Employers are looking for so-called Ninja Guru Wizards who can singlehandedly design and code landing pages, write copy, optimize for search, launch PPC campaigns and develop entire marketing strategies to achieve desired results and grow revenue.
And online marketers and SEOs are branding themselves as Ninja Guru Wizards who can simultaneously write code that won’t break a site and write copy that will convert leads.
Do people want to be taken seriously or are we living in some kind of bizarro world where marketers and agencies act like a bunch of bullfrogs during breeding season?
Now Hiring: a Ninja Guru Expert Wizard
This kind of thinking is a problem for the marketing industry. It starts at the corporate level and it’s fueled negative branding and perception issues for online marketers and SEOs.
This job post is not an outlier. There are hundreds of similar postings on LinkedIn alone. It’s unrealistic to expect one person to perform all of these tactical and strategic actions with excellence and in a way that adds measurable value to the company and clients.
But let’s say a perfect candidate like this existed and they actually believed they were a Ninja Guru Wizard, do you think this person would work harmoniously with your team?
“Team, I’d like to introduce you to Percival, it’s his first day here. He’s a marketing Ninja Guru Wizard. After you kiss his ring and recover from the sheer amazingness that is Percival, please open your hearts and make him feel at home.”
Yeah, that would go over well.
Will Any Agency Hire This Man?
When David Ogilvy got into advertising he had never created an advertisement or designed a marketing campaign.
Thirty-three years after founding one of the most successful ad agencies ever, he sent this memo to his team:
He is 38, and unemployed. He dropped out of college.
He has been a cook, a salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer.
He knows nothing about marketing and had never written any copy.
He professes to be interested in advertising as a career (at the age of 38!) and is ready to go to work for $5,000 a year.
I doubt if any American agency will hire him.
However, a London agency did hire him. Three years later he became the most famous copywriter in the world, and in due course built the tenth biggest agency in the world.
The moral: it sometimes pays an agency to be imaginative and unorthodox in hiring.
Ogilvy was the 38 year-old non-guru who got hired by an agency in London.
Job postings that seek ninjas or wizards is not what Ogilvy meant by being imaginative and unorthodox in hiring. And if Ogilvy ever interviewed somebody who called themselves a Marketing Guru he’d smack the crap out of them.
You’re into spammy SEO tricks?
A few months ago I had lunch with a respected Public Relations pro that has legit celebrity and media connections. We were talking about marketing. I brought up SEO and began to talk about how vital SEO is to any online marketing strategy.
The conversation died. I could tell by the look on his face I lost his trust and his opinion of me went from good to Congressman-level. His response, “Please don’t tell me you are into those spammy SEO tricks to game the Google algorithm.”
Have you ever had an experience like this that made you feel ashamed to tell somebody you’re an online marketer or an SEO?
Let's start fixing the negative branding and perception issue
These few action steps are slap-a-kitty-stupid-simple, but maybe it’s something we can start with to clean up the negative branding and perception issues:
- Agencies – write your job postings like how humans talk to other humans. You can make your company sound fun without acting like a 12 year-old on Whippits.
- Marketers – stop with the guru wizardry stuff on your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles – you’re hurting your reputation and damaging the reputation of our industry.
- Agencies & marketers – stop signing off your emails with things like Linkbuilding Magician or Director of Outreach Awesomeness.
If we keep it classy and present ourselves as professionals who are accountable for our actions, serious about our craft, transparent and deserving to have our voice heard, perceptions could change. But it’s up to you.