The Top Ten Truths of Real Marketers

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About a week ago Guy Kawasaki wrote an article on the Top Ten Lies of Marketers. While I admit I recognised quite a few, I wanted to provide some balance by indicating truths a “real” marketer does live by. Compare it to a marketer’s Code of the Samurai.  

Upon reading this over the weekend, a friend of mine did indicate that he knew very little  marketers actually fitting this bill, yet I hope your comments with respect to this post will prove him wrong (and Guy for that matter 😉 . 

So if you have a “real” marketing story or case to share, do pass it on. Meanwhile, here are the Truths as I see them:

Marketing initiatives connect directly to the bottom line, or simply don’t exist.

Marketing is as much a numbers game as finance. Real marketers don’t improvise, yet provide their CEO with initiatives to measurably generate cash and track their results in terms of ROI. They help sales, production, inventory management and finance to smooth cash-in and scrap every non-productive budget even before the CFO asks the awkward question.  

Integrated marketing campaigns start in the HR department.

Most integrated campaigns fail because they are planned in isolation. That’s why real marketers start new initiatives by talking to the HR department to ensure the internal communication, performance measures, training programmes, … are aligned to the initiatives they take. And because they realize that only 5% of employees really “get” the strategy anyway, they take their cheque book along to ensure HR has real fire-power.

Agencies are a resource to help make money, not win awards 

Winning a Cannes Lion may look good in your office, yet real marketers want agencies that deliver the numbers and understand their client’s business. In fact, too many awards may even create suspicion. Still, those agencies that are willing to make the commitment can look forward to a long term business relationship. Creative hot-shops are interchangeable. Partners that make you money, usually tend to stick around.

Agencies need money too

The commoditization of the advertising industry and the prevailing budgetary orthodoxies prohibit many agencies to come up with the best solution, and forces them to go for the quick buck. That’s why real marketers re-examine commission structures and budget allocations so agencies have the financial breathing space to “deliver” against measurable financial objectives.

Product management is a relic from the industrial age

In the old days you had a factory which needed to push product. For that you employed product managers who continuously came up with more arguments why your product was the hottest things since sliced bread. Unless you are still in this situation (which means PM makes sense), flexible production methods mean companies can organize them around consumers. That’s why real marketers replace their product management structures with those centered around customer types.

Simplicity rules!

Advertising and feature overload is making consumers “tune out” (now even proven by neurologists). Real marketers respect this and focus their messages on the essence of what they’re trying to say, simply deleting all the rest. They also avoid countering marketing immunity by bigger doses of promotion, yet focus on timing their message only at the most relevant moment (ironically saving a bundle of budget in the process).

Authenticity rules!

Sorry Seth, yet all marketers aren’t liars. In fact, real marketers understand that the brand promise they make, is to be translated and relentlessly delivered at every touchpoint. On one side because they realize that the penalty for insincerity is brutal. On the other side, … well because they actually believe in what they say. You cannot fake being authentic. Real marketers don’t sell products and services they aren’t passionate about. They’d rather quit their job.

Trust customers as much as you expect them to trust you. 

In the social media space reputations can be made or broken in the blink of an eye, and there’s nothing a brand can do about it. Real marketers see this and proactively open up their treasure box to their community of users. They publicly own up to mistakes and involve consumers in creating promotions and even products. Above all, real marketers understand that love for a brand starts with trust, and to earn trust you first have give it.

There’s nothing wrong with hard work 

For some, marketing is a profession which is 90% about coming up with ideas and then farming out the “doing” to agencies. Real marketers see this differently. They implement rigorous processes to ensure initiatives get executed on-time, on-budget and with maximum financial impact on the business. They go along on sales calls, not to talk about their latest campaign, yet to listen, learn and help the account manager get the business. In short, they roll up their sleeves and work.

There’s more to life than making money 

When fighting MS Outlook it is easy to forget about the really important things in life. Real marketers don’t. It may take them some effort, yet they find ways to justifiable build “doing good” into their business model. Not because of PR value (which may be their pitch), or feeling of corporate guilt (which may be their angle), yet simply because they want to use their position to make a difference.

And to end with the eleventh rule that shall remain unwritten … there are no truths.

PS. Guy, I hope you don’t mind my borrowing your signature bullet-point style.  Promise I’ll do it only once 😉

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