When to Seek a Marketing Specialist

After a brutal winter, spring has finally arrived–and along with it, allergies. After the colder and longer than usual winter, plants have burst into action, spraying all sorts of pollen into the air, and my normally healthy husband, who works outdoors, has succumbed.  He was really suffering, to the point where it began to affect his ability to work.  He thought he could do battle on his own, but after a few miserable days and sleepless nights he:  

  1. Dragged himself to the local drug store and promptly purchased a myriad of allergy remedies. But relief was not forthcoming, so he,
  2. Called the doctor, who said they could see him in a week, since allergies aren’t considered an emergency.  He took the appointment and then,
  3. Decided to go to the mini-clinic where he met with the physician’s assistant.  She reviewed and modified the “meds” and gave him prescriptions for some stronger ones, at three times the cost of the over the counter remedies.  But another few days went by and he was feeling worse, so with the new meds in hand, he
  4. Drove to the emergency room.  The ER doc there evaluated him, changed the medications again, and sent him off after he paid a bill that was 10 times the cost of the mini-clinic visit.  He finally began to feel better, but
  5. Kept his appointment with his general doctor who said, she couldn’t have really helped because allergies are a specialty, and advised him to seek out a specialist.

Result: Many days and dollars later, he finally has an appointment with an allergist.

Genius baby

As I nursed my husband and watched this process unfold, I was reminded of the performance management journey many marketing organizations travel.  Many of these marketers feel some pain.  Maybe it’s a result of increased scrutiny by the finance organization, or maybe it’s increased requests from the leadership team for better information for the value of a program or investment.  Or, maybe the marketing organization team is building their plan and trying to determine the best course of action. Regardless of the reason, a common response to the pain is similar to what my husband’s approach—we can fix it with some inexpensive over the counter remedies, such as free or inexpensive website, SEO, or email analytics.  And, it may work.

When it doesn’t, the next step is to call an existing resource, such as the “agency”.  Often, these talented people don’t have the expertise – even though they will try to help you.  Or, you may decide that you need better systems and deploy some new and often expensive marketing technologies.  And this may work too.  However, if it doesn’t, it may be time to call upon specialists in the performance management space.  These are the people who have experience and expertise in using data, analytics, process and metrics.  So, when do you seek out a specialist?

When you’ve attempted to solve a problem and it’s still nagging, it may be time to call in an expert with a specific focus. These specialists have additional training and experience that have enabled them to become experts in a specific field. Their work focuses primarily on projects and initiatives related to their area of expertise, so they have developed more depth in the area than their generalist colleagues. There are many marketing specialists out there, including specialists in marketing operations, marketing accountability, and marketing performance management and related fields. When seeking a specialist do your homework:

  • Make a list. Ask colleagues, associations, and check publications to identify potential candidates. Other marketing experts may also be able to provide recommendations.
  • Narrow your list.  Create and prioritize a list of criteria you want to consider when choosing your specialist. Criteria might include background, years of experience, industry experience, and so on.
  • Vet your top candidates.  Visit their website, read their content, talk with customers and other industry leaders. Once you make your selection, set an initial consultation appointment.  Be clear about your problem, what you’ve tried, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and your ideal outcome. Just as you would bring your test results and medications to a meeting with a medical specialist, for a performance management meeting, bring a list of your current systems, data, and reports.
  • Make your selection and start to work.

The field of marketing is becoming more and more complex. As marketing becomes more data-driven and metrics-oriented, specialties have emerged. Whether a large or small marketing organization, specialists are becoming necessary.  Rather than find yourself in an emergency where you may not have a choice about your help, take a strategic approach to performance management and seek out a specialist.