Inside the Minds of Marketers:
A Summary of Responses to Colorful Questions Marketers Answer to Amuse Themselves
Yup, Over 500 marketers actually Took an online quiz.
We asked marketers from all over to tell us a little bit about themselves and, in exchange, we anticipated what type of marketer they were through our predictive marketing career quiz. Those who opted in received six months of tailored marketing “horoscopes” (think newsletters with a twist) that (hopefully) helped them do their jobs better. Ultimately, this campaign allowed us to take a closer look at how marketers see themselves.
After compiling data from the 492 (out of a total of 545!!!) respondents, these were the results...
Respondents by Role
The majority of our respondents were individual contributors, followed by marketing or company leadership, and upper management or executives.
Upper Managers & Executives
We noticed that the overwhelming majority of marketers who took our quiz worked within a larger team. Those who saw themselves as the adultiest adults in the room were often a one-person band or small business owners in charge of all marketing efforts. The rest of our respondents were part of smaller teams (usually made up of a manager and a marketer or two).
Part of a Team
Very Small Team
m= 492, collected between November 2021-March 2022
Many marketers are doers! Our minds are racing all the time, thinking about how to plan and get things done quickly, cheaply, and effectively.
-Pam Didner, Sales & Marketing Expert
A Marketer’s Perspective
When it comes to your philosophy on life, is it all about the journey or the destination?
When it comes to marketers, the whole “journey versus destination” thing is sort of a red herring. Of course, we should be concerned about both. On the one hand, the journey is where the hustle happens –– it's where ads are running and landing pages are being made and analytics are being tracked and content is being written, and, and, and…
But ultimately, we’re accountable for the destination. That’s where the dashboards and the skip-level presentations come into play; We’re all about the end results.
Sure, it’s all very Jekyll and Hyde but that’s the world we marketers live in. So, what makes a person even want to switch back and forth from do-er to measurer to creator all in one day? Being a glutton for punishment? Having an insatiable need to over-achieve? Maybe a bit of both?
"Marketers are accountable for both the journey (daily hustle) and the destination. It's all very Jekyll and Hyde."
When building out a campaign, what do you keep in mind first and foremost?
While marketers waffle between the journey and the destination, they’re also having to keep their audience top-of-mind. Truly, there are so many facets of the job that the weight of keeping it all going while coming up with creative solutions is what makes marketing particularly challenging. Once you add ever-changing organizational goals, evolving technologies, and shifting (and, at times, contradictory) priorities, it gets to be somewhat chaotic.
After all, you know that they say, "good intentions pave the way to hell". Or, at the very least, they increase the likelihood that you’re not meeting your KPIs.
Too long; didn't read?
Big Insight for Marketers: Wearing multiple hats is normal, just remember you only have one head to put them on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be forthcoming about any gaps between management's expectations and your reality.
Big Insight for Marketing Leaders: Be cognizant of everything that needs to be done –– and in what order –– for your marketing efforts to succeed. Something being high-priority doesn't necessarily make it urgent (and vice versa). Remember, there are no small tasks, only small marketers.
"Why did Marketing start collecting 'leads' in the first place?
They did it because Sales didn’t have contact databases so Marketing needed to get people to fill out forms so that Sales had emails & phone numbers to facilitate unsolicited outbound Sales. There was no intent data. The level of automation in Sales was very low. Ya, Marketing needed to create 'leads' for Sales in 2014.
But here we are, almost a decade later. And companies are still doing the same thing despite how much has changed in the World."
-Chris Walker, CEO, Refine Labs
A Day in a Marketer’s Life
In another timeline, we’d tell you what Myers-Briggs personality types are more likely to thrive in marketing roles but, as it turns out, that's all pseudoscientific nonsense. However, we do think Hubspot did a pretty good job of breaking down the traits every marketer needs to be successful: adventuresome, energetic, assertive, intellectual, driven, unafraid to challenge the status quo, trustworthy, gregarious, disciplined, and uncompromising when it comes to quality.
Of course, the tricky part is that when you have all of these qualities, it makes it very easy to take on more work than might be good for you.
That said, let’s take a look at how marketers spend their days, shall we?
What do your days look like?
