The Sad Truth About Marketing Directors

Broadcast stations bring me into their markets to visit with their local direct clients. Many of those meetings turn out great. I’m able to give a local direct decision maker long-term marketing and advertising strategies. They appreciate the advice and usually start spending much more money than they were previously with the station.

But I usually wince when I find out that the person I’m speaking with is by no means the advertising decision maker. Instead, I’m to spend my next 45 minutes to an hour with another depressed “marketing director.” Why sad? Because seldom do marketing directors have any power to anything at all, let alone make any real creative or budget decisions. Sometimes I’m wrong but based on my experience I’m usually right.

It’s sad because when the person was hired as “Marketing Director,” they were told that their job was to help their company or organization grow by bringing in fresh new ideas and to coordinate with media people to develop innovative campaigns. But most of the time their ideas are nixed by the very people who hired them. “That not in our budget,” is a familiar answer to the marketing director. I ask how the company determines the budget. Many of the marketing directors aren’t even privy to that information.

I’ve been in meetings with marketing directors who literally started crying when talking about their bleak futures. One working for a group of doctors recently confided, “This is what I was told last week, said a marketing director for a group of physicians. ‘We like the way we were doing it before you were hired.” Boy, wouldn’t that be enough to drive you to drink?

When the salesperson tells me that the marketing director is the decision maker I always remain hopeful, but in my experience the results are not usually fruitful. Your best bet is to convince the marketing director to invite you to pitch her AND the actual decision maker at the same time.