July 25, 2009

Corporate Marketing Is Great, But Can You Do It Yourself?

Filed under: Marketing Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 7:34 pm

I was thinking about corporate marketing the other day.  It’s like an iceberg, moving slowly (so slowly) and it takes incredible coordination with all the other facets of the organization to steer it in the direction you’d like.  There’s also more to it than meets the eye.  Professional marketers on these teams are very talented, they have a lot of skill and they use it on the daily.  They also have a tendency towards hubris.  The very fact that you work for one of the largest companies on the planet and make decisions that have a great effect are bound to do so.

My opinion?  Small business marketing is harder.

There’s no where to hide in small businesses.  It’s all on you.  And what’s more, it’s often all your skin in the game.  Life’s good in a corporation when things are going well, but even if they aren’t, it’s not your life at stake.  Small business owners have to market themselves an do it well in order to survive.  The professionals working for larger companies don’t have to deal with that pressure, and my guess is that most never will.  They’ll continue on that path because it’s easier or they just don’t really want to start a business.  Both perfectly logical decisions, imho.

This post had been on my mind some time.  Yesterday, the types of classes we take together were brought up.  The thoughts on marketing classes were that “you could learn in yourself” whereas finance and operations need real structured learning pattern.  That may be true.  Still, I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that everyone really knows how to market a business at a small scale.  I’ve had to do something very similar, but it wasn’t my skin in the game, and I can say that it’s tough to market well on a shoestring budget.  That’s where the real innovation and importance of “getting it” come in.  Getting that every customer is your lifeblood, that you can’t treat people like numbers and expect to win in the real world.  At a corporate level, I’m sure there are a great deal of people who kick ass in their jobs but would struggle mightily with being on the front lines 24/7.

As a corporate marketer, it’s important to remember that the people who went out and built your business are the REAL marketers.  They are the ones who had to figure it all out in the beginning.  I’m not trying to take anything away from corporate marketing departments, I belong to one and am great friends with many people who work at them.  Filled to the brim with undeniable ability and ingenuity.  I just realize that those that stray from the herd eat what they kill are the real lions.



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