What Do Marketing Coordinators Do and Why They Deserve Unlimited Drinks

by Debra Andrews | October 13, 2015

I’ve worked with a lot of Marketing Coordinators employed by small to midsized businesses without formal marketing departments. (That situation exists in most of corporate America.) Downtrodden Marketing Coordinators are often miserable, afraid to come to work, and deeply regretful over choosing a particular firm and/or entering the field of marketing.

Many dismiss these dissatisfied workers as unappreciative complainers. I would too if I didn’t have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. What’s the job like? Here are a few things employers typically leave out of the job description.

A Real Marketing Coordinator Job Description

If you’re looking for someone to take the stressful Marketing Coordinator mantle in your small to midsized business, consider the following:

Must Have No Boundaries

The range of tasks asked of Marketing Coordinators is a bit mind-numbing. The position becomes a landfill for all the things that don’t fit neatly somewhere else.  Book the caterer, update the website, design a brochure, make changes to the website, place follow-up calls, enter data, organize the marketing drive, tweet, like, post, connect, and in any spare time, create the marketing plan.

The reality is that these junior-level marketers don’t usually know graphics packages or understand WordPress. They don’t have enough practical experience to create integrated marketing plans or write compelling copy. The idea of having a one-size-fits-all marketer at an entry-level salary is appealing to many businesses, but it’s not realistic. Both the professional and organization are set up to fail.

Able to Tolerate Multiple Bosses

Marketing Coordinators answer to many when it comes to receiving tasks, yet rarely have a true mentor who can provide guidance on marketing and balancing priorities. Within a law firm setting, I’ve seen Coordinators get assignments from up to fifteen Shareholders who each consider their stuff to be a priority.

These marketing newbies don’t know enough to filter out busy work from proactive, results-driven marketing actions. And they certainly don’t have the authority or confidence to say, “Hold on a minute.”

Especially Skilled at Feeling Invisible

When receiving projects, Marketing Coordinators can usually win the popularity contest. But when it comes to getting needed information or responses from others – especially those in authority – they’re social pariahs.

Most of the time, no one is intentionally being mean. It’s not personal. Professionals are simply busy, and if anyone is going to get pushed till later, it’s the Coordinator. Unfortunately, this leads to a high level of frustration and helplessness, as tasks begin to mount and responses go unanswered.

Shows No Interest in On-the-Job Training

In a functional marketing department setting, a Director of Marketing or CMO is available to share best practices and give career-advancing on-the-job training to Marketing Coordinators.

When a junior marketer IS the entire “marketing team,” the results are predictably poor. Coordinators spin their wheels and become somewhat paralyzed trying to figure out how to get tasks accomplished with no one knowledgeable to whom they may turn. Others in the firm become frustrated that not enough work is getting done.

What’s a Coordinator to Do?

I need a drink just thinking about these scenarios and the struggle of Marketing Coordinators. But instead, I’ll offer some practical advice to companies that employ Coordinators (or want to), and to stressed-out junior marketers looking for better situations.

For Companies:

  • Work with a knowledgeable senior-level marketer to assess the current needs of your company. Engage this person to write a Marketing Coordinator job description that contains “must have” skills for the position.
  • Interview junior marketers with some proven leadership experience as they will need it to operate fairly autonomously. Ensure the job candidates already possess the “must have” skills to succeed.
  • Appoint a person of authority to be the Marketing Coordinator’s champion. This person’s role will be to help the junior marketer to prioritize work and get information from others needed to complete tasks.

For Coordinators:

  • Think long and hard about taking a job in a company without a formal marketing department. Understand that if you do, you will not have a mentor and will likely struggle with professional development.
  • If you move forward, ask if an outside consultant will be able to assist on an as-needed or ongoing basis to give you the knowledge to succeed.
  • Ask for an internal mentor to regularly help prioritize work and provide you with a stronger voice within the organization.

For a positive outcome, it’s important for both the Coordinator and the enterprise to go into the situation with realistic expectations. Hiccups will occur and, when they do, neither side should let frustrations fester. Communication is critical as well as occasionally getting assistance from an outside senior-level marketer. It won’t cut the stress as quickly as a martini (or two) but may pave a path for future success.

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