While it’s clear that most marketers have new and different things to do each day, we were curious to know if they liked that their days were always different or if they just had different days and had to deal. After taking a (very informal) poll within our own office and a few of our clients, we found that marketers really enjoy having a variety of tasks. In fact, the laziest Google search revealed a Quora question wherein the respondents mentioned “variety” being a plus several times. Our team concurs: same = boring.
The other side of this is that having to switch one's attention from project to project frequently fails to produce the best results. In fact, the American Psychological Association reports, “doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.”
In your current organization, your marketing goals are…
Sometimes we wonder if "The Great Divide" between sales and marketing has become a thing of the past and our research shows that, for the most part, it has! We think this is excellent news –– the rift between sales and marketing was, frankly, a bit boring. With the focus shifting towards making sales and marketing data useful to the organization as a whole, we need sales and sales needs us. Maybe we should create a cutesy name for us like Bennifer (remember that?)... Smarketing? Salesketing? Regardless, LinkedIn reported in 2020 that 87% of sales and marketing leaders believed the collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth. LONG LIVE MARKETALES! Woohoo!
That said, if you haven’t centralized your revenue goals, it’s time to take a closer look at the culture you’re fostering that’s keeping them divided. Being responsible for the full funnel naturally promotes collaboration. We'd even go so far as to say it’s what birthed account-based marketing as a tactic!
"The rift between sales and marketing is boring. it's time for centralized revenue goals, friends. Don't delay, centralize today."
OOH, more advice!
Big Insight for Marketers: Regardless of your day-to-day reality, your tasks should include working with your comrades over in sales to make sure your content doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Big Insight for Marketing Leaders: One of your biggest responsibilities as a leader is to build trust and foster collaboration between sales and marketing. When it comes to smashing silos, the head of sales should be your partner in crime.
"Repeat after me: marketing and sales are NOT two unique silos.
YOU are just parts of the same E2E [end-to-end] process. Period."
-Neil Patwardhan, Global Vice President, Sales, Accenture
A Very Particular Set of Marketing Skills
To quote Bryan Mills (Taken), we expected most of the responses to skillset-related questions to basically amount to, “If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go–” Ok, ok, no one went that far.
As it turns out, though, that wasn’t the case. Considering the realities of the job market, workload expectations, and lack of budget, that probably makes more sense.
You consider yourself to be…
"Marketing job listings describe the responsibilities of four to five different roles. This is a painfully common (or just painful) experience."
Looking at these charts, marketers are either 1) overachieving superhumans, or 2) have an inflated sense of self. Call us biased but we think it’s the former. The pressure to be good at all the things, especially when we’re faced with job listings that describe the responsibilities of four to five different roles is a painfully common (or just painful) experience.
What does this look like in the wild? Let's find out:
The below listing for a “Brand Marketing Manager” for an international media brand was pulled straight from Indeed and represents decades of job listings we’ve seen: “The individual should be the go-to leader for their individual campaigns, ensuring all stakeholders are managed and the brand strategy comes through in everything we do.”
Kind of like how we’ve learned over time that seeing “cozy” in apartment listings translates to “depressingly small”, our experience tells us it’s probably in our best interest to read between the lines.
So, let’s break that job description down, shall we?
- Go-to leader for their individual campaigns: Write, design, place media, project-manage, build fresh approaches, write scripts, record videos, manage vendors
- Ensuring all stakeholders are managed: Identify stakeholders, figure out their protected interests, perform mental gymnastics to get the job done, haunt them to get their approval on content, and proactively and reactively execute their content with little or no credit
- The brand strategy comes through in everything we do: Ensure each piece of communication that leaves the company follows brand standards, grapple with people who don’t understand brand standards, educate people on what brand standards are, create templates for brand standards (that people will likely ignore)
...And this is JUST. ONE. SENTENCE. Put simply, being an effective marketer in most corporate environments means being able to shoulder incredible amounts of pressure to do it all, complete with a “can-do” attitude and a plucky smile on your face.
"Being an effective marketer today means being able to shoulder an incredible amount of pressure to do it all with a "can-do" attitude."
When it comes to Excel,
When asked to build a dashboard for a campaign, you think…
How true is this statement for you: “I love me some marketing automation, customer relationship management systems, and digital asset management”?
Another fun legacy perception of marketing is that we’re just making pretty pictures. We’re still combatting that notion, particularly when working in the science and engineering fields. But the reality is that the majority of us are baby data scientists in our own right (and sometimes fully-fledged ones, depending on our role!). In fact, valuable skills for marketers these days include marketing automation and technology, and data analysis. Gartner even reported in their latest Annual CMO Spend Survey for 2021 that marketing technology got a .4% increase this year.
