One of the most frustrating experiences for a marketer is seeing a great product or service that is marketed incorrectly. In this case, “incorrectly” may mean choosing the wrong target audience, choosing the wrong methods to reach that target audience, building creative that doesn’t resonate with that target audience, or a host of other mishaps.
Perhaps even more frustrating is watching a great product or service flop from a marketing standpoint not because of a weak marketing strategy, but rather due to the absence of a person or firm in the role of Marketing General Contractor.
Let me illustrate the need for a Marketing General Contractor using a situation I ran into a bit over a year ago. I was approached by a medium-sized national sales organization that had grown to around 75 employees in 10 offices throughout the US. The President of the organization had determined that it was time to “turn on the lead generation hose” with the help of the company’s first national marketing campaign. With 90% of the company’s employees in sales roles, the President had to look outside for help in building the marketing campaign. Here’s how she attacked the situation:
- Hired a branding firm to help redesign the company logo and printed collateral.
- Hired a web design and development firm to help redesign the company website.
- Hired an SEO consultant to handle the optimization of the new website.
- Hired a PPC firm to launch local search marketing campaigns for each office.
- Hired a public relations firm to tell the company growth story to the media.
- Hired an email marketing vendor to create and deliver a monthly email newsletter.
- Hired a copywriter to create and write posts for the new company blog.
- Hired a consultant to place print advertising in selected local markets.
On the surface, that looks fine, right? After all, it’s become pretty commonplace for companies to hire different specialists for different roles.
The President called me after dealing with these vendors, agencies and consultants for 3 months, and here were some of the complaints:
- I can’t get these agencies and vendors to communicate with each other on a regular basis.
- All the creative looks different – the site doesn’t look like the collateral, the collateral doesn’t look like the blog, the blog doesn’t look like the print advertising.
- I don’t have time for all the conference calls, reviews, and approvals.
- Everyone is asking for a larger share of the budget.
- I don’t understand the fee structures – the PPC firm wants to charge on percentage of spend, the SEO guy wants to charge hourly, and the email marketing vendors charges one rate for creative, another rate for delivery, and yet another rate for reporting.
I listened for a while, and then asked a very simple question: Who built the plan and who is managing the execution of that plan?
She didn’t hesitate at all. She built the plan, and was relying on the marketing coordinator she hired 3 months ago to help pull it all together. She figured these outside agencies and consultants would help build and execute the plan as well.
This was the answer I was afraid of. The President of the company and a junior level marketing coordinator were responsible for launching a $250,000 marketing campaign that included a complete marketing makeover and the management of 6 – 10 outside vendors.
This is a great example of a company making marketing far more complicated than it has to be. These guys figured the best way to maximize every marketing dollar was to make sure they hired specialists and addressed as many marketing vehicles as possible. To use a sports analogy, there was only one problem with this strategy: the team owner, the batboy, and a bunch of talented but overpaid players were trying to win ball games without a coach or a general manager.
Your Marketing General Contractor may be your VP Marketing. Or your Director of Marketing. Perhaps an outsourced CMO type. Maybe a short-term consultant that helps you develop the plan, select the right vendors, and manage the project/process. Whoever it is, this person should be one of the most organized people in your company.
Don’t make the mistake that this organization made. Get your Marketing General Contractor in place before you start building the roster.