3 Traits Of Superstar Marketers

3 Traits Of Superstar Marketers

March 3, 2014
3 min read

272486_l_srgb_s_gl What separates the best marketers from the rest?

A couple of recent articles and studies appear to be pointing to the same 3 traits you need to master to become a superstar in marketing.

Are you looking for that elusive secret to success?

I’m not sure it’s such a secret. Fortune has always favored the bold. And opportunity comes from preparation and the ability to lead people to a common goal.

So what do superstar marketers do? They learn to take risks with a few calculated bold moves, use data and analytics to drive intuitive decision-making and learn how to build amazing teams by being a leader with empathy.

Work on developing these 3 traits and you just might be your company’s next superstar!

Bold Action and Risk Taking

The willingness to take risks is one of the most important traits of successful leaders according to a recent  study I covered from Columbia University.

This was also the main focus of a recent article in AdAge, which states that for many successful CMOs, the risk of inaction is greater than the risk that comes with making bold moves.

According to Jennifer Warren, CMO of Radio Shack, this is the secret to her success. She says that she is someone who likes to “run to the fire.” And she’s comfortable with the belief that with big risk comes the potential for big rewards.

Her recent self-deprecating ad at the Superbowl won Nielsen’s top honors for being “most likeable.” And it comes just 9 months into her tenure as CMO. The thing that made her confident in taking that bold move was because she used . . .

Data And Analytics

In the same article, Jim Stengel, former Chief Marketing Officer at Proctor & Gamble stated that nearly all successful marketing starts with deep analysis of the market and the use of customer insights.

Jeannine Haas, CMO of Avis even went so far as to say that “data will set you free” as it “takes the emotion out” of tough marketing decisions.

Studies often confirm that the marketing mix does not reflect the way our customers navigate their buyer journey and which channels they use.

Marketing budgets tend to focus too much on advertising, and not enough in sales enablement, digital and mobile channels or on content marketing. And budget decisions should be set based on data, analytics and customer insights.


I have long believed that empathy is the secret to success in the age of social business.

In the AdAge article, recruiter David Wiser said that “table pounders and f-bomb droppers” are most likely not the qualities you’ll find in superstar marketing leaders.

To me this suggests that successful marketers need to be able to manage up to the boss, manage out to the market and manage across to peers and subordinates in an empathetic way.

In B2B, this means making the sales leadership team a priority customer. Most marketing leaders struggle with creating a productive relationship with the sales team. This means creating a partnership of equals and walking the fine line between serving the needs of the sales team while staying away from the order-taking that plagues so many B2B Marketing organizations.

It also means literally walking a mile in the sales’ teams shoes. Going on sales calls and speaking with customers.

Empathy also serves to help the bottom line. A recent Harvard Business School study showed that a 5% increase in customer retention produced a 25% to 95% increase in profits. What’s the best way to retain customers? By making an emotional connection

The 3 Traits of Superstar Marketers

  1. Take risks and make bold moves
  2. Use Data and Analytics to gain an intuitive understanding of your customers and the market
  3. Build effective teams by being an empathetic leader who understand what your boss wants, what your team wants, what your customers want and what the sales team wants.

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2 thoughts on “3 Traits Of Superstar Marketers

  1. Gerardo A. Dada


    Good post as usual – thanks. I agree with these traits have three comments to share:

    – We need to move away from soft metrics for marketing activities like ‘most likeable’ or ‘most shared’ a good marketer drives sales. period. Unless the RadioShack ads drive customers to the stores and get them to buy (there is no indication that this is the case), the company will not escape bankruptcy this year. More on this

    – While access to data is critical for marketers to make informed decisions, we should never assume the data we have has all the answers. Data is usually a rearview mirror of customer behavior, and more importantly, does not tell us ‘why’

    – I agree, empathy is probably the most important skill for a marketer. But I think about it differently: marketers need to be able to live life in the shoes of our customers, feel like they feel, think like they think, to help us understand how they make decisions, what problems they need solved, and to influence them in the buyer’s journey.

    Hope all is well. Cheers!


  2. Michael Brenner

    Thanks Gerardo, i completely agree. marketing’s role is to get and keep customers. Plain and simple. The challenge is how quickly? IN B2B that process can take some time and most certainly doesn’t align to the expectations of the sales organization. I also agree on the data point. Data is important. It can drive insights and learning and optimization. But ultimately, we need to absorb the data and then make strategic decisions. It’s why robots will never run companies. Well, at least I don’t think they will. 😉

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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