What attributes make for a brilliant marketer?
Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about marketers who punch well above their weight. For some, the term ‘growth hacker’ has described the type of marketer who with a mixture of tech and creativity can reach and convert large numbers of people at speed and low cost.
These types of marketers typically work at small startups, where a lack of barriers such as IT, organisational politics and the ‘brand police’ allows them to get stuff done.
But there’s also the type of marketer who can work comfortably with large and complex systems in legacy companies. These are the folks who can make sense out of millions of data points, tame large databases that have suffered from integration issues or a lack of governance. In addition to their superior productivity, they can also achieve levels of marketing measurement beyond anything that has been done before (for example, by instituting attribution models or accurate revenue forecasts in ways that surprise and delight the Chief Financial Officer).
There have been a few blog posts recently (for example from Scott Brinker) which have floated the concept of the 10x marketer – leading from the belief in the 10x engineer. In the run up to SHIFT, I wanted to suggest some attributes that I have seen in exceptional marketers over the past few years (caveat: the 10x is more of a borrowed term than actually a quantitative statement on their productivity).
I hope you’ll be able to add to the list in the comments below…
They understand the importance of structured data – and build marketing as such
With terms such as ‘big data’ still being used to large effect (so much so that it is one of the most expensive paid search keywords), it would be easy to think the days of structured databases are over. Wrong.
The majority of uses of data for marketing require it to be in a structured form. This is not only to create properly functioning campaigns, but also to make sure that systems can be properly integrated.
Data mapping isn’t the most glamorous of tasks, but sophisticated marketing tech stacks with multiple layers need the right data being passed through in the right way at the right time as a lot of the functionality that vendors sell depends on a particular way of structuring the data. It’s this which powers excellent cross-channel customer experiences.
They know vendor weaknesses and tech idiosyncrasies
Every single technology platform has its idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. Even when two products are apparently part of a single tech cloud, there are often significant limitations in how they can be successfully integrated or the caveats that come with the results and functionality they produce.
Many 10x marketers get involved when platforms just don’t work as they should, despite the promises of vendor sales and marketing messages.
They automate for the win
Superior marketing performance comes from creating excellent and profitable customer experiences in an automated fashion. This not only means their customers are receiving the right contact at the right time with the right message, but also that the day to day workload of the marketing team is seldom repetitive.
10x marketers will not only create automated marketing for their prospects and customers – they’ll also use tools like Zapier to automate reporting (for example, by sending data to a common Google Spreadsheet which then creates dashboards on a tool like Geckoboard).
They speak multiple business languages – finance, tech and operations
In order to build relationships and credibility internally, the 10x marketer knows what makes other departments tick.
Finance is the language that tends to rule in the boardroom. For this reason, the 10x marketer knows how to tie the effects of activity at the tactical level right down to the bottom line. For B2B marketers, they’ll know how their various campaigns perform on a cost per lead/opportunity/sale basis, and be able to tie activity from the first click through to the deal being closed won. For B2C marketers, they’ll know the impact of their campaigns not just on revenue, but also on margin, average order values and in-store sales.
To get stuff done, they need to communicate properly with their technical colleagues. This requires an understanding of how they work. 10x marketers don’t bother developers at their desks at random times or come with requirements that are unclear and wooly. They articulate the needs of internal and external users at an appropriate level of detail, are happy to defer to the expertise of the team and don’t make ridiculous demands.
For operations, they’ll likely not only know how they work – they’ll also have access to requisite systems for logistics and distribution. In areas such as ecommerce, knowing the logistical bottlenecks that cause your customers to have a sub-par experience is critical – otherwise key metrics such as Customer Lifetime Value can be sapped away.
They build great relationships – but don’t treat fools gladly
In order to make marketing efforts work, it seldom can be done by one person alone. That’s why the 10x marketer builds relationships internally and externally to get stuff done.
Internally, they get on the side of those they need buy in with. This is where the language skills (see above) really help.
Externally, they really get to know their agencies and suppliers, building solid relationships that mean both are willing to go the extra mile. But they are also quick to cut ties with those that weigh their company down.
They can measure their performance – but also know the grey area
Despite the hope for measurement nirvana, the reality is not everything can be accurately measured within marketing. However, it is possible to come close once measurement and integration is in place.
The 10x marketer will not only be able to present more performance data than the company has also seen – they will also be comfortable with the grey areas, caveats and ambiguities that naturally occur.
They take joy in creative optimisation
I’ve had some great laughs when running display campaigns testing a number of different variables. Examples I have really chuckled at include:
- Testing the impact of a banana versus a hamburger on a B2B LinkedIn ad (result: hamburgers win, especially around lunchtime when the clickthrough rate soars).
- Changing numbers in call to action text – resulting in large uplifts.
- Using a hero image of someone on a brick background vs a white wall.
One of my favourite case studies actually comes from Eat 24 (warning: NSFW) who achieved fantastic ROI for their food delivery by advertising on porn sites. It’s this type of creativity, freedom and fun that makes for great conversion rate optimisation.
They bring energy and urgency to their teams and colleagues
Top performing marketers don’t wait until tomorrow. They get things done now – and quickly. This sense of energy and speed rubs off on their colleagues, and the momentum can drive the entire organisation forwards.
If there are barriers, they knock them down or work around them with the same sense of pace. This means they are always generating results.
They really understand the customer
In mediocre marketing departments, the customer is relegated to either a generic persona put together a few years back by an external agency, or ignored altogether. The 10x marketer however has a deep understanding of what drives their customer, based on a rich set of data collected from numerous sources.
For example, they will know the unusual site search terms that bring colour to their personas. They can probably guess what newspapers they read or TV shows they watch. They know where and when they are engaging – whether during a lunch break at their desk, on their mobile during a commute, or on a tablet while in bed. All of this they will be able to tell by mixing their regular tools and measurement with a good dose of intuition and the odd third-party dataset.
They don’t stop learning
The world of digital doesn’t stop moving, and as such 10x marketers are always keen to get their hands on new tools or use existing ones in a different way. They know they can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
Are you a 10x marketer?
What do you think makes a 10x marketer? Do you recognise the characteristics above, or have I left something out? I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below…
If you think you are, or aspire to be, a 10x marketer, then attend SHIFT – brought to you by the experts at ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, taking place 24 – 25 May at 155 Bishopsgate, London.