One of the reasons I love marketing is because it requires both sides of the brain to be a truly skilled marketer. While some highly intuitive leaders have achieved great success from their intuition alone and while some advertising agency “creatives” have created brilliant campaigns without the benefit of research, most truly gifted marketers know how and when to use each side of their brain.
For instance, it is important to create “out-of-the-box” stimulus to present to customers in research, but it is also important to know which research technique to use and in what order questions should be asked to minimize biasing. It is even more important to know whether the research was constructed in a valid way that can be relied upon. If you are a marketing researcher, CRM expert, direct marketer or product manager, analytical skills and metrics are very important. If you are developing advertising campaigns, you had better have a very active right brain. The same is true if you are developing out-of-the-box publicity approaches.
One must know when to listen to research results and when to ignore them. And one must be able to understand why qualitative research findings might differ from quantitative research findings and what to do about it. Sometimes analytics will indicate a particular market segment, product benefit, pricing strategy or merchandising strategy can take your brand to the next level. But it is equally as important to be able to get deep inside your customer’s head to understand his or her deepest values, attitudes and motivations.
So, what skills are important for a top marketer? A highly skilled marketer should possess each of these skill sets:
- Psychology – understanding human motivations in a deep way, knowing what makes people “tick”
- Selling – intuitively knowing what words, phrases and approaches connect with customers and cause them to want to buy what you are selling
- Communication – outstanding and persuasive written and oral communication skills
- Interpersonal skills – good listening skills, personal charisma, being likable, connecting with others easily
- Analytical skills – understanding budgets, financial statements, marketing research design, data analysis and statistics
- Broad cultural knowledge – knowing what your customers are exposed to and what is informing their fears and desires
- Broad exposure and experience across multiple disciplines – to stimulate creative connections between seemingly unrelated things
This is why I think of marketing as a “gestalt.” It is also why mediocre marketers outnumber marketers who are operating at a high level of functioning by a wide margin. Finally, it is why it is difficult for someone who is not a marketer to gauge the competence of any given marketer. In the end, it is this constant back-and-forth between right-brain and left-brain that makes marketing so fresh and interesting.
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