What is a Marketing Expert?

I just read a ton of blog posts and comments about the general topic of “what is a marketing expert?” I caught wind of this discussion when Mel Lester posted what I thought was a good piece on how a marketer can increase their value.

Mel got the age old comment. It goes something like this, “a marketer’s success is limited by the Principal’s support of marketing.” Here is the link to that.

That article referred to a discussion about “what is a marketing expert?” posted by David Maister a few years ago.

I was shaking my head ruefully while reading these posts. So, maybe I can clear a few things up.

What is an Expert?

Does working in a field for 20 years make you an expert? No. Does a fancy title make you an expert? No. Does an industry certification make you an expert? No. Does a large degree of success make you an expert? No. Does an advanced degree or number of degrees make you an expert? Nope.

So, what makes someone an expert? An expert is simply someone who has contributed to the industry body of knowledge in his or her profession. And in the world of AEC marketing, there are not a whole lot of experts out there.

The notion that a marketing expert has to worry about a marketing expert being hired at their firm is quite ridiculous. It would be such a rare occurrence, that it’s not even worth talking about. Even if that were to happen, “experts” wouldn’t start googling your blog to find a solution.

The butcher that can cut you a pound of meat without weighing it is not an expert. He’s just a darn good butcher. The butcher who created a better way to slice up a cow and documented it, that’s your expert.

Many of us are darn good marketers. We do stuff and people ask, “How do you make it look so easy?” The answer is simply we have done it a million times. So, like the butcher, we verbalized it with “I dunno.”

Most likely, you are not a marketing expert. With a lot of practice and smarts, you may become a darn good marketer. Most everybody else is an advanced novice, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Experts are rare.

The Principal Dilemma

I have yet to meet the in house marketing professional that got fired for bringing in too much business. Let’s stop with the cop outs. The problem that most marketers have is not a lack of resources; it’s a lack of resourcefulness.

Your boss won’t spring for the new website? Build it. Find or create solutions that are so good that your boss doesn’t say no.

Boss won’t pay for that conference? Take a sick day and pay for it yourself. If it’s that great an opportunity, you’ll make it back on bonus or commission. If not, you just bought a good education.

Tim Klabunde started the DCN network and essentially brought the conference to him. That is resourcefulness.

Mel explained in his response that he was “living proof that you can sometimes change the paradigm.”

Again, it’s a lack of resourcefulness that is your problem.

Blaming your lack of success on the business climate, your boss, or the phase of the moon indicates one thing…you are no expert.

Influence = Marketing

One of the posts complained that experts find themselves being bested by influencers. If you are a marketer that does not have the skill or ability to influence other people’s decisions, here is a newsflash for you, you suck at your job.

I’m sorry to be the one to break that to you. McDonalds may be hiring.

It’s Not Easy to Become an Expert

Out of the hundreds of construction industry professionals I know, I can count the experts on one hand. All of these have been called to the witness stand as an expert in their field. All have had their expertise aggressively, but unsuccessfully, challenged by the best lawyers in the business. All have significantly contributed to the industry body of knowledge. One, in my opinion, has saved countless lives because of his contributions to the construction of nuclear power plants.

Of all the marketers I have met, I can honestly count the experts on one finger. That’s a harsh reality.

The Only Person Who Has Control of Your Doughnut is You

Like Mel said, You have control of your success. Don’t waste your time worrying about the hole. Don’t concern yourself with that which is outside your sphere of influence. Focus on the doughnut. You have control of the doughnut, not the hole.

I understand people call themselves experts to market their services. Lets face it, the word expert appears somewhere on every professional services firm website.

Throwing words around is fine. Creating perception is one of the things that marketers do. But realize the words eventually become meaningless.

What we are left with is Managers who don’t manage, Directors who don’t direct anything, and worst of all Experts with no expertise.

Don’t agree? Tell me in the comments section.


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