I see that there are two essential functions of any good marketer.
The first is tactics.
A marketer needs to be obsessed with implementing the right tactics in the right way. The great thing is that there are a near endless number of tactics that are important. Social media posts, inbound marketing work, copywriting, printing, etc. These are the essential tools in the marketers toolbox. Interestingly, they are often replaced or refined, some altogether, some only in part. Since that is the case, a marketer is always learning new tools, retiring some, and learning to hack old ones.
However, how does a marketer choose which tools to use? How do they know which skills to devote time into? There are some tools (listening tools) that can help keep an ear out for where the customers are, and then other tools that can be used once we know where they are, but those don’t quite have enough depth to really inspire creativity or get the right message. That’s why we turn to the other half of marketing, the underwater part of the marketing iceberg. I call this, insight.
The second is insight.
Insight is what lets us distinguish a good idea from a bad idea. Insight can be learned, but it requires the brain and training to get there. This is the land of thought leadership, of story-based branding, of conceptual marketing.
While insight can be trained for, it’s a much more cerebral kind of activity. This is the work of Seth Godin, of Chip and Dan Heath, of Jim Collines of Donald Miller. This is also the work of so many coaches and business books that are written today, who have varying degrees of success.
For me, I have the most fun in insight, but I also love the tactics. Some marketers are on the other side, where they might really enjoy specific analytic tasks or production. Neither of these are wrong, but it is important to have a balance, as both insight and tactics work symbiotically.
If you are a manager of marketers or a marketing team: beware. Do not take all the insight upon yourself and leave all the tactics for your team, or the reverse. If you are not a marketer, do not steamroll over the insight your marketer should be able to provide. Marketing is a fine balance, and the best hires will be a very nice balance of these things.