Why People Don’t Respect Marketers & How to Elevate the Marketing Profession
As a marketer, you aren’t getting the respect you deserve.
You are a hard worker that loves what you do. You have spent years learning an ever-evolving list of skills, testing and refining your craft as technology and society have chaotically shifted drastically. You help businesses to make more money, allowing them to hire more people, create better products, and build empires of sustainable revenue.
Even so, no one gets excited to see a marketer walk into the room.
When the accountant walks into an office, managers are happy to throw their accounting work at them. When the lawyer arrives to ensure legal compliance, no one thinks twice about handing their contracts over. Even when a plumber arrives, no one questions how they fix the toilet, they’re just happy that the toilet is going to be working soon.
…but when a marketer walks in with a new marketing plan, hold onto your butts.
EVERYONE has an opinion. Everyone has doubts, suspicions, and sometimes hostility towards them and their promises.
They will question your prices, results, plans, decisions, and worst of all, even if you are 100% successful at delivering what you promise, they may STILL fire you because you don’t charge less than the next marketer (who they consider interchangeable).
Unlike most professionals, from doctors, lawyers, and engineers to accountants, human resource reps, and graphic designers, marketers garner very little respect initially.
This isn’t anecdotal either. When it comes to the C-Suite, the Chief Marketing Officer has a shorter tenure than any other executive by far. As reported by The Drum, “The average tenure of a chief marketing officer at 100 of the top US ad spenders fell to 40 months last year, down from 41 in the year before and the lowest average since 2009.”
As a marketer, what would it feel like to walk into a prospective job and have everyone rise to greet you? For people to be excited that you took the time to visit? For business owners to be RELIEVED that you have a solution to present?
This should be the case, but it’s not. In this article, I’ll describe how we arrived at the current perception of marketers and how we’re going to fix it.
Why People DON’T Respect Marketers
While the public’s perception of marketers is largely unfair and unjustified, it’s still there for a reason. Here is why I think that marketers aren’t garnering the respect they deserve.
Marketing is the Most-Trackable (and Therefore Damnable) Activity
Other than sales, marketing results are the most easily trackable components of a business. A business owner can look at a P&L and see the difference between revenue and the advertising budget, and while they shouldn’t, they will make decisions based on that number.
Even with the changes to privacy and tracking, there are about a million reports that can be generated on all marketing-related platforms, from Google Analytics to Facebook Ads to social media channel subscribers/comments/likes/etc.
With all this data, it’s easy for people to blame marketers for all sales results, even if the actual outcome is related to product design, customer service, pricing, and a ton of other operational concerns.
Marketing is Complicated
Unsurprisingly, most people’s idea of “marketing” comes from television, more specifically, the series Mad Men. A bunch of over-confident, chemically-addled man-children coming up with tricky phrases to doop customers out of some cash (at least that’s what cynics think). In reality, marketing is MUCH more complicated than that.
The funny part is that Mad Men actually gives an excellent view into marketing, but it’s not obvious and only marketers will probably understand it. A key note in that regard is in the first episode when a new employee is walked through the agency and told that all the “real money” is made in the lowly and unassuming “media buying department.”
Modern marketing is WAY more complicated than that though. Today, marketers have to deal with more competition than ever before, a constantly evolving set of legal, regulatory, and societal rules, and a changing and growing list of technologies, platforms, and media types (some of which, like the Metaverse, haven’t even been embraced yet).
These complications mean that marketing is even less understood than it has ever been in history, and with a lack of clarity has come a lack of understanding and appreciation. If everyone knew what was going on, we’d all start using the phrase “it’s not marketing strategy” rather than “it’s not rocket science” or “it’s not brain surgery” (maybe not, but you get the jist).
Big Tech Advertising Has Over-Simplified Marketing
Do you remember this commercial from the Super Bowl a few years back?
While an epic fight scene is going on, an unsuspecting chef designs his entire website… in a kitchen during work hours… three times. Every time his business gets destroyed, he quickly sets up a whole new brand and website that is instantly attractive and successful. Marketing is so easy!
NO! I used to build websites for a living, and between Wix, Squarespace, Bluehost, and Godaddy, the misconception that “building a website is easy” completely ruined my credibility. The same is true for advertising platforms that make running ads sound like a 5-minute task that a 5-year-old can do in her sleep.
Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent by big tech companies to convince the masses that all aspects of digital marketing are easy, cheap, and stupidly simple… and they are, if you don’t want to ROI anything you’re doing.
