I want to be seen

May 17, 2022

This column is the last of the trends series we’ve been working through over the past several weeks. The overarching theme to the series was that our world has been in crisis for the past two years and, like every other crisis in history, it’s going to be followed by a season of great reinvention and change. As marketers, we are going to have many opportunities to capitalize on that in the coming year.

As we explore this final trend, my goal is to get you thinking about how you can take advantage of these trends as you work to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we identified that people are hungry to feel like they belong and are connected to others. While this is not a new sentiment, the isolation and fear that everyone has endured over the past couple of years has certainly exaggerated how acutely people need shared experiences and hanging with their people.

This final trend is all about the opposite. The idea that I am unique and should be treated as an individual. Don’t lump me in with others. See the real me. Pay attention to the real me. Cater to the real me.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

This “it’s all about me” trend is much more nuanced than simply wanting customized communications and experiences. But it does start there. Consumers want to be seen as individuals and appreciated for their uniqueness. They’re willing to spend more or exert more energy to establish themselves as one of a kind.

Interestingly, much of this hunger to be an individual is an attempt to fit in, as ironic as that sounds. Today’s consumer believes they can achieve a certain level of status and belonging because they stand out. Being quirky and interesting is in right now.

Another way this concept of “it’s all about me” is playing out is how people are deciding where to shop these days. Consumers want to match their spending with their values, and that’s another way this individualism is coming to life. Marketplaces like Etsy and other places where you can access one-of-a-kind items or work directly with a creator are a powerful way to pay homage to the individual.

We’ve seen a surge of interest in anything that is custom made or created in small batches. Specialty grocery items, subscriptions offering product exclusivity, and items that boast sustainability are all gaining in popularity right now. Subscriptions have also trickled into retail locations. Monthly dining clubs, unlimited coffee subscriptions and even subscription-only restaurants are popping up with greater frequency.

One of the undercurrents of this trend is a continued hunger for authenticity, especially when it comes to creating community. People want to be connected with and hear from people like them. Online communities that bring people together around a specific cause, disease, hobby or focus are growing in number and popularity.

At the heart of this trend is the need to feel seen and respected for exactly who you are. As you think about your marketing efforts, be mindful that while there are certainly some commonalities among your prospects and current clients, the last thing in the world you want to do is to make them feel as though you’re lumping them in with everyone else.

To win their business and their brand loyalty, you’re going to have to go out of your way to see and treat them as the individuals that they are.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Where should you be investing?

December 28, 2021

One of the more interesting realities of 2021 is that many organizations started the year flush with cash, partially because of federal and state support. There was a flurry of spending in the first and second quarters, but it was mostly around infrastructure, staffing and shoring up what was damaged in 2020.

But now that work is done or well underway and it’s time to get back to building the business. Exactly where should you be focused going into 2022?

Existing customers: If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be grateful for the loyalty of our best customers. Now is the time to reward and reinforce that loyalty. Many organizations are beefing up their rewards programs, client-only perks and privileges, and exclusive access programs.

The most efficient marketing dollar you can spend is on your current clients. They’re receptive to your messages, their referrals pack a potent punch, and it’s easier to get a larger share of wallet than that first dollar.

Your online presence: We cannot deny how critical it is to be findable online and for our clients and prospects to be able to actually connect with us there. The buying patterns were established well before the pandemic, but they were set in stone during the lockdown. Having a robust website and social media presence are table stakes today. It’s almost impossible to compete without it.

But it goes far beyond just having a website. The real investment is time. Time to create content that is valuable to your prospects and clients. Time to engage in conversations in the comments section of LinkedIn or social platforms that are unique to the industries or customers you serve. Time to monitor customer service through your digital platforms.

This needs to command your attention and a decent portion of your budget.

Being findable: It’s not enough to be online if your prospects don’t know you’re there. COVID accelerated the inevitable shifts in the media landscape. Cord-cutting, a move away from traditional media delivered in a traditional way, and more time spent online were all heading our way. They just got here a little faster than some were expecting.

Very few organizations today can avoid investing in being findable. For some, that might be a robust organic SEO strategy. For others, it’s a digital media spend. But despite the recent success of the Field of Dreams game here in Iowa, in marketing, building something does not mean anyone will discover it or show up.

