Saturday, February 27, 2016

One Reason Marketing Sometimes Gets a Bad Reputation

I have been a marketing professional for 37 years. I have an undergraduate degree (BS) in management with a minor in psychology and a graduate degree (MBA) in general management with a concentration in competitive strategy. I spent 15 years at Hallmark Cards where I had the opportunity to work in almost every area of marketing from new product development, product management, advertising, promotion, retail focused teams, product merchandising, sales support, pricing strategy, distribution strategy and brand management. In addition, I designed or participated in hundreds of marketing research studies using almost every qualitative and quantitative research methodology. And I was very involved in brand licensing and global marketing. After that, I built a marketing function for an e-learning company. In that capacity, I was responsible for corporate communications, public relations, CRM, direct marketing, digital marketing, product marketing, marketing research, brand management, marketing communications, advertising, trade shows, trade relations, sales support and marketing strategy. Since then, I have conducted brand research and brand equity measurement projects and consulted on brand strategy and positioning for 16 years as a consultant for more than 200 brands across almost every industry segment. My first job out of undergraduate school included rewriting the 4As account executive manual. I say this not to pat myself on the back but rather to contrast my background with the backgrounds of others who may also call themselves marketers:

  • Someone who has a journalism degree and writes copy
  • Someone who has a graphic arts degree and creates designs for marketing communications
  • Someone who has a masters degree and a PhD in statistics and marketing research
  • A salesperson with a high school education
  • Someone who designs retail displays
  • A direct marketing expert with years of experience
  • A CRM expert with years of experience
  • Someone directly out of undergraduate school with a degree in marketing
  • Someone who has been the CMO for several major brands
  • An account executive at an ad agency
  • A photographer in a photography studio
  • Someone who has deep experience in marketing communications but nothing else
  • Someone who moderates focus groups
  • Someone who has a PhD in psychology and moderates focus groups
  • A young social media expert who focuses solely on social media
  • A mathematician and statistician who is responsible for big data analytics
  • Someone who has no formal training or experience in marketing but who has an intuitive knack for marketing
  • A web designer
  • A search engine optimization expert
  • A public relations professional
  • Someone with a high school degree who does inside sales from a selling script
  • Someone with no relevant education or experience who has assumed a marketing position
  • Someone who graduated top of her class at a top MBA marketing program, learned the ropes through a top consumer packaged goods company and has been a marketing vice president for several different companies

My point in sharing my background and the backgrounds of others who call themselves marketers is that there is a huge variation in education, skill sets, experience and capabilities - huge. I can think of few other professions in which people in that profession have such large differences in skill sets and capabilities. No wonder people outside of marketing are sometimes wary of marketers. They don't know what to expect when encountering a marketer or perhaps their expectations were formed by previous interactions with marketers whose skill sets varied widely but were each limited in their own ways.


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