The passion of the marketer

Editor Emily Wexler on the characteristic driving marketers to excel at their jobs.

ST.CoverDecJanThis story appears in the December/January 2015 issue of strategy

They say to be great at your job, you have to love your job. Well, I’m not sure if anyone actually said that, but I’m saying it now.

In our Marketer Survey this year, 28% of respondents said their job satisfaction was “high,” and when asked whether they were seeking new opportunities, 31% said no, they’re happy where they are right now. How much do you want to bet that portion of marketers would over-index on the “great at their jobs” scale? It seems fairly obvious – you can do a job competently, and even do it well, but to be truly great at it, you need to be passionate.

Take our overall Marketer of the Year winner TJ Flood. He’s so passionate about Canadian Tire that he named the HQ cafeteria “Sandy’s” after the man on the Canadian Tire Money (his name is Sandy McTire, apparently). No consumers are going to see it, but it was important to Flood. “I’ve made it my mission to make sure that everyone at Canadian Tire understands and lives our brand positioning,” he told our writer Matthew Chung.

I witnessed some of that passion first-hand when I hung around behind the scenes during the Raptors home opener. Sure, marketing a sports franchise is high on the excitement scale compared to a lot of other gigs, but it’s a tough job with an excessive amount of consumer criticism, and when you’re constantly attending games, the thrill must eventually wear off. Yet as Sid Lee’s Vito Piazza said, MLSE’s VP marketing Shannon Hosford is a “fan first,” and her genuine excitement was on display that night.

Canada Bread’s Connie Morrison was so passionate about bread, she created an institute around it. Meanwhile, the brass at Aritzia must’ve seen enough drive in Oliver Walsh to make him the brand’s first CMO. And in the years I’ve known Kraft’s Tony Matta (since back in his Frito Lay days), I’ve never heard him talk about his job without enthusiasm.

You can read about all five of these passionate Marketers of the Year here.

No doubt finding and retaining those passionate people is a challenge. In fact, it’s one of the things keeping marketers up at night (read more here). Natrel’s VP marketing Caroline Losson notes that millennials entering the workforce have high expectations – they want to generate big ideas and take advantage of opportunities for advancement as quickly as possible. In our Marketer Survey, the biggest driver when planning a career move was the opportunity for professional development (39% of respondents).

Sure, there are plenty of marketers who are happy where they are, but the majority (56%) would be open to new opportunities should they arise.

We’ll explore how organizations are training and retaining top talent in the February/March issue.

Meanwhile, marketers who appear to love what they do – and work for organizations that give them enough freedom to foster the “big ideas” – will continue to take our Marketer of the Year titles.