Tag Archive :marketing services department

I have a bone to pick with recruiters!  They all seem to ignore me and I have never gotten a full-time position through one.  They all say what a great resume I have and what great experience I have, BUT they don’t have anything for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that phrase and how frustrated it has made me, especially in this ridiculously tight job market.  I know what you are thinking – its probably my resume or gaps in my career.   Neither is the case (at least according to the recruiters I have spoken to).  So what is the problem ? 

I don’t fit into the normal marketing or sales box and given the extreme specifics of job descriptions these days, people who don’t fit an exact mold find themselves outside looking in.  What is the mold – traditional CPG experience in brand management at a Fortune 500 company.  Why don’t I fit?  While I have marketing experience at Fortune 500 companies like Revlon, Cadbury Beverages and Energizer, my experience is in either sales, trade marketing or integrated marketing/promotions and not brand management.  I have extensive digital, but I am not a digital only expert.  There are plenty of others like me.  Many end up back on the agency side or transition early on over to brand management.  You may be one of these, but you also may be like me and don’t want to be in brand management or at an agency.  So, what do I and others like me do?  See some ideas below for how to make that less traditional background work for you.

Realize It Isn’t You, It’s Them

The first thing to do is realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a more creative, more broad background.  It just means you don’t fit into the standard box and there are fewer positions that may be suited for your experience.  This current job market has so many people available that companies can ask for detailed and specific backgrounds that they feel are ideal for their company.  I recently saw a job description from a recruiter that listed the companies the hiring company wanted to hire from.  If you didn’t have that specific background don’t bother applying even if your experience is completely relevant.   These recruiters also have so many people looking that if you don’t fit the box they may not actively look to place you especially since they are paid by the hiring companies.  Don’t take it personally.

 Think Outside the Box

If you don’t fit in the traditional box, don’t look for jobs there.  Look at smaller companies or unique situations.  I once interviewed for a Marketing Director position at a not-for-profit healthcare facility that wanted to leverage my corporate marketing experience and apply it to their organization.  I didn’t get the position, but someone with a similar background did.  Smaller companies and entrepreneurial situations need people who can do a lot of different things and a broader background is something that will appeal to them.  You just need to sell yourself well.

 Network, Network, Network

If I’ve never had success using recruiters how have I found my jobs and interviews?  Often I have had the most success networking, which is what job hunting is all about these days.   People at companies have told me about jobs they have or have submitted my resume to their company for a position I found out about.  The reality is that there are fewer integrated and promotional marketing jobs these days and the competition for them is fierce so using someone who knows you and your work is often essential to landing the right role.

 Move On and Don’t Focus Your Energy Where it Isn’t Going to Drive Results

So many of my friends have provided me with recruiter names.  I have followed up with them, but ultimately I have found spending time working with them has not helped in my job search.  In fact, some haven’t even had the courtesy to call me or email me even after I had sent them my resume.   I won’t turn down an opportunity presented by a recruiter, but I have also not made the recruiters the focus of my job search.  I have a number of friends who have been working very closely with recruiters and even have more traditional backgrounds.  One, a brand marketer, ultimately found a position networking with  a fellow college alumnus and the other is close to a position working for someone she knew earlier in her career.    The message here is don’t rely solely on recruiters and don’t waste time with them if they aren’t working for you.

 My message to my fellow marketing services and integrated marketing folks is to soldier on and realize that finding a job may take a different path than your brand marketing friends.  It is a tough job market, but what makes you good at your job is what will benefit you in your job search.  Sell yourself, promote yourself through different means and look for unique opportunities that will leverage your background.


What happens to all those professionals who lose their jobs as marketing services teams disappear?

It’s something I thought about as I reread a post of mine from last year. I wrote then about how companies, particularly CPG companies, are getting rid of their in-house marketing services teams, and I recommended ways for companies to better manage without those teams.  This time I want to focus on all of those marketing services professionals who find themselves looking in the mirror and wondering where their careers went.

