As you've undoubtedly read a thousand times in the reams of pages of management books that you've consumed, it's vitally important that when you build your management team, you don't just pick good people, but instead, pick good people whose skills fill in for weaknesses in the team. For this reason, the first person I look to add to any team that I'm on is a marketing person.
Try as I might, I can't create marketing. As every marketing person who has ever worked for me knows, though, once a marketing idea is brought forth or a program created, I have no trouble analyzing it and expressing my opinions about it. Sometimes my analysis even has value. I believe that I know good marketing when I see it. Witnessing good marketing for me is an experience similar to what I have when in a gallery or art museum, I appreciate the beautiful works, fully recognizing that I struggle drawing a legible stick figure when playing hang-man.
I rationalize that one doesn't have to have the ability to do something to appreciate the skill and beauty demonstrated when someone else does it. Yet, as a business person and entrepreneur, I can't quite get over why I suck so badly at marketing.
Rob over at Businesspundit, whose marketing ideas I find fascinating, has a terrific post titled, Marketing is Math: A Heretic Questions the Gods of Grassroots, Viral Messages and Sacred Purple Cows. In his post, Rob exposes several marketing myths and popular errors. While Rob doesn't know me, I felt that he was shining a light on several of the reasons why I make the same marketing mistakes again and again. This thought from his post, in particular, rang true for me:
"The first crack in the foundation of my marketing apotheosis came when my partner and I decided to advertise in a local business publication. It was expensive to advertise, but we both read it, so we assumed that other people like us read it as well. We committed a major chunk of our budget to a series of ads that ended up landing us... a single phone call. It was time to regroup. I had learned my first lesson - everyone's behavior isn't like mine. To this day it's the hardest thing to do - to keep that in mind when I pursue new ideas. What I like, what my friends like, what my family likes, may end up being irrelevant."
Doh! You mean that not everyone likes what I like and thinks like me? No wonder I can't come up with a reasonable marketing program that attracts other people.
Rob ends his post explaining the mathematics of marketing. In doing so, he gave me hope that a quantitative, left-brained guy like me can retain some hope that I'll one day understand the art of marketing. If you're wondering why your current programs aren't working or you're betting the ranch on viral marketing, this post and the others on Businesspundit are definitely worth a look.