September 28, 2015

What Do Marketers Control?

Not much.

Merchandise? No.

Creative? No.

Inventory? No.

Website and Mobile Ops? No.

Home and Landing Page Content? No.

Finance? No.

Email Marketing? Usually, no. Usually, the merchandising team determines what goes in an email campaign, the creative team determines what it look like, and the marketer is left with almost nothing to do.

Discounts and Promotions? Yup.

This creates a perverse set of negative incentives.

The marketer controls discounts and promotions, so the marketer over-focuses on stuff that ultimately hurts brands and hurts profit and loss statements. But by measuring the promotional window only, the marketer believes she is doing good. If she measured sales loss during non-promotional windows, #ohboy.

It only takes about 15 minutes a week to think about promotions. So now you have 49.75 hours left in the work week. This is where the vendors come in. The marketer spends a lot of time considering vendor partners. Working with vendor partners. Bossing around vendor partners. Not understanding if vendor partners are truly adding value or not.

Strategic meetings become nonsense meetings - you see these meetings all the time - in the catalog marketing world, the Marketing VP and a Marketing Director and three Marketing Managers and Six Marketing Analysts sit in a room with a Co-Op Sales Exec and Co-Op Sales Manager talking about statistical models that nobody understands except the 27 year old who builds the model without client input. How is this strategic? The only person who has any control is the 27 year old building the model in a bunker outside of Denver.

Or what about when the same marketing team meets four hours later with the Paid Search Sales Exec and the Paid Search Sales Manager, talking at length about bidding algorithms that nobody controls except for the 31 year old programmer working in a bunker in Virginia? Again, the person who truly controls things is not in the meeting, right?

Or what about when the same marketing team meets two days later with the Email Vendor Sales Exec and the Email Vendor Sales Manager, talking at length about Relevancy and Personalization and Engagement and everything that has nothing to do with profitability. Again, the only person who truly controls things is not in the meeting, right? The only person who truly controls things the 29 year old writing code to make sure that delivery is good, hiding in a bunker in Boston.

Or what about when the same marketing team meets two weeks later with the Attribution Vendor Sales Exec, talking about all the ways that the algorithm could be tweaked to give the results that the marketing team wants to see? First of all, that's not honest, and second of all, that's not strategic. The only person who truly controls things is the 30 year old writing code in NYC.

In other words, the marketer controls Vendor Relations, Discounts, and Promotions.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many marketers find life so difficult?

Think carefully today.
  1. What do you control?
  2. What should you control?