Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why Do Marketers Move Around So Much?

I have heard it said the average tenure of a marketing director at a law firm is about 18 months and that marketers in other industries seem to move frequently as well. Why is that? Well, I would not ask the question if I did not have my own opinion. Marketers move for three reasons:
  1. The job, culture, or chemistry is bad or becomes bad over time. I am so proud of any marketer that is healthy enough within themselves to recognize the situation and get out before things become toxic. Enough about that....

  2. The marketer has usurped the vision of leadership with their own. This is the one I am most guilty of. My example is this:

    A family rents a home and lives at that house for several years. Along the way the house stops being the, "place we rent" and becomes, "our home."

    The family starts thinking about ways to fix up "their home" and may even ask the owner to make some upgrades. One day the owner shows up proposing a remodel that is an absolute mismatch for the vision of the family, and the family becomes adamant about fighting the changes. Whom do you think will win this battle?

    Do we ever forget whose house it is? I know I have. My role should have always been to help guide their vision, not tell them what their vision is. A marketer that starts telling leadership what leadership believes is a marketer needing a refreshed resume.

  3. The marketers job is done. I fall into this category is well. There are few marketers that are great at everything in every phase of the life of a firm. Some marketers are great at creating growth, some are great at sales strategy, and some are great at maintaining existing processes -- or some combination of two of these skills. It is rare to find all three skills in one person.

    If your skill set is no longer required in the current situation, it is what it is. My skills are market growth and sales strategy. Once growth has happened and strategy is in place I become a fish out of water. It never takes long for my firms to recognize I am flaying about and creating chaos where it need not be.

    In these situations the movement of marketers is a good thing. People land where they are needed -- at least I know I always have....
Maybe there are other reasons that marketers move, or there are further nuances of what I've discussed. For me a truth is that I believe in how I do what I do and am at peace with what I cannot (maybe that's why I created an agency to sell what I am good at).

In the end there are good reasons for a marketer to be a bit transient. We are "fixers" that manage what is needed when it's necessary. While it may seem a bit mercenary it is more like public service. Put the right people (marketers) in the right situations and wonderful things will always occur.