Why working in marketing makes you bitchy

working in marketing

By Mark Schaefer

A lot is made of being “authentic” in marketing today. I’m not a big fan of the word, but I understand that there is some expectation to display some human emotion in our content and campaigns.




And for me, increasingly, bitchiness.

Part of this irritability may stem from the copious amounts of BS shoveled at us each day, but a new “State of Marketing Work” report from Workfront points to some other factors. In fact, reading this report, it’s hard to believe you might work in marketing and NOT be kind of a bitch.

Some of the highlights of the findings include:

  • Marketers now work 45.9 hours per week, up from 44.3 in 2015, and more than their non-marketing counterparts at 45.1 hours.
  • After email and meetings, marketers have only 38% of their time left for their primary job duties.
  • When asked what gets in the way of work the most, marketers say wasteful meetings (62%) and excessive oversight (51%) are the biggest offenders.
  • The prevalence of conflict between marketers and other teams stayed sky high from 2015 to 2016 at 98%.
  • Co-workers who talk too loud were named most annoying by 36% of marketers—making them marketers’ biggest office pet peeve.

You know, even reading these results makes me feel bitchy.

I’ve been reflecting on some of these findings and realize that there are a lot of trends out there compounding marketing frustration:

  • Pressure to measure something that is very difficult to measure
  • Work spaces where people are shoulder to shoulder
  • New organizational trends (holocracy!) that make decision-making more difficult, direction more uncertain, and meetings less efficient
  • The speed of digital transformation (the Unilever CMO recently claimed that most marketers are ill-equipped for digital transformation and are bluffing their way through today)
  • Remote working, which can heighten misunderstandings and disadvantage the people not sitting at the HQ

It’s not easy being in marketing, is it?

But you know, it has NEVER been easy to be in marketing.

There will always be conflict in the workplace. In fact, if there isn’t conflict you’re probably not doing your job. Marketing is not for milquetoasts.

Marketing tends to shoulder an unfair portion of the blame when things go wrong. The average tenure of a CMO is just 44 months, about half the tenure of a typical CEO.

And the pressure to remain relevant? That is real and it’s time to stop making excuses and get the digital marketing training you need to lead.

Yes, it’s tough out there. But I have no regrets, either. Marketing is the cutting edge of business. Marketing creates products, new value, new customer relationships. As Peter Drucker famously said,

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Exactly. And I love it.

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Disclosures: Workfront paid me to create custom content for them in 2016 but had no role in this post. Illustration offered license-free by Toothpaste for Dinner.

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