How to Deal With That Alien You Hired: The Marketing Person

Working with marketing people isn’t always easy. Here are 7 things you can do to make it a productive – and pleasant – relationship.

MarsImageAs an organization – large or small – you know you need some level of marketing to not just sustain business goals you need it to grow. Whether you choose to bring in an in-house person or team, or work with an outside consultant (that may be a marketing director, marketing consultant, art director, graphic artist, and a host of other titles), the “cultural” process of working with “creatives” may sometimes seem like you’re working with someone from another planet. And quite honestly, in some ways you are.

Meet the person that’s now in charge of taking your brand out to your customer: “Hello. I’m from a planet called Marketing.”

Ugh. They like whiteboards and consume lots of paper. They like numbers and pictures, and seem to scribble a lot when you and the rest of the staff speak.  They hang things all over the walls. They talk a lot about milestones and goals, visuals and infographics, and sometimes “code”. They work early in the morning and late at night (“That’s when the creative juices are sent down from the other planet.”). They may even dress funny.

So how to you deal with an individual so “culturally” different from your staff?

Honestly? EMBRACE IT. You’ve hired someone who is looking to “Think different,” as Apple would say. They are there to challenge you to do the same. They want you to embrace new ideas that are representative of what your customers’ are thinking and feeling. And that in and of itself is nearly impossible to do when you’re mired in the day-to-day running of the business.

Here are 7 ways to look past the differences and embrace a culture that will actually breathe new life into your organization.

  1. Provide information and data. Any person working in marketing will need the knowledge of the staff “experts” who work with your customers and products on a regular basis. Be honest; share the good and the bad. What sells best? What doesn’t sell? Who are the customers? What do they say? Most marketing people will take this information as a starting point, and gather a ton more, then use this to build out a plan.
  2. Don’t micromanage. While everyone wants to be creative, recognize that’s probably not your strong point—and that’s why you hired this person. Work together to set get goals and milestones, then share and endorse this with other staff. The marketing person should present ideas based on the goals (the plan mentioned above) and “why” they came up with it: who it targets and the expected results. You’re role is to provide the oversight ensuring that things are going according to plan, and if not, moving in the right direction to do so.
  3. Participate with enthusiasm. You may notice this person is really enthusiastic about your brand, product, and services. While meeting with that happy person who is eager to share ideas about your business, put the business problems aside and listen. You’ll be surprised at how many of these ideas can help your business processes.
  4. Share news. There’s nothing worse than keeping what’s going on in the business from the marketing person—except unless, they hear this information at a later date at the water cooler, which is the highest level of alienation (sorry, then pun worked in this case). Bring them into meetings, then discuss afterwards if this is information to share, to spin, or just FYI.
  5. Challenge them. Creatives love a challenge; that’s what they live for. Discuss what their thoughts are on different organizational challenges. Give them tasks that may need a marketing solution. Listen to their ideas—even though some may seem to be way out there. Ask them to explain things you don’t understand. And by all means, do not dismiss their ideas; they will close up and never share again. If a creative gets to a point where they feel their ideas are not respected, they are likely to move on (that especially goes for the good ones).
  6. Give them the tools they need. Sure, you’re office is all Microsoft based and here comes this person who wants a Mac. Even if they are a consultant, be sure to work together to ensure compatibility. You don’t want them trying to build things using tools that may not be right for the job (yes, we artsy-types still use Macs), which will mean they are struggling to make things work and not focusing on the work-product itself. It’s not difficult to work in a mixed environment like it was years ago; just be sure the marketing person is aware of anything that may not work well in the environment and they have a good relationship with your organization’s IT department.
  7. You’ve hired an expert; let them do their job. If you’ve done your homework and feel this person is right for the job, then go with it. You can’t – and shouldn’t – do it all yourself. Trust that – with the proper level of oversight and knowledge-sharing – this person is capable and responsible to achieve the goals you’ve agreed upon.

So relax and welcome this new alien with open arms; they’re there to help your business grow, regardless of how different they might be from the rest of your staff.  You may be surprised that there’s a lot of positive updraft due to their presence: foster that! And together you’ll find ways to communicate on the same level and the result will be a business – and culture – that grows.

This certainly isn’t a one-sided relationship. How do creative types deal with this new country they seemed to have taken up residence in? Find out next week…