5 character traits of a good marketer

Alina Gorbatch
by Alina Gorbatch on February 6, 2020

What should a good marketer be like? Surely, we all know about the skills they should have: copywriting, SEO, PPC, social media marketing, planning a strategy, understanding “the funnel”... The list is almost endless.

But what about their personality traits? Everything from HTML to copywriting can be taught (I believe), but tweaking human personalities to make them more fit for the job takes much more effort and isn't always possible. So when deciding whether to become a marketer and especially when hiring a marketer, which character traits should you look out for? 

1. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Marketing is targeted at other people, so it’s very important not to view the world solemnly from one’s own perspective. You have to think about what your customers would enjoy, how they would use the product, which problems they might face. Your blog posts, social media posts, and ads should be about your customers and the problems they face as opposed to your or your company’s achievements. This is essentially easier for people who are less self-centered. 

Don’t worry, I am not attacking anyone’s personality. Empathy has nothing to do with how good of a person you are - it’s about mirror neurons in your brain which make you more or less likely to neurologically confuse someone else’s feelings with your own. Psychologists suspect that mirror neurons help people understand the actions of others, imitate actions, imitate language, and be more or less empathic.

An actual photo of a sassy mirror neuron. Image taken from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/530791506067970976/

To test your own or someone else’s empathy level, think about a film where people cry, laugh, or find themselves in awkward situations. How likely are you to share their feelings? Do you often experience shame together with the character? Or do you laugh at socially awkward situations like the authors probably intended for you to?

Scene from When Harry Met Sally where Sally shows how women fake orgasms

If the first part of this line of questions sounds familiar to you, congrats/I am sorry to tell you - empathy is a trait you have! If it doesn't and you would like to train empathy for marketing's sake and to understand your mum better, practice mentally putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Try thinking as they would, keeping in mind everything you know about them and ignoring every personal feeling you might have.

2. Consistency

Consistency is the ability to stick to the same task for a long period of time. 

Marketing, surely, is a creative and fun process. However, results often come slowly. You might hope each of your social media posts (especially those amazing videos!) will go viral, and the next blog post will be just as successful as the previous one (it’s just as good, isn’t it?). But in reality, while some of your ideas will indeed bring immediate results, most will take ages of regular, consistent work, such as posting on social media every day, writing a blog post every week, replying to customers every time they mention you on Twitter. A/B testing, SEO, collecting feedback… None of these tactics make sense if you do them once in a while. There is just no way around the principle of consistency in marketing. 

So, the question is, are you, or whoever you’re hiring, a consistent person? Does it come naturally to you (or them) to stick to the plan and do something regularly? Or do you/them get annoyed and impatient after the effort doesn’t bring immediate results? 

To test that in yourself (if you’re not prone to routine self-reflection), recall the instances from your everyday life when you stuck (or didn’t stick) to doing something because you knew it’s working, albeit slowly. Do you regularly go to the gym twice a week? Did you learn a new skill even though you had been terrible at it at first?

If so, that’s another factor that makes you (or someone else) a good marketer.

P.S. Keep in mind that in every person’s life there are things they didn’t go through with. It’s the actual ability to go through with something that matters here. 

3. Anti-perfectionism

Perfectionism is often praised.

An excuse that someone hasn’t done something because they wanted it to be “perfect” is understandable and even respectful. Yet, if applied to marketing, perfectionism is nothing but a childish way of approaching a task.

No matter how much time you spend coming up with the “perfect” social media post, it’s very unlikely that the post will get you a thousand followers in a night. You can put all the effort you have in a single ad or a single article, and it still won't do wonders for you. 

It's the combination of different tasks that drives marketing. It's exactly the case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. This means that marketers have to do dozens of tasks each week and if they don’t regularly stop at “good enough”, they’ll end up with one task being perfect and all the other ten tasks left undone. Not to mention, you’ll burn out very quickly if you try to do every task perfectly.

So, ask yourself or the person you’re hiring about their priorities: do they value sticking to deadlines and getting everything done or making sure everything they do is 100% perfect?

4. Curiosity

In marketing, you can always do better. You can always grow your traffic, your leads, and your conversions. This means that ideally, you shouldn’t just be interested in the result, because chances are, the result will never satisfy you. There’s never quite enough traffic. You should also be interested in the marketing process - in finding different ways to get better results.

Luckily, the process is diverse and almost limitless. New ideas appear regularly in the marketing universe: you have to look out for them, search for something suitable to your brand, test it, apply, or move on. You’ve got to stay up-to-date not only with what’s happening in your industry but also with what’s happening in the world and in pop culture. And you can always come up with something no one has ever tried before.

The question is, are you interested in all that?

Have you ever watched ads out of curiosity? Have you ever genuinely wondered whether Facebook advertising is effective? Do you enjoy testing ideas and reverse-engineering competitors' successful strategies? If so, you’re in the right place. 

5. Open-mindedness

Image taken from http://www.easyvegan.info/2018/01/02/2017-book-memories-challenge/

Open-mindedness is defined as receptiveness to new ideas. “New” here doesn’t mean actually new as it does in the previous paragraph. Here, it means a point of view or an idea you’ve never considered before/have an innate dislike of. When you’re a marketer, no matter how strange the idea is, you’re bound to entertain it. There is no place for conservatism: you might prefer printed articles and billboards to TikTok madness and Instagram stories, but if you don’t change your tactics in time, your company will be doomed. 

Where do these alien ideas come from? Surely, not from your own head. Being open-minded means listening to other people, even the ones that you don’t like, and especially the ones that think differently.

This is one of the reasons why successful companies actively attempt to have a diverse team where people of different genders, races, nationalities, and backgrounds communicate. The more different we are, the bigger differences exist in how we think, which brings more and more ideas out in the marketing universe. If everyone is open-minded and willing to try out something they are not used to, the end result is likely to be outstanding.

So now I am ready for what you have to say. What do your knowledge and experience tell you a great marketer should be like? Please share in the comments. 

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