Polish up your brand: Another reinforcement of a powerful marketing tenet was delivered in 2020. Your brand matters. What you stand for and stand up for matters. As we all fight for the attention, respect and love of both our customers and our employees, having a clear understanding of your brand and how you communicate it has never been more vital.

Understanding your brand is just the start. You also need an activation plan. How will you communicate your core values, your vision for the future and your commitments around what matters to you? These can’t just be words on a wall anymore.

We have four months to hit our 2021 goals and set ourselves up for success in 2022. While these four areas are not the end-all and be-all, they are also nonnegotiable. Get these locked down before the end of the year so you can make the first quarter about capitalizing on your advantages, as opposed to teeing them up.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Are you a need?

March 30, 2021

We often spend time thinking about how our potential customers view our products or services, but we often focus on the offering instead of the audience considering that offer.

How would your customers classify what it is you do? Are you a luxury? A nice to have, or are you actually a necessity?

As consumers, we all got very clear about what we needed versus what we wanted in 2020. If something you offer was still in high demand this past year, you know your customers consider it an essential purchase. You should be going to market with a very different strategy for products and services that are must-haves, as opposed to being more of a “nice to have” offering.

Granted, there were some needs that were pandemic-specific. Masks, toilet paper and hand sanitizer aren’t always going to be on the top of everyone’s shopping list. But if your organization sold a lot of a specific product or service that wasn’t triggered by the most basic needs of security, safety and health, then you’ve got something that people will continue to categorize as a must-have.

The significant advantage you get when your product or service is considered essential is that you can cut to the chase. You don’t have to convince your prospects that they should buy what you’re offering. They’ve already decided that they need it. Your marketing needs to answer three critical questions that the buyer has on their mind:

  1. How is yours better than your competitors’?
  2. What are the mechanics of buying it? (Do I have to order it direct? Does it require a purchase order? How is it packaged and priced? And so on.)
  3. Is this a one-time purchase? If not, what’s the timing of recurring purchases?

The first question is all about features. In classic marketing, we often talk about not focusing on the features but instead narrowing in on the benefits. But your consumer doesn’t need to be convinced that they need what you sell; they already understand the benefits.

So you need to ignore conventional marketing wisdom and dig into the features. What does it do that the others do not? Help me understand why choosing one of your competitors’ products would be a disappointment or a riskier choice.

The second question is all about the how. In 2020 we all learned how vital it was to be very specific and directive to assist our potential customers in making the actual purchase. Even with a must-have, buyers want to understand their options and look for the most convenient purchase path. COVID-19 forced many businesses to find contactless or friction-free ways to buy. I don’t think consumers will let go of those options once we’re free from the pandemic.

The third question has a lot of elements wrapped up in it. But they are all about the investment required. In some cases it’s about the money, and in the case of services, it’s often about the consumer’s time commitment. It’s also about the quality and durability of what you sell if it’s a product. If you sell something that people will need to keep purchasing, convenience will also be a factor.

Understanding the lens through which your customers and prospects see what you sell can help you hone in on your messaging that will be most helpful to them and shorten the sales cycle. Recognizing that your audience has already decided they need this particular product or service will allow you to cut to the chase and just show them why your particular offering is the right choice for them.


This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Get Write On It

March 25, 2021

In last week’s column, I walked you through some preparatory activities you should consider if you want to write a book to use as a three-dimensional business card, business growth enhancer and credibility tool.

This week I want to give you some hacks for actually writing the book. If you didn’t work through the prep work from last week’s column, I strongly suggest you do not embark on these suggestions until you have laid the proper groundwork.

But assuming you have, let’s talk about the work of actually getting the book written.

Decide on your format: In the nonfiction category, there are many options. Your book might be based on your personal journey in your profession or some lessons you learned along the way. You might interview people who have something in common to draw out some takeaways from their stories. You might write a business fable or a how-to book. Understanding the format you’d like your book to follow will make the creation process much more manageable.

You don’t have to write a word: Many authors are better talkers than writers. You could talk your way through each chapter and have your recordings transcribed. Many authors are very comfortable editing their work, and for some reason, that is a much more successful strategy than starting with a blank page. With today’s technology, you could record your thoughts on your phone, upload the audio file to one of the many transcription services, and have a transcription back within a day.

Don’t start from scratch: I’m guessing you already have a fair amount of your book written, even if you don’t realize it. Look through your past presentation decks, keynote speeches, articles, blog posts and even proposals to prospects and clients. It may not be in the format you want, but you may have more of the core elements created than you think.

