Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not in any Job Description -- The Unwritten Role of Marketing

by: James Downey

Think Avatar, iPad, Pablo Picasso—there’s gold on the right side or your brain.

Inviting audience members to rethink their marketing careers using the right sides of their brains, Joe Cullinane, executive advisor, consultant, educator, and author of two books on sales and social media, told the May 10, 2010 meeting of the SDForum Marketing SIG at DLA Piper that even in left-brained Silicon Valley there is “a shift toward creativity and relationships.”

As a first step, Cullinane instructed the crowd of marketers, use your right brain to build a better relationship with your boss. The baby boom generation grew up in an analog world of televisions and transistor radios; Generation Y in a digital world of ubiquitous computing. When boss and employee hail from different generations, Cullinane said, the marketer must negotiate communication styles—is it a phone call or a text message.

And it is relationship building, Cullinane explained, that is demanded of marketers who face a technical boss who not only disparages marketing but believes that he or she knows marketing better than the professional. And the technical boss who sets out not just to solve a problem but to change the world in ways as yet unarticulated forces the marketer to understand and communicate a vision.

Likewise, creativity and relationship building apply to the marketer’s participation in teams. Cullinane told the marketers in the audience to use their communication skills to align team dynamics with the strategic objectives of the organization. In seeking alignment, a marketer must understand the politics of an organization, the factions, the infighting, and the informal relationships that speak more to the distribution of power than formal titles and organization charts. This is not to say that a marketer must play politics, Cullinane continued. Rather a marketer should gain influence through integrity, achieving a reputation for trustworthiness that is the foundation of relationship building.

Right-brain thinking applies to career growth, Cullinane stated, asking audience members to examine “the stew called you” and to better understand that “special sauce” that makes each one of us unique. While it is helpful to overcome weaknesses, Cullinane said, we gain the greatest advantage by matching our careers to our strengths. Discover your bright spots through strength assessments, Cullinane told the audience, and involve others so as to see into blind spots and possibly earn a reference.

Marketers should not only know their bright spots, Cullinane said, but advertise those strengths. Get out and network, whether it is at a church, an alumni association, or a professional gathering like the Marketing SIG. Make yourself highly visible—volunteer, blog, write a book, record a podcast, post a video on YouTube.

Cullinane encouraged audience members to stimulate the right sides of their brains by making time for creative activities, whether painting, crafts, or music. If you enjoyed a creative pursuit when younger, Cullinane said, return to it. Regardless of your talent, time spent in a creative activity unleashes the powers of the brain’s right side to solve problems and inspire new ideas.

Imagination is at the core of brain’s right side, Cullinane told the audience, so imagine your future career in words that evoke the senses, words of feeling, smell, and taste, words that go beyond mere titles and salary expectations. Keep the picture clearly in mind, Cullinane exhorted, and please stay on the path.


James Downey is an IT consultant and freelance writer who blogs about technology and process improvement at

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