The Exaggerated Help-Wanted Ad

In 2008, I wrote a column entitled "Help Wanted:  Email Marketing Manager,”a look at key industry challenges through a tongue-in-cheek help-wanted ad. At the time, email marketing was seen as an important customer channel, but it still struggled to get its share of voice in the executive halls, as these channels were getting all the love.  People still didn't write home and tell their parents they did email marketing for a living, for fear they'd be called a spammer.

According to Forrester’s 2007-2008's US Interactive Marketing Spend report, email marketing was projected to grow 11%, to just over $2 billion, by 2014. While I normally place little directional value in these kind of stats, in fact this forecast was incredibly accurate.  What should get most of us excited is the projected growth rate over the next five years: 8%, which, will lower than 11%, it is still $1 billion in growth. In an industry with little real innovation, this is a really optimistic view of the channel as a career choice.  



The skills required to be successful today as an email marketer are amazingly similar to that of seven years ago. If I wrote a help wanted ad for today, I’d keep the following from my 2008 effort:

-         “Must have strong work ethic and thick skin, as you will be overworked and under-appreciated.

-        Should have ability to negotiate the lowest prices imaginable with email vendor. Must be able to work alone, as you'll be a one-person team.

-         Should be able to work on-demand, as we'll ask for things at the last minute. We offer below-market compensation program and no bonus, since we can't prove the value of email to the company.”

And I’d add:

-        "Must have experience firing a vendor and know how to do it without impacting the business, cause you'll switch your email vendor in the next two years.  Must hate Powerpoint presentations-- and be bold enough to cut off people that try to use PowerPoint to show you how they'll improve your business.  

-         Must rationalize everything through use cases and case examples. It’s very rare that you are the first to do anything.  

-        Must appreciate email, mobile and social, but realize that the channel means nothing to the consumer -- its the experience that matters. It’s likely that no one in the organization will be able to explain this.  

-        Must be a quant geek and have a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder, as creating content, testing and optimization will require shifting priorities.  Must be able to collaborate with remote teams, since it’s rare that the best contributors will be in your town or your office all the time.” 

I wonder how many resumes I'd get this time?    I said email marketing is a fantastic breeding ground for new marketers, and I still believe it. Email is the perfect discipline to round out some very important skills..     

Still, if I were interviewing an email marketing manager today, I'd do four simple things and likely not even look at their resume:

  • I'd send them this graphic and challenge them to explain it in 100 words or less.
  • I'd have them bring in copies of their favorite email marketing campaigns from their favorite brands and explain why they liked those campaigns so much.
  • I'd ask them to justify their college education expense in terms of ROI. Anyone who can do that in a convincing way has the potential to explain email's attribution to a C-suite executive.
  • I'd also cut them off every two sentences just to see if they can keep their focus in the midst of interruptions.

If they pass this test, I can work with the rest!   The next-gen marketers and rock stars in email will come from a new generation of collaborators operating at the speed of the consumer today.  

“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.” (Anonymous)\

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