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Don’t Be That Control Freak Founder: Build Trust With Your Marketing Department

In a perfect world, you hire a great marketing team that can take your vision—exactly how you imagine it—and make it a reality. There’s no need to be a control freak founder. But in the real world, a good marketing team is not necessarily going to agree with you on vision, approach, design, concept, or audience.

A lot of founders and CEOs make the mistake of hiring yes-men marketing people, only to later find out there are critical problems with their product or service that their marketing team should’ve brought to their attention.

Guys—the job of your marketing team isn’t just ads and web design. Ideally, they should be the ones making sure your idea is market-viable, doesn’t already exist, is up to date, and is profitable.

For example, I recently worked with a company that had a brilliant idea, but the website design was out of date. We’re talking huge animations, huge fonts…I felt like a time machine had sent me back to the early 2000s when bad web design was par for the course. 2021 requires a clean design and minimal animations.

You want your business ideas to get to the user as fast as possible. They need to be good, interesting, unique, and tailored to the viewer. My client’s problem was that their website was designed in one country while being marketed to another.

I tried my best to explain this to the owners, but they wouldn’t listen. When the website went live, it was a huge failure. People felt the website design was shady and didn’t transmit credibility. 

Later, the company changed the design, and just like that they started growing.

Another example: after making a killer video for one of the companies I worked with, the founder came in and asked, “What is this terrible music?”

I answered candidly, “You’re too old to know what your young audience listens to.” (I’m not young myself, but I keep up with the kids because it’s part of my job!)

If you as the owner or founder of a company can do the marketing yourself, then do it. If you just need someone to design and rubber-stamp your ideas without expressing theirs, just hire a designer or someone to execute everything the way you think it should be.

But if you decide to hire a marketing expert who has helped companies like yours to grow before, and if you believe their experience and past projects’ success are worthwhile, let them help you shape your ideas so they can be relevant to today’s marketing style and audience.

Don’t be a control freak founder.

Second thing: marketing is not as simple as you might think. Once, I had the owner of a company tell one of their 9-to-5 employees to follow me around and learn how I do my marketing—which was, of course, ridiculous and unproductive. 

Good marketing is harder than you think, and just like you wouldn’t ask your 9-to-5 employee to follow around your lawyer to learn legal skills, you shouldn’t do that with your marketing team. If you think it takes an hour to learn how to market a product and get it to the right audience, you’re going to be very disappointed when your company crashes.

Finally: don’t try to micromanage marketing people if you have no idea what it is they do.

If your marketing person (assuming you already know they’re trustworthy) is asking you for a $5000 budget to promote your business, you can ask him what for—but don’t try to investigate every single line item. If they’re good, they know you have no idea what you’re talking about. Just give them what they need, and let them prove to you they’re good.

I’m just going to repeat what I always say: hire a marketing manager you can trust, and give them what they need to work (money, time, help, etc.). You should certainly make sure they are good—using audits, for example—but don’t hold your marketing people back and then come to ask why you’re not seeing results.