Monday, May 28, 2007

Marketing Jobs Can Have A Short Life

Fast Company Magazine has an article in the June 2007 edition called "The Most Dangerous Job In Business". Columnist Ellen McGirt weaves a scary story for marketing professionals, as it seems that chief marketing officers in corporations have a frighteningly short life span.

Just a sample of CMO's who recently were let go over the past year include Kerri Martin of Volkswagen of America, John Flemming of WalMart, Michael Linton of Best Buy, Mary Minnick of Coca-Cola and Javier Benito of Starwood Hotels. For the past three years, a survey has shown, that the average tenure for CMO's in the companies with the highest 100 recognizable brands is only 23 months.

The revolving door is concerning. Two years is hardly enough time to get programs rolling. When a new CMO comes in they will most likely abandon the other's programs, thus never allowing companies to ever really see results. If a company is not seeing growth, the marketing team is vulnerable from the get-go.

I see this happen all the time in law firms. In the legal marketing profession the life of a CMO/director of marketing is equally as fragile (even shorter in many instances). In a limited amount of time, one or more noisy partners will start to complain about something....and the whole firm will sour on the marketer, rather than fight with the malcontents in their own partner ranks. Most firms have a difficult time giving a real "seat at the table" to non-lawyers, and this the CMO and others in marketing and business development (aka: anyone without a JD) are rarely seen as having real importance.

Law firms often will only hire someone with specific "legal marketing experience". This leads to the revolving door of a handful of the same people (granted, most of these folks in the "legal marketing pool" are very competent!!) going from firm to firm.

I was recently contacted by a head hunter about relocating to another city to fill a job in a major law firm as the director of marketing and business development. The firms had "gone a different direction" with the previous executive who held the job, but what was most telling was that they had been through three top marketers in five years. Who in their right mind would want to work for this firm who tosses out folks every eighteen months? YIKES. But that is what is happening in firms and companies around the country.

Marketing is becoming more about being able to justify your value as CMO than actually growing the firm's brand. While there are many aspects of successful marketing that you can measure, much of marketing and branding is subjective. If you cannot measure it, then you are vulnerable....and if you spend all your time making sure you have ROI, you will never have successful marketing. Uh oh. Sounds like a vicious cycle.

Which brings us back to networking. If you are a marketing professional you had best have an excellent internal and external network of professional contacts. You will need it for your survival inside the firm/company...and you will need it to land your next job in the next two years!

Have A Great Day.


***Have you taken the NETWORKING QUOTIENT QUIZ??? It only takes a few minutes and will give you an instant score of how you are doing with your networking efforts.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stats on the turnover rate. I had no idea. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

I am thankful for this article. Being a recent graduate of a top UC school,I want to know more about Legal Marketing before jumping into this career path.