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This is a follow-up to my recent post on the same topic, but I am tackling it from the agency perspective this time.   If you’ve read my post on the client perspective some of the same themes are valid here as well. (see below)

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Recently, I have been listening to a lot of my corporate colleagues lament about the frustrations they are having with their various agencies.  These brand managers and directors as well as the marketing services teams complain how an agency didn’t deliver on the creative or the execution was poor.  They express the need for their agencies to listen better and have a better ongoing dialogue with them as the client.   It leads me to think about all the different agencies I have managed over time and the strategies I engaged to avoid these frustrations.

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On a recent post on Promomagazine.com where agencies provided solutions to client problems, they asked how companies can restructure themselves to best support integrated marketing initiatives.  While the answer given was dead on, the bigger question facing both agencies and their clients is, how do you best manage integrated marketing and promotions even as companies continue to downsize or eliminate marketing services departments altogether?

More and more companies rely on their brand teams to manage all aspects of the marketing mix, including PR, promotions, advertising and digital. These already overworked brand managers and directors are being asked to manage and communicate daily with each of their agency partners without any additional expert resources to help guide them or relieve the burden.  This can be a daunting task when you consider the possibility of separate agencies for consumer promotions, advertising, PR, customer marketing, digital and packaging.  If the brand managers spend so much time managing these agencies, when can they actually manage their business?  This pressure to do more with less ultimately burns out brand teams, hampers good client/agency communication and puts more emphasis on outsourcing activities to the agency partners.

As more emphasis is placed on the agencies, the lack of knowledgeable internal client representatives makes it difficult for those agencies to manage programs efficiently.  Agency partners want clear concise direction, and since they operate on tight budgets, they are often frustrated by the confusion, rework and misdirection that can result without the internal client expertise they prefer to have.

Even if the economy improves, it will not necessarily equate to more hiring in the marketing services specialties on the client side.  Those companies that are not structured for marketing service departments or have cut back significantly are not likely to go back to having a larger department or adding one. They have made a philosophical change in how they manage their marketing department, or decided they can live without the department altogether and continue to outsource more to their agencies. 

What then is the solution?  I have a few ideas, especially assuming the downsizing of marketing services departments is here for the long haul.  These same approaches also can be used by smaller, growing companies that are not ready for added staff to handle these areas.

1)   Train Your Staff:  Consumer promotions, PR, digital, etc. are all unique disciplines that require a certain level of expertise to manage them effectively.  Unfortunately, these disciplines are not generally taught within a traditional MBA curriculum, and while an associate brand manager learns by doing on the job, he or she needs guidance and training.  Hire an outside consultant or use your agencies to do some internal training – Promotions 101, Digital 101, Social Media 101 – to give your staff a basic knowledge of the disciplines and provide benchmarks for future activities.   Continue the training with more in-depth and specialized topics to build the expertise.  Knowing what to question and how to challenge agency plans and budgets only comes from ongoing experience and knowledge,  and that questioning and challenging will lead to a more efficient agency spend. 

2)   View the Agency as Your Partner:  Agencies prefer to be a part of the initial planning and strategy development and not just handed an RFP to do the work.  This earlier involvement benefits all parties because it means less interpretation of an RFP, clearer communication and more commitment from the agency.  In the Promo Magazine article, it was mentioned that having a clear process is important in effective integrated marketing initiatives.  It becomes even more important when you don’t have an internal team dedicated to solely managing this process.  By making the agency a partner in this, you can relieve some of the burden from your team because the external team is vested in the success of the plan from the onset.

3)   Require detailed execution plans from the agencies:  It means more work for your partners, but will make the process easier for the internal client team.  Instead of the magic behind the curtain, you will understand what each step of the process will be and enable the internal team to do a better job of managing the checks and balances associated with the program execution.  It will also make it easier for the agency partner in the long run since they will have a client with realistic expectations.  Unrealistic expectations are rampant when the client lacks the knowledge and expertise they need to manage the agency partner.

In the end, best practice says clients should retain at least one internal marketing services expert to help provide guidance and internal consulting.  Companies do not always believe in this practice or are unable to allocate funds for this role.  When they don’t, the above ways can help their marketing teams work better with their agencies and create efficient and effective programs.