Are You Marketing Like MacGyver or MacGruber?
I just got off the phone with a business consultant I’ve done dozens of campaigns for. He’s one of those guys that makes it fun to dive deep on every topic from brand positioning to operations to product strategy and all points between. And he always feigns amusement at my infamous analogies and metaphors.
So he calls me today to go over a situation where a manager in one of the start-ups he counsels came up with a promotional campaign and was adamant it launch ASAP. It sucked. As I listened in horror to the mishmash of amateur concepting, dismissal of culture, political pandering, and lack of strategy I was almost speechless.
After a few seconds of assessing the ridiculosity, out came my unlacquered assessment of the situation:
The guy thinks he’s doing MacGyver marketing, but the truth is it’s MacGRUBER marketing.
Sharing my love of campy SNL characters-turned-movie-stars, the consultant chuckled and agreed.
But we both realized this was no laughing matter. A principal in a promising start-up was trying to prematurely self-medicate his marketing, and the result was going to cause brand damage before the company even has a chance to make its first impression in the marketplace.
I’m not even sure MacGyver could duct tape his way out of this.
Everyone in the marketing industry has probably faced that moment when something has to happen and it has to happen fast. And with very little budget.
The best marketers embrace those moments, seeing it as a chance to show how brilliantly MacGyver they can be.
Unfortunately, the worst marketers also embrace those moments. Not realizing it’s a chance for everyone to see how shamelessly MacGruber they can be.
Wondering if someone you know is a MacGyver marketer or a MacGruber marketer? Let’s see how each handles basic marketing scenarios:
MacGyver: MacGyver may not always have the exact tools he needs to solve a problem, but what he lacks in available resources he makes up by understanding the problem at its core level and approaching a solution strategically. Once he knows what he wants to accomplish, he gathers everything he can and sets out to solve the problem, simply and brilliantly.
McGruber: Instead of approaching a problem or situation by asking what ultimately needs to be achieved, MacGruber looks around for what’s handy and convenient, and tries to solve the problem before truly understanding the desired outcome. Consequently, he’ll come up with a flashy way to pry open a door… while the bomb is still counting down. He may have solved a problem. But it wasn’t
MacGyver: When faced with a marketing situation, there’s always short-term and long-term repercussions to address. MacGuyver would realize it’s much easier to run from a ticking time bomb, but he’d also realize that while he’s hauling butt back to the Jeep, the bomb will blow up a perfectly good building. And whoever’s inside. MacGuyver won’t trade long-term outcomes for a short-term fix. He clearly understands the difference between duct tape and Band-aids.
MacGruber: For MacGruber, everything happens in the moment. And that’s how he prefers to handle situations. MacGruber marketers rarely work against a big boy marketing plan (if they even think they need one), they rarely see the core value of the product, and as much as they love to talk about the consumer they rarely do what it takes to understand them. Instead of having vision and prescience, MacGrubers are too focused on the present to think clearly and make strategic decisions.
MacGyver: MacGyver marketers know where to put their attention. Even though they may be faced with an emergency situation once in awhile, they’re always focused on the big picture. They understand that marketing objectives drive everything they do. And any time they’re put in a scenario where someone is freaking out, asking for things that aren’t on-strategy, or demanding that something/anything gets done fast, they always refocus the team and give clear guidance on true priorities.
MacGruber: MacGruber fancies himself a marketing hero. His Twitter picture probably has him in a cape. Forget the hard work, exposure to smart marketers, and and years of experience that should have happened behind-the-scenes. MacGruber wants to be seen as a marketing pro NOW. And what better way than to blurt out ideas and solutions on the fly without having a clue which strategy he’s working against. Objectives and strategies are just things that get in the way of him demonstrating his manic ADD “creativity,” and using recently-acquired vocabulary words like authenticity, engagement, and influence.
MacGyver: MacGyver knows there’s more to a situation than what onlookers can see. So when helpless victim #1 screams in his ear that the temperature in the room is too hot, and helpless victim #2 demands that he fix the thermostat before putting out the fire, MacGyver has the confidence and composure to respond. MacGyvers make sure they don’t let someone coerce them into spending time putting out fires when there’s a bomb to deal with.
MacGruber: On the other hand, MacGruber’s lack of strategic thinking forces him to live in a reactive state, thriving in crisis situations and jumping every time someone yells “FIRE!” Because when something’s not on fire, his time is spent looking up new vocabulary words or harvesting crops on Farmville. MacGruber’s highest strategic achievement is realizing that allowing a crisis to happen lets him be reactive rather than proactive. Which makes him look busy and effective. Exactly what he is not.
MacGyver: MacGyver knows where to invest his effort. Abandoned buildings near military bases. Suspicious airplane hangars. Inside burning buildings. These are the places MacGuyver knows his expertise will have the biggest impact. This is where MacGyver goes. He does the legwork, researches the situation, and always manages to be where the action is, right when he’s needed.
MacGruber: MacGruber believes he’s the center of the universe. He can’t be bothered with monitoring programs that might point out that his target demographic isn’t on Google Buzz or that they aren’t playing Scramble anymore. In fact, he’d rather not deal with anything that reminds him there’s a target demographic. He just likes to implement his ideas, and avoids any facts or figures (or people) that might shoot them down.
MacGyver: MacGyver knows at the end of the day, all his hard work and duct tape expenses should be paying off. Lives should be saved. Buildings not exploded. Mullets in fashion. MacGyver doesn’t want to be racing around getting cats out of trees, so he makes sure his efforts are resulting in real success, not just good PR.
MacGruber: Meanwhile, MacGruber thinks everything he does is worthwhile. The fact that he’s active and doing something is what matters to him. Job descriptions are irrelevant. Measurement be damned. When he feels busy, he feels valuable. And based on the damage McGruber can do when he’s busy, there’s very little need for the baddies MacGyver routinely deals with. McGruber brings plenty of chaos upon the universe all by himself.
Join the Conversation…
What are some other ways MacGruber marketers gum up the works?
Do MacGruber marketers realize what they’re doing?