I started working in marketing more than a decade ago. At the time, I was in graduate school for a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, and marketing just seemed to be a good fit. I spent 10 years as “the marketing girl” for various companies in tech and tourism, usually as the sole member of a department that was in charge of public relations, event planning, brand management, collateral, copywriting, web content, advertising, sales support, and customer service.

I had great experiences and wonderful bosses across the board. As someone who never earned a degree in marketing, I had to learn by trusting my feelings and trial and error what was best for different situations. But failure is always the best teacher, in my experience, and where companies failed me was where I learned most about what I needed from them as a marketer.

Many people hire a “marketing girl” fresh out of college or with little experience, as a way to try and jumpstart a new program, or “dabble” in marketing instead of fully committing to it. Frankly, a half-hearted marketing problem is probably worse for your bottom line than a full commitment.

Here are five ways you’re probably abusing your “marketing girl”, or at least misusing her:

Treating her like an administrative assistant

Even in an era of A.I. assistants, administrative assistants are important (and I think, massively underrated) members of any team. The busier you get, the more help you need juggling calendars, organizing events, and answering phones or emails. A good administrative assistant can really make your organization’s internal structure sing. But asking your marketing person to split her time between administrative tasks and actual marketing is a waste of her time, and your money. Marketing is a full-time job and good marketing requires more time than you probably understand. By asking your marketing person to handle administrative tasks like filing, phones, calendars, mail, or anything else, you are setting your marketing up to fail. If you don’t think there’s enough work for your marketing person to do, trust me — you’re not doing any actual marketing. Take advertising, public relations, content strategy and generation, and brand management seriously and give it its own space, or keep languishing in obscurity.

Not trusting her

One of the worst things to do is hire a person to do marketing and then not trust her to do her job. Requiring her to get approval on everything may be smart when she’s starting off, as a way to ensure she understands your goals and has your firm’s best interests at heart. But if she’s been on the job longer than six months, she should have some freedom to follow her instincts and do what needs to be done. It’s understandable that companies would want to protect their brand image and the face that’s put out to the community, especially if they’ve never engaged in any sort of marketing or public relations before. But micromanaging is a definite productivity buster for anyone. If you don’t feel you can trust your marketing person to do marketing, you should probably fire her and find someone you do trust.

Not giving her enough resources

This is another sign of the organization that’s not fully ready to commit to actual marketing, but has heard they should probably look into it. As someone who works with small mom-and-pop businesses and giant tech firms alike, I assure you that there are ways to do good marketing at any size budget (and bad marketing, for that matter). Give your marketing person a budget from the get-go so she’ll know where to put her expectations. If you can’t do that, give her what she says she needs, like an updated content management system (CMS), tools for automated mailing services, Adobe editing software — whatever it is. And if she’s a graphic designer and not a writer or videographer, let her outsource the tasks she isn’t strongest at to someone who is. This is particularly important for a one-person marketing team.  

Not defining your expectations of her

If you don’t know what you want out of a marketing program, why are you hiring a marketing person? Even if it’s just “more leads” or “more sales”, that’s a place to start. If you’re hiring a new grad to try and start a marketing program for you, you are probably going to find that it won’t take off in the way you’re hoping. I know from experience that it takes experience to know what works. It’s worth hiring an experienced marketer to launch your program, or at least a strategist who can frame what you need to have done, and then fill in the gaps with a coordinator or specialist role from there. But if you hire a marketing person and don’t tell her what you expect, you’re probably going to be surprised (and so is she), and not in a good way.

Not paying her enough

In places like New York, L.A., and San Francisco, where there are marketing jobs aplenty and most businesses understand that not having good marketing is not an option if you want to succeed, pay for marketing jobs is generally good. But in smaller cities, like Albuquerque (where I spent most of my first decade as a marketing professional), marketing jobs are grossly underpaid. Part of that is because competition isn’t as fierce, and good marketing isn’t necessarily seen as the ticket to setting a company apart in the small marketplace (at least, not yet). Another part of this is because so many marketing professionals are women, and they tend to settle for lower pay in exchange for shorter hours to take care of families or other non-monetary perks. Plus, so many companies can get away with paying their marketing person less because they hire her as an administrative assistant or receptionist with “marketing duties”. Again, this is completely disrespectful to your brand. If you can’t afford a full-time marketing person at a living wage, hire an agency to do part-time work for you when you need it.

LuckyTamm Digital Marketing specializes in helping companies that know they need marketing but aren’t quite sure how to get started, or can’t afford to hire an entire internal team. Whether we’re supporting your current marketing person (trust us — she needs it), or taking up the work of an entire team, our experience, expertise, and commitment to excellence make us the ideal choice for launching a marketing program or pushing your current program into the next level. Take a look at our services to see what we can do to help you grow.