The Dirty Side of Marketing

February 19, 2010

Marketing is Dirty

Recent grads and people from other fields usually have the wrong idea about marketing. After multiple years of interviewing people for marketing positions, working with marketing interns, and discussing marketing with non-marketers it seems that the non-practitioners form their ideas about marketing from:

  • Having watched Mad Men and thinking that  marketing is advertising and it involves coming up with a crazy creative, tough negotiation, and a lot of romance
  • Reading Seth Godin books and feeling like it’s about coming up with purple cows, telling stories, and something about forming a big tribe
  • Watching  the mistakes that SouthwestUAL, Baja Fresh and TGI Fridays, and others have made and then thinking they would  never do that because they are smarter than those big dumb brands
  • Using Twitter and Face book on a daily basis and thinking that just because they have 100+ followers/friends and have top scores on MafiaWars/Farmville/InsertYourAnnoyingAppHere they are experts in social media and think is the only useful marketing vehicle
  • Surfing the web for hours and wondering why don’t all those companies simply re-design their websites

I could go on, but you get the idea.

And then what happens? They get a job.  And with the job comes meetings. And in one of those meetings the  Sales Manager starts talking about quality of leads coming from Marketing, the CFO asks about  Return On Investment, and the CEO  discusses how marketing goals need to be aligned to the overall strategy and asks for comparison with what competitors are doing. Then some negotiation about budget goes on and when the marketing staff regroups there are a lot of spreadsheets being thrown together for metrics.

And those metrics take time. Metrics for email results (clickthroughs, open rates, deliverability, etc.), metrics for the website (visitors, pageviews, clickpaths, conversions, etc.) and for the pay-per-click campaigns (impressions, daily budgets, word rankings, conversions, etc.), and the list goes on. At the end of the day our brave new marketer starts wondering what happened to all the nice marketing creativity, brainstorming sessions, and cool toys he saw on movies and expected to be part of.

The harsh reality is that marketing, let me rephrase that, effective marketing is a dirty job. Sure there is creativity, there is coming up with new ads, a new website, brand discussions and user personas, but it is all backed by serious analytics. Results are what marketers are after. Everything else is a means to that end.

This bucket of cold water thrown at the newbies leave many upset. Our schools are partly to blame because very little practical marketing is taught (recent graduates know the four P’s but have no idea of how exactly to use them and what tools are available). Inevitably some will get disillusioned and leave the field of marketing. Others ‘get it’ and take the analytics side of marketing with gusto and become excellent at slicing data and putting it to work.

With time all that number crunching and metrics become second nature and while they are still important, the “fun” aspects of creative brainstorming, marketing positioning and message, filling walls with post-it notes, and even going to offsite meetings for some R&R before that big push towards a deadline are what you remember most.

To sum it up: Marketing is dirty. Numbers, statistics, and real grunt work is done behind the scenes. But we love it because our work is what makes or breaks a company. We love it!


Are You Paid Enough? New Salary Survey Released

August 14, 2009

We all like to complain about how much we make, so here’s another reason for you to either shut up or have that awkward conversation with your boss about getting a raise. Exhibitor Magazine’s July Edition showcases their annual salary survey with interesting results.

You can see the results online on their website, but here’s a summary of average salary for selected titles:

  • Advertising and Marketing Managers: $61,451
  • Communications Manager: $72,606
  • Corporate Event Manager: $66,581
  • Marketing Communications Manager: $67,852
  • Marketing Director: $75,870

Some interesting findings from the survey are:

  • Women earn on average $13,134 less than their male counterparts
  • 70% of respondents said they are happy with their current jobs
  • Those with industry certifications enjoy an average of 18% higher salaries than their non-certified peers
  • 94% of respondents reported working more than 40 hours per week, which is not very surprising but they slice this number based on pay level and find that those who earn more than $80K put in 60 hour or more per week than those earning around $57K who work 40 to 49 hours per week

The survey also breaks down salaries by industry and region, so it is worth checking it out and comparing your own salary with the results. This is also a good resource for ensuring your staff is being compensated according to the market and for negotiating salary with someone you are hiring.

Other sources for salary comparison can be found at:

And I would be negligent not to mention the always thought-provoking posts from Seth Godin, this time about the myth of big salaries. Although his criticism was towards Wall Street financial companies that complain they need hefty compensation packages to attract talented employees, you decide whether it applies to your company as well.

