30 Jan Which traits make for a good marketer?
By Belinda Mountain
I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since my recent discussion with Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show. And while there’s no definitive list, there are some commonly occurring character traits I’ve seen over my career in the past twenty years that all add up to being a strong marketer. Here are some I’ve noticed:
Curiosity has been having a moment recently, and it’s listed on every second job description you see. But what do we mean about being curious in a marketing context? It’s about asking the right questions, to the right people, at just that point in time when it will be most valuable. And not everyone can do that. Good marketers are always wanting to learn more and know more – specifically about humans and their psychology. They want to know what makes them tick, and once they discover this, they can know what that person needs, and how to frame an offering so that it appeals exactly to them.
While some people may have stronger intuition than others, this is a skill that can also be honed in a particular area over years of experience working in a related industry or in a particular role. Marketers at their most powerful can harness this intuition, combine it with analytics, and then deliver campaigns and messaging that are bang on target. It can’t be taught, but it can be learned. Using our human intuition is also a powerful way to distinguish ourselves from whatever AI produces, which is a differentiator we may need to lean on more as its use becomes ubiquitous.
3. Creativity plus analytics
Creativity is much touted as an essential trait for marketers. But the best synergy in a marketer is to have a creative brain combined with a strong analytical ability – and that’s rare to find. Of course, your agency or marketing department needs the creative directors as well as the lead analysts, but having both of those traits rolled up into one little person can be pretty handy too.
4. Listening & observing
Good marketers like to watch people (not in a creepy way). They’re the ones on the train looking up from their phones, watching what others are reading, or doing, or chatting about. They can talk, sure they can (see next point), but strong marketers are also extremely good at listening – to what is said, but also unsaid. They can review a whole lot of social media posts and accurately gauge sentiment, allowing them to respond in just the right way that placates, unifies, or galvanises people to action. If you can’t listen or empathise as a marketer, you’re doing it wrong.
5. Communicators and storytellers
Marketing is about connecting with people, so it’s no surprise that communication is key. But being a good marketer requires crystal clear communication, and that doesn’t come naturally to all. Good marketers are also talented storytellers, able to dig out the nugget of what makes a good narrative, polish and frame it, and then send it out into the marketplace.
6. Organised, but able to innovate
Strong organisational skills are essential, as you’ll likely be juggling many marketing balls at one time. And while it’s vital to have a plan, and follow through with it consistently, strong marketers are also able to innovate, adapt and change as they go. That’s the power of our digital world: the ability to analyse performance, change what you’re doing, or try something completely new. The world moves at a rapid pace – marketers need to as well.
So what’s the takeaway, for marketers of all types and experience levels? Stay humble, keep curious, learn to listen and trust your gut.
(decent advice for life too, I reckon).