I was chatting with a friend whose company sells SaaS solutions to marketing executives, and he was lamenting the turnover among senior marketers across organizations of all sizes.  Like him, I have noticed that there seems to be a higher turnover rate among marketing professionals than among most other functional specialties.  Why is that?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Marketers are extroverts (in general) and connectors, and are more likely to hear about new opportunities.  Really good marketers hear about lots of good opportunities.
  2. Marketing is often seen as less critical to a company's survival than divisions building and selling the product.  As one CEO said to me, "I know I'm destroying my pipeline by slashing our marketing budget, but if I cut sales, and miss our number, I put our entire business in immediate jeopardy.  And without a product, we have nothing"
  3. Marketing metrics are tricky to get right, and it can be hard to demostrate measurable value. When things go downhill, and the marketer doesn't have strong, compelling proof of impact, they become an easy target.
  4. Many companies hire the wrong kind of marketer for their organization. Just because someone is great with creative, doesn't mean that they'll build a great pipeline.  And someone with a big company background may not be able to execute without a big staff, while someone from a small organization may not be able to effectively manage agencies.  There are lots of tactically excellent marketers who can't do strategy, and asking them to do strategy is a recipe for failure.
  5. Marketers are often drawn to new ideas and learning, and are easily board by any one category.  Once they have the strategy defined and the people and programs in place, they get bored.

What does this mean for managers?  If you have a great marketer, keep them interested and engaged.  If you have mediocre marketers, or you aren't getting metrics that demonstrate clear value to you, you probably have the wrong people.  And finally, it means that your organization should be structured so that losing any one person won't slow you down.  Change happens, and it happens even more frequently in marketing.