Next time you interview a marketing candidate, I suggest adding these questions:
- What marketing books have you read lately?
- What marketing periodicals do you take?
- Which publications are your favorites? Why?
- Which publications would you recommend to be shredded and buried under a spot where nothing for human consumption is to be planted for at least seven years? Why?
As an agency guy, I am surprised at the number of marketing decision makers I am doomed to work with who don’t know a damned thing about marketing. How did they get where they are? Maybe they write well (“PR and marketing are the same thing, right?”). Maybe they graduated with a B.S. in psych and a parent on the Board of Directors. Maybe they “just seemed to have a lot of good sense.” Such “reasons” are not unusual.
Thus I often find myself presenting a fully thought-out, proven strategy, only to have the marketing director fixate on the color of, say, a border. Wouldn’t a midnight blue be nicer?
We all start out in our careers underqualified. Heaven knows I did. At 25, I faked my way into the job of Marketing Communications Manager for a tri-state bank! But the difference is, I knew I was faking it. I was desperately afraid of being exposed.
So, rather than assume I knew it all because I had a PR degree and my card said “Marketing Director,” I devoured every marketing book I could find. I took Advertising Age, Adweek, DM News and others. I called on seasoned pros and picked their brains. I ran tests. I went to seminars. I developed a thirst for knowing how to do effective marketing. I wanted to be worth what I was getting paid. (Happily, in the process, I found out that real competence is more fulfilling than feigned competence.)
I still have that thirst. I still read every sound marketing book I can find. I still go to seminars. I still pick brains. I do these things even though I am the author of a marketing book myself, I write internationally published marketing articles, and I conduct my own marketing seminars.
So, back to your marketing candidate. Is this person someone who wants to continue growing—or who feels that, having attained a certain marketing je ne sais quoi, simply knows it all?