We like to make a point of rounding up a few senior marketers for lunch every couple months or so to chat about marketing, social media, technology, and whatever else passes for fun conversation that day.
Why? Besides good food, really smart and interesting people, and an excuse to (mostly) put away our laptops for a moment, we’re big believers in staying close to those on the front lines of developing and implementing marketing strategies.
Well, this past Thursday we had one of our lunches, and it didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, we’d like to share some of the interesting points for your own consumption (pun intended):
Marketing needs to play a role in the customer discovery process
Marketing is one of those professions that everyone thinks they can do until they try. This can especially be the case at early-stage technology companies where the founders believe they’re really smart (which they usually are) and that the product should market and sell itself (dream on).
One way to address this issue is by having the marketer be very hands-on during initial sales calls to discover common business cases and customer stories. This can help inform the positioning and messaging strategy early on… while also offering a perspective to the team as to why marketing really is a different discipline (just like engineering is).
Big companies struggle with innovation because they don’t embrace differences
Sure, big companies want to be seen as embracing innovation but in practice that’s just not the case. Why not? Because larger companies struggle both structurally and culturally with creating a working environment that fosters innovation. For example, they don’t encourage dissent and aren’t culturally diverse enough… plus they don’t seem to be changing these behaviors or policies anytime soon!
Startups shouldn’t hire a VP of marketing as the first marketing hire
Many startup founders think the first marketing hire should be the VP of marketing. But more often than not, that’s a really bad idea. Why is that? Simply put, the founders don’t know enough yet about the product market fit to commit to a marketing strategy and a $200K executive.
Instead, the initial marketing team should be a junior marketer combined with a part-time (think: two days a week) senior marketing consultant or advisor. Why? Because the senior marketer can offer the founders strategic direction, marketing guidance, and recommendations, which the junior marketer will then tactically execute on.
This works best for everyone since the founders get senior marketer input (without costing too much), the senior marketer gets to work with the team and help out early, and the junior marketer gets a mentor/coach (plus lots of room to grow with the organization).
Why it’s nice be a marketing consultant from time to time
No question, it’s great having a full-time marketing job at a company you’re excited about. But sometimes, whether because of changing job markets or changing preferences, you find yourself being a marketing consultant. Enjoy it while you can since it does offer perks.
For example, you can provide your honest opinions without worrying (as much) about team politics, biased views, and job security. You can also do drive-by assignments to see which team and company you’re excited to join. Not to mention how nice it is to set your own hours, workout in the afternoon, and take long lunches with other marketers.
Big thanks to the folks that joined the Leadtail team for lunch:
Interested in joining a future Leadtail lunch? Feel free to Contact Us.