Multicultural Segment Marketing manager – The most dangerous Marketing job in corporate America.
Having worked in and out of Multicultural Marketing for a good portion of our careers, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that a career in segment marketing work is not for the faint of heart. We’ve all heard the statistics that the CMO expected life-span at a company is short. Perhaps there is one role in corporate America that has a shorter half-life . . . Multicultural Marketing Manager. Here’s 5 common reasons we see quite frequently.
1/ No to little Funding. At many leading companies, a budget is set aside to reach multicultural audiences. At many other companies though, the manager must panhandle to accomplish much of anything. As a result, multicultural marketing professionals often have all the responsibility and none of the necessary ammunition to launch an effort that is adequately staffed or resourced.
2/ (Re)Building the Business Case. Imagine being hired to do a job, any job, and your first task is to build a pretty deck to justify your existence. Would we ask an HR Manager to justify why HR management should be a thing at the company? Or an Engineer? Unfortunately, that’s often the starting point for Multicultural marketing. Quite frankly, it is 2018. The consumer and the world of marketing are dynamically changing and if you haven’t seen the ROI from the multicultural segments, you simply ought to pack it up and call it a day.
3/ Stereotyping. It is unfortunate, but we’ve seen many colleagues in the industry derailed by unfortunate stereotypes. One colleague with a strong passion for grass-roots strategies was branded “A chamber of commerce guy” who was too fond of “having fun and passing out big cardboard checks”. Whatever the angle, multicultural managers have to constantly watch their backs and be very careful to monitor their own reputation internally.
4/ Pigeonholing. Too often, experts in multicultural markets get pigeon-holed in specialist roles that may be limiting. “She’s our Hispanic marketing person” too frequently takes place of “She’s a great marketer leading our Hispanic efforts.” With pigeonholing, the career opportunities in any organization become very limited and great talent is lost along the way.
5/ Conflicting experts. In some organizations you become the only voice speaking for your segment and along comes another “expert” and derails you. Perhaps it’s an internal manager who “just knows better” or an outside expert looking to build their own business. At other times, managers fall prey to extensive battles over how something should be said in language. Those of us working with language and copy know there are a myriad of ways to say something, and many sometimes-subjective judgments along the way. In a world of subjectivity, it’s easy for others to become self-identified experts.
With the pressures mentioned above, it is no surprise that many companies see a revolving door of multicultural managers who come and go without making real progress. In other cases, companies walk away from their multicultural marketing initiatives the moment they don’t see instant results. Like any other worthwhile marketing enterprise, ROI is measured in years, not months. We’ve seen several times when the “upper ups” pull the plug even when things were starting to develop. What they leave on the table, others swoop in and grab.
While Multicultural Marketing may not be for the faint of heart, the hardy souls that persevere will also reap the rewards that others leave behind.