Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another quarter heard from

If there's one thing about marketing that seems to be universal, it's that everybody - but everybody - thinks they can do your job. And probably do it better.

Sales guy. Techie. HR. Cleaning people.

I'm not talking about a little second guessing here.

Let's face it. Most of us second guess and armchair quarterback all the time.

Sales guy flub a sale? I think he should have pitched it this way....

HR just announce the new benefits? I wish they'd included mental health days....

Cleaning people just roll their trash cart through? I wish they wouldn't just throw the recycle into the general trash in front of me...

New product release? You call that ease of use....

But even when we're second guessing, most of us aren't presumptuous enough to think that we could actually do someone else's job better.  I mean, I don't really have an opinion on whether the techies or the cleaning people should use Ajax or Dutch Cleanser. That's their province.

Plus, even when we have an opinion about how someone's doing their job - and could be doing it better IMHO - we don't tend to feel the need to continually express it.

So could somebody please tell me why, when it comes to marketing, so many "outsiders" seem to feel that they can do a better job at selecting the font, color, message, ad, polo shirt, brochure copy, stock photo, trade show booth, logo, give-away, product name, or whatever it is that marketing has chosen. And that none of them seems to have any reluctance whatsoever to tell you so?

Is it because marketing people deal in the realm where everyone has experience? We are, after all, used to expressing things like color preference; we're used to criticizing the ads we see on TV; we can all read.

If I can say I like the blue shirt better than the red shirt, why can't I say that the logo should be purple? If I just got done picking the wedding photos that will become part of posterity, how come I can't weigh in on the pictures you're using in the brochure?

Maybe I'm just being sensitive here because I'm in marketing.

And I am a person who is genuinely interested in hearing people's feedback. A lot of times, the end product that goes through the crucible of a lot of different opinions will actually come out better.

But sometimes I just want to scream, "Trust me. I'm the professional here."

How about you?


Mary Schmidt said...

Then there are the people who hire you because "you're the professional and I can't write." And, then they totally rewrite what you give them.

I think us pros are our own worst enemies - we make it look simple so "anybody can do it."

John Whiteside said...

True story:

Early in my career I was the marcomm guy for a company that made a surgical device - small little company, low tech but useful device. And so there I was in Anaheim, CA in a trade show booth with our west coast sales rep, whom I'd just met. She was pleasant enough.

"So we're getting a new brochure?" she asked. I told her yes (the one that predated me was just awful).

"That's great! Hey, you know what? You should put a picture of (the produce) on the front, with clouds in the background."


"Yes, clouds. Clouds make people feel good."

I must have been really quiet, because she added, "I was a psychology major in college."

It's rare that the universe gives you a chance to decide that someone who told you something silly actually IS someone worth ignoring, but it happened that week. A day or two later, when total trade show boredom had set in, we were all BSing in the booth and somehow the topic turned to LA's Metro system, which was then still being planned and built. "It's going to be bad," she said. Why, the east coast contingent asked.

"Well, they're trying to make it nice, but the Mexicans are going to use it, and they're dirty."

I was too stunned to speak, but our high-strung chain-smoking rep from Philly was not. I thought his head would explode, actually.

Mary said...

Wow! And living in New Mexico, I can use both of those bits of deep wisdom. We've got big clouds and lots of Mexicans! (Ouch, ouch, and ew-yewwwww....)

I live such a sheltered life these days - unless I watch a Bush press conference or Bill O'Reilly I tend to forget there are still incredibly stupid, shallow, racist people running around.