The Perils of Marketing Pigeon Holes

Let’s pretend for a few moments that the practice of marketing is a universe, and the hundreds of marketing disciplines and sub-disciplines (like branding, marketing research, etc.) represent the galaxies, solar systems, and planets within that universe.

That’s going to be one busy universe. Besides being well-populated, there is going to be a lot of interstellar travel, as Planet Product Development interacts with Planet Advertising, the solar system of Content Marketing interacts with the galaxy of Branding, and so on.

In such a busy environment, it’s tempting to assume that the denizens of any given planet don’t know much about life in the rest of the universe. In fact, you may even be tempted to try and keep everyone stuck on their respective planets, in the effort to maintain order.

In other words (to bring our analogy back down to Earth) you’ll resort to putting resources into marketing pigeon holes, because it’s easiest to work that way.

There’s no doubt that some marketing practitioners are hardcore specialists. They know their stuff like nobody’s business, and they really aren’t interested in venturing out beyond the boundaries of that speciality.

But that’s not true of all marketers or marketing agencies, even the ones who appear to be your ever-reliable, go-to resource for specific needs. So even though pigeon-holing of your marketing talent can add order and structure to your universe, you run the risk of cutting yourself off from talent and resources when you do.

If you’re in charge of your company’s marketing big picture – and you’re reliant upon the combined contributions of multiple contributors to help you develop and execute marketing strategy – it’s a good idea to periodically ask yourself the following questions about your stable of talent:

Am I unintentionally limiting someone’s contributions?

Sure, that particular team member is really strong when it comes to pay-per-click advertising campaigns. But that might also mean that he’s going to be equally capable with any project that requires a similar skill set (project management, analysis, and messaging). If you never give him a chance to contribute in other ways, however, you’ll never know what you might be missing.

Do I have the right people in the right positions?

Just because you’ve “always done it that way” doesn’t really establish a compelling case for never changing course. If you do, just like in the example above, you may find that you’ve suddenly gained access to talent and insight that was in your back pocket all along – it was just a matter of pulling it out and using it.

Is a team member telling me that I need to take them out of a pigeon hole?

If you’ve got a competent team member or a provider who regularly raises the subject of “doing more” or “doing something different”, you might want to start paying attention. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose (but everything to gain) by hearing them out.

Similarly, you might want to look for less obvious cues that someone on your team is ready for a different role. Are their productivity and/or outcomes flat or trending downward? Does their enthusiasm for their job seem to be dimming, now that you think about it? Do they bring fewer fresh ideas to the table than they used to? Any and all can be indicators that it’s time to pull someone out of their pigeon hole and let them spread their wings in another direction.

MindEcology can help you unplug and re-arrange your pigeon holes. Let’s talk.