Though I've never had the word "marketing" in my job title and it hasn't been part of my official role at HubSpot, I think of myself as part marketer and part developer. My current passion project (as part of HubSpot Labs) is inbound.org, which helps marketers connect to great resources and each other. In short, I deeply care about marketing -- and marketers.
That's why it bugs me that marketers don't get the love they deserve. I understand why, but it still bugs me.
If you were sitting in the INBOUND 2012 audience, you probably recognize the image above (it was one of the slides in the keynote). It says marketers are less lovable than stockbrokers and lawyers. (But more lovable than lobbyists and used car salesmen, so there's that.) I don't mean any disrespect to those other professions (maybe they deserve more love than they get as well). But, I definitely think we marketers need to get more respect -- and hugs. Even inbound marketers, (the cuddliest kinds of marketers there are), don't get the respect and love they deserve.
But, the good news is that this is slowly changing. The better news is that it's changing for good reasons.
Here are a couple of reasons marketers are starting to get the love they deserve:
We're not just about arts and crafts. Marketers have long had this reputation of being in the arts and crafts business. You know, marketers are those people that help make sure you pick just the right shade of blue for the company logo. And that you're using the right font in your company brochure.
Now, marketing is measurable. Today, marketing is as much about calculating ROI as it is about creativity. We can demonstrate how we're creating value by looking at actual metrics. And, marketing is what drives growth for many organizations by attracting and engaging people that can then be followed-up with by the sales team.
Most of us are not creative evil geniuses. The second most popular image people have of marketers is that we're evil geniuses. Like Don Draper -- but with less talent. That all we do is come up with clever ways to get people to buy things that they don't really want or need.
Though there are certainly marketers that do that, for the most part, most of us are leading (much) less glamorous lives, and focusing most of our energies on helping connect with potential customers of products that solve real problems and meet existing needs. This is particularly true in the B2B marketing world (which is where I spend all of my time -- and chances are, you do too). Speaking of which, if you are a B2B marketer, you really MUST view this brilliant slide deck titled "The Search For Meaning In B2B Marketing" (it's one of my favorite presentations).
How Marketers Can Get More Respect and Love.
You know how they say good design doesn't look like design? Same goes for good marketing. The problem is, that's what our colleagues in other departments think, too. How do we change the idea that marketers, no matter how great, aren't bringing much more to the party than a good attitude and some SWAG?
1) Get closer to growth numbers.
Nail your vanity metrics, but don't rest on them as performance indicators. Show your impact on top-line numbers, even if your job is a step or two removed. No matter what, it'll be hard for marketers to dissolve the arts-and-crafts misconception -- so over-solve for it with more proof than you think you need.
2) Get closer to the front lines and connect with customers.
Marketers have the luxury of sitting behind the scenes and thinking and creating. It's a great job. But like all luxuries, it can also breed resentment in others. Stick your neck out once in a while and put yourself in front of customers. Not only does this help increase your street-cred and respect within your organization, you'll learn things every time that will make you a better marketer. I've never regretted time I've spent with a customer. And, I'm a super-introvert. If I can do it, you can do it too.
3) Be happy with assists.
I've heard a lot of people refer to marketers as the company cheerleaders. I think they're insinuating an expectation of peppiness, which is fine, but also an expectation of receiving attention. To get the love we want, let's step out of the spotlight and be happy in a supporting role -- promoting what Product created, helping Sales close deals, and letting those folks bask in the glory.
4) Be seen as fun AND fanatically hard-working.
Many of the marketers I know are super-charming and fun. They're out and about, laugh and giggle a lot (or maybe that's just the HubSpot marketing team -- I don't know for sure). In any case, that's what people on other teams see. What people don't see is that much of the time marketers are heads-down doing relatively intense work. They're creating content, pondering analytics reports, and constantly worrying about how they're going to hit their goals this month/quarter. So, my advice is: Build a reputation of being fun and fanatically hard-working.
5) Be shockingly helpful.
In Sales, the mantra we're trying to still get over is the old and dated notion of "Always Be Closing". There's a similar perception in marketing, where the phrase might be "Always Be Persuading". I'd replace both of these with "Always Be Helping". In the new world order, the most successful marketers are the ones that have enlightened empathy. They understand what people want, and go out of their way to help, instead of interrupt and cajole. The great ones are shockingly helpful. So helpful that it makes people sit up in their chairs and take notice -- because it is so remarkable and refreshing. The good news is that not only is this more effective, it also slowly changes our perception as an industry.
And, if you want to meet thousands of marketers just like you that are already getting more love and respect, head on over to inbound.org. I've been personally working on it night and day so it's worthy of your time and attention. I want it to someday be shockingly helpful. My goal is to help a million marketers learn, grow, and connect.
Let's help marketing get the respect and love it deserves. Because, after all, we help organizations grow.
Originally published Mar 19, 2014 3:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017