Bigger isn’t always better: Many business books are shorter than fiction offerings. You’re not trying to create “War and Peace.” Given that you’re writing for a business audience, remember their attention span. Don’t feel like you have to pad the book to get to a certain number of pages. Many popular and successful business books are under 150 pages.

Don’t write it at all: Many classic business books were written by a ghostwriter. It’s not cheating to have someone else capture your thoughts and get them down on paper. Ghostwriters are brilliant interviewers. They can help you build your outline, decide on your book’s structure, and then, typically through a series of conversations, extract the book from your stories, experiences, and teachings. Many authors will have a ghostwriter create the first draft, and then the author edits that draft to make sure it sounds just like them. Skilled ghostwriters can not only capture the information you want to convey in your book, but they can mimic your style and tone perfectly.

Know why you’re making the effort: Most of us are not going to make a living by being an author. Our books are a means to an end. Being very clear about how you’re going to leverage your book once it’s complete will help make many decisions as you write and edit your masterpiece.

Being an author doesn’t have to just be a dream. No matter how busy you are or how insecure you feel about your writing ability, if you want to write a book and can already envision the incredible value it can provide your business, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Hopefully, some of these author hacks will serve you well as you sit down to capture the book that only you can create.

I look forward to reading it!


This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Don’t start on that book quite yet!

March 16, 2021

Being the author of a business book that ties to your company’s core offerings or philosophies has been a very effective business growth strategy for many business leaders and owners. Beyond that, being a published author is an aspiration shared by many business luminaries.

Maybe even you?

If you’ve always wanted to write a book but have dismissed it because it felt so daunting, I’d like to offer up some strategies that will allow anyone to write a book worthy of being on someone’s nightstand or bookshelf. Let’s start with some essential steps that will set you up for success, long before you type your very first word.

Know your reader: To write a compelling book, you need to understand who you’re talking to with every word. Imagine you are having dinner with three other people, telling them stories that are the key pillars to your book. These three people are entirely engrossed in the conversation because it is so spot-on relevant to them. Who are they? Why is your book’s message so important to them?

If you can, create personas or find stock photos that represent these people. When I wrote “Sell With Authority”, I had three specific clients in mind, and I wrote the book just for them.

Don’t overcomplicate it: Once you know your readers, what is the key takeaway you want to leave with them after they finish your book? Not takeaways – one takeaway.

Most enduring business books have a single core message. Not 12 messages, not a million different points of view. Once you know your core takeaway, the rest of the book is just proof points, examples, or how-to tips that all support that core message.

Draw the blueprint: When someone wants to build a house, they don’t just start digging or nailing boards together. They create a blueprint, so they understand what they’re trying to accomplish. For your book, that blueprint is an outline. The mental exercise of creating the outline allows you to be mindful of the book’s flow.

It’s much easier to have a map before you start the journey of writing the book. It will help you identify gaps that you hadn’t thought about, keep you from taking too many detours once you start writing, and hold that single message top of mind.

Set your writing schedule in stone: Even people who love to write find writing a book a bit intimidating. You’ll find a million distractions to keep you from your keyboard if you don’t protect your writing time. The age-old advice is to write for at least 15 minutes every day. That may work for you. Or your preference may be more like mine: four-hour blocks, twice a week. Some people love to get up at the crack of dawn to write. Others are more inspired late at night.

You also need to understand what kind of environment you need. Can you write at the office during the workday? Do you need absolute isolation and silence? Can you throw in some earbuds and work in a bustling coffee shop?

No matter what time or location suits you best, you need to block the time off on your calendar, reserve the space if needed, and make those calendar entries unmovable.

Get an accountability buddy: Find someone who will hold you to honoring that writing schedule and ask for updates on your progress. A good accountability buddy will ask for proof (“Send me the pages you wrote today or an updated draft”) to keep you on task.


This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


When old is new

February 9, 2021

It’s 2021, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so all marketing paths are leading to digital solutions, right?

Actually, no.

Long before the pandemic hit, some very old-school marketing tactics were enjoying a new lease on life, and the realities of 2020 have just furthered their success. I don’t believe any of these will fade in effectiveness or popularity post-recession. Which means we’d better study up on how these golden oldies have been reinvented to be relevant today.

