Looking for Mister Goodbar: The search for the ideal director of marketing

Looking for Mister Goodbar: The search for the ideal director of marketing

In 30 years of being the “outside-agency-consultant-guy” to literally hundreds of GMs and directors of marketing, I’ve seen everything from gifted marketers to the much less so. Our team has served almost every form of relationship, from being the acting marketing head to (quite literally) a supplier of paper or electronic goods/services. It has and continues to be a roller coaster of differing points of view and assignments.

Looking at the “forest” rather than individual “trees,” I am able to draw some interesting and useful conclusions on how you as a GM should manage and work with the most critical position on the planning committee: your lead marketer. Here then is my short primer on the subject:

1. Marketing is the lifeblood of your property. Your DofM has to truly understand the fundamentals of marketing: how to separate strategy from tactic and how to balance the entire wheel of marketing, from PR to advertising and from web to in-house activities. What is his/her background, and how much of that “wheel” does he or she comprehend?

2. Separate sales from marketing. Sorry, but these are two distinctly different activities. Sales has its own strategic requirements. I have seen very few individuals who can juggle both portfolios successfully. Make sure you do not confuse these two disciplines. 

3. Marketing is not operations. I’ve seen marketing people dragged so deeply into day-to-day operations that they lack the time necessary to serve their function as a marketer. Think of marketing as your guest services ambassadors outside of the property. Let your operations team take over once the guest crosses your threshold.

4. Good marketers listen; great marketers act. If you want a “yes man (or woman)” keep them off your marketing team. To move your property ahead, you need a marketer who is thinking about occupancies and rates three to six months — or more — in advance. Ask the right questions and see how far ahead your marketing leaders are thinking and planning.

5. “C’mon baby light my fire.” That’s what your DofM should be doing for you and your team! If your DofM is not making you a little bit edgy or uncomfortable with recommendations to test initiatives, you have the wrong person at the marketing helm. Of course, this requires you, as GM, to be receptive to new ideas and initiatives. You are, aren’t you?

6. It’s not about measuring minutia. Rather, it’s about growing the business and maximizing long-term asset values. The latest “fad” in marketing is measuring every single “spit” to see how it performed — short-term thinking from bean counters. Sorry, but that is not marketing. See if your marketing leader understands the differences between long-term branding and short-term business building.

7. What are your marketing folks getting from their external agency? No DofM has sufficient in-house staff to do everything. (And if he/she does, you’ve got too many people staffing that department!) As a GM, you need to understand the role the agency is playing and its importance in contributing to the property’s success. When was the last time you, as GM, met one-on-one with your ad agency? 

8. What is your succession plan for your marketing head? Chances are, you have none, and unfortunately, you are not alone. The past few years have not been kind to the marketing position. Now that the economy is starting to pick up, be prepared for some movement. If you have a great DofM, protect his or her position now!