Wilhide & Company Happy New Year! Here are some ideas
3019 West 43RD Street that may help make it more productive.
Minneapolis, MN 55410
OBSERVATIONS January 2005 A Journal Of Things We Find Interesting
How To Hire Marketing People
G ood marketing people are hard to
find. While there always seems to
be a glut of applicants, it’s a tough job
go right for a play to work. Yet good foot-
ball offenses believe they can make
progress... and win... even when the score
Second, curiosity. Good marketing
people know a lot about a lot of things,
and are driven to learn more. They want
choosing those who can take a market- and the rules favor the other side. to know everything about the audience
ing group from ordinary to excellent and and about the product. They don’t sit in
make a first rate marketing organization. Marketing is a job where you get beat up. cubicles and take direction -- they go out
Here are six things I’d look for. You have to believe in yourself and in and discover things. Bad marketers don’t
marketing to be good at this. When your know their product in depth and they
1. INSTINCT. Some people have an in- program works you sometimes get praise, don’t really understand what drives the
stinct for marketing, some don’t. I can’t but you always get criticism. Good mar- decisions of prospective customers.
explain it, but I know it’s there. Those keters go into the game looking for ways
who have it learn from training and from to make something work, not ways to cri- Third, commitment. Good marketers
experience -- they get better. Those who tique it. don’t get defeated easily. They can be
don’t just never quite get it right. They flexible, especially when situations
may have other character traits that help Good marketers are creative, change, but because they see how things
them get into decision-making positions confident, have a strong business are supposed to turn out they try hard to
but they still don’t know jack about mar- sense and an instinct for what get there. They tend to work all the way
keting. Sales people, for instance, rarely marketing is really about. through a plan, not drop it part way.
make good marketers. They are too fo-
cused on closing the next deal -- on sell- Fourth, good taste. Especially visually.
ing the first time -- rather than selling re- 3. CREATIVITY in four specific areas. Good marketers know what looks
peatedly to satisfied customers. They First, the ability to “image.” Good mar- “right” and sounds right for their audi-
don’t think long term. keting people literally “see” a brochure, ences and what doesn’t. They may not
an ad or an overall strategy at an early know how to do graphic design or write
2. CONFIDENCE AND OPTIMISM. stage. They have a clear mental image of extraordinary copy, but they know good
Good marketing people believe their how it’s supposed to look. I often sketch work when they see it.
programs will work. They overcome ob- out plans for clients using circles and
stacles. It’s like the offense on a football squares -- to help show how things fit to- 4. BUSINESS SENSE. Good marketers
team. The defense is looser, reactive and gether. Same with ads and brochures. The develop a sense for how marketing fits
can do anything to stop you. The offense sketches aren’t fancy, but they work bet- into overall business operations. They re-
is more regimented -- everything has to ter than words. alize that good marketing grows out of
an inspiring mission and a customer- Bits and Pieces
driven business strategy. They become *****
conversant with everything from finan- Words matter, and how we use them (or An excellent PBS series called “They
cial management to production processes create them) helps define us. “Executive Made America” tells the stories of some
and distribution channels. They under- skills” is a term much repeated in of the country’s classic marketing tri-
stand the difference between sales and healthcare circles these days, especially in umphs. In the mid-1950s, the Mattel
profit. They become business generalists. relation to dementia and Alzheimer’s. company faced a do-or-die challenge. It
One of the effects of these diseases is that had had some success inventing and pro-
5. COMPETENCE. Good marketers people lose the ability set goals, make moting toys, but not recently. The
write better than their peers and speak plans and implement those plans -- their founders decided to risk everything -- lit-
persuasively to small and large groups . "executive" functions. They also don’t re- erally bet the business -- on a new, un-
They go beyond the “messaging” and member names, experiences, or even how tested medium: TV. Mattel committed
believe in what they’re saying because to get dressed, but this loss of executive $500,000 to sponsor the Mickey Mouse
they want to convert skeptics. They are skills is especially frustrating. Club show during the fall season. The
competent planners. And they know featured product was a “burp gun” that
how to manage a budget effectively -- not Parents of teenagers will note similar ex- resembled and sounded like a machine
to save money, but to spend it wisely. ecutive skills issues, as will social work- gun.
ers and managers of diverse work groups.
Good marketers also have specific com- Our educational system spends very little A week before Christmas they had sold
petencies. They know how to negotiate time on this area, but maybe that should out. Only two guns remained at the fac-
arrangements with agencies and change. It might not help with dementia, tory and they were both broken. This
freelance support, for instance, and they but it could help resolve some of the other success set the stage for Mattel’s next
grasp at least some of the details of print barriers that keep us from realizing our marketing initiative. Against the advice
and electronic media production. They potential. of focus groups and professionals, and
are good project managers. The best a negative reaction at trade shows, the
ones master that most difficult of tasks: founders introduced a doll with breasts
How are your "executive skills?"
how not to screw up a good idea. -- Barbie. It became the biggest selling
What do you think of our "post-
toy of all time. Even today two Barbie
factual" society? Is the secret to
6. Finally, good marketers have LEAD- dolls are sold every second, more than
effective leadership hidden
ERSHIP SKILLS. They can manage 7000 a day.
in game instructions?
groups of people on a day-to-day basis
both inside and outside their organiza-
tions. They have a driving sense of pur- The “post-factual society” is a phrase be-
pose that people will buy into. They ing used to refer to Americans' willingness
know how to support their teams and get to subordinate facts to beliefs. Whether
(and protect) budgets. They know how
to form alliances and work within them.
it’s the war in Iraq (mission accom-
plished?), a social security "crisis," deficit
All marketers may not come into the field
with these skills, but they are open to de-
spending or global warming, the facts get
ignored if they conflict with a political or We're
veloping them -- they respond well to religious agenda. One in four voters in the
training, mentors and experience. last election said they had been “born
again,” including both the president and
There are other important traits -- intelli- a key World Series pitcher.
We're looking for new projects.
gence, humor, a strong ethical sense -- but
if you’re in the market for marketing tal- I wonder what the founding fathers would
We offer copywriting and art
ent keep these six in mind. Ask about think of this post-factualism, steeped as direction for ads, ad campaigns,
them when you check references. Look they were in Enlightenment philosophies brochures, direct mail packages and
for them when you interview. I think and classical training in logic and scien- campaigns and a wide range of other
they’ll help you find what you need more tific reasoning. We seem to be moving marketing communications.
reliably than traditional markers: aca- from a democracy of, by and for a reason-
demic credentials, job titles or past expe- ing people to a society guided by "faith- We also offer consulting services to
rience. based" "belief systems." help make your advertising, direct
mail and marketing communications
***** more effective.
Observations is an occasional publication we
put out when we feel like it. We provide cre-
We received a “racer engine” toy for
ative services and consulting for marketing Christmas. It’s a track with race cars that Call us. 612-926-3939. Or email:
communications. If you have a project we zip around curves and loops, powered by firstname.lastname@example.org
could help with, please contact us. If you'd hand-held controllers. The operating in-
just like to shoot the breeze about some of structions include this significant piece of
this stuff, we usually have time for that too.
advice: “Considerable skill can be de-
Doug and Jean Wilhide veloped in the fascinating study of where
to shut off and re-apply power.”
Wilhide & Company 3019 West 43RD Street Minneapolis, MN 55410 612-926-3939 www.wilhide.com