I’ve been in a variety of marketing organizational structures throughout…
I admit it. I’m a little jealous of teams that have their franchise quarterback. They’re perennial winners. The confidence radiates from their teams to their fan bases. They always feel in control even in a loss, and their success can spur large-scale development within their city walls due to the tourism.
Being from Cleveland, we’ve haven’t been privy to that type of lifestyle in a long while. In fact, the last twenty years we have been a revolving door of QB’s, including the wide-eyed rookies, “in retirement purgatory” veterans or career journeymen. Don’t get me started.
But at least we all have fantasy football. Now I know the season has already started, but most teams are still in the chase at this point. If you’ve ever played, you know a general rule in most drafts is to take the playmakers first, then focus on your quarterbacks. We all know that guy who gets the side-eye for drafting Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the fantasy draft. Why? Because in fantasy football, there is more value in those running backs and wide receivers for a number of reasons. They are ones you’re salivating for in the first round as you try to outwit your friends.
But when it comes to empowering a real world marketing team, slightly different rules apply. The value of a strong QB can’t be overstated.
Are you thinking about your marketing team right now? Good. Are you contemplating your next move if you’re a one person marketing shop, like many of us? Perfect. Let’s talk about why a strong Marketing QB can transform not only your marketing department, but your entire business.
The value of a veteran vs. putting a rookie in the role
I see a lot of businesses say, “Hey, you’re young, you’re in charge of marketing!” And I sort of get it. Let’s be honest, it’s a promising young marketer who is cheap, but eager to learn. That’s fine if you need to put a butt in the seat, but it won’t get you far when you’re asking your marketing person to gather the right data to draw up the next play. They don’t have the experience (and the failures) to make a proper decision. Like promising rookie QBs in the NFL, they could stand to learn from a veteran who’s been there before they try to lead the team.
Reading the defense
In the competitive landscape, thing rarely go the way you draw it up. There are always new entrants, new campaigns and new external factors that you need to constantly account for in planning your marketing game plan. A strong marketing QB can see what’s coming, plan for it and get the entire team working in the right direction, no matter the challenge.
Calling the audible
Being proactive is a key trait that a marketing QB MUST possess. This is plain and simple concept, but a valid generalization is that marketers are reactive. Stop it. You no doubt have a few campaigns running at one time. Some will work well and some will need to be stopped ASAP to avoid ineffective spend. Understanding when a campaign should be stopped, when a successful one should be expanded and when data suggests that a new one should be launched is extremely important, and is the sort of value a veteran can bring to your team.
Finding your playmakers (and putting them in the position to succeed)
My analogy here is always around Tom Brady. I bet you couldn’t name 5 receivers on the New England Patriots over the last 10 years, but you know his name. He is the face of the franchise, true, but he defers to his playmakers for all the glory. He and the coaches (C-level in the marketer’s case) understand each of their strengths, requires them to study their own game and holds them accountable to the team. That’s what great QB’s do, and it’s how TDs are scored.
Go for it on 4th down
Sometimes you need guts. Sometimes you see something, an opportunity, and you want to make a play. Sure you can punt away this opportunity, or you may fail. Strong marketing QB’s know when to take a chance. They fight for resources to point their team in a new direction and they use the data to help their cause. It could be a risk, but in business, everything is a risk. The only requirement is that they are making educated guesses on what they think and hope will happen in a new campaign or a new target audience.
Let me set you straight. There is nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking in what I have written here. But as I am closely monitoring my poor overmatched fantasy team week after week, the analogy to marketing is a very natural one. I see many companies with the wrong marketing QBs in place, and I know they could be doing better with the right guidance.
One last thing I’ll leave you with is that sometimes you have to reach outside your team to get a winning formula together. Trading for that veteran, so to speak. It’s okay; many companies are in this same boat. An outside perspective can give you the guidance and spark you need to revive your playbook. Consider whether bringing in a veteran marketing QB could be the answer to getting your team moving in the right direction; you might just turn your season around.