Your bumper sticker reads, “tailgating won’t make me drive any faster.”

Yet, as you slam the car door behind your laboring wife, you realize… *the only way we’re going to make it is if I floor it…*

When we feel the weight of desperate situations, we’re prone to bend rules we’ve always held to.

Heads of Marketing feel this weight daily.

For decades, MBA programs have taught about the importance of building the brand perception of your potential client base, but the relationship between the CEO and CMO has scarcely changed.

CEOs solve problems, so when they don’t see marketing results within the month, quarter, or year, they feel the need to spring into action, sometimes by replacing the head of Marketing. Even though we all know it takes longer than 12 months to meaningfully build a brand, CEOs are accountable to Venture Capitalists, boards, etc. who are understandably anxious to ensure their money isn’t lost.

Defending against this tends to lead marketing heads down similar spirals:

  1. Since brand building likely won’t show results (at least not trackable results) within the timeline they’ll be evaluated, Marketing Heads “drink the Kool-Aid” of sales activation marketing. They resort to using special promotions, sales, and product updates in an effort to receive an immediate, direct response from customers.
  2. This causes your customers to depend on only using your product/service when there is a discount or sale (depleting your profit). In essence, your tactics become less and less effective over time.
  3. Marketing Heads insist “it’s a numbers game” and expand their prospect list. To reach more people, they begin standardizing campaigns, therefore neutering any creativity in the process.
  4. During performance reviews, Marketing Heads assure there’s always something exciting on the horizon… at least, until they are left looking for the silver lining.

While it doesn’t have to be this way, stopping this spiral requires everyone on your team share a realistic, honest perspective.

  • Marketing Heads need to clarify during the interview process whether they’re being hired to build the brand for years to come, or if the CEO is stuck measuring results in the short term.
  • CEOs and Boards need to understand that brand building takes time AND often cannot be tracked accurately in the near term.
  • CEOs therefore need to hire Marketing Heads they believe in, and then make it their job to run interference for them so that they can work without worrying about the Board.
  • The Head of Marketing needs to spend a comparable amount of time with the business’s potential customers as they do with peers.

To expound on this last point… it is the job of your Marketing Head to build your company’s brand image TO THE POTENTIAL CUSTOMER.

When your Marketing Head spends more time with their peers than with customers, they begin marketing in a way that appeals to peers rather than customers.

So ask yourself, have I “drank the Kool-Aid” of sales activation marketing? Who am I marketing to? Future customers? Or the boss/board/peers?

At Wizard of Ads, we are all about being creative, entertaining, and telling your story in a way that makes your potential customers excited to do business with you. We refuse to drink the Kool-Aid!

Ready to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and start standing out with your marketing?