I was talking with an aviation professional that worked in a large firm. The marketing department at his firm seems more interested in challenging his ideas than in making sales.

They have very good reasons for having different objectives. Marketing departments in corporations and organizations don’t get rewarded for taking chances. I’ve been on the other side of that fence at Wells Fargo and Pearson, and have worked with marketing departments at CTG and Syntel. (And ad firms both places!) Generally speaking, a marketing professional in a large organization who goes out on a limb is likely to find it being sawed off behind him.

It’s a different mindset of risk vs. reward.

The key objective of a corporate marketer is to please his or her boss. The key objective of a marketing firm is to please their clients and/or win Clio or Webby awards. The key objective of an entrepreneurial marketer is to make sales.

The difference? Culture and compensation!

A corporate marketer spends all day immersed in the corporation. He has a fixed idea of what the company and product is and does. He knows only the techniques his current company has used and not used, and to what effect. Sales are a result of the sales department, who generally report to a common C level executive. A corporate marketing person is not directly accountable for sales. He is, however, directly accountable for his boss’ opinion of the latest ad campaign or press release. His expenses are absorbed by the company.

His objective is to expand his budget for next year.

A marketer in a traditional marketing firm spends all day working on various campaigns, spending the most time on projects where the client has paid the most to the firm. He uses techniques that have been successful for the firm, that is to say, those that clients have liked the most. He reports to the client. He is not directly accountable for sales. He is in the same boat as the corporate marketer regarding the client’s opinion of hte latest ad campaign or press release being the sum of his efforts. His expenses are often paid by the client.

His objective is to expand the amount of cash the client spends with the firm, of which he often gets a percentage.

An entrepreneurial marketer spends all day immersed in different companies, products and services, and sees similarities and differences. He has to please his clients, but also has to make sales to stay in business. He chooses his clients, based on battles he thinks he can “win.” His expenses typically come out of his pocket (based on the fees and royalties his client is paying him.)

His objective is to make repeat sales, obtain referrals, and expand his royalty income by making more sales for his clients.

When proposing a new ad campaign, a corporate marketer is most concerned about whether his boss will like it. A professional at a traditional marketing firm is most concerned about whether the client will like it. An entrepreneurial marketer is most concerned about whether or not it will make sales.

For everything but the largest companies, marketing is most efficient handled outside the company. Even in the largest firms, it’s best to outsource some of the work and keep the marketing department’s overhead small. Which leaves traditional firms and entrepreneurial marketers as the providers of choice.

As the economy forces us all to be accountable for the results of what we spend, the entrepreneurial marketer is in the best position to provide the best value. Corporate marketers and traditional firms are just starting to feel pressure to become accountable, and they don’t like it.

Corporate marketers know that sales is not their job. That’s what the sales department is for.  Marketing firms don’t even do their own sales – they have salespeople that call prospective clients to line up business!

Entrepreneurial marketers do their own selling. They have always been on the hook for every dollar they earn, and are used to that and good at it, or they wouldn’t be in business for very long.

Having worked all over marketing for many years, I would engage an entrepreneurial marketer to sell my product!

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