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What Companies Want: The Seven Traits of an Ideal Marketer

by Guest Blogger  |  
April 18, 2012

A guest post by Nemo Chu of Bloomfire.

"What do you look for when you hire a marketer?" 

Recently, I presented that question to owners of companies ranging from half a dozen employees to over a hundred employees, and they all gave similar responses.

Companies want their marketers to have the following traits.

1. Self-motivated

In a smaller, fast-moving environment, everyone's wearing a lot of different hats. Companies don't always have time to give 16-point instructions. Instructions might be just a couple of sentences, and companies expect smart marketers to figure it out, even when given little direction.

2. Business acumen

Those folks who can figure it out often have business acumen. They're the people who can ask themselves the question, "What can I do today that would best move the business forward?" and come up with an intelligent answer.

To do that, marketers need more than just an understanding of marketing—marketers need to have an understanding of business. Knowing the mechanics of how money comes in, how money goes out, and how customers are retained will do wonders towards furthering anyone's understanding of business.

3. Sales training

In some sales-driven organizations where sales reps bring in the cash, marketing wins when it sets salespeople up for success. Marketers in such organizations will need to collaborate with salespeople, which means they'll need to understand sales.

As someone who works at a company that builds sales training tools used at successful organizations like Kellogg's and Dannon, I see firsthand the value of marketers who "get it" and collaborate with sales teams.

4. Pleasant personality

When Zappos hires people, one of the questions they ask to gauge cultural fit is, "On a scale of one to 10, how lucky would you say you are?"

People who says they are the luckiest ones have a much better chance of getting a job because Zappos doesn't want to hire people that bring bad luck to their company.

Zappos recognizes that lucky people also tend to be pleasant people. Because people like them, people want to help them, which means they attract opportunities. Lucky!

5. Experience

If a small-business owner is hiring a marketer, the owner is looking for someone with small-business marketing experience.

If a large corporation is hiring a marketer, the manager is looking for someone with large-corporation experience.

In both cases, experience trumps degrees and certifications.

People who've done marketing long enough know that small-business marketing is a different world than mega-corporate marketing. Know where your strengths lie and position yourself accordingly.

6. Hunger to be the best

One of my colleagues is the co-founder of an Inc. 500 Internet marketing consultancy with over 100 marketers on staff. What does he look for when he hires another marketer?

A desire to be the best at her craft. That means this marketer's not looking to pick up marketing as a stepping stone to some other end goal. Her end goal is to be the best marketer on the planet.

7. Killer writing chops

Direct marketing is a popular form of marketing at small businesses because owners can easily see the ROI equation. The thinking goes like this, "If I spend X and 2% of my audience converts into customers, then I'll make Y. Hey look, Y is greater than X, so that means the marketing pays for itself! What a no-brainer."

Smart marketers know that the Web is a great direct marketing channel, one that will dwarf the direct marketing industry wrapped around snail mail.

To succeed in both online or offline direct marketing, great copywriting is mission-critical. And copywriters know that writing skills take time to develop, just like better piano-playing comes with more practice. That makes a marketer with writing abilities baked in so much more valuable.

What other traits are valuable for a marketer to have?

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Little Boy Dressed Up)

Nemo Chu does marketing and sales at Bloomfire, a popular Web-based sales-enablement tool used by organizations large and small.

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  • by Jeff Madsen Wed Apr 18, 2012 via blog

    "Smart marketers know that the Web is a great direct marketing channel, one that will dwarf the direct marketing industry wrapped around snail mail."

    I'm not arguing against the scope and opportunity the Web represents, but is this a statement of prophesy or hope or fact? There's still a whole lot of business being driven by that old tired snail mail!

  • by Ellen O'Brien Wed Apr 18, 2012 via blog

    I agree with Jeff. We provide agency management software to home health, hospice and private duty agencies and it's a market that is largely driven by word of mouth and face-to-face contact. Web is great as a communication vehicle once they've identified your company as one that might have what they want, but it starts with a human contact and a referral quite often.

  • by Eric Wittlake Wed Apr 18, 2012 via blog

    My addition: Analysis.

    Reporting, measurement and analysis is something every marketer needs to understand, this cannot be left to dedicated reporting or analytics groups.

    -- @wittlake

  • by Mike Quill Wed Apr 18, 2012 via blog

    Great post. I would add having better than average project management skills. The most effective marketing practitioners are those that can complete revenue growth projects on time and on budget.

  • by Nemo at Bloomfire Wed Apr 18, 2012 via blog

    It's a prophecy. Snail mail is a very large business. The web will dwarf it.

  • by Laura Lear Thu Apr 19, 2012 via blog

    The best marketers I've seen know how to differentiate between busywork and what is truly important to driving revenue for the business. I suppose I'm echoing what Mike Quill said as project management is key. But beyond that skill is understanding how to identify what is mission critical and how not to be waylaid by the next great social media network, the next great online tool, etc. It is something I continue to hone myself, even after 25 years as a marketer, and one that I look for when interviewing candidates for my team.

  • by Nemo Chu Thu Apr 19, 2012 via blog

    I agree 100%. I think what you wrote is a much more elegant way of saying what I was trying to say with point #2: business acumen. To help me focus on what's truly important, I constantly ask myself this question, "What can I do today that only I can do to best move this business forward?"

    I don't always have an answer. But the question always brings me back down to Earth.

  • by Steve Druley Fri Apr 20, 2012 via blog

    The best marketers have two attributes not mentioned. First, they have insatiable curiosity. They ask “who, what when, where, why, and how” And then "Why?" again. Second, they are resourceful. They know how to solve problems and get results efficiently, often with an unusual strategy or tactic. Some of those mentioned are not marketer-specific characteristics, like self-motivated, pleasant, and experienced. Rather, they apply to virtually any role in business. Unfortunately, too many owners have no idea what makes a good marketer so they simply give the characteristics of good employees.

  • by Gillian Rusike Tue Apr 24, 2012 via blog

    ......... and last but not the least to all, at least someone who has studied marketing. Some call it an art and others want to call it science, therefore which ever way, to be a master in it, Study it as well and you complete the circle in fulfilling what companies want......

  • by Charles Sipe Sun Apr 29, 2012 via blog

    Great post. I believe the reason that Tony from Zappos likes to ask recruits how lucky they are is based on a research study that found that people who considered themselves lucky were more likely to spot opportunities. They were told to find as many specific items on a newspaper and the "lucky" ones were more likely to see the ad that said "stop and tell the researcher that you found this box and collect X dollars".

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