What Separates A Good Marketer From A Great Marketer?

You know what a good marketer is? A marketer who gets you results.

Seriously, if you ask me what separates a good marketer from a bad marketer, the answer would be: Results.

But results aren’t everything, and the marketing landscape is changing quickly. And while a good marketer might get you results today, that might change tomorrow. A good marketer today might be tomorrow’s bad marketer. A great marketer will be a great marketer no matter what. He will be able to get you great results tomorrow as well as today. He (or she) will consistently deliver.


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Why is that?

1. A Great Marketer Did Not Learn Marketing, …

… he is still learning.

Within the rapidly changing marketing industry (and all its peers – like the PR and advertising industries), it’s not enough to have acquired knowledge (theoretical and practical) at some point in your life. If you are not learning, and by learning I mean actively studying and acquiring knowledge, you are not a great marketer. Because if the situation is different tomorrow from what it is today – you need to be able to acquire the missing knowledge.

Quick example:

I’ve been part of the content marketing hype since 2010 – and back then the web was a different place: Content was a lot about SEO. People were writing blog posts and carefully optimizing them for SEO. Entering keywords, optimizing for keyword density, setting up backlinking strategies, setting up link networks, … And for a while that worked – and worked well for a lot of marketers.A great marketer does not only follow others... he innovates and chooses his own path. A great marketer will always develop and learn

If you forward to today, this is still working for some marketers, but not all. A marketer that has been a good marketer back in 2010 will try to work out what has changed and what he can do to adapt his strategy from 2010 to the new situation. If he is lucky, he will be able to make this work again. If he is unlucky, he will run around complaining about how the latest Google update unfairly killed his business.

A great marketer on the other hand will work on a new strategy: He will have a new look at the situation, delete all the parts that are not working anymore from his strategy and implement new parts. If SEO is not working for the projects he is on, he will not try to force it but might instead opt for social media marketing. Or join the two together. He might even revert to offline marketing. If the results he needs cannot be achieved with his current toolset, he will quickly learn something new. That makes him a great marketer.

2. A Great Marketer Does Not Only Walk The Roads That Others Have Paved…

… he innovates and chooses his own path.


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Marketing is changing so rapidly because of two things: The development of new technology and because of great marketers not accepting anything as an ideal solution. They constantly improve on existing solutions, monitor data and test ideas and assumptions. They come up with improved solutions. They pave their roads to better results.

I recently wrote an article about Lean Marketing – and this is closely related: A new idea might not always lead to a working strategy – so it is important to not just jump into the cold water and risk drowning. Instead, what you should do as a marketer is make assumptions and test them – the road to truly innovative solutions is never just the idea, it is how you handle the idea (this is as true for marketing as it is for any other aspect of life).

That is why great marketers figure out simple (and both time and cost effective) ways to test the viability of their ideas. First they turn their ideas into assumptions, then they design a test that allows them to collect some data, and then they act on the data they have gathered.

Finally, they design a strategy based on the ideas which lead to promising data.

Sounds simple? Well, it’s hard.

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3. A Great Marketer Doesn’t Stop When The Client Is Happy…

… he continues until he, himself is happy.

Seriously – getting the results a client wants or needs is sometimes very easy – and sometimes impossible. A great marketer will tell the client when it is impossible – but he will also not be happy with his solution only because the client is happy.

Sometimes I have the feeling “I could have done more.”

And when I have that, I will continue working in my head – throwing ideas around, trying to figure out what I missed. That does not necessarily mean I tell the client, but it means that I will, for myself figure out what wasn’t perfect, or, at least, get an idea of what I could have improved.

Business realities often mean that I need to keep it to myself as I cannot always afford to hand out solutions for free – but at least, I keep on it – and keep learning as stated in point 1.

Final Words

I’ve met only a few people in my life that I would categorize as great marketers. But I’ve met quite a few good marketers. And literally 100s of bad marketers.

All of them were trying to convince me that they were great marketers. The SEOs calling my company told me they were the best in their field, yet they had no clue. Social Media marketers telling me they could improve our Twitter accounts – yet having less than 100 followers.

The quality of a great marketer can also be seen in how he markets himself.

What is on your list of things that make a good marketer great? Tell me in the comments!