Marketing mastery is like becoming a master chef at a top restaurant. There are a dizzying array of orders coming in at a mad pace. Each must be tended to with grace, and good taste. It takes speed, know-how, and balance. Too much of one ingredient of another… and you mess up the dish. Getting it just right is the key to your brand.
Flip back to marketing… you are trying to get those thousand initiatives, programs or ads out the door. You know you need to review your last campaigns analytics, but just cannot finding the time. Not uncommon in today’s frenzy. It is time to hire marketing help, but who and what background should they have? Should the candidate have a pure marketing background, or should you consider candidates with more breadth in their functions?
Of course the easy answer is to hire a new marketing resource with a pure marketing background exactly attuned to the particular task you have in mind for them. In fact, you start hunting for the LinkedIn profile and CV articulating 5-7 years of inbound marketing specialization focused on email campaign development. Very targeted, very focused, and ready to do exactly the job you need. However, the question lingers in your mind; are you looking at the tree in too much detail and missing the forest?
As you take time to think through the broader set of functions you know there is more to it than just one singular function. In fact, would it not be great to have someone with a little more experience who also knows how to put together Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns, knows how to interpret and action Google Analytics results, figure out how to work with an agency for an ad campaign and help co-ordinate the next three in-person marketing events on the roster for next quarter?
To satisfy these needs breadth in marketing would be a very good thing. It would help with the peaks and valleys of the work-load across the entire team, throughout the year. Yes, this new person would be focused on the email campaigns as their main function, but it would be tremendously helpful for them to have the flexibility and adaptability to jump in and get involved in the different areas of Marketing – when needed. Better yet, bringing in someone who has done some of these different functions from another company might bring fresh thinking, ideas and even some best practices. Now a broader background seems to make sense.
Creativity in Marketing
Creativity, innovation and new interesting strategies are part of the Marketing function. In an Insights study by Stanford Business, Marguerite Rigoglioso states that “The worst kind of group for an organization that wants to be innovative and creative is one in which everyone is alike and gets along too well” (Aug 2006). The interesting conclusion is that teams with differing backgrounds are challenged with some discord in the short term. As the team gels the diverse backgrounds means that members expect a broader variety of opinions, become more willing to accept this state, and ultimately end with a greater level of creativity. It also provides the team with a greater sense of resilience, as the broader mindset allows the team to better content with both the standard creative duties, as well as the challenging, high pressure and negative circumstances.
With this new line of thinking, should you consider extending your boundaries even further? For the new role, you definitely want someone bringing the experience having done the specific core function you need filled (email marketing in this case). Beyond that focused experience, should you consider professionals who have had a background in sales, operations, and category management – too? After all this would bring an even greater sense of breadth to your team.
Naturally this is a rhetorical question, to which the answer always depends on the particulars of your situation. However, consider that a candidate with breadth beyond marketing may help make your projects more impactful by observing how other teams interpret and react to the campaigns. Like Rigoglioso’s observation, breadth of background brings a different thought perspective to the table when developing the strategy for your marketing initiatives. It could mean bringing a customer perspective to light, or adding a sales, operations, product management view of the project. It can strengthen relations with critical teams – like sales and development. Bringing these perspectives forward means improving the impact of your projects by drawing in a greater level of engagement from customers and other internal teams.
Of course there are benefits and drawbacks to each approach. Hiring a completely focused marketer means getting a very sharp resource who can augment your abilities in a particular area. If your team is already composed of marketers with limited experience outside the domain, then another sharply focused resource will maintain a narrow perspective. In this case, improving your efficiency at the cost of effectiveness. Alternatively, going too far to bring in a professional with a wildly diverse background and no expertise to help you push your particular need forward – may also not help your cause.
Marketing’s Master Cook
Managing a marketing team is akin to being a cook. You have to work with a base. Perhaps this is the vegetable or chicken broth. There are other key ingredients like the potatoes, noodles, and fresh vegetables that add to the base – each in a unique way. The base is like the highly focused marketing resources that bring years of expertise in their particular element of Marketing.
Then there is the spice added to augment and highlight the natural flavours of the base. Think of these as the marketers with a broader experience set. They know marketing but have also been in other roles – bringing different experiences that can help make marketing functions more impactful.
All told, a master cook will know what blend of base and spice to mix for the perfect soup. Using too much base and a medley of fresh vegetables without any spice will create an edible soup, but it will be completely bland. Mixing in a weak base, with a massive helping of powerful fresh spice might make your soup an assault on the senses.
What’s the Point?
The point is that it is easy to get enamoured with a professional marketing team, with very little experiential breadth outside traditional marketing functions. Masterful marketing leaders know that you need a balanced experience base to create a robust team which is adaptable to the needs of the business. Robust teams sense and adjusts to customer needs, and keep a close eye on the effectiveness of your results. A core of pure marketers with marketers with a diverse background of functions, is a good blend to achieve an element of robustness and well-rounded thinking for your campaigns.
When your brand moves at the speed of social media – an adaptable team with a diverse experience base is paramount.
Flavour up your marketing broth by adding the spice of marketing candidates who bring breadth of experience to the table.
Article by Charles Dimov