Today we have a a delicious guest post from an anonymous CRANKY MARKETER. Whooo hoooo. Now be warned, this is Part ONE of a three part series. And the Cranky Product Manager has not yet seen parts two or three.
First of all, let me say I wasn’t always “cranky”. And in fact, those who know me, would probably not think of the word “cranky” when thinking of me.
Let me also say that I wasn’t always a Marketer. Nope. I started out life on the “technical” side of things as an SE. From there I moved to Professional Services for a bit, and then moved into Product Management for a number of years. From there Product Marketing and now I manage a Marketing team in a mid-sized B2B company.
I’m telling you all this because, while I need to keep my anonymity, I want you to know I’m not simply a Cranky Marketer, but a Cranky Marketer who’s been in your shoes before.
So why am I cranky?
Because the state of high-tech Marketing. In most companies I’ve been in, it’s either dysfunctional, broken or at best mediocre. There are some companies that really get Marketing, but for most high-tech companies, particularly those in the B2B space, marketing simply sucks.
Why is it in such a piss-poor state you ask? Well, let me tell you. Part of the problem lies with the folks running Marketing. Part of the problem lies with Sales and Sr. Management. And part of the problem lies squarely with Product Management. Yeah, you read that right, it’s mostly your fault!
I’m sure most of you reading this want to know why I’m blaming some of it on Product Management. I’ll get to that, but you’ll have to wait a couple of installments to find out.
The Problem with Marketers
Question: What’s another word for “strategic marketing”?
Virtually every Marketer you meet will talk about marketing strategy or strategic marketing, but the closest they ever get to that is a 2-day “strategic planning” offsite where they basically decide on all the tactics and programs for the coming year. A lot of marketers don’t actually know what “strategy” means.
Invariably someone will say something like: “This year, our strategy should be to increase the quality of leads generated”. Hey Doofus, that’s not a strategy, that’s an objective. And besides, why would it be something new? Wouldn’t that be something you’d do every year?
Marketing has become a series of tactical activities executed to achieve tactical objectives. There is usually little if any coherence to the activities, and very little ongoing analysis, and almost certainly no overall strategy. Welcome to my world!
I’m going to give many of my fellow Marketers a pass on taking the full blame for this state of affairs. Most of the problem is not their fault.
The root cause is two-fold.
First, most of the people in high-tech don’t actually understand the markets they are in, the customers and prospects they need to target or the true value propositions of their own products. And by ‘most people’ I mean the vast majority of people who work in the field. This includes Marketers, Sales People, Engineers and yes, even Product Managers. Everyone lives in silos of their own design. They’re like the sardines at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, swimming in circles following each other, never getting anywhere, but not realizing the futility of it all.
Markets are very dynamic, technology consistently changes and customer needs can rapidly evolve. It takes a LOT of time, effort and focus to stay on top of changes across any one market segment. And many companies have products that either span several segments, or sometimes even have separate products (product line portfolios) that address needs of different markets or market segments.
And trust me when I say this, there is not enough time in any day, week or month for most marketers to gain this knowledge on their own. They have to rely on others to provide them with this information. Usually we have to depend on Product Management, which unfortunately seems to be populated by arrogant assholes who do nothing but look down on Marketing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll get to Product Management’s role in this whole mess later.
Marketers end up reinforcing the very stereotypes they hate. There’s a lot of fluff in Marketing. That’s a stereotype but it’s also true. If you don’t know your own customers, products and markets in deep detail, you can only speak in generalities. There’s the fluff. And once you are in that zone, it’s hard to get out.
I used to be a Product Manager. I was the product expert. I was the customer expert. I spent A LOT of time and energy thinking and learning about the market, talking to customers about their problems; talking to partners and prospects and sales engineers and sales people and industry experts etc.
Now I’m in Marketing, and it pains me to say that I’m neither a product expert, nor a customer expert. I’m a bit of a market expert but I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be. Some of my Product Marketing Managers are pretty good with customers and the market in general, but they are not product experts.
The reality is that as Marketers, we spend very little time speaking with customers to learn more about them. We’re always in pseudo-selling mode, “getting the message out”, “driving demand”, “generating awareness” etc. We are tactical executioners, working with other teams inside and outside of the company.
In short, we’re a tactical silo, blind to the bigger picture, driven by demand from above but constrained by limited budgets and limited resources and limited knowledge. It’s a no-win situation, and that’s why it sucks.
In my next installment, I’ll get cranky about the impact that Sales and Senior Management have on Marketing and how they don’t help Marketers escape from the tactical silo they live in.
To be continued…..
Also in The Cranky Marketer Goes Off
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Goes Off (Part 1)
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Goes Off – Part Deux
- The Cranky Product Manager bitchslaps the Cranky Marketer
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Part 3 – The Problem with Product Management