When businesses miss sales targets for any reason, the Head of Marketing is almost always on the line.

If you meet a Marketing Head that has been at a company with more than 5 years tenure, ask for their autograph.

There seems to be two main reasons for this:

  1. Since Marketing Heads are typically evaluated on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, they don’t have enough runway to see returns from investing in brand-building and therefore put most of their eggs in the basket of sales activation marketing. This often looks like a limited time sale, a coupon, or a product-related ad online. The problem is, buyers learn your tactics and either become immune/annoyed by this type of “buy now!” marketing, or take advantage of this and only buy from you when there is an active sale, coupon, promotion… thus eating away at your profit. As an example, the only time I ever shop at JC Penney is when I receive a $10 off $15 coupon, and I hardly every spend more than $20 when I use these. And I’d venture to guess, you do the same. There’s a reason they are closing stores nationwide.
  2. Not only do Marketing Heads gravitate towards sales activation tactics, but most know their days are numbered, so they follow the “nobody gets fired for buying an IBM” approach… They market just like all your competitors do and play it safe in an attempt to retain their role as long as possible.

This removes all creativity and neuters your brand.

How do you stand out and impact people without creativity? You don’t.

Have you heard the story of The Man Who Never Took the Leap? If we are afraid to take risks and if we value safety too much, we actually risk living life to the fullest, or in this case, growing your company to its full market potential.

So instead of hiring a Marketing Head to be a dealer, giving short term highs that inevitably wear off to both your customers and your business; hire a Marketing Head you can trust and let them work with the freedom to take risks and be creative.

Measure their success either annually or biannually rather than quarterly, and remember to evaluate their performance by how different they are doing things compared to your competition.

Before you hire them, look back at their previous work and ask these questions:

Has their marketing strategy/campaign often been the same as their competitors?

Are their campaigns focusing on their own company/products/services instead of on the potential customer?

Are they relying on discounts to drive results more than on building a lasting brand for your company?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes” encourage them to apply for a job at your competitor’s company.

Eager to quit playing it safe and take a leap with your marketing strategy?