Most marketers are made, not born.

Holy shit, look at these marketers. Or are they lawyers? Or are they accountants?

You do a job/career long enough and very rarely do you get curveballs thrown at you that you can’t handle. In my advertising career, I’ve seen my share and they never failed to make me smile after the fact. Don’t get me wrong, in the heat of the moment, a piece of client feedback that torpedoes a great piece of creative, or runs counter to an agreed-upon strategy can absolutely drive you crazy. Bat-shit insane, as a matter of fact. But with experience, you gain an appreciation and ability to work through these situations, minimizing their impact, helping the client better understand the situation and, at the same time, feeling as if they’re heard and their concerns are addressed.

Great, right? Curveball solved. And yet, it continues to happen. Every day, whether on social media, in TV or many other places, you see evidence of these curveballs that went unchecked. And all it does is prove a theory I’ve had for a very long time …

“Marketing is the only professional service where everyone considers themselves an expert, regardless of their background.”

Don’t believe me? Consider …

  • Your lawyer contacts you and suggests that with an upcoming change in the law regarding estate planning, you should consider cutting your budget and putting more money away since you’ll be more heavily taxed if you don’t.*
  • Your accountant calls and tells you some of your deductions are a bit too risky and in order to reduce your chance of an audit, you’re going to need to make some changes in what you report.
  • Your architect advises you the floor plan changes you’ve requested for your dream cabin in the mountains will dramatically impact the overall cost. She suggests keeping the bathroom where she originally suggested so you don’t go over budget.

If you received advice from any of these professional service providers (we’ll call them PSP’s from here on out), you wouldn’t blink an eye. Their specialized training and skill sets establish them as experts in their fields. Even if you didn’t agree with them, it’s highly unlikely you’d go against their advice.

So where is this going?

Let’s start with this.

Or this.

These recent examples are on one extreme end of the spectrum, but the insistence on marketing around such an incendiary day deserves scrutiny. On one hand, you have one of the largest brands on the planet “going rogue” on a local level. But had anyone from their agency or even corporate marketing caught wind of this in advance, I highly doubt they’d approve of this display. Yet, the decision-makers at the local level felt they were a better judge of how best to market Coca-Cola on one of our nation’s most emotional days, and went ahead with it. Not a great decision.

Tons of pages have already been written about the mattress store example—a horrible decision, again seemingly made at a local-level, by people who fancy themselves marketing experts. The backlash was fierce and resulted in the store closing indefinitely.

So why is marketing the professional service that most people feel they can be experts in? Because it’s “easy?” Because it’s mostly “psychological?” I know dozens of stories of C-level clients who have made arbitrary decisions about creative campaigns because they (or worse, their spouses) don’t like a particular color, or thought the concept wasn’t appealing to them (“Yes Mr 60-year old CEO, this campaign targeting millennials is too edgy for you. We did that on purpose.”). Anyone in marketing or advertising probably has a bunch of similar stories in their back pocket.

So if this hits a little too close to home for any of you on the agency or client-side, how about we make a deal? Let’s stand up for our profession and our skill sets. Just because you don’t need a certificate or advanced degree to set up shop as a marketer, doesn’t mean anyone can be effective at it. The best marketers have an innate ability to remove subjectivity when evaluating ideas and judge when edginess is appropriate. It is a skill and talent, just like an accountant, lawyer or architect possesses.

Please listen to us. For the benefit of your brand and your company.