Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moving on. Why I quit the marketing game

I spent 35 years of my professional life as a marketing executive. I’d say 29 of those years were fantastic. I overstayed my welcome for five years in one organization, for only one year in my last gig. Frankly, that was enough. I had seen the really good and the really bad of management and its commitment to (or total disregard for) quality marketing.

I’ve known a number of other marketers who have had similar experiences. What’s the problem? I have my theories:
  • Organizations don’t give marketing enough time. They are searching for fast results and when they don’t get them they give up and move on to the next faddish approach. This gets repeated over and over again in corporate life.
  • Everybody’s a marketer. Marketing is something most people think they know, and they leave little room for the people who really understand the science of marketing. In many organizations, there’s a lot of internal competition to be the “expert” when it comes to marketing, even though few really understand marketing at all.
  • Organizations that aren’t about marketing like to pigeon-hole the marketing department in parts of the organization that rarely if ever understand or can fully support the craft. In my last organization, for example, the marketing unit was moved to report to a brand new VP who was named to “oversee marketing” but had no idea what he was doing. He had never worked in marketing and knew nothing about it. But he loved "playing media” and “being creative” and he eventually drug the entire operation back to a 1960s-style PR shop. It was sad, but nevertheless a reality.
I reached a point in my career where I could just no longer fight for the respect and freedom necessary to do the job well. I’d done that so many times I was exhausted. I moved on.

Still, I love the world of marketing. I wish my former colleagues and peers all the best as they fight the good fight. Some will win their battles. Many will lose. And that’s just the way it goes, I’m afraid.

The business of getting and keeping customers is hard enough, but made nearly impossible when your own organization fights you every step of the way.

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