Expertise is Secondary
Have you noticed that the job boards and LinkedIn discussion groups are filled with openings for marketing people? Some of the job descriptions are impressive, demanding the ability to be proficient in a number of areas, including specialties such as social media, SEO, CRM, content management, and on and on, in addition to more traditional marketing areas.
Then comes the kicker: Three to five years experience required.
Two things are immediately clear:
1. This is a simple way to get around the age discrimination laws.
2. Marketing management – which writes the job specs – obviously views its role as not that complicated. No wonder respect is hard to come by.
As the economy continues to stagnate, companies are looking for more ways to cut costs. Younger workers cost less than older workers. And you have more years to recoup the investment in instilling them with your corporate culture, your way of doing things.
You can’t do this with everything, of course. You certainly need an experienced finance manager to be a CFO. You don’t want a newbie running any part of your IT operations.
But marketing? What’s the big deal? We can all do marketing. Certainly, we can all do marketing strategy. We just don’t have time for the drudgery involved.
Thus, we have the lemming-like rush into social media because we don’t have experienced, knowledgeable marketing leaders who’ve seen fads before and who can discern where and when to use which tools.
Thus, we have more and more emphasis on tools and techniques, particularly tools and techniques that “everyone knows” are important, that are stressed by academics and pundits who have never been responsible for a bottom-line.
Thus, we have an area that is becoming increasingly bureaucratized as people burrow deeper and deeper into ever-smaller “specialties,” losing sight of the complexities of the marketplace as a whole.
Thus, we have more and more marketing campaigns being created by template – a guarantee of mediocrity.
Thus, we have CMOs beleaguered by CEOs and CFOs demanding immediate returns rather than strategic investment and pushing for strategies and approaches (usually popularized in the press) that might – or might not – make sense in the changing marketplace.
Let’s step back for a moment.
Let’s think about the value of expertise – and that for the most part expertise comes with experience.
Let’s understand that the best marketers are practical visionaries, people who both appreciate the need for profits (short and long-term) and appreciate that following the crowd generally doesn’t lead to a break-out product or positioning or campaign.
Let’s imagine, for a just a moment, a world in which marketing is not a cost to cut but an investment on which to capitalize.