Job Creep, Anyone?
Of course, having such a wide range of skills can lead to job creep. That’s like scope creep but for your job. In fact, since most marketing budgets were cut in 2021, and Gartner adorably reports that “CMOs proved that they could do more with less, curbing spending on events, agencies and ad budgets in the face of a crisis,” it just goes to prove our earlier point about the pressure for marketers to know more and do more.
Luckily for leadership, marketers love to learn new things. The go-getter attitude we bring to the table fuels our endless curiosity about new stuff. That’s why it’s no surprise that over 60% of marketers chose to answer the question “When asked to build a dashboard for a campaign, you think…” with “Time to do some research to see how to make this magic happen. I can do this!”
Here we go again...
Big insight for marketers: If there’s ever a case where being a “Jaime-of-all-Trades” doesn’t lead to being a “Master of None”, being a marketer is it. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to stay in your lane! But, for those who love flexing and/or stretching their professional skills, managing the many cogs of the marketing wheel is a great way to do it.
Big insight for marketing leaders: Managing a team of human swiss-army knives is an absolute dream scenario. But don’t assume that’s everyone’s cup of tea. Rather than focusing on how many different roles you can fit into one seat, lean in to each team member’s best skill. You’re far more likely to get more bang for your buck that way.
"As a manager, one of the first things I do with a new hire [or team] is sit down and talk through each person's career goals.
Then, I share a framework that I've used consistently to help my direct reports build the skills they need to prepare for the next role that'll take them closer to their dream job, whatever (and wherever) that may be."
-Erika Heald, Founder, Content Marketing Consultant
Connecting with the Market
Remember when we broke down the number of quiz-takers who saw content as a two-way street? We’re not surprised to see that reflected in how they prefer to connect with the market at large.
In fact, the majority of marketers said they enjoyed meeting new people but gave them the floor to start the conversation, loved encouraging others to share more about themselves, and leveraged basic human nature to better engage with their audience.
By contrast, about a third of respondents said they were the first to jump in and say "Hi", focused on asking questions, and leveraged those questions to create more engaging content.
And, look, we can’t all be Chatty Chatums. So it was no surprise that a handful of marketers responded to our quiz saying that, while they didn’t mind meeting new people, they didn’t specifically seek them out either or they avoided going to networking events altogether.
While the question about how a marketer might handle an inflammatory subject may seem a tad random, we thought it could be an interesting indicator of how one might deal with content around polarizing events.
While the vast majority reported they’d try to steer the conversation away to something more neutral, others said they’d avoid the subject altogether. Only a brave few said they’d fan the flames.
Of course, context matters (and this is by no means an exact science) but these responses definitely made us curious about how these sentiments might be reflected when it comes to creating content around current events, managing less-than-pleasant community interactions, and/or handling conversations with stakeholders as a whole. Food for thought!
And yet she persists...
Big insight for marketers: Regardless of how you like to engage, it may be helpful to keep one thing top of mind; what are you hoping to get out of this interaction? Will sharing your story open the stage for others to do the same? Does your audience expect you to have an opinion about certain topics or do they come to you as an escape?
Big insight for marketing leaders: Don’t assume everyone on your team has the same social battery or even the same approach to connecting with others, especially your audience. That said, there may be an opportunity to really hone in on what methods of engagement really resonate with your audience and get your team on the same page. Do they simply want to be informed? Or would they rather have a conversation?
Final Fancy Remarks
So, what have we learned, kids? First and foremost, marketers are way more amenable to actually filling forms out and even *gasp* sharing their emails than we expected!
But seriously, our biggest takeaway was how tired marketers are (and with good reason)! We’re getting more organizational buy-in (and budget) than ever before but, of course, that comes with more expectations. And those expectations may not take into account a marketer’s strengths, resources, or needs. So, what are we to do?
It seems, at least for now, that transparency is key. For true change to happen, frank discussions need to be had between marketers and their leaders, leaders and their executives, and organizations and their target audience.
We hope this campaign opened the door for some of those conversations to happen. We also hope our follow-up campaign, The Burnout Index (if you've read this far, surprise! Also thank you), continues to drive these conversations and sparks real, meaningful, positive change.
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