The Marketing Girl’s Christmas Gift
“You should be in control of the project” is one of those ominous statements I dread hearing from any CEO. That usually precedes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. When a CEO tells me that, it means a project has gone awry somewhere. Worse, it has become an unholy mess. If I want to survive the Spanish Inquisition, I better know exactly what caused it to disintegrate before the CEO even calls for me.
“What will you do about it?” is the question that triggers nightmares and seizures in even the most hardened marketer. Unfortunately, in marketing, that is the perennial question we all have to answer on a daily basis.
You do not answer that question with “let me think about it first.” To begin with, you should have been aware of the problem long before your CEO gets wind of it. The marketer who finds out about the problem from her CEO is a marketer who is not doing her job. It is your job to know a campaign is having issues, not your CEO’s. It is your duty to report that issue to your CEO, not the other way around.
Most of all, it is your responsibility to provide a solution upon reporting the situation to your CEO. You do not go to him telling him a campaign has hit a roadblock and, then, nothing. The CEO’s role is to approve or disapprove your proposed plan. It is not to think of one while you stand there evaluating the interior design of his office.
Therefore, “let me think about it first” has no place in this scenario.
This kind of occupational hazard has wired most marketers to think on their feet. We are trained to come up with viable and realistic solutions at the exact moment problems arise. It is one thing to say we need time to iron out the details, quite another to say we have no ideas at all. Or worse, we don’t know what to do yet. The marketer who cannot hit the ground running is a marketer in need of a new career.
But, while that trait will serve you well in your marketing career, it may not do the same for your personal relationships.
As a marketer, it is deeply ingrained in me to come up with an immediate answer whenever I look at sales reports and financial statements, the holy grails of marketing. “Immediate” is the operative word.
Markets will not wait for me to finish my coffee. They’ll go on to buy the next product that is available to them when they need or want it. Competition is not going to slow down just because I’m having a surgery. They’re going to attempt to obliterate my product and who cares if I’m having a heart transplant. A brand crisis is not going to be put on hold all because Sleeping Beauty is still, well, sleeping. And while ceasefires happen due to the holidays, the marketing world continues to wage war for market share precisely because it is the holidays.
This sense of urgency and immediacy, then, can wreck havoc on your own personal relationships.
I get annoyed when family and friends are confronted with a problem and cannot find a solution for it in less than an hour. “I don’t know what to say” is a concept that confuses me because my marketing training requires I should always know what to say. I have no patience with silence even though I know that, for many people, they need silence first to mull over the problem in order to find a way to fix it. Maybe because, in marketing, we are expected to process issues the moment they happen.
As Christmas approaches, perhaps the best gift I can give to my loved ones and the people I value is the gift of patience. The willingness to wait, the ability to respect their space, the generosity of time, the understanding that different strokes work for different folks and the grace to accept that all creatures – great and small – are not made the same.
Just in case, though, I already placed an order for boxes of cookies and cupcakes. A brilliant marketer always has a Plan B.