Most startups and small businesses start out with a relatively small staff of multi-skilled employees – forcing an “all hands on deck” approach when it comes to marketing decision-making. In most cases, it provides a refreshing new perspective to a creative discovery session. Other times, professionals lacking marketing experience are somehow given the reins to control the process, delaying projects, forcing ineffective tactics and costing the company money.
Here are colleagues best left at the office:
The Budget Conscious CFO
It’s important for an outside agency to provide transparent and fair pricing before any strategic session. During the negotiation stage, it is obviously a necessity that the CFO is involved. However, once the marketing strategy discussion begins, it is typically best for the CFO to not be involved. CFO’s must remember that most website price-cutting will lead to a less effective final product. For instance, some web development costs are related to creating a user-friendly backend (an extremely valuable resource that saves staff time down the road), so trying to nitpick items such as stock image costs, number of subpages or hosting could result in a less than ideal final product.
Red flag buzzwords: Bottom line, Markup, Expensive, Deal
The Web Developer From 2005
First off, fire them. Fire them now. Or at least invest in some professional development and educational resource to bring them up to present times. Oftentimes clients come with an outdated website in desperate need of an upgrade. This adds additional time tracking down the previous web developer and—after breaking it to them that you’ll be taking over the business—wrestling the details of the website out of their hands. Developers that are overly critical of backend decisions (e.g. content management systems, plugin preferences) are ultimately holding your company back at the expense of their own ego.
Red flag buzzwords: Meta keywords, Internet Explorer 7 (or earlier), their backend passwords are “password1234”
The Nitpicky Art Director
As a creative-minded firm, you should strive for the highest quality outcomes. Note that I said highest quality, not perfect. For some professionals, perfection is the enemy of progress. Fighting every concept decision, whether it’s design or content, begs the question as to why they didn’t bother doing the project themselves.
Red flag buzzwords and phrases: Next level, Design to “pop,” “I could do this myself but I don’t have time”
The Absentee Task Master
Picture this: You’ve slaved over multiple project revisions and finally send over a finalized concept to the client. Then silence. For the next six months. Despite attempts to grab your client’s attention, the project is put on the backburner. Months later comes an email attachment of old concepts from the project manager, demanding the website/newsletter/brochure be updated and completed… by today.
Red flag buzzwords and phrases: COB today, “I can be hard to pin down,” “I travel a lot,” “I am not that concerned about the project being done quickly”
The Powerless Underling
Landing a new client proposal and starting the planning stages can be an exciting process. Receiving positive, useful feedback during the initial stages is even better. Yet, all too often a senior position is looped in at the last minute and turns out they must give final approval. Hiring a lower level employee to manage a project is good for the day-to-day, but lack of team communication and expectations can halt a project fast. If someone is the primary decision maker, checkpoints during the process should be made to ensure the final stage isn’t their first.
Red flag buzzwords: “Let me talk to my manager about that,” “I have no authority”
This isn’t to say there aren’t fantastic CFOs, web developers, art directors and project managers who keep projects on track and in line with their business strategy. If it sounds like these profiles remind you of someone in your office, maybe it’s best to keep them there.