Does your Marketing Department Come to Work on the Short Bus?

When I was in school there was no such thing as “the short bus”. Kids with special needs got on the same bus as the rest of us. I recall this situation worked fine for everyone, but I probably wasn’t paying attention.

At some point after I left the K-12 school system, districts started providing separate transportation for kids with special needs–those with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Then the term “short bus” was born because the buses were smaller. If you rode that bus you were branded by your classmates as not being as smart or as capable as they were. Yep, kids are cruel. “And the point is?” you ask.

My point is I believe most C-level execs think the people in their marketing department get off the short bus every morning. They don’t hold their marketing people in high regard. Marketers are seen as a necessary business expense and not a strategic contributor to the organization. They aren’t viewed as people who “understand the business”. Unfortunately, in too many companies they are right.

This can be explained in three parts. First, a lack of marketing leadership has not adequately defined the role of the marketing function within the organization. Second, there isn’t the right business acumen in the department to deliver on any mission higher than worrying about the font size on the company website. Third, the top execs in the company don’t have a clue about what marketing’s true value should be.

I see the caliber of people who are in most marketing positions today and I shudder. I’m not saying that marketing people are stupid. That’s not the case. I see way too many who are mis-informed, mis-guided, and ill-prepared to do much more for the business than make the logo look good.

SMB companies, in particular, are struggling to get high value from their investment in the marketing function, but are stuck in a no-man’s land. They generally can’t afford to hire a seasoned marketing executive who can both train and lead the marketing department to new heights.

Company after company makes the mistake of thinking they can solve their sales and marketing leadership problems by paying big bucks for a VP of Sales & Marketing. Wrong! Any person with sales in their title will devote 95% of their time and energy to making their revenue target. Five percent of time and energy for marketing leadership doesn”t cut it.

Enter the interim marketing executive. A SMB company may not be able to afford a permanent CMO, but they can certainly justify an interim CMO engagement, properly scoped to lead, install best practices, and train the marketing staff. The right interim executive can transform an entire marketing department in less than six months.

Put your marketing team back on the long bus where they belong. Talk with an interim marketing executive today ( I know a few) about what they can do to boost marketing’s performance to a new level.

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