1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

Let me ask you something that I ask every company I consider working with:

What role does your marketing department play in your organization?  Are they considered an organization that exists to serve sales? Or do they serve the business as an equal partner, in conjunction with sales and all other business functions?

Put another way:

Who is marketing’s client? Sales? Or the business’ customer?

A lot of companies think of marketing as an organization that exists to serve and enable sales, who ultimately is the bread-winner for the business. This, in my opinion, is a sad, shortsighted, and antiquated view of marketing’s role. I apologize in advance for this very American approach to this topic, but I can think of no better parallel than the quintessential 1950’s American Housewife. If you’re not up on your mid-twentieth century domestic American history, you can brush up here.

In this scenario sales is the husband, marketing is the wife, and the business is their family. Here we go:

1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

  1. Have everything ready. Plan ahead. When sales wants leads they should be ready and waiting, warm and ready for conversion. But sales may decide not to work the leads you prepared that day, or he may be dissatisfied with your leads and ignore them. He may even get mad at you for not giving him the leads he wanted that day, but do not talk back or let this upset you. You should always have a backup of other leads ready and waiting.
  2. Prepare yourself. Sales works hard to provide for you and the business, and he doesn’t want to look at ugly marketing materials. Keep your offerings pretty and fresh. Stay up to date with the latest styles and know what he likes and give it to him (even if it’s not what the customer wants), because at the end of the day you exist to serve sales first and the customer second.
  3. Listen to him. You may have done tons of market research and have a lot to say, but always let sales talk first. If you don’t think his ideas will work, try them anyway and be prepared to take the blame. If you have a really good idea, gently work it into conversation and let him think it was his idea. And of course, let sales take the credit. He works hard to provide for you and your family, and has earned it.
  4. Let the day be his. Never complain or be upset if he doesn’t show up to meetings or follow-up on all of your leads. Try to understand that he works hard, and even though you do too, at the end of the day his works contributes directly to revenue and your contributions are one-step removed.
  5. Arrange his lead queue and monitor his opportunities. Speak in low soothing tones and if necessary, administer his CRM for him so he doesn’t get bogged down in silly things like learning how to do his job in the modern world.
  6. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. So what if he’s ignoring customer requests and spamming the prospects you’ve been so gently nurturing? Remember, he is the master of the house and brings home the bacon so you have no right to question him.
  7. A good marketer always knows her place.

Ok, so this is an over-dramatization of most sales/marketing relationships. But I am personally aware of companies that both consciously and unconsciously operate their businesses with this mentality. Just as the mentality toward marriage has evolved in our society to be one of equality – where husband and wife are equal contributors – so too should the view of the role of marketing and sales evolve. Equal does not mean the same. Marketing and sales are very different, and bring a unique and equally important value to every business.

By the way, this post is not meant to be interpreted as a plug toward social or feminist views on modern domestic issues. If you have a different idea of what modern-day marriage means, and you’re still pro-patriarchal in your beliefs, that’s fine. There are many cultures and many beliefs, which are all perfectly valid as long as that works in your relationship. I will not judge you for the decisions you make in your personal lives.

But if you’re a business, and you still exalt your sales organization as the patriarch and view your marketing department as a subservient entity, which exists to support sales, I do judge you. Because you’re wrong. A well staffed, funded, and run marketing department can be a valuable contributor and equal partner with a lot more to bring to the table than a hot meal.

2 thoughts on “1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

  1. I’d like to take the opposing side here, as I don’t think it’s presented well. I work in marketing, and I do believe I am here to support our sales team. In fact, my philosophy is that the entire organization exists to support the sales team. Hold on; hear me out: if we have to explicitly state that everyone in the company should put the customer first, then it’s already too late. That just has to be assumed if there is to be a company at all. So with that out of the way, how should any of us prioritize or justify the work each of us produces? IMO, the standard is: is it helpful to sales?
    There’s a saying in the Army, along the lines of, “The entirety of the United States military exists to support the infantry.” Because leaders know that without the soldier on the ground, putting one foot further than the other, with each step telling the enemy, “This is mine, not yours. Now this is mine, not yours,” it doesn’t matter what else happens on the battlefield.
    Similarly, if the sales force isn’t winning their opportunities, and instead loses to the competition, who really cares how awesome that white paper was, or what efficiencies were discovered in logistics, or how hard Dev worked on that one feature? You’re going to go out of business eventually.
    To be fair, the soldier who cavalierly or disrespectfully treats the contributions of the fighter pilot, the artillery or intelligence officer… well, nice knowin’ ya, pal. So there has to be mutual respect and cooperation.
    But when my sales team tells me they need something from me, I’ll move heaven & earth to get to them.
    My $0.02, thanks for posting, and reading my comment! 🙂


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