11 Traits of a Great Marketer

Got what it takes to break into this fast-changing field? See what the best marketers have in common.

marketing degree guide

Marketing: A day in the life

In the digital age, marketing attracts both creative types and hard-core number-crunchers. But whatever their skill set, all marketers have the same goal: to build positive, lasting connections between business and paying customers.

Curious about a career in marketing? Here's a snapshot of a typical day:

  • Position a company's brand in the marketplace, competing for customers across mobile, web, social media and print channels
  • Research customer behavior to uncover the trends: where they are, what they do, and what they value most
  • Turn market research into actionable business insights and goals
  • Create and strategize multi-channel marketing campaigns, from print pieces to Pinterest
  • Experiment with emerging technology to cultivate loyal customers and brand enthusiasts

Is marketing a good career fit for you? Check out the 11 must-have traits of the modern marketing pro:

1. Data-driven

The numbers don't lie. Tracking everything from Facebook "likes" to email click-through rates, digital marketers are practically married to their metrics. By measuring the results of their efforts, they discover which tactics are successful, and which they should adjust.

2. Creative

Good marketers are masters of creative problem-solving. It's their job to approach any situation—or product—with new eyes and develop a fresh approach. Case in point: The wildly successful "Got Milk?" campaign, which turned a humdrum staple into a national catchphrase.

3. Great storytellers

In the old days, companies could afford to shout one-way messages at their customers from billboards and TV commercials. No more. Today's best marketers—the ones whose ads show up in the Super Bowl broadcast—tap into the human need for narrative to make their case.

4. Collaborative

Lone wolves need not apply. Good marketers know that they can't be successful without support. From website design to data analytics, marketing is an intensely collaborative field that depends on solid partnerships for success.

5. Customer-focused

Thanks to social media and the rise of the blogosphere, customers have more power than ever before. Savvy marketers get this. They're relentlessly curious about customers—where they are, what they want, which apps they run on their phones. The goal? To deliver tip-top service and cultivate long-lasting relationships.

6. Flexible

In marketing, there's no such thing as "set it and forget it." As new channels constantly emerge, marketing pros are on technology's leading edge, pioneering approaches that have never seen the light of day. The great thing about marketing? If one strategy doesn’t pan out, there's another one to try next time.

7. Forward-thinking

A marketer's job is to go where the crowd isn't—yet. What trends are emerging? What will customers want in the next 6 months? The next 6 years? Marketing pros are always looking ahead to see where their product should be and how they can best serve customers.

8. Curious

Some roles in digital marketing are so new that there's no formal training program in place. (Ever seen "growth hacking" listed as a major?) In a field that's constantly changing, marketers must be life-long learners, willing to discover new ideas and approaches at every stage of their careers.

9. Accountable

See item number one. With metrics in place to measure the success of every effort, marketers are compelled to be accountable to company goals. It's not enough to come up with a catchy phrase or slick advertisement; a marketer's quest is to connect with paying customers.

10. Well-rounded

Gone are the days when marketers could push a simple "Buy now!" message. As customers have grown savvier, the marketing field has become more sophisticated. The best marketers in the business don't just sell-sell-sell; they bring solid critical thinking skills and real insights into human psychology.

11. Humble

Sooner or later, a marketer will face failure. It's just part of the territory. True marketing mavens share credit for successes with others and take responsibility when an effort falls short. These professionals are in it for the long haul, skilled at balancing short-term setbacks against the big picture.

[Want to get into marketing but can't ditch your day job to get a degree? See if an online marketing program is right for you.]


Next steps

From research analyst to content creator, most marketing jobs require a four-year degree. There are plenty of options out there, including part-time online programs designed with working adults in mind. Start exploring now and discover the marketing degree program that's just right for you.

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