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CEO’s: something to think about when hiring a marketing strategist

I’m always con­fused when a mar­ket­ing strate­gist gets hired, and then imme­di­ate­ly gets asked to com­plete a bunch of pre­de­ter­mined tasks. This does­n’t make sense. I mean, are you hir­ing a strate­gist or a senior admin?

Here’s the dif­fer­ence: the strate­gist is a field gen­er­al, sent out to exe­cute the vision of the CEO (the com­man­der-in-chief), accord­ing to the CEO’s vision. That gen­er­al needs to be able to lead oth­ers, not man­age. He needs to be able to gath­er infor­ma­tion (research) and build a com­plete pic­ture of the sit­u­a­tion. He needs to be able to play with sce­nar­ios and obsess over pos­si­bil­i­ties. He asks ques­tions nobody else is ask­ing. He’s always aware of how this sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent from the last one. He’s set­ting the table for oth­ers to gain vic­to­ry.

The senior admin, on the oth­er hand, just takes orders and fills them in the nor­mal way. The admin gets just enough research to be able to defend his deci­sion (like when you’re try­ing to “cite at least 5 source” for a col­lege term paper). He car­ries out orders in pre­dictable ways to bring order to oper­a­tions. And you need this guy — just not as a strate­gist.
The senior admin costs $25/hr. But you pay the strate­gist based on his effect (e.g. size of com­pa­ny), which is usu­al­ly much more that 25 bucks an hour.
Here’s how to take a strate­gist’s super pow­ers away: Make him mul­ti­task (think about more than one sub­ject at a time). Make him put out fires. Call him every time you have a change in vision, and make him change direc­tion often. Make him a project man­ag­er (for good­ness sake, get an admin to do that). Make him feel watched, or like you need imme­di­ate results (if you need imme­di­ate results, hire a slick sales­man, not a strate­gist).

2 thoughts on “CEO’s: something to think about when hiring a marketing strategist

  1. i’ve come to real­ize there is no “strat­e­gy” side of the brain for most CEO’s, prob­a­bly because most CEO’s are accoun­tants.

    1. Hi Leif. Well said. It reminds me of the NPV equa­tion, and it’s a sim­ple frame­work for cal­cu­lat­ing the “net present val­ue” of an under­tak­ing by cal­cu­lat­ing costs and ben­e­fits. You might check it out. It could be a good anchor for a con­ver­sa­tion with an accoun­tant about how to esti­mate the val­ue of an invest­ment. If he bought your assump­tions about costs, it could be an extreme­ly con­vinc­ing way to sell a project (or adver­tis­ing plan).

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