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“Willpower is a finite resource. Don’t pick a model that has failure built into it and requires that you constantly drain a finite resource.” – Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert

There’s a quick test to judge the caliber of a marketing team. Ask them about their marketing goals. You’ll hear about metrics, lead generation goals, sqls, mqls and more. It will sound super sexy. They’ll talk about deeper engagement with their audience, and brand positioning.

That’s all great. But next ask them about their marketing system. What marketing system do you use to achieve your goals. This is where things start to fall off. You’ll hear about tech stacks or one-off campaigns. Some may even look at you with a sense of bewilderment and say things like “What do you mean by systems?”. Or they will use terms like: we’re going viral!

These are the pretenders. The contenders answer in a different way. They talk about a systematic approach to marketing. One that evolves over time and is consistent. They don’t treat marketing like a checklist. They treat marketing like a system to be refined over time.

Systems vs. Goals

We’ve got two scenarios: the first one is

Want to quickly judge the effectiveness of a marketing team? Ask them about their marketing goals. Oh you’ll hear grand pronouncements about leads or awareness metrics. You’ll hear fantastic stories about engaging with their audience on a deeper level. Some of them will even throw out massive goals. They’ll say things like: we’re thinking big. Blah.

Once that part is finished. Ask them about their marketing system. You’ll get one of three responses:

  1. They’ll talk about their marketing stack or software
  2. They’ll talk about their approach
  3. Or they’ll talk about a consistent method they are working on over time

Goals on their own kind of suck. They are meaningless. They also put you in a perpetual state of failure. The only time you are in a moment of achievement is that short moment when you’ve achieved that goal. Then you have to pull together the willpower to achieve the next goal.

Marketers are notoriously bad at systems. I don’t know what it is. But there’s a general lack of diligence along a common path. Give me the choice between an engineer with flair vs. a “pants on fire marketer”, I’d pick an engineer to work with.