August 12, 2007

Career Advice: Joyce, The Online Marketer

This is another composite, reflecting a situation I see repeated in our multichannel organizations. At the end of the story, please offer Joyce career advice.

Joyce is a 31 year old Director of Online Marketing at a multichannel retailer. She is responsible for Paid and Natural Search, Affiliate Marketing, Portal Marketing, E-Mail Marketing, and Shopping Comparison Marketing.

Joyce quickly rose through the ranks at her company. Hired right out of college, Joyce chose the E-Mail vendor, Web Analytics vendor, and Search Marketing vendor at a time when her company barely understood the online channel. The infrastructure she put in place is industry-leading.

However, almost nobody in her company understand her true contribution to the organization. She is routinely battered by store managers who want to run their own e-mail marketing campaigns. In fact, many store employees are running their own e-mail campaigns via gmail and hotmail accounts, campaigns that are not CAN-SPAM compliant. Some store managers and employees run their own personal blogs and websites, selling directly to customers.

Her catalog marketing partners are highly critical of her team, suggesting her team lacks the experience and analytical rigor necessary to manage the ad budget given to Joyce. The catalog marketing director routinely picks on Joyce, mocking $0.29 sales per e-mail results that are just one-fifteenth that of a catalog mailing.

Joyce reports to the Chief Marketing Officer. The CMO is a traditional marketer. He understands television, newspapers, radio, and magazine ads. He has a consumer package goods background, and knows how to "launch brands". He doesn't understand why Joyce has to manage six thousand keywords, doesn't understand why she has to bid more for some words than others. He doesn't understand why Joyce wants to launch a blog, he doesn't understand why a blog might help natural search results ... "our PR department speaks to the community, not you" was his response to a recent request for blogging tools and resources.

Joyce depends upon the Information Technology team for website improvements. Joyce has cost-justified various site improvements, improvements that could improve the profitability of her division by twenty percent. The Information Technology team appears to "pick and choose" the projects they want to provide support for, and because IT doesn't report to Joyce, she cannot directly influence what they should work on.

The CMO recently asked Joyce if she would be interested in a "Vice President of Direct Marketing" position, one that would combine all catalog marketing, direct marketing and online marketing responsibilities. Joyce knows that she would be responsible for managing a catalog marketing program she doesn't understand. Joyce knows that it is likely that catalog marketing leadership will leave the company in protest over this promotion.

Still, Joyce knows that she needs to expand her knowledge of marketing, if she wishes to influence her organization.

What should Joyce do? Should she accept the promotion? Should she decline the promotion and focus on online marketing? Should she quit the company, and work for an organization more appreciative of the value online marketing brings to the organization?


  1. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Accept the promotion, and then hire Jane to replace the catalog marketing leadership who quit. Two birds with one stone. :)

    Aside from that, Joyce needs allies wherever she can find them - store managers might be one potential group, since they're clearly interested in online marketing but not yet convinced of the value of coordination.

  2. I agree that Joyce needs to go on a "road show". If I were her, I'd personally visit each store, and have sessions with each store manager and his/her leadership team, to educate them on how online marketing can help grow store traffic.


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