Be better than Don Draper: 5 traits of top modern marketers

By Jennifer DeRome | July 30, 2015
Be Better Than Don Draper: 5 Traits of Top Modern Marketers

Don Draper would never make it as a modern marketer. While he may have been advertising gold in his time, things have changed—a lot—since then. The modern marketer has a lot more on their plate than a catchy jingle and beautiful print ad in the Sunday paper. Increasingly, marketers are adopting aspects of multiple roles, from UX researcher and designer, to CX manager, to business analyst. There are many facets to your role as a marketer, and since we’re a friendly bunch here at UserTesting, we want to help you succeed. Take a look at the five traits all rock star marketers have. How about you?

1. Data-driven 

In the past, marketers had limited channels—primarily print, television, and radio—and as a result had minimal data to shed light on the success of each campaign. There were no reliable means to track who saw an ad, read an article, or responded to a direct mail campaign. Advertisers could only try correlating magazine subscribers to sales, or eyeballs on a billboard by foot traffic. But as a marketer today, you’ve got more data than you can handle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the data that’s out there.

Many organizations even hire specialists who focus solely on gathering and interpreting data. And while you may not necessarily own this responsibility, the underlying data is definitely something you need to pay attention to. Click rates, social shares, and web traffic, just to name a few, give you valuable insight on the ROI of your marketing dollars. And that data is nearly real-time, which means poorly performing campaigns can be scrapped in favor of higher performers or adjust your demographics on the spot—if you’re paying attention. The most successful modern marketers get their hands dirty with data on a daily—even hourly—basis, allowing them to be nimble and targeted with their strategies, and improving their ROI.

2. Listen to customers

While data plays an important part for marketers, it can also be a handicap if you’re not careful. All the data in the world isn’t going to help you one bit if you don’t understand the why behind your customers’ actions and preferences. The best marketers know their customers are their best source of intel, and they talk to them often. In the past customers had limited options to share feedback. If they had a suggestion or complaint—or even praise—they could write a letter, maybe call the company, and share their story with friends and family. But now the customer is driving the conversation about companies, using just about every digital platform you can think of, and even the old-fashioned methods, too.

Listening to your customers not only helps you ensure they’re happy, it also gives you invaluable insight into how they use your product (or your competitor’s), what challenges they need addressed, and what they want and expect from your company. Savvy modern marketers have their ears to the cloud and regularly monitor social channels, liaise with customer service and sales teams, conduct user research, and even get out of the office and talk with customers face-to-face. They’re not afraid to hear harsh feedback, in fact, they want it! The more customer feedback, the better. They use that information to continually evolve their company’s image and offering, giving customers what they want and need.

3. Always experimenting

Great marketers are obsessed with experimenting. From A/B testing to user research, to consumer insights, marketers are always looking for a way to validate their process. Just about anything can be tested, which makes every campaign, initiative, or asset a potential subject for an experiment. Experiments give marketers useful, measurable data that can guide their strategy. Instead of trying out an email subject line for a sales campaign and crossing their fingers that it’ll work, they test two, or maybe more, to see which performs best. After a brief period of testing, these marketers can adapt to incorporate what they’ve learned from their experiments. As a result, the finished product is more targeted, economical, and ultimately more effective.

4. Helping not selling

There’s one aspect to marketing that never goes out of style: being helpful. What’s different now, is that customers have more choices than ever before. As a marketer, you’re now partially responsible for establishing trust with consumers, and you don’t do that by trying to sell your product. You do it by figuring out what your customers need, and how you can help with whatever it is you’re offering. This is why marketing strategies have changed since Don’s time. Now you win over customers by giving them something of value before they make a purchase. You build trust and develop a relationship. Think of it this way: As a marketer, if you build the relationship, the sales will come.

5. Always learning

As a marketer, you know you don’t know it all. And while an MBA is great, it’s not the only thing you’ll need to succeed. The best marketers are voracious learners. They read blogs, try new technology, go to conferences and meetups, take classes, and even get certified in related disciplines to round out their skill set. No matter what kind of degree you have (or don’t) on the wall, making daily learning part of your job will fuel inspiration and lead to a better understanding of your market and consumers, not to mention more effective campaigns. While Don enjoyed near-celebrity status back in the day, I doubt today’s marketers would trade places with him. The tools and resources we have now empower us all to be legendary marketers if we have the chops—and the traits—to get the job done.

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About the author(s)
Jennifer DeRome

Jennifer is a Senior Content Strategist for UserTesting. When she's not dreaming up new ways to connect with audiences, you can find her traveling around the world or enjoying a glass of wine with friends.