Photo Credit: CC0 License – Tara Markarenko






As a marketing leader, one of your many critical tasks is to create a clear vision that provides a roadmap for transformation from where the business is now to where it needs to go; all while creating sustainable growth. Simple? Huh…Yeah right.

All you have to do is create a self-guiding system that drives all marketing in the correct direction that leads to reaching your business goals. Oh c’mon, it’s not that hard; and once you set it up, it’s like being on auto-pilot.

Hear me out so I can set the stage to give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Not too long ago a car owner in the U.K. was in his Tesla Model S moving at a speed equivalent to 40 mph. So, what’s the big deal you say, we all do this every day in traffic. In this case, this driver wasn’t in the driver’s seat and didn’t even have his hands on the wheel. He was in the passenger seat. He switched his car to “Autopilot” mode, all while his expectation was that the car would navigate perfectly around and through traffic perfectly without any problems. Well, guess what? —Crash!

Is this how you are managing your marketing?

Some marketing leaders think they can get away with this sort of management style.  Even some business leaders think that once the business and marketing plans are created, “autopilot” mode can kick-in and everything is good to go. Well… let me give you a tip. Don’t let this common misconception tempt you to head in this direction.

If it Doesn’t Look Right…

As a marketing leader, my radar is always in motion, circling 360-degrees around the business to continually monitor what looks good and what doesn’t.  If I were to act like the driver of the car we just talked about and take my hands off the marketing wheel, it’s highly likely things would go wrong. It’s not because our marketing strategy is bad. The market, customers and influencers surrounding the business are always changing and marketing must be an agile activity. It takes a lot of monitoring, measurement and pivoting based on a constant environmental fluctuation.

So, pay attention, there’s a lot going on; If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

Disarm Distractions

Okay, I will admit, I get distracted like the best of them. It’s easy for me to alter my course for the hour because something new gets introduced to me and looks awesome. Don’t be tempted – Stay on course. Hold on to that idea and discuss it at a later date. Distractions can be very damaging to a marketing operation, especially when your team is more than just you. Now you’ve got the distraction power times as many people you have on your team. They talk to each other, and even get others off-track too. Now do you understand how damaging distractions can be? As the leader, continually remind your team of the goals and strategy. But also let them know you want to hear their ideas. Plan for a time when they have the floor to describe their ideas. If you handle it that way you have for the most part disarmed distraction and re-armed your team to take advantage of those idea distractions.

Goals and Strategy

This is the hard part. Not just creating goals and strategy but sticking to them. Pay close attention to the goals and the strategy of your marketing and like what we said above; when something enters the marketing realm, if it’s not part of the plan… know what to do with that idea and how to handle it. Don’t just take it on.

Operating with a “Tyranny of the Urgent” mentality in your marketing is an awful way to manage and operate; because if everything is critically important, then nothing is.

What is the benefit to that? –absolutely zero. The only person who is happy is the one who screamed the loudest to get what they want. The end result is your team is off-track, timelines are compromised, the brand strategy may not even be preserved. Worse… everyone is burned-out because they ditched their schedule to jump on this emergent project because this one idea that came in at 4:30 Friday afternoon and must get out the door Monday morning. Don’t let this happen to you.

Marketing is Like Driving a Car

Guiding your marketing is like driving a car. It takes constant acuity of your surroundings. Like driving you need to know how hard to push the accelerator, when to tap the brake, when to communicate you’re turning left and right, when to look in the rearview mirror, when to look forward, when to take a hard turn or gentle one. The conditions of your car and the conditions of the surroundings (weather & road) are also critical and cause you to adapt while you’re driving. Additionally, you also need to pay close attention to your instruments below the dashboard because they’re giving you signals you need to know. Some signals are clearly understood, and others require some intuition and discernment. Regardless of the signals, you still need to constantly monitor the instruments below the dashboard. They help you as the driver guide your marketing team with knowledge and purpose while being fully informed. Without this insight, your driving (marketing) is on auto-pilot and soon a crash may occur. Take the appropriate measures to guide your brand, strategy and team and soon you will be on the road to success.

Scott MacFarland is a lifelong marketer with a passion for content, marketing, digital, social, web, video, analytics, and all things that lead to successful conversions. Scott is currently the Marketing Director for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida.

Follow Scott on LinkedIn or Twitter


Photo Credit: CC0 License – Tara Markarenko

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