Planning on hiring a marketer? Finding the right person for the job can be a challenge any time you hire, so I’m going to make this easier for you. If you’re a firm that belongs to the Growth Marketing School of Thought, then don’t look for a great marketer at another professional services firm.
Go to a software firm.
- Software firms combine the ether of knowledge work, the discipline of manufacturing, the data-driven product management of consumer goods, and the complex sales capability that most firms would die for.
- They believe that client understanding always precedes production, not the other way around.
- Software firms recognize the combined strengths of product design, marketing, sales, and production, versus the absolute power of production.
- Their competitive operating environments foster and reward innovation, quality, and speed.
- Their recalcitrant cultures attract free thinkers.
- Software employees tend to be analytical, logical, and data-driven.
- Software companies understand the power of and knowledge to build brand tribalism (i.e. loyalty).
Most importantly, software companies innately attract and foster the core attributes of my idea of a strategic marketer. Top marketers are:
They see themselves as business people, not as marketers, designers or communicators. They love all that is involved in the complexity of making a product/service that meets a need for a client: product development, sales, service delivery, operations, finance, and human capital.
They cannot break their desire to keep learning. The more knowledge one gains, the more one sees how much he doesn’t know. More knowledge means more interconnected knowledge, which means a greater arsenal for solving problems.
The best marketers live to add value by solving problems for clients and the firm. They don’t whine when there is not enough budget or a competitor flanks them or someone important leaves the team. They come to work for these conditions and work until the problem is solved– not when they run out of answers.
You cannot make an omelet unless you break some eggs. You cannot cross the sea unless you lose sight of the shore. Pick your favorite trite cliche. Whether it is new ideas, new approaches, or new ways of looking at things, top marketers push things when it’s time for them to be pushed.
Marketing is neither singularly creative nor analytical. The best marketers never let feelings trump facts. But, they also never disavow intuition when their guts tell them that the market feels something that cannot be quantified. Data unleashes creativity, not the other way around.
If a marketer cannot fight for her idea, hold her own in a partner meeting or walk away from a job, she cannot add the necessary level of value that I expect. The best marketers are self-confident and ready to demonstrate it in a healthy, mature way.
I have never met an idea that could not be made better. The best marketers are open to others’ contributions. Because of their business-mindedness, they keep the focus on building client value, whether a marketer, a salesperson, or an accountant adds that value. They are not hung up on receiving singular credit.
Top marketers do not dabble. They are all-in and high-performance minded. They set tough goals and work until they achieve them. If they miss a goal, they still come away with learning to enhance their performance next time. High performance is not a sometimes thing. Top marketers strive for mastery and high achievement in everything they do.
Of course, software firms have bad marketers and you can find a great marketer elsewhere—even in another pro services firm. I won’t argue that point. I have worked in the automotive, financial services, accounting, IT consulting, HR, and software industries. I have built many marketing organizations and developed some talented marketing people. Professional services firms are incredibly unique. They combine expertise and relationship into an intangible product to produce value. Add this combination to the fungible nature of solutions, matrix firm structures, decentralized decision-making, and contradictory performance measures and you have a one-of-a-kind operating environment.
Unfortunately, expectations at most firms are such that marketers seldom grow beyond rudimentary writing, design, and event management roles. Their understanding of the market, clients, competitors, and services is limited to what partners have told them is the truth, rather than them having their own objective analysis. After years of order-taking, the strategic muscles in their minds have atrophied. Their emphasis is on surviving the politics of a dysfunctional environment and policing a “brand”—not on driving growth. I could go on, but you get the point.
It takes a strategic marketer to develop a strategic marketer—not a lawyer, accountant, sales guy, product manager or even a strategy consultant.