Happy salary negotiation! 😉

How Good A Boss Are You Really?

April 9, 2009

If you want to see how you (or your new boss) stack against top technology CEO’s, check out for an interesting ranking.

The site not only lists top executives based on approval ratings but also shows you reviews that give you some more specifics of the person, the company, and what it feels like working there. One of the more interesting features is the ability to search for salaries paid at a specific company. Insider information is always good when planning your next career move!

Get Hired in Marketing

April 6, 2009

Want a marketing job? Then you have to first understand the rules of the game.

I was recently hiring a marketing coordinator for my company and once again it became obvious to me that most candidates do a poor job at interviewing. So here’s my contribution, albeit a small one, to those of you who are looking for new jobs.

Before you go out on an interview,  you need to understand how hiring works. Then you can craft a great resume, prepare to ace the interview, and come up as a top candidate for the job.  Keep in mind the following factors and you’ll be a step ahead of other candidates.

Risk is the most important factor:

The whole hiring process has one goal, and that is to reduce the risk of hiring a bad candidate. Companies spend a lot of time and money when they need to hire someone and spend even more when they make a wrong hiring decision. So every step is designed to reduce the risk the company and the hiring manager face. Knowing this will give you tremendous advantage, as most people are concerned with making sure they look good (either on their resumes or during the interview) and not with what the company needs. Is basic marketing (you can only sell if you know what the customer wants), but very few people stop to think about it.

As you are asked questions during the interview, managers are not looking for a right answer, they are looking for clues that will tell them whether you are high or low risk. So you need to make sure that when you are answering questions during an interview, your answers are focused on lowering that perceived risk.

Example: for a question like “do you have experience with trade shows?” (which is not necessarily a very good question to begin with, but let’s leave it like this for now) you could answer:  “yes, I have experience with trade shows and have handled many throughout my career”. The problem with this answer is that is very limited. OK, you have experience, but how much? What else have you dealt with in a trade show environment that can tell me that I will be able to trust you with my events? If you leave the hiring manager wondering whether you have all the experience he needs from someone in the position they are hiring for, then you haven’t done a good job at lowering the risk level.

A better answer is: “not only I have experience with trade shows, but I’ve been involved in multiple types of shows, from small user groups that only required a tabletop display up to big conventions where we used our 20×20 booth. In the last show [name] that I managed I had to negotiate with the show organizer, involve the transportation company, and come up with some creative ways   to get our stand up on time, which gave me a much better understanding of how trade shows work”. Aha! This not only answers what was asked, but goes a step beyond and touches upon the real reason for the question in the first place, giving detailed insight as to the type of experience and situations the candidate faced, significantly lowering the risk of hiring someone inexperienced. The Hiring Game

Every line on your resume, every answer you give during an interview, and every contact you have with the company needs to be focused on lowering the perceived risk. The little things you do will add up in the end and make you stand out.

You only need to be 2% better:

 You don’t need to be a superstar. If you’re 2% better than the next candidate, you’re already ahead. How do you do that? By keeping in mind the ‘risk’ factor and tailoring all your answers to help the hiring manager lower the risk you represent. Since most candidates think about answering the question and just the question, they don’t realize that there’s more to it. The question about trade shows above, for example. What is the risk the company faces? Well, if events are a big part of their marketing budget, then they need someone they can count on to manage that side of the business. If the position you are interviewing for will have that responsibility, then you shouldn’t just answer “yes, I’ve dealt with trade shows in the past” because that really doesn’t tell me anything. Go beyond the simple question and expand your answer (but briefly, of course) to get extra points.

Results are more important than ever

The typical advice of headhunters is to make sure you add accomplishments to each job description. Now more than ever you have to ensure your resume is results-oriented, and that during the interview your answers touch upon results you achieved. Check out a recent post on Marketing Today website about it.

It’s not over when the interview is over

After the interview you’re not off the hook. Another person is now sitting on that same chair, trying to do his best, just like you did. How do you keep yourself ahead? By continuously showing that you’re the best candidate. Send written thank you notes to EVERYONE that you dealt with. From the receptionist to the hiring manager. And hand write the thank you notes, don’t email them. Why? Because most people don’t do it. You’ll be seen as more professional and will stand out. You should also be checking for industry related news and is a good idea to email the hiring manager a link to an interesting article or press release that might be relevant to the company, this shows you’re up to date on the industry and is really interested. Some of these simple gestures go a long way towards helping you land the job.

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