How to Make People Respect Marketers
Every Marketer Needs to Know Everything (a Little Bit)
Every marketer needs to know about every marketing method. Please note that I said “know about” and not “be good at.” Every marketer needs a basic understanding of how all pieces of marketing work together (our outline for overall marketing strategy is called the Customer Value Journey) before starting to specialize.
Marketing is one of the only professions that doesn’t require a base-level of knowledge prior to choosing a specialization… which is something that needs to change.
Many marketers actually become specialists before they know anything about overall strategy. They “become” a social media manager because they’re good at engagement, even if they have no understanding of how to convert people after they become a follower (or may have never made $1 online). In contrast, you’ll never meet a doctor who didn’t attend medical school prior to becoming a pediatrician, neurologist, cardiologist, etc. Doctors all start with the same education and requirements so they can make an informed decision about their specialization.
Here at DigitalMarketer we call this concept the T-Shaped Marketer. A T-Shaped marketer is somebody who has expertise in about 1-3 main marketing facets and broad knowledge of all marketing facets. Once you have a speciality, you can drill into it using what we called Learning Paths. No matter what, we always recommended starting with our Digital Marketing Mastery Certification.
Marketing Needs to Be Your Long-Term Profession
A lot of people “end up” as marketers not through a conscious choice, but because they were good at some aspect of marketing and started doing it for other people. There is nothing wrong with this, but if this is how you became a marketer, you now need to choose to become a marketing professional.
What is a marketing professional? There’s lots of descriptions online, but at DigitalMarketer, we’ve defined it as the following after working with over 120,000 marketers:
- Min. 2 years experience building and executing marketing campaigns.
- General understanding of marketing metrics and a sincere desire to measure and be measured.
- You are “T-Shaped” (meaning you have identified your marketing “super-power,” but you also have a general understanding of all aspects of marketing so you can communicate and coordinate with multiple team members and stakeholders across a diverse set of marketing disciplines).
- OPTIONAL (but highly recommended): You have at least one professional certification and are committed to continuing education (because this industry changes fast, and there are a lot of “talkers” who can’t actually DO out there).
Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people have never managed full marketing campaigns or really care about their metrics.
Practice What You Preach
This is a tough one for most marketers, both on the branding/company side AND the personal/professional side. You may be making your clients MILLIONS of dollars, but you and your company may not have ANY exposure online at all. No ads, no content, and maybe even no website. This is extremely detrimental for you and your profession.
I used to have a magazine called My Mad Methods, a gym, certifications, ecommerce store, etc. I worked with thousands of trainers, and I can tell you one thing… no one took the out of shape trainers seriously. Note that I said “out of shape” and not “fat” which is what you’re probably thinking. If you were a strongman trainer, you were expected to be strong. If you were an athletic trainer, you were expected to be fast. If you were a bodybuilding trainer, you were expected to look fit.
Did it matter that the current physical condition of a trainer may have NOTHING to do with their ability to train others? Nope. But as a trainer, the expectation was that you should be healthy and fit. Being “fit” therefore, fell into the realm of marketing… and that’s just for the fitness industry!
As a marketer, you’re expected to have an awesome online presence for both you and your company. It doesn’t matter that your business is 100% referral based, or making millions a month, or has systems that would make the greatest marketers in history cry with envy… if no one knows about any of that, no one cares (at least in terms of respecting you and your profession).
Actively Contribute to Professional Marketing Communities
The quickest way to feel respected is to gain the respect of your peers. If no one within your professional network respects your work, you’re going to be hard-pressed to get respect outside of it. These are people who know what you do, know what success in the space looks like, and will gladly promote your work, thoughts, and ideas if they deserve merit.
Online content is a digital representation of your competency. If you could speak to every person on the planet, you may be able to explain your competency to them. Considering that would take thousands of years, it’s not going to happen.
Instead, you have to show them how awesome you are with articles, videos, and podcasts, and then let those assets do the work for you. At the bare minimum, you should be commenting on other people’s content to gain exposure for your ideas.
Professional marketing communities provide the ideal way for all of us to enhance the respect of the marketing community. They’re a conflagration of the best content which will rise the top in the form of comments, shares, likes, subscriptions, and the most flattering form of praise of all, stolen ideas 😛
Enough people pay attention to your ongoing concepts, the more respect the entire population will have for our profession.