Direct mail: As our inboxes get more cluttered, our mailboxes have become prime real estate again. Technology has leveled up what’s possible with direct mail. AI technology allows brands to learn more about their target audience. Based on what we can now do with personalization, tracking how a recipient interacts with a direct mail offer or whether it results in a call, product trial, or purchases, is much easier.

Catalogs: Remember when you were a kid, and you pored over the Sears, J.C. Penney, or other toy catalog at Christmas time? I read and reread those catalogs like they were the latest Harry Potter novel. Amazon and other retailers have picked up this old tradition but with several new twists. Amazon’s 2020 catalog is about 100 pages packed with toys, electronics and games for all ages. It uses technology like QR codes, special in-app pricing and other targeting tactics to take full advantage of our nostalgia, the fact that people have screen burnout and the latest in technology.

Referral and loyalty programs: As all sales screeched to a halt this past spring, marketers were quickly reminded that there’s incredible gold to be mined in their existing customer database. Many businesses were kept afloat by those current customers, who were the most likely to spend money as things opened back up. Word of mouth stimulated spontaneous customer campaigns on social media to support local businesses and drove new opportunities when everyone was clinging to every dollar.

Product demos: No one is hanging out in the mall or big-box discount stores, gathering around the demo table, watching live demonstrations. But thanks to the power of video, demos are alive and well. Some brands have combined demos with an influencer campaign so that they have a “celebrity” endorse their product. But many brands are forgoing the influencer and using employees, real customers, or animation.

With the help of technology and social media, all of these marketing tactics can take on a new life and new effectiveness. One advantage we have this go-around is that we can weave all of these tools together to maximize their success. Merging digital and analog marketing efforts can be a potent combination that reaches your audience in multiple channels and often with multiple mediums.

We can also use sophisticated first and third-party data resources to make sure we’re delivering our messages directly to the people who are most likely to be receptive to them.

Our ability to accurately measure and monitor in real time has also improved dramatically, even over the past five years. While none of these marketing tactics work instantaneously, we can make adjustments quicker based on the real-time data collected, saving both money and time. We don’t have to wait for months to see trends and do A/B experiments to see if we can spike results or reduce waste.

As you think about how you’re going to connect with audiences in 2021, don’t forget that there’s still plenty of life left in the tactics that you probably cut your teeth on early in your career. Be wary of the shiny-object syndrome that we’re all susceptible to and remember that, at least in the marketing world, you can teach an old dog some new tricks!

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Should your company get political?

February 2, 2021

In last week’s column, we walked through the pros and cons of getting political on your personal social media channels. This week, I want to look at it from your company’s lens.

It’s challenging to know how our consumers feel about the issue. Look at this data:

In November 2019, Sprout Social research reported that among roughly 1,500 U.S. consumers surveyed, 70% said it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political matters.

That seems pretty straightforward until, in the same survey, you see that only 47% of consumers said they want brands to share their opinions through social media channels. That’s despite the fact that 67% of consumers say brands are effective at raising awareness around critical public issues when they speak out on social channels.

If that’s not confusing enough, more than half of the respondents (53%) said they believe that brands only take a stand for public relations or marketing purposes.

These stats demonstrate what a complicated issue this is. But are consumers getting more clarity on their feelings as we face #MeToo, COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a contentious presidential election?

As tensions increase in the U.S., 68% of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values, according to a report from Kantar Monitor in June. Millennials have the highest expectations for brands to speak out, according to the Kantar study.

  • 46% of millennials expect brands to take a stand on these issues.
  • 42% of Gen Z share those expectations.
  • 31% of Gen Xers and 22% of boomers expect brands to take a public stance on social issues.

A different study, the Corporate Social Mind Report, came out in July and showed that nearly 60% of Americans want the companies they buy products from to have a position about issues such as racial discrimination and social justice. Roughly 50% of the survey’s respondents said they often do online research to see how a brand reacted to social issues.

Several other studies also show that a slight majority of Americans do believe brands should take a stand. But how do you decide what to do when it’s clear that Americans are split on this issue? Actually, I think it’s the ideal time to make the call.

It means you have to decide based on your organization’s convictions and values combined with your perception on whether or not brands should jump into the discussion.

Those are two distinct decisions. How you feel about the issue itself is decision one. And then decision two is: Should you take a public stand?

