Update! 

As of October 18, 2016, you can listen to Joe Koufman talk more about this post on Newsmodo's Brand Storytelling Podcast titled: How to define what makes the perfect marketer. Or, you can listen to the podcast right here!


Original Post: 


What background and skills are needed to prepare oneself to become the perfect digital marketer?

The truth? There is no “typical” background for marketing. While some believe the foundation of great marketing is creativity, the reality is that creativity without strategy can be useless. The most successful marketers have a personality profile with a healthy balance of left-brained and right-brained thinking.

A career in marketing requires a balance of right-brained and left-brained thinking. To be a marketer, you must be creative and analytical.

To put it simply, the backgrounds of modern CMOs are not painted with the same brush. In fact, crucial marketer personality traits can be found in people from financial, engineering, or IT backgrounds. These people seemingly “fall” into a marketing role. 

So... Can anyone be a marketer?

While there are a great deal of “accidental marketers,” not just anyone can run a company's marketing strategy. Since marketing has a hand in virtually every aspect of every business, often “accidental marketers” emerge from other (seemingly unlikely) disciplines. 

Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade New York, has a background in theater which has enabled her to tell stories, read a room, collaborate with others, and present in front of diverse audiences.

Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade New York, has a background in theater which has enabled her to tell stories, read a room, collaborate with others, and present in front of diverse audiences.

While the marketing profession is diverse, a personality test on top marketers would show that there are a few character traits that most marketers have in common.

5 personality traits that make a good marketer

 

Marketer Personality Trait #1 - Curiosity

“Curiosity about life, in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”
- Leo Burnett - 

Curiosity and mindfulness act as the power source for creativity. In the case of marketing, curiosity about existing processes, patterns in data, emerging technologies, as well as artistry adds up to a new breed of creativity. By questioning everything, marketers can eliminate departmental segregation and connect the dots in ways businesses hadn’t previously considered. 

 

Marketer Personality Trait #2 - Drive

“When you’ve worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.”

- Guy Kawasaki -

According to a recent study reported in the Wall Street Journal, the average tenure of a CMO has fallen to just 44 months. There are countless explanations for this, the most simple being that it takes a particularly agile marketer to stay on top of the constantly-evolving industry. Great marketers recognize that the key to keeping the doorway of opportunity open is to have the drive for “continuing marketing education”.

 

Marketer Personality Trait #3 - Emotional Intelligence (EI)

“Effective engagement is inspired by the empathy that develops simply by being human.” 

- Brian Solis, Altimeter Group -

Every great marketing decision ever made began with considering someone else - the customer, the team, the company as a whole. Marketers must be empathetic and charismatic while being self-aware and calculating. Delivering complex concepts and data in the form of an interesting story requires someone with a high EI. The marketer with the higher EI will beat out the marketer with the higher IQ every time.

 

Marketer Personality trait #4 - Attention to detail

“New ideas are sometimes found in the most granular details of a problem where few others bother to look.”

- Nate Silver, Editor-in-Chief of FiveThirtyEight -

Understanding the details at a granular level enables marketers to see the bigger picture with more clarity. Where most people see an ad, marketers see the combination of typography styles. Where most people see a website, marketers identify the keywords the website is targeting. Great marketers know that there is value in the details. Every aspect of marketing should be done with intention. 

 


Marketer Personality trait #5 - A collaborative nature

“In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

- Charles Darwin -

In the marketing department, collaboration helps to facilitate creativity. Outside of the marketing department, collaboration helps to bridge the communication gaps within the company. 


As the marketing industry expands and evolves, so will the desired skill set that goes along with a career in marketing. For students/young professionals looking to grow their career, SPARKsouth is a great way to network and learn about the various career paths.

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