I'm a marketer. It's been my choice of career for almost 25 years. I am the first to put up my hand and say that I know very little about anything other than marketing - and even with that, it's a daily challenge to keep up to the many changes in dynamics, technology, and human behaviours that affect our ability as marketers to do a job well.

Over a year, I speak with hundreds of marketers and potentially, more than a thousand entrepreneurs. More recently, interviewing people for roles with our fast-growth company has meant that I have been having conversations with quite a few marketers, many of whom have tried their hand at being entrepreneurs. In fact, more than 30 percent of the marketers in the latest bunch have started a company, and during the job interviewing phase, have said that the company was successful, but either exists no more or is put to the wayside.

High expectations of themselves
What marketers and entrepreneurs have in common - marketing

I don't ask further questions, because the writing is on the wall for that one. As entrepreneurs, failure to meet our own expectations of ourselves, or our achievements is not something we want to broadcast. As marketers, we know NOT to broadcast and to spin a new angle - it's our saving grace.

What's next

Many marketers dream of being entrepreneurs. What's next for someone that has ticked all of their boxes in their marketing career? Business coaching? Management consulting? Neither of which a true marketer would be qualified to do no matter what one week course is available out there. Entrepreneurs are the same in many ways. Once they have kicked a goal, they are ready to kick another and are placed in limbo as to what that should be. Many diversify and fail, or hit the jackpot. 

Look outside the box 

Entrepreneurship is alluring to marketers and there is a very good reason for that. Part of being an entrepreneurs is being able to marketing and sell your product or service, and marketers, if they are good, know how to do that well. They also look outside the box and think of innovative, clever ways in which to stand out from the crowd...just like their entrepreneur counterparts.

A-Type personalities can clash

Many marketers have worked with entrepreneurs somewhere in their careers and they either loved it or hated it. Entrepreneurs as we know often have A-type personalities, as do many marketers who hit the heights of their careers. Two A-type personalities can often clash, or they can prosper together. It really is a mixed bag. It's understanding human psychology and different perspectives that can often heighten our ability to be better entrepreneurs or marketers - and that means not only understand A-Type personalities and working with it, but also navigating your own 'happy place' within the entrepreneurs world.

Many entrepreneurs are creative

The creative side of an entrepreneur often is the reason they start a business. They come up with a concept, realise it's potential and then make it happen. As a marketer who has worked with entrepreneurs within corporate, I have seen these people come up with the most fascinating, game-changing, creative ideas that even as a marketer, I would not have been able to achieve. When this happens, depending on the personality type of the marketer, they can either embrace this creativitiy (think Richard Branson), or they can feel inadequate. It is a fine line. For me, it's inspirational. What people are capable of either side of the fence is what creates the divide between success and failure.

The Mexican stand-off

Entrepreneurs and marketers often both believe they are marketers - and for most cases this is very true, just in different forms. Marketers often find themselves challenged when asked for figures or data as we like to call it, so that they can back up what they are doing from a marketing perspective and how it directly impacts a company's ability to build brand and to accelerate sales performance. Likewise, sometimes there is no data that can be truly traced in an accurate way, and that's when entrepreneurs start asking questions. Why can't you trace that? Why is there not data? How do we know that PR is actually working? This gets marketers off on the wrong foot and the relationship can often breakdown due to this. However, data is there for most marketing activities, and marketers need to be more forward in understanding data and gaining access to technologies that showcase whether or not marketing campaigns are working. It is critical that data science plays a leading role in any marketing campaign to build up data on what works and doesn't so that each and every campaign get closer to achieving greater results than the one before.

The budget is too small

Many entrepreneurs started their businesses 'on the smell of an oily rag' and they did creative marketing campaigns that often only cost time and not money. In comes the marketing guru who wants a big budget because in their experience in big corporations - that budget is the only means to success. Entrepreneurs, believe it or not, do understand that the more they spend on marketing that is quantified with data, the bigger the return on investment, however, they often are playing the game of the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? More people, technology and systems - or marketing budget? 

Marketers and entrepreneurs often are in the same boat. They want the same things - yet struggle at times to find common ground. When a marketer branches out as an entrepreneur, they can either be highly successful and reach the heights of entrepreneurship people dream about, or they can fail, not understanding how their "pretty pajama's" are not selling online like they should be, and out-performing industry leader Peter Alexander or Victoria Secret.

Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

1 comment

  • Marc

    I agree to a large extent, although I notice that there are still many traditional marketers that stick to well defined goals and boundaries. As I have written in my own textbook about entrepreneurial marketing (in 2011), entrepreneurs engage in marketing in ways that deviate from traditional (mainstream) marketing. They start with a set of means and in deploying them, goals gradually emerge.

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