Who’s in Charge Here?

Two stories…see which one you recognize….

(Story #1)
So a guy walks into the doctor’s office to have some pre-operative tests and to sign the waiver before his brain surgery next week….

DOCTOR:
“I’ve gone over your MRI several times. I plan on making the incision here. We’ll be inside the cranium for about 30 minutes. We’ve had our entire staff of neurologists go over this case and we expect a great result.”

PATIENT:
“Well, I think you should make the incision under my chin. I can grow a beard to hide the scar that way.”

“I also want you cut the tumor out on the right side. I know the MRI says it’s on the left, but it’s my brain so I think I know.”

“30 minutes is too long to be inside my head. Can you do it in 20?”

“While you’re in there, I’d like you to take a little brain out on each side. My wife says she thinks my head’s getting too big for all my hats.”

DOCTOR:
“You’re the boss. Let’s do it that way.”

Crazy. Right? Never would happen. Try this story…

(Story #2)
Some owners and board members walk into the marketing department to “approve” the new ad campaign that’s rolling out next week…

MARKETING:
“This campaign tests great with the target market. These print ads will run in these papers. We’re planning to pulse TV along with a summer radio promotion on these top rated Nielsen and Arbitron stations in these markets. We’ve also added an online element. Here’s the website. Overall, it’s an airtight – highly effective campaign. What do you think?

BOARD MEMBERS AND OWNERS:
“Well, I like that weather guy on Channel 8’s news. He’s funny and I know everybody loves him…we need more commercials there.”

“Who’s that kid in the magazine ad? What are stock photos? Here, I’ve got a picture of my daughter in my wallet…just scan it in and stick her in it.”

“My wife and all her friends listen to LiteRock105…buy some commercials there.”

“Put some more words in the newspaper ad. It looks too empty”

“We need some pictures of the employees in the *adds.”
(*That’s how the person making this comment thinks it’s spelled.)

“I’ve been the owner of this company for 23 years so I know our customers. I don’t think we should run this ad. Customers won’t like it.”

“What’s a blog?”

“We’re spending how much on this? Can we do it for less?”

MARKETING:
“You’re the boss. Let’s do it that way.”

One of these stories sounds crazy and the other happens EVERYDAY. If you’ve got a marketing staff or a marketing consultant who knows what they’re doing…
Let. Them. Do. It.

Related post: Marketing by Committee

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Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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2 comments on “Who’s in Charge Here?
  1. KH says:

    I emailed this “who’s in charge” piece to the other directors here and sparked quite a discussion. My comments, for anyone who’s interested:

    Obvious response is that a stupid decision by a developer leads to the product measurably failing a standard, a stupid decision by a salesman is reflected by lower revenues, but… measuring marketing is both imprecise and open to argument (how effective are focus groups, how do you calculate a PRV, how to we judge the effectiveness of two different impacts in different media, etc.)… and there are two principles driving a negative reaction there: first, it’s human nature to fill knowledge gaps with negative assumptions; second, those board members and owners got where they are by not throwing buckets of cash at things they can’t bank on (“only the paranoid survive” etc.). However….

    Beyond that it’s actually about understanding, definition and leadership. For example, the guys who said “My wife and all her friends listen to LiteRock105…buy some commercials there” was actually saying “I think my wife’s friends are our target audience”, which is a question of definition he should have been involved in 6+ months before, probably when they first designed the product and certainly when they started planning the campaign; “I’ve been the owner of this company for 23 years so I know our customers. I don’t think we should run this ad. Customers won’t like it.” means “I don’t believe our marketing department understands our customers” which means that either one party or the other has a lot of learning to do or the guy’s leadership/communication is crap; “Put some more words in the newspaper ad. It looks too empty” probably means “I believe this ad should be about communicating information, and you aren’t doing that well enough” which is about the purpose of the ad (and again there’s a definition or leadership issue there); “What’s a blog?” means “I’m out of my depth – I need to either educate myself or leave you alone”.

    There was a report published in the summer (in the FT, I think) that in a poll of CEOs the majority saw marketing as key to their business’s success but didn’t trust their marketing departments. I’m guessing that either the CEOs don’t understand what their marketing guys do (understanding), or the marketing guys don’t understand what’s expected of them (definition/leadership), or the marketing guys are having too much fun doing something other than what is expected of them (leadership).

  2. Mack Collier says:

    Almost sounds like a personal episode might have been the catalyst for this post!