Leaders aren’t doing enough to support marketers

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We’ve shared some interesting thoughts, ideas, and experiences around the challenges that marketers are having in their role.

What I’ve found frustrating in these discussions is the lack of leadership engagement.

It’s clear that in many organisations leaders do not truly understand the marketing function, and as a result, their expectations are too high or they undervalue the marketing team. This leads to a lack of job satisfaction for marketers and feeling like their work lacks impact and purpose.

One clear example of this lack of understanding from leadership is evident in job descriptions for marketers. They create what seems like a wish list of skills and experience – looking for a ‘unicorn’ marketer…which is a mythical creature. So, what skills should we be looking for in our marketers? Should they be specialists? Or should they have more ‘generalist’ skills? What do leaders need to do to develop and improve the marketing function in their organisation?

That’s what I’d like to discuss with you this week.

Watch the video and join me in the comments section where you can share what’s on your mind.


We’ve talked about the Unicorn Marketer before being a figment of our imagination. We have to ask ourselves why, as leaders, do we do this? Why does a job description like this exist? Is it because we don’t get marketing, we don’t understand it? Do we not truly appreciate what marketers are supposed to do?

In a few previous videos, I’ve talked about hiring in-house marketers, the questions we should be asking them. I also talked about the skills that an in-house marketer should have, the freedom, autonomy and the budget to outsource as well. And there was a reason for that. And the reason is that marketers can’t be great at everything. All right? We can’t have all the skills.

There are certain things that we will have to outsource. For example, we talked about video production, website design and development, we talked about graphic design. Things like that, that we would deem to be specialist skills. And as leaders, we need to give people the freedom, we need to give them the budget and autonomy to decide who should do parts of the project.

Now, I was recently discussing job descriptions with a group of people online marketing job descriptions, and someone was completely blown away by one of the job descriptions that they saw recently. It literally listed, it was like a wish list of all the skills and attributes that this marketer should have.

And we’ve talked about the Unicorn Marketer before being a figment of our imagination. We have to ask ourselves, why, as leaders, do we do this? Why does a job description like this exist? Is it because we don’t get marketing, we don’t understand it? Do we under value it? Do we not appreciate it? Do we not really know what marketing does? Do we not truly appreciate what marketers are supposed to do?

But it does beg the question, right, what skill sets should we really be looking for in in-house marketing managers today? And if it isn’t about being a specialist, then is it about being a generalist? And what are generalist skills?

Now, back to the job description I was talking about a moment ago. Really what they had listed was not just the Unicorn Marketer, but a mix between specialist skills and generalist skills. If you’re going to hire an in-house marketing manager, I really feel that you need to be moving towards the generalist skills rather than the specialist skills. Yes, the person you hire may come along with some specialist, technical marketing skills, for example, they might be a great photographer, a great graphic designer. Maybe they’re brilliant with SEO or web development or something like that, but really in the management leadership role, we’re really looking for generalist skills.

So, what kind of things would they be? Well, things like project management skills. The ability to manage projects and campaigns, all the moving parts, the deadlines, all different people that are involved in each of the projects. Being able to make sure that they all come together and work together to meet deadlines. An in-house marketer may manage 10, 20, 30 different projects. That is a skillset that a generalist marketer should have and it’s something that you should be looking for.

Also on that list should be leadership and communication skills, because an in-house marketing manager, if they’re going to do their job well, is going to be involved in strategic development and is going to be, hopefully, in your strategy meetings as well. Not only will they have to interpret how that applies to marketing, but they will go to the marketing department or work with other members of the team and use their communication skills and leaderships skills to help people to buy in to new ideas and help people to adapt to change and help people to get their job done to the best of their ability.

So that includes leadership and communication skills and finally, your in-house marketer generalist skillset should also be looking for some kind of skillset or involvement or past experience in strategic development and business development. As a leader of your organisation, of your company,hopefully, you’re starting to shift your thinking away from looking for people with a whole bunch of specialist skills which don’t exist,to someone with a more generalist skillset, like leadership, communication, project management skills and some kind of experience with strategy and business development.

And you’re thinking to yourself, why does this matter? Well, if you don’t have someone in the organisation that has the ability to bring everyone together, to interpret strategy, who is going to do that? Who is going to do that for the marketing department? As a leader, what I hope that you’re starting to see is that that’s where you need a marketer in your organisation. Give them the freedom, give them the autonomy, get them involved in strategic development with the company, give them a budget, and watch your marketing department flourish.

I would love to know what’s on your mind. Challenges, frustrations, questions, thoughts, ideas. Jump into the comments section below, I’ll jump in the there too and I’ll see you there.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

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About Nicola Crawford

Marketing PA at the Content Marketing Academy.
In business, I believe in people first.
Mum to two crazy kids, Alaina and Morgan.
Green belt in Shotokan Karate.
Always learning, always growing.