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What makes a brilliant marketer? How to tell the great from the good


What makes a brilliant marketer?

What makes a brilliant marketing manager and how do you tell the great from the good? For the most part, technology SMBs hire marketing people to generate and nurture leads, so it follows that a good one needs to be able to do this. So what attributes should CEOs or recruiters be looking for?  We’ve identified four.

The first two should be a given.  Any capable marketing person should be able to understand the numbers and get things done.  Three and four are altogether rarer qualities that define brilliant, as opposed to merely competent, marketers.  They are the attributes we should invest time in seeking and developing.

1. A good marketer can manage people and priorities and get things done

They are good coordinators and project managers; they can run campaigns, manage the team, the systems, digital channels, third parties and events to deliver results on time and on budget.  They can juggle multiple priorities and have the experience to execute the plan and make things happen. Tick.

2. A good marketer is commercially savvy and can think and act strategically

They should know how the technology and services they sell create value. They should understand the business model, the commercial drivers, and the numbers, and use this to create a plan, a budget and product-led propositions and partnerships to meet business objectives.  In other words, they get it; they understand the business, the products and how they make money.

Moreover, if your business is a designated Microsoft Solution Partner they should be fully cognisant of how Microsoft operates and be proactively building relationships with key stakeholders. Tick.

So how to tell the great from the merely good? Here are two more attributes to look for

One and two are highly desirable, actually essential, attributes, but they are fairly common and they are only half the story.  So what makes a brilliant marketer? The special qualities, more seldomly glimpsed are a genuine understanding of, or even interest in, the audience and the rare ability to engage with them through the written word.  These are the things that separate brilliant marketers from the merely competent, or even humdrum.

3. What makes a brilliant marketer is a deep understanding of the market and their customers

Brilliant marketers have an understanding of their markets and the external context in which their business operates.  They will be empathetic to their audience’s experiences, point of view, needs, frustrations, and desires.  This insight helps create more relevant value propositions, campaigns and content that resonates with the market.

Good marketers have their finger on the pulse, and they know what’s going on the world. Brilliant marketers are mentally agile and are used to thinking and responding to external events quickly. They are well informed about current affairs, have views that they can defend, and they are interested in technology and how it’s changing the way customers work.

Every marketer should spend time talking to customers to understand why people are buying and what issues they are trying to solve.  Failure to talk to at least one customer a month is practically dereliction of duty.

In our view, marketing people who start with the market do it better! Look for people with curiosity and a variety of interests.

4. Brilliant marketers communicate in ways that engage their audience

Great writers

Unlike sales, marketers rely on words and stories to turn strangers into friends. Brilliant marketing managers have a knack of uncovering market insights and spinning them into commercial gold. They proactively look for opportunities to turn external events and news into stories that keep the message current. They need a journalistic approach to writing, using captivating headlines and compelling calls to action that elicit a response.  Some might call this click bait, but that’s what sells newspapers – low- and high-brow alike.

Storytelling is the single most underrated skill in the marketing team. Look for people who can write.

Brilliant marketing managers can communicate big ideas in simple and relatable ways because they understand the proposition and they understand the audience.  Being able to write in an engaging, concise style keeps a reader interested. Catching and holding the eye of decision makers with relevant, relatable content that stirs emotion and compels action, is a scarce artform.

Inspire confidence

Effective marketers can communicate articulately with, and about their target market and persuade others to buy into their plans. They are at ease presenting their ideas internally and have a communication style that instils confidence in colleagues, partners and vendors. Getting people to cooperate or contribute is an essential quality.  On the whole, marketers don’t have much actual authority and yet often need to enlist support from colleagues in other teams, partners or vendors.

Brilliant marketers are good at persuading and influencing; bringing others on board with new ideas. Look for people who can inspire.

What makes a brilliant marketer

When hiring a new marketer, try and look beyond the marketing degrees and digital qualifications; these are mechanics that can be taught. Seek those who are interested in technology and what is going on around them. Be cautious about individuals who’ve been spoon-fed content or ideas from big organisations. Find entrepreneurial people with ‘can-do’ attitudes and curiosity about customers and their worlds, who can communicate with ease.

Look for behaviours that reflect these attributes regardless of whether hiring for an entry-level executive or a more senior person. If they aren’t innate, they can be developed through coaching, mentoring or training.

For a copy of our Marketing Competency Framework, or help evaluating candidates and onboarding new marketers, get in touch

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