Marketers Are From Venus, CEOs Are From Mars: The Only Thing More Loathesome Than Meetings About Office Etiquette? CEOs Who Don't Know The Proper Care & Feeding Of Their Marketers

It didn't take me hundreds of management meetings to learn that I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than have another conversation about who isn't cleaning up after themselves in the lunchroom. It is one thing that I know my CEO and I have in common. However, aside from our loathing of the lack of office etiquette and our love of the credit union, we speak very different languages. It has taken years to discover how differently we work and view the world.

So...here are a few tips for all the bean-counting, left-brained, fact-driven CEOs out there to help you capitalize on the talents of your right-brain, creative comrades:

Give them flexibility: Unfortunately, great ideas rarely come between the hours of nine and five. For me, they come just when my head hits the pillow and keep me up most of the night leaving me ready to bite the head off any fool who crosses my path before 10 a.m. Give them flexible hours or let them work from home from time to time. Inspiration comes from the flexibility to be able to search for it.

Permit birds of a feather to flock together: Want to see fireworks? Just put two marketing brains together and ask for a solution to any problem. Creative people feed off the energy of other creative people. The energy multiplies like a field of bunnies.

Allow your marketers time to network with other marketers, go to conferences, workshops and have cooperative campaigns.

Let them break a few rules: I can't express to you how much I hate rules. I am incapable of following even a simple recipe without adding a dash of this or that to make it my own.

Marketers tend to swim upstream disrupting the ebb and flow of current thinking. They get a high from taking risks. Look Mom, no hands. Thump. Let go from time to time, but also realize that sometimes we don't even know our own limits.

Marketers consume ideas: Yum. Yum. Yum. Deliciouso! They come from everywhere. So, when we pin up ideas over the uninspiring, starving artist sale painting that was left in our office, please understand. Or when our office is overtaken by buckets of what you assume is "junk-mail," let it go.

Shield them from insensitive bullies: I am willing to put money on the fact that your marketer could care little about depreciating assets and probably shies clear away from conversations involving general ledgers. Yet for some reason, everyone on your management team thinks they know something about how to run an advertising campaign.

Marketing is a specialized skill, just like accounting or compliance, and deserves the same respect. So yes, it matters that we use that particular shade of orange, and no, we can't put the radio ad on that station just because you listen to it.

Wind them up and point them in the right direction: Give your marketers clear direction of what the goals are for the credit union and what is expected of them. Is it marketshare, return on investment, loans, members, or deposits?

Come together and formulate a clear understanding of what success really means to your credit union. A 10% response rate may seem like peanuts to you, but any credible marketer will tell you that 1% to 2% is phenomenal. Have realistic expectations.

Don't be so serious: There is a strong connection between playfulness, humor, and creativity. They are intertwined and are the ingredients of successful marketing people. If you hear roars of laughter coming from their office, it may just be the formulation of the next greatest idea.

So, managing marketers can be a bit like herding cats sometimes. But just like a cat, if you give us attention, understand our needs, respect what we offer, and give a little pat on the back from time to time, we'll follow you anywhere.

Kelley Parks is VP Marketing & Business Development with Call Federal Credit Union in Richmond, Va. She can be reached at kparks<at>callfcu.org.

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Credit Union Journal Invites CEOs and Marketers to Share Their Thoughts. Please contact Managing Editor Lisa Freeman at lfreeman<at>cujournal.com. Letters can also be faxed to 561-832-2939 or submitted online at www.cujournal.com.