Yesterday, Harry Joiner had an interesting post about what he (an executive recruiter specializing in placing marketing professionals) considers the "Top 5 Traits" he looks for in a good candidate for a marketing position.
I like Harry. He has a no nonsense approach and he thoroughly understands the marketing function. Numbers 1 and 4 are particularly important in law and accounting firms. The other three are common sense for any position, I think.
- Business orientation. Marketers must think holistically about their business and address their company's constraints to growth: There's no point in developing a slick "brand promise" that cannot be brought to life with your company's current operating model. Everything from legal, to finance, to accounting, to purchasing, to manufacturing, to warehousing, to logistics, to customer service, to marketing and sales must be in alignment with your company's Unique Selling Proposition. And if your company's sales process is out of step with how the customer actually buys -- forget it. That's why the best marketers are literate in all areas of business. These are the pros who truly understand that marketing is a means to an end -- not an end unto itself. No margin, no mission.
- Humility. If you have a massive ego, forget it. I don't say this because I can't handle people with big egos. I say this because marketing people with big egos always think they know better than their customers. That's "death" in the marketing business.
- People skills. I do my job on the phone, which means that I am effectively blind. Minus the corn rows, there's no difference between me and Stevie Wonder. Therefore, if you aren't warm and empathic on the phone, then it's hard for me to imagine that you will be warm and empathic in person. People, including my clients, want to do business with people they like, and they always do a phone screen before bringing a person in for an interview. So relax and have fun. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. See the paradox? Have fun or you're dead!
- An inquisitive nature. I'm no genius, but I have gotten by on my obsessive compulsive desire to learn. Marketing is too dynamic a field to be stagnant. If you think you can skate by on the "Four Ps" you're wrong. Keep learning. We are just in the top of the second inning of this Internet thing, and it promises to completely change not only marketing -- but the way we think about marketing. Don't get attached to any one marketing model or "one-size-fits-all" way of thinking. Think integrated multichannel marketing ... and remain channel agnostic.
- A track record of accomplishment. You can't talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into. If you have job hopped, or if you have walked off a job, or whatever, then no amount of my God-given sales talent is going to help you land a job. If you hate your marketing job, stick it out until you generate a sensible alternative for yourself. Nobody wants to hire a diva or a baby.
For law and accounting firm marketers, though this probably won't be determinable at hiring, I'd like to add another requisite skill to Harry's list:
7. Confidence in the form of a thick skin. I'm not talking about ego and having to be right. What I am talking about is the ability to retain faith in yourself and the quality of your thinking and your ideas even after your suggestions are declined time and again. Skepticism and rejection of change are par for the course in these firms so you have to be able to maintain your confidence and continually motivate yourself to be creative and get back on the horse in order to improve at effectively presenting and selling your ideas--even in the face of frequent push-back and flat out rejection. I believe this is the one skill that determines a marketer's success and longevity in their firm.
Be sure to stay tuned to Harry's blog because he promises to post more on this subject over the next few days.