If you want to manage your marketing efforts more effectively, take a cue from the movie industry.
Have you ever really watched the final credits of a movie? They go on and on and on listing every last editor, actor, gaffer, grip and gopher who was involved.
Managing your marketing can turn into the same sort of production. Sometimes it’s a well-orchestrated work of art, other times it’s a rotten tomato. It depends on the Producer.
Producers manage the logistics, budgets and personalities involved in movie making. They collaborate closely with the Director when it comes to naming creative partners and finding the right talent. They also handle financing.
Every new movie is like a start-up business of its own, and the Producer is the entrepreneur of the operation.
For movie producers success hinges on making sure all the pieces come together under one, coherent vision. If the team cannot see the whole strategic picture — the overall vision for the production — their efforts fall short.
If they put the wrong actor in the leading role they might have a box office flop despite a great story.
If the script isn’t dialed in the story won’t move along naturally into the climactic 3rd act.
If the costs get out of control and the budget goes out the window, they won’t recoup their money.
Same thing for marketing managers.
Like Hollywood, the marketing world is full of colorful characters. The list of credits can get really long…
Graphic artists, data nerds, copywriters, search marketing specialists, creative prima donnas, spreadsheet data managers, SEO specialists, MBAs, strategic planners, programmers, professional tweeters, TikTok twerkers and on and on.
There are more marketing specialists than ever before. For the average business owner that means more difficult choices to make, more personalities to manage, and more chances to mess things up.
Most business owners don’t have the time to manage their own marketing efforts. They have too many other responsibilities, and they will always naturally gravitate toward what they’re best at. But the show must go on, so they delegate it to whoever’s handy — whoever they think can coordinate all the moving pieces.
That’s how so many marketing specialists end up calling the marketing shots.
But you can’t expect a specialist in one marketing discipline to manage all the pieces of your marketing program. It’s like having a special effects editor sitting in the director’s chair.
If an SEO expert is in charge of your marketing efforts you’ll get traffic to your website, but it may never translate into more sales.
If a graphic designer is calling the shots, then you’ll have a lot of nice looking graphics with no strategy or tactical plan.
If the social media specialist is in charge, you might have a lot of followers and no revenue streams.
In many companies there is one character lurking in the shadows who steals the show and becomes the de facto marketing director. I’ve seen it too many times… Even though she may not have a lick of marketing experience, she controls the decisions that make or break the company’s marketing programs.
Her influence is disproportionate to her skill or experience. Like a make-up artist directing an entire movie.
In mythology, screenwriting and literature, this character is known as a shapeshifter. Shapeshifters are two-faced, like Severus Snape in Harry Potter. They are pretending to be something they are not and it’s not unusual for them to change alliances frequently.
These characters add uncertainty and tension to any story, and they’ll do the same for your marketing efforts.
In business the shapeshifting character could be a secretary, a hot-shot sales person, a friendly media rep or even the spouse of the owner. It’s always someone who has the ear of the CEO or owner, and it’s usually a loyal supporter who’s been around the company for a long time and “really knows the customer.”
When a shape shifter calls the shots, things get messy. The brand story gets convoluted. Efforts are duplicated. Time is wasted. Morale plummets. Money gets thrown at problems that don’t even exist. And, inevitably, the marketing programs perform quite poorly.
There is no curtain call.
Here are four characters that I frequently find elbowing their way to the front of the marketing stage:
The Spouse or Secretary.
This is a common scenario in family-owned businesses… The owner/CEO employs his wife or secretary to “do the marketing.” It’s so common it’s become a cliché in some industries.
It’s better than nothing. But in marketing, as in everything, you get what you pay for. If you want to see great results, you need to pay for a coordinated effort.
The CEO’s administrative assistant handles the information flow to the boss, so she’s in the position to control everything the boss sees regarding marketing. Therefore, she can easily undermine the best efforts of the actual marketing staff or any outside experts, especially when it comes to subjective decisions on creative issues. It’s a recipe for disaster.
The Social Media Specialist.
Back in the 90’s many marketing departments were run by sales guys. (Because many business owners equate sales with marketing.) Now it’s the social media specialist who often becomes the de facto marketing director.
But anyone under 30 with a cell phone can dub themselves a social media expert.
Don’t get me wrong… social media is a tremendously valuable tactical marketing tool, but it’s not the whole picture. And it certainly should not drive your entire marketing strategy.
I love this analogy from Peter Shankman, from the Business Insider: “Being an expert in social media is like being an expert in taking bread out of the fridge. She may be the best bread taker-outter in the world. But the goal is to make a great sandwich, and he can’t do that if all he’s ever done is take bread out of the fridge.”
If you were producing a movie you wouldn’t put the set designer or the publicist in charge of the entire thing. So don’t let the social media specialist direct your marketing efforts.
The Kid with a Drone and a Title.
Drones are all the rage right now. Many people seem to think that those epic aerial shots of their building and parking lot are all they need for TV commercials and a “killer” social media presence.
I even know one college kid who has a drone and the enviable title of “director of marketing.” And it’s not a small company. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in his marketing budget.
Hold that joy stick just one doggone minute. What’s missing from that equation?
Just because he can fly a drone without killing innocent bystanders doesn’t mean he can pilot a comprehensive marketing effort. That birds-eye view of your building doesn’t mean he has any perspective on your overall marketing challenges.
So here’s some advice…
If you’re a business owner make sure you find someone with marketing management experience to play role of Producer. Get a generalist who knows how to keep all the other performers performing. It could be a trusted outside consultant, an agency principal, or a senior-level employee.
Once you decide who that’s going to be, structure your business so that person has real authority to get stuff done. And don’t let anyone undermine that.
Also, always stay involved in the planning and tracking of your marketing efforts, no matter who’s running the department. As the owner or CEO it’s critical to collaborate on the strategic side of marketing. It’s like Act One… it defines the roles and sets the stage for the entire show.
You need good casting, great directing, razor-sharp writing and of course, excellent acting.