The Many Hats on a Marketer’s Hat Rack
When I tell people what I do for a living, using my title as “marketer,” I get a lot of nods. It’s a generally understood role and concept. But if I described my actual day-to-day work without labeling it, I suspect people would title my marketing role with a myriad of other names.
As a marketer I am part journalist, part psychologist, part business analyst … the list is endless. I wear multiple hats that vary depending on the day ‒ or task. Here’s what’s on my hat rack.
Let’s get some of the more obvious, daily-worn hats out of the way first.
When I think of marketers, I think of creatives like the ad men (and women), the Don Drapers, who dream up clever campaigns and beautiful ads. The ones who run genius viral campaigns that take over pop culture and get people talking and buying.
The Creative hat is one of my most favorite. I love to expand my mind, think outside the box, and dream. I also love to draw inspiration from the world around me.
Another huge component of a marketer’s job is to understand performance – of campaigns, business, internal processes, and the like. While wearing this Business Analyst hat, I seek data, extract and export it, analyze it, make inferences, and make recommendations.
I’ve noticed this component of a marketer’s hatbox has amped up in recent years, with job postings focusing heavily on the business and metrics side of the marketing role. A huge part of this is due to the plethora of data that is now available. We can and should track everything, and we need someone who knows what they’re looking at. Metrics do matter.
A marketer is often responsible for a certain campaign (or series of them), a calendar, and a budget. She must keep all of these plates spinning expertly in the air to ensure the project is running on time, to spec, and to budget.
When I put on my PM hat, I’m in the mode of corralling information, herding cats, creating workback calendars, and enforcing deadlines.
The three aforementioned hats comprise the bulk of my job – roughly 75% of the day-to-day routine. But there are other special hats tucked away in the closet that I occasionally need to wear, too. Here are a few of the secondary hats I wear most frequently.
Similar to a project manager, the Event Planner component of the role has to do with managing campaigns, calendars, and cash. As well, it entails looking at a list of upcoming events – those big flashy marquee events, as well as the tiny blips – bringing them all into focus, and running that show. That last one is hugely important. Someone needs to take the reins to oversee and run the event and ensure it all goes off without a hitch.
One of the lesser discussed, but nonetheless more important hats that I wear is that of a Psychologist. After all, one of the chief tasks of a marketer is to incite action. In order to do that, we marketers need to unpack motivation. We need to understand what makes people tick, what incentivizes them. To study and pay close attention to human behavior.
I love people and observing them to figure out where they’re coming from – their background and their preferences, who they are, what they’re passionate about. I’m curious, and I ask a lot of questions in my social engagements.
So too as a marketer I must do the same – to interact with my audience and try to understand where they’re coming from, in order to inform the way I speak to them. I also know that I can’t always trust what they say, but I can put a lot of confidence in what they do.
This is a fun one. We’ve talked in the past about the buyer journey. To effectively create a buyer journey, you must anticipate what those buyers are going to do before they do it. You need to predict their paths, from interest to information-seeking to purchase. Part of that intel comes from data – looking at metrics and seeing what has happened in the past. But that’s only one component, the past. You also need to be able to accurately predict the future. How else are you going to do that without reading the minds of your audience?
Like the Creative hat, the Mind Reader hat is a dreamer’s hat. It also weaves in a touch of Psychologist – analyzing and predicting. While wearing the Mind Reader hat, you must put yourself in the shoes of your audience and anticipate what they’re going to do.
Finally we get to the hat that I studied in school, that worn by the Journalist. The Journalist tells a story – and that is similar to the Creative role mentioned at the start. But to get there, the Journalist must mine and sift through research for information. She studies and learns, conducts interviews, and is generally curious about the world.
The Journalist is ever-questioning and tenacious, unafraid to roll up her sleeves and dig in the weeds to find nuggets that make a story pop. This may include wading through data, interviewing customers to solicit feedback, and pulling it all together to tell a killer story. (That story, by the way, may be used in creative, public-facing campaigns or internally, such as preparing a year-end marketing report and roadmap for next year.)
I love this hat, obviously, because it draws on my strengths and studies. But it’s also a fun one because it brings everything together.
How Marketing Automation Can Help
Marketing automation comes in as the hero for many of these tasks and roles.
For example, marketing automation makes the Event Planner’s or PM’s life easier because she can set up rules and automation and move on.
So too with Creatives. They can set up those same rules and automate the execution, spending less time doing small tasks and more time big-picture thinking and creating.
Business Analysts can examine the data that was collected automatically and determine which efforts – ads, emails, events – were most effective.
Those in the study of human behavior (Psychologists, Mind Readers) can examine success metrics and data and make inferences that give insight into the human mindset, such as at what stage in the marketing cycle or consumer or buyer journey a decision was made.
In essence, marketing automation cuts across all roles – all hats – and is the feather in the cap. It also acts as an overall organizing mechanism for all these jobs … as a virtual hat rack, if you will.
Wearing the Hats: One or Many at a Time
I hope these roles sound familiar – and if not, that they make you think about what other hats you can put onto your rack or in your closet. In a marketing org these roles may be held by a host of people, or just one. Which hat do you want to try on today?