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Marketeers: A Field Guide

Into the life of every sales professional, some marketeers must fall. Sure, they can be a nuisance, but with proper care and feeding you can keep them from making too much trouble, and even get them to start helping you to make sales. With that goal in mind, here's a field guide of the seven most common species.

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Species #1: Captain Strategy
  • Identifying Characteristic: Sees a comprehensive market strategy as the key to success for every company.
  • Normal Behavior: Is always changing the marketing strategy to respond to a largely fictional "shift" in a largely fictional "market."
  • Typical Remark: "I don't care if the product is already in production; we've got to go back to the drawing board!"
  • Corporate Impact: High. The constant string of strategy-du-jours ensures that nothing is ever completed.
  • Fair Warning: Incredibly, he really does believe he's doing something useful.
  • Care & Feeding: Get him involved in industry working groups and standards consortia. They'll keep him busy and make him feel "strategic" without making your life difficult with pointless changes in direction.
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Species #2: Tarentino Junior
  • Identifying Characteristic: Has a degree in corporate communications with a minor in film-making.
  • Normal Behavior: Creates industrial videos, television commercials and promotional pieces in the style of various famous movies.
  • Typical Remark: "This piece will illustrate the professionalism of our organization while it goes viral on the Internet."
  • Corporate Impact: Medium. However, if left unchecked, he will literally spin through the entire marketing budget.
  • Fair Warning: He's trying to build up his resume so that he can work in the "real" entertainment business.
  • Care & Feeding: Put him a fixed-price contract so that his compensation is inversely proportional to the amount of money he spends.
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Species #3: The Focus Groupie
  • Identifying Characteristic: Funds and performs "market research" but has no actual knowledge of statistics and demographics.
  • Normal Behavior: Figures out what top management wants to hear, then sets up focus groups that will confirm their pre-conceived opinions.
  • Typical Remark: "Our sampling of prospective customers reached a consensus that our marketing message in one of the best they've ever heard."
  • Corporate Impact: High. Focus groups and other forms of meaningless "research" lead the company to chase rainbows and wild geese, all the while thinking that they're making decisions based on "research data."
  • Fair Warning: She's setting herself up to work for the analyst group she hired to do the "research."
  • Care & Feeding: Insist that all market research be prepared by a person with a degree in statistics or mathematics. That way she'll take that analyst job sooner rather than later.

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Species #4: Terry the Technoid
  • Identifying Characteristic: Thinks that having the latest iPhone makes him an expert in product requirements.
  • Normal Behavior: Takes whatever features he thinks would be "cool" and writes them up into a set of "product requirement" documents.
  • Typical Remark: "Here are some product ideas that will really knock our customers' socks off!!!"
  • Corporate Impact: Minimal. Engineering doesn't take him seriously because he's not an engineer, and the sales team thinks he's from some other planet.
  • Fair Warning: If you let him speak with prospects or customers, he'll promise them things that they're never going to get.
  • Care & Feeding: Get him involved in determining what features and functions should go into the next version of the marketing group's internal software. That way he end up driving his own group crazy, rather than yours.
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Species #5: Billy B-School
  • Identifying Characteristic: Has an MBA in Marketing from a prestigious business school.
  • Normal Behavior: Relates every business situation to whatever management fad was taught when he was getting his degree.
  • Typical Remark: "We should do a SWOT analysis on the four "P"s in order to re-engineer to Six Sigma compliance."
  • Corporate Impact: High. He adds at least 15 minutes of pure, unadulterated BS per hour to every meeting he attends. Essentially, he's like a permanent 25 percent tax on your overall productivity.
  • Fair Warning: Be careful in your criticism; your CEO may have gone to the same B-school.
  • Care & Feeding: Send his name out to every corporate recruiter you can find on the web and suggest that he'd be a great candidate to work for one of your competitors.
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Species #6: Isabelle Intern
  • Identifying Characteristic: Managed to land an unpaid internship at your company's marketing group.
  • Normal Behavior: Desperate clings to the increasingly forlorn belief that she's actually going to learn something useful.
  • Typical Remark: "I just fetched everybody's lunch; can I do some real work, please?"
  • Corporate Impact: Minimal. If female and attractive, she can cause a bit of a ruckus, because all the single male marketeers will stop working in order to flirt with her. However, since they weren't really doing anything all that productive anyway, the net productivity loss is small.
  • Fair Warning: May be planning to write a book about the experience working for your screwed up firm.
  • Care & Feeding: If you sense that she has some real ability and talent, offer her a PAID internship (i.e. a sales position) with the sales team.
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Species #7: Our Hero
  • Identifying Characteristic: Realizes that the sole purpose of Marketing is to help the sales team.
  • Normal Behavior: Focuses all marketing activities on generating qualified leads and making it easier to sell to them.
  • Typical Remark: "Let me know how I can make life easier for you guys."
  • Corporate Impact: Enormous. There is no single person in an organization potentially more valuable than a marketeer who knows what she's doing.
  • Fair Warning: If not paid TOP DOLLAR, she will leave for greener pastures. Seriously, if you've got one of these in your firm, show her the big money.
  • Care & Feeding: Need you ask? Treat her as a full team member, keep her informed of what's working in the field, and make sure she gets extra credit when her work pays off... for you and for the firm!
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