Commercial Curiosity – Before sacking your marketer…ask this

January 8, 2024
by Charlie Whyman

Are you a good leader, a bad leader or an unaware leader?

If you’re using marketing agencies, freelancers or have a marketing person working for you then you’re a leader.

It’s up to you which one you choose to be.

I used to be an unaware leader until I developed some awareness and realised I was a bad leader…

Unfortunately, it took being hit by a car whilst out on my bike one day to gain an opportunity that ultimately helped me become a better leader (a story for another day)

The fact of the matter is that managing marketers and doing marketing is hard.

and not hard like trying to open a can of soup with a fork hard, but more along the lines of trying to learn how to climb a wall at the same time as the person B-Laying you is learning how not to let go of the rope.

So, what do you do when your marketing / marketer / marketing agency / freelancer or team isn’t working?

Well before you jump the gun and start thinking about termination contracts, redundancy or disciplinary action. My question of the week is something to ask yourself BEFORE you think about any of these things.


🦦 Question of the Week

*Am I giving my [marketer] the tools to be successful? ***and you can replace this word with myself, my team, the agency, the freelancer, the consultant etc…


🧠 Why this question is important

This question is important because success in marketing is a joint effort – you can’t just offload your marketing to someone else and hope for the best.

I tried this myself and learned the hard way.

Things start to fall apart when you have someone doing your marketing that either:

  • knows your business, products, market and the tech REALLY well but isn’t an experienced marketing implementer

  • knows all about marketing strategy, tactics and can come up with lots of great ideas but isn’t very good at the implementation side of things

  • is really good at getting stuff done, following instructions and knows a thing or two about marketing but doesn’t understand strategy, long-term thinking or your business, industry and products.

Unless you ask yourself if you’re giving your marketer the tools to be successful, you’ll make choices that mean you start and stop various marketing strategies and end up going round in circles without going anywhere.

Mistakes in marketing happen to the best of us. Accept that it’s going to happen and will continue to happen.

Mistakes are only a bad thing if you don’t learn from them.

So, when people don’t perform it’s important to look inwards as well as outwards. It’s easy to blame the marketer, it requires strength to ask what you could have done differently to influence a better outcome.


⚙️ How to implement

If you want to get sales from your marketing efforts and you want to develop great relationships with people that can genuinely help you achieve success with your marketing, then you need to set them up for success.

Here are the tools I encourage you to give them and also review on a regular basis:

  1. A GOOD BRIEF – this is usually the biggest trip hazard. If your brief isn’t detailed enough, then you’re essentially asking your marketer to fill in the blanks themselves which usually means making things up and it’s a bit like doing something with your hands tied behind your back. If you’re hiring a marketer then this is down to a good job description, a good induction to the company and good objectives to work towards.

  2. TIME – make sure you set aside time to discuss marketing with the people that do it, challenge assumptions, answer questions and keep your finger on the pulse. Collaboratively look for signs and signals from your market.

  3. INSIGHTS – marketing that’s driven on assumptions is always going to fail so give your marketer real customer insights. This is so that they can use them in your marketing. Things like customer questions, sales objections, customer objectives and goals, the language they use to describe their goals and challenges etc…

  4. GOOD DATA – where I come from there’s a saying ‘it’s hard to polish a turd’ and the same goes for data – if you give your marketer bad data then it’s going to be tough for them to turn it into gold.

  5. SUPPORT & ENCOURAGEMENT – you think it goes without saying but this is really important. Marketing takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight and can be overwhelming if you’re also dealing with other distractions from the company. Celebrate progress to keep momentum going and don’t just wait until you’ve achieved big things to say good things.

  6. TRAINING / MENTORING – this is more for you if you’re the person doing your marketing or if you’ve hired someone but invest in marketing training – having a mentor to help guide you, challenge you and support you is worth its weight in gold. You learn faster and get results faster because you’re not wasting time second guessing yourself or firefighting.


🥷🏻 Ninja Tip

If you’ve never done this before then avoid trying to do it alone. This is something I can support you with and if you’d like to arrange a call to discuss further, please reply to this email.

If you are working with an external consultant or agency, then ask them what they need to be successful and get it in writing so you can review this regularly against your set objectives to make sure this is still current. This way you also have a trail of accountability and can prevent things getting out of hand on a longer term basis.

Marketing needs to be viewed as a collaborative effort.

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