Marketing has expanded over the last decade with the rise of digital technology and social media. As a result there are more and more “marketers” either entering the field or moving into digital marketing. With a new marketing expert popping up every minute in the web, the advice and services in this area are overflowing. As a result, there is tons of misinformation and bad advice being given. The level of ill-spent dollars on digital marketing is also increasing. So what are the marketing heads missing? Everything.

When I say marketing heads, i’m including those in charge of marketing at firms, agencies, and individuals alike. The idea of a head of marketing or marketing head leaves me to think of a head unattached to the body like the kind you saw in science class in glass jars. As someone with a scientific mind, I can’t help but stare at the marketing heads and make a few observations. I was recently reading a post by Daniel Newman, Victims of Vanity – Why Marketers Buy Into Faulty Metrics, and it sparked some interesting questions. Which metrics really matter? Is it impressions, clicks, conversions, or followers? After thinking about it, I felt it may be the wrong question. It would be like saying, “What body part is most useful?” The fact is they all work with different purposes and are all needed for the benefit of the whole.

Heads with no bodies. There is a serious problem of unconnected decision making in the marketing world. When you combine power without wisdom it is a recipe for disaster. Money is being spent in the millions on marketing with undesired results. The Superbowl ads are a great example to illustrate the waste of millions driven by marketing heads with no bodies. They are the epitome of decisions without purpose or thought. They should be the best the marketing world has to offer, yet they only show how random unconnected ideas get made while spending enormous amounts of money.

While many marketing heads are sharing metrics that may not matter to satisfy client’s needs to see measurable results, it really comes down to understanding your strategy and making sure it lines up with your goals. If you are trying to sell a product, impressions alone are not going to work. If you can’t convert them to sales then you are driving traffic to a dead end street. On the other hand, do impressions matter? Yes, it is a numbers game and it is hard to scale without the numbers. This is why understanding what each metric does and means so you can manage the marketing matters. Let’s look at an overview of what is needed to go from being a marketing head to becoming an actual marketer.

The Head – allows you to observe and decide. Many marketers can help you decide on everything from what to do to how to spend your marketing dollars. An often overlooked aspect is the power of observation. The head is not just a decision making machine, the eyes and ears can make many observations. I fear there is too much decision making and not enough observation and strategy in the world of marketing. If you are going to be in marketing, then it is time to start using your head correctly.

While we are talking about the head it is important to note the difference between observation and awareness. Observation is observing to gain information while awareness is the knowledge or perceptions of a situation. If little or no observations are made and there is a lack of awareness then the decisions made are going to useless. Welcome to modern day marketing.

The head has the ability to put out information (Traditional Marketing), and receive information (Big Data, Social Media). For a long time marketing has really been about giving information. We are in a time now that allows us to listen and observe in a way never before possible. Marketers have only barely caught on to this. When what goes out is based on what came in your marketing will be massively more effective. As Steven Covey put it in his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then be understood”. This formula equals engagement, which is the powerhouse of new technology.

The Feet – These determine the direction you are going. A little strategy goes a long way. Nationwide insurance company recently launched an ad in the Superbowl that portrayed a child who wouldn’t get to do all the things he wanted because he would die. This was a buzzkill moment in celebrations around the country. I don’t think anyone picked up the phone and called to order insurance because of this ad. Nationwide interrupted people’s celebrations with a grim thought. They took people in a direction they didn’t want to go. What they showed is that they were not aware of the direction people were going so they could integrate their strategy in a way that aligned where people were going with the benefits of their brand. Some of the reactions to this add were hilarious online. Know first where you want to go before making decisions with your feet.

Hands – These are tools to be used to carry out what your head wants to do. Many marketers or like babies who are unaware of their own hands. A baby often scares themselves because they hit their face with their hands and don’t realize they are their hands. Tools for tools sake makes no sense. People often ask what new tools they should use but they haven’t taken the time to create a strategy. There is no need to flail tools around with no purpose. Get your direction first then find the right tools to help you accomplish your goals.

The Body – The body is a collection of systems. These systems work together for the benefit of the whole. Systems enhance the use of each associated part. This is how everything is connected. The tools you select to help you target your market in an integrated and efficient way make up the body of your marketing plan. This is where hiring the right marketer matters. Their awareness of how to assemble a plan, select tools, and execute it efficiently is what makes them an actual marketing expert versus the many people who claim to be experts but are just marketing heads.

The Bottom – Don’t forget the last part of the body which is the waste disposal system. It is a real problem if you don’t get rid of things that are not useful in the body. Tools, systems, and strategies that are not needed or that are harmful must be eliminated. Just like A/B testing helps you figure out what is working and what is not. Every experienced marketer must be aware enough to know what doesn’t work. This ensures the marketer doesn’t get backed up :]

In life it is good to take a look at your health at regular checkups. The same holds true in the world of marketing. It’s time to go from being a marketing head in a jar to starting to work for your clients, producing strategies that are aligned with their goals, providing tools and systems to get there and making smart marketing decisions. Once you observe with the head, determine the direction with the feet, select the tools with the hands, and create systems for bringing these all together for a common goal. Then you have a fully functioning unit. You can go from being a marketing head to being a useful and effective marketer. What do you think is missing with marketing today?