Why Karen the Receptionist Isn’t a Marketer

Why Karen the Receptionist Isn’t a Marketer

Regardless of the job, qualifications matter. For business owners, it is more convenient to add a job title to a current employee or utilize personal connections to an external source than to perform an exhaustive search for an outsider… likely much cheaper, too. But like every business decision, there are pros and cons. It’s important to scrutinize every one when deciding between someone you know who may be less qualified and an unknown but well-credentialed outsider.

The answer should be obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies actually put underqualified individuals in charge of marketing just because it was the easiest of the two options. Of course, there can always be exceptions to the rule, but it usually pays off more in the long run to bring in a proven commodity as opposed to reorganizing from within or gambling on a personal connection and hoping they can turn into a star.

Marketing has always been difficult, and the challenge is even greater today because of all the digital elements that exist, the nuances of each element and the know-how it takes to incorporate and manage them effectively.

Whether it’s “Karen” the receptionist, “Paul” in HR, “Dave” the neighbor’s son who takes design classes at the local community college or “Debbie” the stay-at-home mom who loves Instagram, just because they have an understanding of the digital world does not mean they know marketing. There’s a difference between dabbling in something and being an expert. Knowing marketing or elements of marketing “well enough to be dangerous” isn’t good enough when you’re talking about a job that helps provide the lifeblood of the company (leads and customers) and is responsible for effectively utilizing a budget of tens of thousands of dollars (if not more).

If you’ve got someone like Karen, Paul, Dave or Debbie in charge of marketing, you’re likely doing your company a disservice. We can almost guarantee there are strategies they won’t think about and tools they won’t know about or use correctly.

Don’t believe us? Read the rest of this article to learn about some of the marketing tasks and tools that any good marketer should be comfortable with. Then, ask yourself if your marketer is actually equipped for the job or if you’ve set them and your company up for failure.

Reach the Right Lead

Does Your Marketer Know How to Reach the RIGHT Lead on the RIGHT Channel with the RIGHT Message?

Karen the receptionist is obviously a good communicator and probably knows most, if not all, of the companies you work with as well as some of their employees. But does that mean she is knowledgeable enough to put together a marketing strategy that will get repeat business from existing customers and also attract and nurture new leads until they convert?

Successful marketing requires an understanding of how to target your most profitable prospects, create and validate personas, identify points on the buyer’s journey where you can make an impact and, finally, select the most effective mix of channels to deliver messaging.


Your marketer should know how to narrow down your list of possible targets to the ones that will provide the best ROI. This includes analyzing sales data to determine the top-performing accounts based on volume, frequency, recency and profitability and then identifying common attributes of those accounts. From there, they can search for new targets that share those attributes.

Now here’s the kicker, the most efficient way to find those targets is by using industry codes (SIC or NAICS). However, that data can be difficult to get your hands on and understand if you’ve never worked with a list company before. In most cases, it’s best to get help from a marketing agency that has connections to list compilers and knows how to get the best possible list. If you don’t go the list route, Karen is going to spend a lot of time searching Google rather than focusing on the other important items on her marketing to-do list.

For more on targeting, click here.


If your marketer doesn’t create personas to apply to target market segments, the messaging is likely to miss the mark. That’s because marketing is about appealing to people, not companies. If you can’t resonate with the people who influence and ultimately make purchase decisions, you’ll never make a sale.

Personas are hypothetical representations of your best prospective customers based on existing customer data and additional market research. It involves coming up with hypothetical demographic and psychographic information so you understand the types of people you need to appeal to and what their challenges, goals and motivations are. Does Karen create and validate personas before going to market, or is she just operating on unsubstantiated assumptions? For more on creating and validating personas, click here.

48 Proven Workflows to Plug a Leaky Sales Funnel

Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the roadmap a potential buyer follows as they make a purchasing decision. Understanding it is crucial for a marketer because it helps them make calculated decisions about when to market to an individual, what the message should be and what channel(s) should be used to deliver the message. Has Karen developed and validated buyer’s journeys for your target audiences?

For more on the buyer’s journey, click here.

Channel Selection

With the enormous number of marketing channels that now exist — digital and traditional — your marketer must combine available data and their intuition to select the ones that will work best. It won’t cut it for them to just use the ones they’ve always used in the past or the ones they’re most familiar with… unless they have proof of their effectiveness. ROI depends on making selections based on budget and the personas and buyer’s journeys that have been developed. Does Karen have the channel selection process down to a science?

For more on channel selection, click here.

Create Quality Content

Does Your Marketer Create Quality Content?

We don’t doubt that Dave the neighbor’s son who takes design classes at the local community college has got some skills. He knows how to use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and can come up with some creative designs. But is he the kind of person you can put your full trust in to create quality content that will resonate with targets and make you stand out from your competitors?

In today’s buying landscape, content has never been more important. Buyers are on high alert for in-your-face sales pitches and “buy now” messages. Marketing content must be more informative and more strategically thought out than ever. A trendy design and a catchy tagline aren’t enough to persuade people to buy anymore. The perfect blend of form and function is essential with graphic design and copywriting.

Graphic Design

Good graphic design is crucial because it plays a major role in customers’ and potential customers’ impressions of your business. Designs should not only look good but also be created with a specific audience and channel in mind.

