Blame It On Marketing

In team sports, when things are not going well, there is a standard process that takes place. First you blame the individual players (ideally the overpaid, underproducing ones; they make good targets) and perhaps even replace one or two of the main cogs. Then you start blaming the assistant coaches. And ultimately you fire the manager. Then you give the new manager a free pass for the next couple years. Generally the owner is overlooked, though there are exceptions to this rule.

In business, you pretty much blame marketing – or the lack thereof – for everything that goes wrong. But first you blame the agency. Maybe the agency got it right and maybe they didn’t; they still get blamed. Plus, they are easy to hire and replace, so why not? But once you’ve blamed the agency, the next cycle begins. Marketing budgets are cut, heads start to roll, staff sizes are reduced and titles are shuffled. Eventually a new wunderkind is brought on board and new agencies are hired and the process starts all over again.

Of course this is a ridiculous process that only serves to undermine the organization. It promotes fear and creates instability. And it usually results in bad decision making.

Marketing has come a long way in the past couple decades, but it remains the corporate scapegoat of all ills. A little more respect for the value of marketing within the corridors of corporate America would go a long way. This is not to say that marketing should not come under the microscope when things go wrong.

Just consider the possibility that marketing might actual be the solution and not the problem. Give us a voice in the boardroom, and listen.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.