blog articles

What happens when a marketing manager doesn’t understand strategy

I apol­o­gize in advance for the war anal­o­gy, but war tends to puri­fy strat­e­gy. After all, when busi­ness­es fail to do strat­e­gy, the CEO fires the scape­goat and often hires anoth­er scape­goat. In war, peo­ple die.

What it looks like when your mar­ket­ing man­ag­er doesn’t under­stand strat­e­gy (isn’t effec­tive­ly map­ping the bat­tle­field):

She makes the same, big mis­take more than once, for the exact same rea­son. This usu­al­ly means she’s not good at the­o­ry (she doesn’t know why some­thing failed or suc­ceed­ed). Being bad at the­o­ry means you can’t re-engi­neer suc­cess with­out straight-up copy­ing it. Because you can’t build what you don’t under­stand.

She makes big, unnec­es­sary mis­takes, like tar­get­ing the wrong audi­ence. This shows a lack of curios­i­ty about what makes this mar­ket­ing prob­lem dif­fer­ent from the last.

The troops start get­ting blamed. This is usu­al­ly a lead­er­ship prob­lem, not always a strat­e­gy prob­lem. It could mean she’s just not respect­ing her peo­ple, and the cul­ture is suf­fer­ing. Also, if her strat­e­gy isn’t clear, it would be tough to lead her cre­ative team, since she (not the strat­e­gy) is the source of all guid­ance (can you say “micro­man­age­ment”?)

She’s con­stant­ly con­found­ed by the audi­ence and the com­pe­ti­tion. This means she doesn’t know how to take these fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion when cre­at­ing strat­e­gy. The thing is, togeth­er with map­ping the bat­tle­field, under­stand­ing your ene­my is almost all of the inputs you need to do strat­e­gy. If you don’t have this info, you’re fight­ing blind. And fight­ing blind could waste all of the resources.

Now that we’ve cov­ered this, we should real­ize that a mar­ket­ing man­ag­er is often a scape­goat for poor lead­er­ship from above. So, as a true strate­gist would do, make sure you under­stand your prob­lem before fir­ing your mar­ket­ing man­ag­er.