The head of marketing

It’s easy to be confused about this job, because it’s not one job, it’s at least three.

This is why it’s a difficult job to fill, and why turnover is so high–we’re not allocating resources or setting expectations in a way that matches the work to be done.

Marketing strategy: This is the work of positioning, story telling, status and affiliation. It’s understanding network effects, the user experience and the change we seek to make. Good marketing strategy overcomes just about everything else. Some of my books are about this.

Promotion: This is more tactical. It’s coupons and PR and perhaps advertising. It’s steady permission marketing, a thoughtful content strategy and a team of people who consistently and generously tell your story. This is what many people think of as marketing, but while it needs to be consistent with the strategy, it’s a different set of skills and activities.

Sales support: In many organizations, the main role of marketing is to support the work of the sales team. This integrated role feels very different from the typical brand marketer’s job.

Project management: Given how much time, money and effort go into the marketing function, it requires consistent and insightful leadership. There are a lot of constituents, moving parts and decisions to be made.

Prettiness: Definitely not worth putting in bold. This is logo design, empty phrases about look and feel and endless debates about taste.

When the CEO says she’s looking for marketing help, it’s probable that what seems to be missing is promotion. But without the other two elements, not much is going to happen.

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