This article was first published by Michael Barnett for Marketing Week on 4th June 2018
As a marketer, you probably spend much of your day thinking about segments of customers, but have you ever wondered which segment of marketers you fit into? According to Marketing Week’s groundbreaking research, marketers divide into eight different psychometric personas.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations this year, we commissioned researchers at CrowdCat to conduct a major three-part study of our audience, revealing the three key psychological dimensions that determine how marketers work and the content they consume, from which the personas were subsequently derived.
The first two phases of CrowdCat’s study – consisting of qualitative, contextual interviews with around 27 marketers, followed by a quantitative survey of 386 examining the themes marketers care about – discovered that marketers can be grouped into one of two categories on each of the three psychological dimensions. These represent two opposite ends of a spectrum, so an individual marketer could fall anywhere in between them, but they tend to cluster towards one polarity or the other.
Marketers are either:
- Industry professionals, who value respect of peers, industry expertise and metrics, or
- Communicators, for whom campaign performance and communicating ideas are important, but who think metrics are constraining.
- Empathisers, who value talent, relationships and creativity, or
- Analysers, who value data, leadership and administrative rigour.
- Creatives, who think creativity is a talent, that it isn’t just defined by the customer and that customer relationships are separate from their purchasing loyalty, or
- Drivers, who think everyone can be creative, that analytics and creativity should both relate to conversions, and that these are driven by customer relationships.
Using a second quantitative analysis of 3,650 respondents to assess where marketers are grouped within these three dimensions, CrowdCat identified the eight personas that describe the key types of marketing mind.
The Eight Personas
To bring the personas of marketers to life, CrowdCat named them after prominent business figures who share similar personality traits to the segments they represent, and whom marketers might recognise as aspirational figures. But even if you think you’re nothing like the individuals named, it’s the description of this persona that really matters.
The specific combination of personality dimensions is what sits behind marketers’ mindsets, with major implications for how they perform at work, what they value in their professional lives and how they define success. Below, CrowdCat chief scientist Richard Summers lays out the eight distinct marketing personas and the psychological implications.
Unlike many of their peer groups, these marketers think data and analysis are vital to their roles and therefore administrative tasks are valuable. In their view, organisational success is measured by marketing campaign performance and professional success is driven by confidence.
Like the Steve Jobs persona, these marketers see assertiveness as a necessity in leading their teams through crucial decisions, and believe common sense is integral to creating effective marketing and communications. They also think challenges and the resulting frustration are a part of creativity, having a positive impact on it.
Similarities to Melinda Gates lie in her efforts, under the auspices of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to analyse and understand how men’s and women’s stereotypical roles prevent many people from thriving personally and professionally.
Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs combined qualities so often seen as opposites, being both incredibly analytical and hugely creative. Thus, while this group thinks in a structured rather than imaginative way, they recognise that creativity is an inherent talent of specific people that make them highly valuable.
They relish challenges and even the frustration that comes with them, seeing them as an important and beneficial part of the creative process. Metrics, although useful, tend to constrain thinking inside the box.
This group believes leadership often requires assertiveness to achieve progress – a characteristic Jobs frequently demonstrated. Yet these marketers are also intuitively collaborative, compassionate and caring.
- Industry Professional
As evidenced in Amazon’s approach, these marketers believe that customer relationships drive conversion rates, so the better you can serve the customer, the more successful you will be. As a result, metrics and analytics should be about the customer, even at the expense of return on investment.
The group is more likely to be imaginative than structured in their thinking, and they are more likely to be reflective than collaborative in their ways of working.
Talent is critical to business success in their view and should therefore be nurtured and cherished. They believe their contribution to the team is determined by caring relationships with people and allowing them to contribute their ideas.
- Industry professional
This group of marketers intuitively values sensitivity over confidence and sees loyalty as a more important trait than influence. However, they are a group with a focus on leadership, doing so with an enthusiastic style as opposed to asserting their will, in the manner Virgin founder Richard Branson exhibits.
This enthusiasm extends to their team’s ideas, as they believe that, to contribute to their team, they need to show caring for colleagues.
Creativity trumps analysis in these marketers’ thinking: it is central to the business purpose and they believe everyone, including customers, can contribute to the creative process. Despite this, they acknowledge that metrics relate directly to what you are trying to achieve and therefore need to be central to what you are doing.
- Industry professional
Larry Page’s thorough computing knowledge, created through a life of dedication, helped the company he founded, Google, go from being a strange dream to a business giant.
Like him, this segment of marketers believes a deep understanding of what you want to do and the business that you are in are pivotal to success. They think embracing pace, change and imagination, and being able to articulate a vision and then drive efficiently and quickly towards it are what makes successful leaders.
Metrics relate directly to business purpose for these marketers, and therefore need to be central to what they are doing. Yet they also believe creativity is a talent and creative people are highly valuable to organisations.
These are the most purely creative segment of marketers. They think fun and creativity are central to purpose and need to be nurtured.
Metrics and analysis constrain their thinking, so to achieve their goals, they need to take intuitive steps. However, they also recognise that structure, analysis and common sense are aligned with being able to skillfully communicate ideas.
Challenges and frustrations are overcome by their inclusive relationships with people – a principle shared by Ava DuVernay, director of films including Selma, who suggested a race-based equivalent of the Bechdel test to ensure non-white actors are fully represented in Hollywood.
According to this segment, understanding your business and the needs of your customers will be the drivers of your success, through a consistent and structured approach to meeting these needs.
It was Mark Zuckerberg’s similar ability to understand his audiences in Facebook’s early days – and turn this into a simple vision – that has allowed it to dominate social media.
Creativity is closely related to conversion rates for these marketers and metrics relate directly to what they are trying to achieve and therefore must be at the core of everything that they do. Talent is a very valuable asset to them and needs to be nurtured through being caring and enthusiastic about ideas.
- Industry Professional
Intuition, imagination and knowledge are critical to success and personal assertion is required to pursue what your gut says is right. That description sums up PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who 10 years ago set about overhauling the company’s portfolio to consist of more healthy products – before it became the obvious right move. It also sums up this particular segment of marketers.
They also see communication skills as critical in commanding respect and influencing their organisation. Analysis of consumer data, meanwhile, should drive the organisation and provide the basis for strategy and direction to influence consumers, they believe.
Personal success is measured by respect from peers, and resilience and relationships enable these marketers to overcome challenges and frustration. Creativity and talent, however, are traits this group puts less emphasis on than others.