The Thinker

If you are reading this post, my guess is that you are a curious person. The kind of person who is inquisitive by nature. A life learner.

I’ve written before about the traits that make up a good marketer. Curiosity was top of the list. And I’m not the only marketer who values the quality. Here’s what Seth Godin had to say:

“If you are not curious, you are not going to learn.”

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I think learning is the point. It’s not just asking a lot of questions. That just makes you nosey. It’s seeking a deeper understanding that makes you a great marketer. Let’s double click into the ways I think a deeper understanding helps marketing:

Better writing – marketing is all about communicating, and writing is a key component (Even videos and podcasts need great scripts to keep your interest.). If you think about great non-fiction writers, like Michael Lewis, Mary Roach, or Malcolm Gladwell, they need to dig deeper to turn topics as mind-bending as derivatives, vast as space travel, or mundane as ketchup into page turners.

Customer understanding – the biggest mistake most marketers make – over and over again – is to forget to speak to actual customers and prospects. Sure, it’s fine to look at demographics and talk to salespeople, but there’s nothing like hearing from a customer – in their own words – what problems they face and how they view your brand. Curious marketers will dig down to find what we in the business-to-business segment call personal pain: what bad thing happens to you if this problem persists, and how can we solve that for you?

Discovery – most online marketers these days do at least some A/B testing. Curious marketers are really good at it because they can think of more hypotheses to test. What happens if we try this offer? What if we tried an entirely different signup flow? Should we try something different for mobile? The questions are endless, as are the possibilities.

Competitive advantage – the second-best thing to talking to customers is learning from the competition. Not to say you should copy everything they do – god knows some of my competitors over the years had horrendous ideas – but you will both know where you stand and perhaps pick up an idea or two. There are all kinds of ways you can spy on your competitors and their marketing approach to get an edge.

Simplification – if you want to be a mediocre marketer, then stick to the superficial. You can spot these types by their jargon-packed ad copy and websites. Top marketers, on the other hand, seek to understand products more deeply so they can more clearly explain them. The curious ones also look to use their understanding to differentiate their brands or products from the competition. You never know where that competitive advantage might be found. I’ve recently spent over ten hours asking developers and researchers at my current company to explain our core technology. I finally tapped into the vein of gold in a conversation between Christmas and New Year. “Why didn’t you tell me that three weeks ago?” I asked. “We were trying to put it into marketing terms,” was the reply. It’s key when you are talking to an expert to have them give it to you straight. You are the marketer, and you can write the copy.

So, resolve this year to become a more curious marketer. Like a lot of other resolutions, all you need to do is remind yourself to do it and stick with it. The results will be worth it.