Marketing is an interesting field. I was going to say that I can’t think of another field where everyone has such a strong opinion on what you are doing wrong and what you should be doing instead, but then, professional referees came to mind. In most major sports that involve some kind of officiating–all of them, in other words–it’s the fans that are the self-proclaimed experts and the referee is usually wrong.
You wouldn’t do that with your doctor, would you? What about other professionals? In a company, would the employees tell the CFO she is doing it wrong unless they had some specific background and knowledge that that was actually the case? I don’t think so.
For some reason, marketing brings out the critic in all of us. Maybe we all feel like experts because we’ve been “marketed to” for so long. We have an idea of what works on us and what doesn’t. Maybe it’s because what marketing can be doing is so broad, that there is always something that is not happening, and people may fixate on that particular point.
It’s been my experience that people have–and want to share–all those opinions. And they are just that–opinions. As a one-man show, as has often been the case in startups I’ve worked at, there is so much to do that even if you are working with your hair on fire, there are marketing tactics that are not being applied and market segments not being addressed.
Those opinions come in many forms. It might be feedback on what you are doing, right or wrong, or could focus on what you could be doing. My favorite (not favorite) is hearing someone talk about what my competition is doing. That’s always helpful!
What’s a marketer to do?
As I’ve faced this at some companies, I have found a few ways to cope with all that generous input.
- Have a written plan. If you have created a plan that you are confident will work, and you have documented it, you’re halfway there. The Content Marketing Institute continues to produce research that proves that having a documented strategy is key to success. Bonus points if your written plan has the blessing of the relevant executive that can back you up.
- Execute against your plan. “Plan the work and work the plan” is what I was taught and it’s solid advice. Precisely because there is so much that could be done in a marketing role, and it’s impossible to do everything, following a plan helps maintain focus on those areas that have already been vetted and deemed to be worth using.
- Pivot when necessary. Sure, you’re an expert marketer with a lot of great ideas. And you’ve got an awesome plan that you work towards every day. That doesn’t mean you can’t be wrong, right? You need to be flexible enough to make the appropriate adjustments, as needed, to maximize your ROI. And make those changes based on facts–not opinions–as much as you can.
- Take input graciously. Ok, I know this was coming across as a rant against everyone having a marketing opinion, but sometimes they make a valid point. Everyone has a different point of view (due to job responsibilities as well as plain-ol’ human nature) and may come up with something helpful. Use other people within the company to help you gather perspectives outside of your own and those you deal directly with.
Maybe we should be grateful that so many people are interested enough in the success of the marketing program to have–and share–their opinions. They obviously trust you to listen and act. Letting people have input into marketing can help them feel like they are contributing to the success of the company’s marketing efforts and help give you fresh perspectives to move the company forward.