If you are going to take a public stand, the first thing you need to do is make sure it’s genuine. Do your internal policies, decisions, and employee and customer experiences align with the stand you’re about to take? The minute you step out into the spotlight, you’re fair game, and if anyone thinks you’re being inauthentic, they’re going to say so. Publicly.

Beyond that, don’t just speak out. Offer a solution. Better than that, be a leader in creating a solution and invite your community to join you in the effort. Our consumers expect us to put the resources of the company behind our sentiments. It’s about walking our talk, so when you speak up, you also need to be ready to step out.

There are some incredibly rewarding reasons, like being an influencing force for change that comes with using your brand’s voice.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


Politics, Social Media and Your Business

January 26, 2021

The one thing we can all agree on is that things are contentious out there. Our current political climate is ugly.

Social media has changed politics in our country. But it’s not just the politicians who are taking to social channels to express their opinions. Many people ask me, “As a business owner or leader, should I be using social platforms to express my personal political beliefs?”

The truth is, there’s no single right answer to that question. If you own the company, it’s an easier call. You don’t risk alienating your boss or losing your job, and odds are your company’s values and political leanings are the same as your personal ones.

But what if you are a leader at a company that you don’t own or is publicly traded?

Given that we have finally wrapped up the 2020 election and inauguration, I thought this week’s column might be well spent examining the risks and rewards of sharing your firmly held political beliefs on your personal social accounts. Next week we’ll look at how organizations can use social media to express their social standing and the potential ramifications.

Let’s all agree that we have the right to express our political beliefs, which is one of the privileges of being an American. I’m not about to suggest you can or can’t do anything. But I think it would be ignorant of us not to acknowledge that our choices come with consequences. We’ve seen many examples of how a CEO’s personal beliefs, financial support or comments have affected their employer’s brand and caused boycotts, a spike in sales or, in some cases, the removal of the leader.

It’s an even riskier proposition if your personal beliefs are not aligned with your employer’s politics.

Because of the severity of the potential consequences, many business leaders choose to avoid religious and political discussions altogether on social. But if you want to get political on your personal social channels, there are some things to consider so that the interactions go well.

As an individual, odds are your social connections are a mix of family, personal friends and business colleagues. It’s highly unlikely that you all share the exact same belief set. So the first acknowledgment we need to make is that we should expect a wide range of reactions if we express our political opinion publicly.

You have to be ready to engage with people who think you’re wrong. Those conversations can get heated in a hurry, so you also have to devote time to police that aspect of the discussion.  Your civility will be remembered long after the conversation dies down.

Before you post, be clear about your objective. Are you trying to encourage dialogue? Hoping to change minds? Are you just declaring your own beliefs?

Stating your intentions upfront will help you manage the conversation so it doesn’t get out of hand. Citing credible sources and fact-checking before you post will undoubtedly protect your reputation, even when someone disagrees with you.

Interestingly, in our current climate, you may be judged harshly by your employees, customers or professional peers if you don’t take a stand on specific issues. If you’ve opted to stay silent, you may be asked to defend that choice.

Whichever choice you make, use your leadership skills to navigate the situation. Listen. Look for common ground. Be honest and candid about both your beliefs and intentions.

No one right answer. No simple choices. No choice without consequence.
It’s a little like politics, isn’t it?


You actually have to say thank you

August 19, 2020

I don’t know many business leaders who aren’t incredibly grateful for the team of people who help them carry out the organization’s vision. When asked, they will rave about the skills, professionalism, and passion of their team and tell story after story about how they routinely save the day. But those same business leaders are so busy that unfortunately, they often forget to slow down and say thank you. Sadly, in today’s ultra-competitive job market, that can be a very costly mistake.

When it comes to our employees, The International Business Research Journal cited studies that have shown that organizational gratitude reduces employee turnover, fosters employees’ commitment to the organization, and increases productivity.

Those are huge wins on their own, but beyond that is what an attitude of gratitude does for your company culture. We know cultural fit is a crucial component for job seekers. If a company’s culture attracts employees who value and exude gratitude, your customers are the beneficiary of that chain reaction. Happier, more loyal employees lead to happier, more loyal clients.

Best of all, you can bake gratitude into your work environment with a minimum of dollars. Here are some of the most effective ways to make sure that your organization’s internal brand includes more than a sprinkling of thanks.

