Where Have All the B-to-B Direct Marketing Generalists Gone?
When I tour B-to-B catalog companies today, I’m struck by something I find pretty remarkable. There are precious few people in any company today who really know, in a balanced way, what’s going on.
Sure, we have product wizards, catalog-production experts, paid-search experts, outbound- telemarketing managers, fulfillment/ERP experts, etc. But where are the people who have the whole, integrated, balanced view of how the business runs? Where are the experienced direct marketers who can review, evaluate and assess investments across the various needs of the business? Look around your own organization and find those people because they’re worth their weight in gold!
As catalog companies grow and each area of operations becomes more complex, detailed and hard to manage, it’s only natural that we have specialists. It’s sad we don’t have the complementing generalists. You know, these are the folks who balance the great ideas in one area with the “about to be a disaster” in another area.
I’m reminded of the day when a well-intentioned bean counter made the unilateral decision to communicate to all employees that manual paychecks were no longer a payroll option; all payroll was to be processed by direct deposit. Of course, he assumed that everyone had a bank account just because he did. He also incorrectly concluded that they were just too lazy to fill out the direct deposit form.
Well, that memo was regarded as a pink slip for the 130 employees who received manual paychecks. All heck broke loose, and it took months to repair the distrust that resulted from that seemingly innocent and well-intentioned decision.
The problem really was the author of the memo didn’t have a clue about the nuances of the various areas of the business. He was a specialist, not a generalist.
I sit in many client meetings with B-to-B catalogers, and one of the pleasures of my work is meeting many, many very bright and talented people. It’s a treat. What I don’t see, however, are too many experienced generalists.