Do It All Marketers are Mythical Superheros

I can do it all, yes I can!

This is a great motivational pick-me-up in the morning. This meditative mantra might get us excited to tackle the day’s challenges; however, it lacks realism, sensibility and truth.  This type of ambitious self-talk is often a set-up for over-extending ourselves, disappointing others and ultimately failing.

Yet, in today’s marketing world there are many organizations that still value this type of mythical marketing superhero.  The one marketing person that can do it all. It’s often disguised with terms like universal marketing expert, hands-on professional, self-starter, or the dreaded marketing generalist.

The “know it all, do it all” marketer may be admirable for any business to actually find, as we are all chasing rainbows, unicorns and lucky charms. This type approach is also very risky and harmful to a business strategy.

The marketing “do it all, know it all” generalist doesn’t exist today. 

The universe of marketing is extremely complex and requires a variety of specialists across a broad continuum of services, solutions and tactics.  What might be perceived as those fluffy, cushy marketing jobs of the past (if that ever existed), now demands talent with skills of scientific application, data analytics, user experience and design, implementation of marketing and sales technologies and the financial acumen to run growth analysis and projections. In other words, not so puffy and fluffy.

Moving beyond the numbers, today’s marketer also needs to be steeped in knowledge that defines and understands omnichannels, digital media, transformation, bots, AI, mediums, audience types, languages, platforms and even globalization. And that’s just the beginning.

Marketers have to also be versed in outstanding corporate navigation to work confidently upstream with executives, across in collaboration with peers and downstream with all employees, partners and stakeholders to gain support and drive the best brand experience.

The marketer of today has a large microcosm of responsibility to manage within a very complex environment.  Marketers need not be a specialist in “everything” to succeed today. They need to recognize the requirements and speak the “macro” language of marketing, so that they can engage the right experts to effectively execute the tasks at hand.

Successful marketers need a robust network that is diverse in talent and skills and rich in resources to manage all of today’s marketing responsibilities.

The intricacies of current marketing requires micro-level experts that can deliver a varied set of tactical solutions. Great marketers need to be exceptional in building great teams, along with being visionary and extraordinary in supporting global teamwork. These team members can be internal resources, as well as a external alliances who have exceptional skills and provide resources to create, build and deliver specific tasks and jobs.

Danger Will Robinson! Stretching even beyond the illusion of a marketing superhero,  some companies will try to create the “do it all” super hybrid who is responsible for both sales and marketing. This often comes from the desire to meld together a cost center with a revenue generating group to off-set the “pains” of spending money on marketing. It is a frequent starting place for small companies with very limited budgets.

Every marketer knows it is unrealistic and dangerous to assume one individual can advocate and grow your brand, as well as develop lasting customer relationships that are profitable over time.  It is not a matter of knowledge, it is a matter of prioritization and time.  Short-cutting will happen somewhere and investing in both sales and marketing are extremely important to the long-term success of any organization.

Here are seven tips on how to think about today’s marketer and plan for the role they have in your organization.

  1. Marketing is an investment in the long-term growth of your organization.
  2. Marketing is often outspending technology functions today with implementations of systems to manage customers and sales, budget accordingly.
  3. Marketing requires expertise and one person will not be an expert in every responsibility managed within the marketing function. They need a team of people within the organization or outsources, along with access to resources.
  4. Marketing is the fuel for your sales engine and you need to buy sufficient fuel for the engine to run.
  5. Marketing needs organizational support at the top in understanding the complex nature of the function, preferably with a seat at the table where executive decisions are made for the future of the business.
  6. Marketing needs to set clear KPIs that align to the business goals so that outcomes and achievements are measurable and communicated to the organization based on results.
  7. Excessive turnover in marketing disrupts business and performance so build a team to last, not fulfill a short-term gap or immediate need to get by for now.

As we all operate at Internet speed, it is impossible for one person to know and do it all. Setting up an organization with this type of mythical marketing superhero is a recipe for disaster.

Organizations need marketing leaders that are great in  macro-thinking and know where to acquire the micro-skills and resources to deliver results. Start with a leader that is good at big picture planning and strategy development, and who has a broad knowledge base to recognize trends in skills, technology and processes.  Empower this person to build the best time for executing all the marketing tasks and activities required to grow your business.

Jack of all trades, master of none” is a figure of speech used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills and not necessarily outstanding in any particular one. You need a master of marketing leadership that will bring together many Jack and Jill resources that can deliver across a broad landscape of specialized marketing tactics. That is the recipe for marketing success.

Jamie Glass, CMO + President at Artful Thinkers, a sales and marketing consulting company.