How To Be a Great Marketer
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
There’s this funny thing about marketing. Everyone has an idea of what it is; or what they perceive it to be, but when you ask them to explain it, there’s a myriad of different definitions people use to describe the act and the profession of marketing.
As the founder and brand director of a marketing firm, when people ask me what my job title is -- it's a very simple reply. However, when they ask what it is that I do, and I start describing it -- that’s when their eyebrows really go up. That’s because marketing is such a complex act and career. It's so complex, that just about every marketer has their own definition of what marketing is...myself included.
My definition of marketing is simply this, “creating concepts to connect with consumers.'' Very simple right? It’s also very alliterative...which is a great tool for marketing. So now that I’ve given you an overview about the perception of marketing and what my definition of it is. It’s time to give you what you really came here for -- the steps for you to take to become great at it. So with no further ado...here’s how you can become a great marketer.
The first step to becoming a great marketer is understanding people. In fact, almost every step that goes into becoming a great marketer has something to do with knowing people in one way or another. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a lecture about psychology (well maybe just a little bit...I’ll make it as brief as possible though).
The good news is that that there’s a very good chance that you’re already good at knowing people -- in one way or another.
When you were a kid, you probably knew which parent or adult you had wrapped around your finger. Am I right? How about this, even before that -- as an infant, you knew when to cry when you wanted to be fed. It’s already embedded in you to present a call to action when in need.
But knowing people, in regards to being a great marketer, requires understanding what makes people tick. That means being aware of their likes and dislikes, their dreams and nightmares. What they run to and what they run from.
The only way you can do this is by getting out of your comfort zone and talking to people of different ages, cultures, sexes, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Think about this, how can you market to multiple groups of people if you’re not aware of what makes them take action?
Sure, you can be a good marketer by just understanding what one group of people would like. But great marketers can successfully market to everyone. And the only way to be able to do that, is by getting out there and talking to people you're not already familiar with to help you understand them. Once you do, you’ll have an edge over most of the other marketers in any industry.
Why do people join cults, gangs, religious groups, fraternities/sororities, motorcycle clubs, and political parties? The long answer is that instinctively, people are drawn to be part of a group of people that they like, admire, or share interests with.
The short answer is tribalism.
Tribalism is defined in Oxford Learners Dictionaries as, “behavior, attitudes, etc. that are based on supporting and being loyal to a tribe or other social group.” Understanding tribalism is incredibly important in order to be a great marketer, because everyone is part of a tribe...or wants to be -- whether they admit it or not.
Regardless, of if it’s becoming a member of a church, a book club, a country club, or even wearing merchandise representing your favorite sports team...it all falls under the tree of tribalism. The simplest way I can break down tribalism is the following expression, “this is how we do it” (and no, not the song by Montell Jordan).
Every group has a set of ideals, characteristics, and rules that everyone in the group must abide by to be part of the group. Understand what the group is (their "this"), how it operates (their how), and why its members do what they do to be part of it, and you’ll be able to effectively market to the group.
I’ll give you the main reason people join tribes since you were inquisitive enough to read this article up to this point. The main reason people join groups is status -- which brings us to the next thing you must do to become a great marketer.
Recognize the power of status
Status isn’t everything...but it’s definitely above third place as far as how we see ourselves. Status is why people want the mansion and the Ferrari. Status is why in high school, we wanted the best clothes and cared so much about what our classmates thought of us. Status is why so many people get anxious if their posts on social media don't get any reactions. It’s why people hope to win awards and get recognized by their peers.
To be a great marketer, you must understand that people only purchase things for two reasons -- they want it or they need it. And the main reason people want things has everything to do with status.
The reason that people are willing to pay so much money for a new Mercedes-Benz or an Hermès Birkin bag has more to do with their respective logos than their features. That’s because their brand is high end and their logos represent status.
In order to be the great marketer you’re on your way to becoming, you must realize that everyone desires admiration of some kind from their peers and those they admire. Everyone also desire status. Show me a brand that helps people boost their social status, and I’ll show you a brand that’s extremely profitable (shout out to Apple and Instagram).
Be a great storyteller
Why did the chicken cross the road? That feeling that you have while you're anticipating which corny punchline I'm going to use to finish the joke is called tension. And all great stories contain tension.
To be a great marketer, you must also be a great storyteller. And great storytellers evoke tension from their audience. A great storyteller knows how to keep their audience on the edge of their seat in anticipation for what's going to come next -- and how the story will end. And by the end of the story, the audience will be glad they invested their time listening to the story.
In her book, What Great Storytellers Know, author Bernadette Jiwa wrote, "When you know who your people want to become, you can tell a more relevant and resonant story." The skills listed above will help you know who people want to become, once you know that -- you'll be able to tell them a great story that will help them and persuade them to take a desired action.
Empathy is the one attribute of being a great marketer that doesn’t involve knowing people. It just involves knowing the difference between right and wrong. As a marketer, your job is to provide value to a consumer by helping them get what they want. Not by tricking them into allocating their time or money into something that only benefits you.
The title of this article isn’t “How To Be a Great Salesperson.” All that would require is getting sales. Remember, my definition of marketing is, “creating concepts to connect with consumers.” Part of connecting with consumers is ensuring that they walk away from their investment of time and/or money feeling like they received what they came for.
To be a great marketer, you must respect the consumer by being truthful with the consumer and understand what the consumer wants (even if you created that want) or needs and deliver it to them as you said you would. This also helps build credibility, which will work in your favor in the future when it's time to persuade others to take action.
The steps above are designed to help you understand consumers so that you can connect with them. Having empathy is simply about treating the consumer how you’d like to be treated if you were in their shoes.
I’ve read a plethora of books about marketing. I’ve also taken numerous marketing courses. And while those books and courses have taught me many marketing strategies and tactics. None of them taught me the exact attributes that are needed to become a great marketer. If you follow the steps above, you’ll become a great marketer, and will make the lives of your consumers better. And they’ll do the same for you in return.