6 tips for working with marketing people

This post is for all of y’all out there who have the dubious distinction of working with marketing people. That is most of you, I realize, so listen up.

We marketing folks are strange. We somehow thought it would be fun to make a living at trying to convince over-stimulated and under-paid humans to do what we think they should do. We also thought it would be totally awesome to work in a field that is always short-changed in the budget cycle, where the metrics change daily if they ever existed at all, and where every single thing we do or say is up for interpretation or criticism.

Sounds fun, right?

It can be. Especially when you have great colleagues who understand these 6 things about working with marketing people:

6. More often than not, you’re the messenger. We get that.

We promise we won’t shoot you. Unless we’re jerks, and if we are, well, all bets are off. Give us hell.

5. We really do want your feedback. Really. Even if we start weeping into our desk when you give it.

True marketing people know that we don’t have all the answers. Consequently, neither do you, but more often than not, your feedback will make our work better. Even if it stings. So never, never hesitate to give it to us.

4. When we cry “WHY?????” after you say “This doesn’t work for me”, we really do want to know, and we are expecting you to give us real reasons. Even if it sounded like we’re begging a higher being for mercy. 

This is what’s happening in our heads, all in the space of about 3 seconds:

“Oh, God, they have the proof, they’re gonna say they love it. No, moron, they’re not. They’re gonna hate it. Quit it, loser, they will probably like some of it…oh god. They hate that line. They are SO WRONG. It’s perfect. Why can’t they see it’s perfect? They’re just being difficult. Damn it, why can’t I find a job where people understand my brilliance?”

2 seconds later: “Oh, Jeez. I’m useless. I’m terrible at this. How have I managed to fool everyone into thinking I know what I’m doing? Maybe I haven’t. Maybe they just humor me because they feel bad…”

1 second later: “Dammit, they’re probably right. It’s not right yet. Dammit. Now I have to try to figure out what’s missing and fix it.”

This will run on a repetitive cycle in our heads for a moment or two, so just move on to #3.

3. Don’t let our initial hostility to the feedback freak you out.

We try really, really hard to take all feedback with graciousness, but sometimes, after all our work and a lifetime of people saying “have you thought of this?”, it’s not possible. Today, I had a colleague tell me that the words I had AGONIZED over weren’t right. It hurt. It stung. This colleague was super-wonderful and said “Well, why don’t you think about it overnight?” and I snapped back, “I don’t want to think about it. It’s good enough as it is.” Luckily, this colleague is also my friend, is awesome, and she knew I was just being pissy (at least I hope she knew). She let me rant, and then we settled down to figuring out a better solution.

2. When we say “It’s good enough” – we don’t really mean it. 

It’s a blow to the ego when you put what you think is your best work into something and it’s not good enough. But if we are worth our salary, we will come around. We will brainstorm and nitpick and brainstorm some more and we’ll come up with another idea, another phrase, another concept. Granted, they all might not be good. They might be so bad that we start laughing and can’t stop, and that will make it all better. Eventually, we’ll sober up, put on our big girl panties, and get it done.

1. Even when we all think we’ve got it absolutely, totally, finally, at last, completely right, someone out there will give it a fleeting glance and tell us it’s wrong. 

Sometimes, we’ll start over. And sometimes, we’ll ask that you trust us.

And that, folks, is what it’s all about.

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