Friday, July 13, 2007

What's It Mean to Be a Marketer?

Hello, I’m Valeria Maltoni, and I’m a marketer. What exactly does that mean these days? That is aside from the obvious laundry list of tactics that are associated with the “marketing” brand. Yes, dear colleagues, let’s admit it -- by and large, we’re still seen as order takers.

It’s also our fault. Before you move onto the next post, let’s agree on the qualities that make a good marketer today. We need to be good at (the highlights):


How many of you have put these skills to use in the course of your daily work? There is a reason why the list is ordered that way. Many of us climb the first couple of rungs of that ladder really well, yet we rarely get to the others. Why?

The problem, as I see it, is that we don’t do a good job at selling ourselves. Ladies and gentlemen, what people often see is the end result, the campaign, the ads, the program. So they come to the obvious conclusion that that’s where marketing resides. Marketing = tactics.

You’re not convinced yet. You’re thinking that rookies make that mistake; they are too inexperienced to articulate the value of what they do to senior management. Consultants do a better job at this. Their clients hire them on the strength of their being able to articulate what they bring to the table.

What if I told you a brief story that illustrates how a top-notch marketer made the classic advertising rookie mistake? The following story is extracted with slight edits for length from the book Rebuilding Brand America by Dick Martin, former VP Public Affairs at AT&T.

After 9/11, the President decided that we needed to do a better job telling the Brand America story. So who did he turn to? Charlotte Beers, the first woman to rise to the top of two agencies, Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson –- making her the most prominent woman in advertising.

Secretary Colin Powell turned to “the Queen of branding,” “the Queen of advertising,” or “the Queen of schmoozing,” as people called her. His idea was that we needed to sell democracy, the product of a free enterprise system –- the American value system.

Beers went at it in earnest, doing her research, meeting with people, and working around the clock to come up with the “Shared Values” campaign, a $15MM effort. The response was good, but the campaign didn’t work. Why?

Ms. Beers gave her client what he wanted rather than what he needed. Two major forces where against her:

1. She was not familiar with the intricacies and bureaucracies of reconciling the mandate from Secretary Powell and the complex web of communication offices at the State Department and across the administration. Her sense of urgency blinded her to the fact that she needed to research and understand the dynamics of this organization.

The lesson: know the environment in which you move really well, do your due diligence, speak with key stakeholders, and find the gatekeepers and the internal network’s nodes.

2. She jumped on a running train. She sat in on conference calls where the president’s communications director, Karen Hughes, was already leading State and Defense Departments staffers in writing the message of the day and plotting political strategy.

What happens when you’re put in charge of getting a message out and someone else is already doing it? The due diligence would have uncovered that many of these decisions had already been made. How about going back to the people who put you in charge and request that the business support you as the new lead?

The lesson: your first priority should be to set strategic direction. Find those people within your organization who set the tone from the operational side and partner with them.

You may also find, as Ms. Beers did, that there aren’t enough staff and resources allocated to your department. That will need to wait for another conversation.

Repeat after me, next time someone comes to you requesting a brochure, or a web site, or an ad, what do you say?

Let’s climb that ladder, shall we?

1 comment:

Qualitative Marketing Research said...


Marketing means informing your potential clients about your products or service. Your target market is the specific group of people that consume your product or utilize your service. Many people feel lost and uncomfortable with marketing and promotion. Thanks a lot...