Four Ways to Spot a Bad Marketer

Bad marketers hurt customers, damage your brand, and light money on fire. They say All The Right Things, but the results are just not there. The most dangerous marketer is the one who believes their own 💩

A key step to improving your company’s marketing is to find the bad marketers. The following four methods are particularly effective in uncovering the value-destroying marketing critter in your organization. What you do once you find them is up to you.

Method #1:

They say:

Great idea, let’s test it.

All. The. Time.

The CEO wants to try a new marketing channel, the suspect marketer instantly responds with enthusiasm, “That’s GREAT, let’s test it!”. No matter what the idea is, the marketer’s response is always the same 🤨

A good test requires a solid hypothesis with roots in the customer’s psyche. If the test does not attempt to figure out WHY a customer does something, then the testing methodology is fundamentally flawed. You may stumble into results from time to time, but you will not gain insight into your customers.

Coming up with solid hypothesis is hard work and bad marketers avoid it. They try to make it up with volume of poorly thought out tests. To no one’s surprise, but the marketers, this rarely works. In testing, you get what you put in. Over time a solid testing framework will produce results at a decent clip.

Marketers have learned that they need to deliver the appearance of success. Thus, when too many of their test fail they start to play the not so subtle game of moving the goalpost.

A yellow flag to watch out for is if the success metric of the test changed. The yellow flag turns bright red if the marketer did not explicitly call out that they changed the success metric in their test summary.

For example, the initial success metric called for increasing sign-ups and yet when they report on results, it’s all about how many clicks they got. Hmm, something smells a bit 🐡🐟🐠

Testing is an essential part of a good marketer’s tool set. However, bad marketers often use testing as a crutch to avoid thinking. Don’t let them do this. It needlessly annoys your customers, without generating quality insights.

Marketing is as much art as science and requires deep thought to do well. A crappy marketer will test everything and learn nothing. Get them help or get them out of your organization. Whatever you do, do it fast.

Method #2:

They point the finger.

During status updates, the bad marketers gives themselves away via their finger-pointing and defensive answers. A poor marketer will say how the tech team “never” prioritizes their projects.

Marketing depends on technology and so do most company projects. How the marketer frames the problem is key to knowing how good or bad they are.

A disempowered view is unlikely to drive value for the company. The absolute worst answer to a status update is:

OMG, I’m so busy and the tech team won’t even touch my stuff. WTF 😡😡😡

For comparison a decent status update looks something like:

It is important that if a different department’s project generates more value the marketer doesn’t attempt to wreck the tech queue, just cuz it’s their project.

If your marketer is constantly blaming other departments for delays and has a disempowered view of themselves, take note.

Method #3:

They never say “No”

Marketers tend to be an optimistic bunch; that’s good. You want your marketers to be optimists. Otherwise they might not try anything. Of course, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If to every request you only hear Yes!” “Sure!” “Let’s do it!, you have a problem.

Think back to all the times you’ve asked your marketer to do something. Did they ever say, “no”?

🤔🤔🤔

No?

It is important to consider why the marketer isn’t pushing back. There are several reasons why they may not push back:

  1. They lack the depth / marketing expertise to do so
  2. They think all ideas are great, which is terrifying
  3. They are afraid to

Of the negative characteristics discussed so far this is the most fixable. It may even be your fault, Mr. or Ms. reader.

Do you have a culture that encourages open and candid feedback? Can one say “no” to a project without being accused of pessimism? Or are people not only drinking the kool-aid, but flat out drunk?

If a culture of yes-people developed around you, a good trick to break this habit is to come up with a relatively outlandish idea that you know is bad. Suggest it to the individual and if they immediately say “great idea”, you just caught them. Congrats. Now help them or remove them.

For bonus efficiency consider suggesting your outlandish idea to the entire marketing team. Not for the faint of ️heart. 😈😈😈

If they never say “no”, they will be busy all the time, which leads us to the last method to detect the less than stellar marketer.

Method #4:

You hear them say:

I’m sooooooo busy, busy, busy.

You can almost spot them by their constant buzzing as though they are…

🐝🐝🐝

Any time you ask, “How’s it going?” The answer is invariably “I’m sooo busy” The more times the word “busy” is repeated or the ‘o’ emphasized the more likely you have a problem.

They run around the office accomplishing nothing. Yet seem up to date on all sorts of office chatter. This species of marketer is often found near the coffee machine complaining about the culture.

Competent people have great demands on their time, yet they don’t run around bragging about how busy they are. They sit down, do the work, and move on. Fix this broken mentality and see the results.

You don’t have time for their drama and their cultural protestations. You too are busy, but you wouldn’t dare to frame it that way. Now would you? 🙃

Marketing is critical part of your business. Don’t allow absurd critters to infect your organization and harm your brand and customers. All frauds are eventually uncovered, the sooner you find them the better. I hope this helps you save some time.

Good luck and happy hunting.

If you have a strong opinion I encourage you to reach out via linkedin.

This story is published in Noteworthy, where 10,000+ readers come every day to learn about the people & ideas shaping the products we love.

Follow our publication to see more product & design stories featured by the Journal team.

Possessed by the spirit of inquiry.