Make it personal: Most of the time, we deal with employees in batches. By department, by tenure, or perhaps by skill set or location. Gratitude is a very personal thing. There’s nothing wrong with thanking groups of people. We should do that. But it’s very different when you single out a person and make your appreciation about them and just them. Work anniversaries, hitting significant milestones, or earning a new level of expertise are all excellent reasons to stop and thank your team member.

Make it 360 degrees: Many companies have peer recognition programs, and they usually start off strong and then most wane from neglect and focus. Teaching your team to appreciate each other and to practice gratitude internally is a smart tactic. Just make sure your program has a champion, so it doesn’t feel like yet another “idea of the month” that we managers often get accused of starting and allowing to die on the vine.

Involve your clients: There’s no better way to emphasize that you value, teach, and practice gratitude than asking your customers to share in that experience. This can shift from sincere to uncomfortable in a hurry. Don’t ask them to do anything that will make them feel silly, like ring the bell for five-star service. An easy way to invite them is to send a letter, sharing your core values, and asking them to send you examples of team members who have lived out those values. This has a double benefit. It gives you a chance to remind your customers what you stand for and gets them to help you recognize your superstars.

Know what matters: There’s a fantastic book by Matthew Kelly called The Dream Manager. It’s a business allegory that reminds us to invest in our employees, know what matters to them, and help them achieve their dreams. Some employees may appreciate you demonstrating your gratitude through a new educational opportunity or a cash bonus. Others might prefer an extra day off or a gift card so they can treat their family to dinner. Knowing how to say thank you in the most meaningful way will make the thank you last a lot longer.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.


The DNA of a marketing pro

February 12, 2020

I may be biased, but I think it takes a unique kind of person to excel in marketing. There’s a specific blend of skills and personality traits that equip someone to do the job well. Unfortunately, that particular combination may be difficult for others in the organization to tolerate, especially if they are risk-averse or not as open to change. No great surprise, most marketing pros typically clash with the CFO and CIO roles.

If you find yourself in the market for an agency or an internal CMO type of team member, you’re going to want to interview for these specific traits to make sure they can get the job done. But you may also have to steel yourself to deal with them on a daily basis if you tend to be more methodical and measured in your day-to-day activities and decision-making.

A study by Russell Reynolds Associates looked at over 5,000 data points, comparing CMOs with other C-suite roles and identified these trends and commonalities among those who shared the role. They found that CMOs have an extreme leadership and behavioral profile that included these attributes:

Growth minded: Marketing people love metrics, goals and chasing after a defined target. The drive to cross the finish line is admirable but may need to be tempered if it clouds bigger picture judgment.

Bold/risk taker: This trait is essential, but it can cause a lot of anxiety in the C-suite. It’s always been a vital aspect of most marketing professionals, but in today’s environment, it’s essential.

Rule-bender: CMOs are not particularly beholden to rules and guidelines. They’re used to being in undefined territory and having to figure it out as they go along. They’re far less about convention than many others in their organization. Limits and boundaries are more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule.

Tenacious: Stubborn, persistent, unrelenting. While not entirely flattering, these are words that are often used as descriptors for those who choose marketing as a vocation. To be successful, they have to be willing to stick with a new idea or unconventional tactic to give it time to work.

People people: People tend to like CMOs and other marketing types. They’re outgoing and inclusive. They want everyone to come along for the journey, and they can usually persuade their peers to do just that.

Imaginative: This trait probably doesn’t come as a surprise. But actually, this skill isn’t so much about the marketing itself but instead about the organization’s overall business position, and the creative problem solving that is needed today.

Curious/abstract thinker: Marketers ask a lot of questions, and some of them feel a little random or unrelated. Don’t shut those down. Seeing how seemingly disparate elements influence one another or connect is one of their unique gifts. It helps you identify opportunities that others will miss.

If you’re a marketing professional, I’m guessing that you recognize yourself in at least some of these skills and traits. You probably also recognize that there are aspects of how you show up at work that may cause your peers to struggle with your methodologies. One of the ways we can get to the goal line quicker is to find ways to bring the rest of the team with us as we move closer.

If you plan to hire someone to handle your marketing (either as an employee or as a business partner) or you just want to get better at marketing yourself – these traits are the common denominators that will get your company the exposure and growth you want. But you have to decide if your organization is ready for the disruption that comes as part of the package.

This was originally published in The Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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