’re not allowed to have a voice in all those areas.
Leaders: Marketing is big. Marketing is important. A true marketing director or team needs to be involved in much more than simply promoting a product or organization they have little input into.
Raise the bar. Marketing is a powerful tool. But it takes two things:
1) Leaders who encourage good marketing directors to speak into a wide range of organizational issues.
2) Marketing directors who know what they’re doing. Not just someone who knows how to post on social media.