Every marketing piece turned out by your company should follow brand standards and have a consistent look and feel. However, your graphic designer should have the skills to diversify and evolve to meet the ever-changing demands of the marketing landscape. And if you work with vendors to produce marketing materials, your designer needs to know how to provide all necessary files. Does Dave have what it takes to create designs for a variety of needs both now and in the future?

For more on graphic design, click here.


A well-designed marketing piece will only be effective if the copy that goes along with it is strong as well. If the subject line, headline and/or main body copy are lacking, the campaign is destined to fall flat. Copy may not “pop” like graphic design, but it’s what ultimately provides people with the substance they need to make an informed purchase decision.

All marketing copy should be grammatically correct, persuasive and, if digital, be written with search engine optimization in mind. Does Dave have language and journalistic skills to match his graphic design skills?

For more on copywriting, click here.

Digital & Traditional Channels

Does Your Marketer Have the Skills & Connections to Manage a Variety of Digital & Traditional Channels?

Paul in HR juggles a variety of different tasks and has knowledge of many different topics. But just because he has the capacity to manage things ranging from recruitment to benefits, does that mean he can properly implement and utilize the many digital and traditional marketing channels necessary to attract, nurture and convert leads?

Companies that have the most success with marketing achieve that success thanks to their ability to find the perfect blend of channels. Multi-channel marketing isn’t just recommended, it’s essential.

Traditional Marketing

Companies are typically most comfortable with traditional marketing because it’s old-school and tried-and-true. It’s what they’ve been doing the longest and what, in their minds, they’ve got down to a science. Here are some of the most common traditional marketing tactics along with links to more information about them:

For most, if not all, of these traditional marketing channels, you’ll need to use a vendor to produce items for you. Can you rely on Paul to think strategically about products and specs and find A-rated vendors that provide fair pricing, quality products and superior customer service?

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has taken the world by storm because you can pretty much guarantee that your target audience has an online presence and a cell phone. This means you have an opportunity to reach them wherever they are 24/7/365. Here are some of the most common digital marketing tactics and links to more information:

Is Paul able to design responsive emails that will get through spam filters, build out automated email workflows or implement a relevant retargeting program based on a prospective client’s digital behavior to get them to come back to your website?

Social Media

Does Your Marketer Utilize Social Media Like a Businessperson?

It’s one thing to consider yourself a social media expert when you’re managing your personal account. It’s another thing entirely to expect to take the same approach to a business account and generate positive results. Sorry, Debbie the stay-at-home mom who loves Instagram, in the marketing world, getting likes doesn’t mean your social media marketing is doing its job.

Post likes and comments don’t mean a whole lot in the marketing realm. They provide social proof but do little else to help guide someone toward a purchase. If you really want to get value from social media, you need to create ads to push people to your website. And, no, a boosted post is not the same thing. The ad platforms provide much more value when it comes to the creative elements and targeting tools.

Can Debbie set up an Ads Manager account for you and created targeted, conversion-centric ads for each level of the sales funnel?

For more on social media, click here.

Update Website & Optimize for Search

Does Your Marketer Have the Ability to Maintain & Update Your Website & Optimize for Search?

Website design/development and search engine optimization are other aspects of digital marketing that deserve their own section. Your website should be the hub of all your marketing activity, and optimizing for search is how you help drive people to it. Karen the receptionist must be comfortable working on the backend of the website to make any necessary changes to keep it user-friendly and conversion-centric. Plus, it’s highly recommended for businesses to frequently post new, informative content in a news section or blog.

From an SEO standpoint, there are setup/maintenance tactics that can help boost your website up the search engine rankings. There are also some off-page tactics that can be implemented as well. Is Karen tech-savvy enough to work on the website or communicate needs to an external web developer or SEO expert?

For more on website design and development, click here. For a more in-depth look at SEO, click here.

Analyze Reporting Data to Prove ROI

Does Your Marketer Collect & Analyze Reporting Data to Prove ROI & Continually Improve?

These questions, in some form or another, are the big ones to ask of your marketing manager:

  • What is our marketing ROI?
  • What is working and what isn’t?
  • How do we make what’s working even better and improve what isn’t working?

To answer these questions, it’s all about one thing — data. And thanks to the digital tools that now exist, there’s really no excuse to not utilize multiple data sources in order to compile a comprehensive report.

Email/marketing automation platforms have reporting dashboards. So do social media platforms. And Google Analytics tracks all of your website traffic. You can even track the performance of print-to-web marketing pieces, like a postcard that directs to your website, by utilizing PURLs & GURLs. For campaign-specific reporting that includes multiple email blasts or social media ads, everything can be tracked in detail if UTMs are implemented. The data is there for the taking if you know how to access it.

Does Karen know how to keep your marketing working at peak performance by doing things like determining which channel drives the most traffic to your website?

For more on proving ROI, click here.

If Your “Marketer” Isn’t Really a Marketer, What Next?

Now that you’ve read this article, are you sure the person in charge of your marketing — Karen or whoever else — is right for the job? If not, now is the time to take a step forward. Let Karen or Paul go back to focusing on their original jobs full-time. Thank Dave or Debbie for their time but let them know you’ve decided to go in a different direction.

If you want your marketing to really excel, you need a trained, experienced individual or team in charge. Having an ace marketer in-house has its benefits, but so does access to an agency of marketing experts. If you need help deciding, check out this article.

Whatever you decide, just know it’s a move made to improve your marketing and your company.

Have additional questions about digital or traditional marketing or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.


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