blog post | marketing

Using the marketer’s compass

Jarret Fleagle Team Photo
Jarrett FleagleDirector of Business Development

What’s the coolest part of marketing?

It requires you to use your left brain and your right brain.

Marketing isn’t just about creativity, and it’s not just about analytics — it’s about both. To excel, modern marketers need to be able to embrace the duality of this role and continue to grow in depth and breadth throughout their careers.

No one knows this better than Lia Davidson. She’s leveraged what she calls her “marketing compass” to scale the ranks in sales and marketing, spearheading the industry-leading Connected Conference, and making her way to the coveted CMO seat at EAB.

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Lia came on the Performance Marketing Insiders podcast to share strategies for building and refining your marketing compass to produce your own great work and inspire others to learn and grow.

What is the marketer’s compass?

Virtually any aspect of marketing — copywriting, technology, data analysis — will require some creative input and analytics input.

You can think of those inputs as the x and y-axis of a compass.

To stand out as a marketer, must be able to vacillate between creativity and analytics and between vision setting and being in the weeds. In other words, you need to be able to extend yourself across all four planes of the marketing compass.

7 Ways to use the marketer’s compass

You might be thinking, “Yep, I get it. Marketing is a multidisciplinary, multidimensional function.” But the compass is more than just a way of understanding how marketing works — you can apply it in seven very actionable ways.

1. Recruiting and mentoring

The marketer’s compass really comes in handy during performance reviews. To grow in their careers, your existing talent needs to be able to play in all four quadrants.

Lia says, “I use [the marketing compass] when I’m thinking about who the next leaders are going to be and what their strengths and opportunities are. It helps me focus on coaching and guiding them where they need to grow.”

If one of your direct reports isn’t quite hitting the mark in a certain area, it’s up to you to point it out to them.

Use the marketer’s compass as a tool to explain where they need to gain more skills and experience. Show how it can round out their expertise and set them up for a promotion in the future.

As an example, Lia just had her entire team read The JOLT Effect by Matt Dixon.

Even though it’s a sales book, it’s helped her marketers stretch themselves in new ways. They’re now expanding their thinking, relating better to their sales counterparts, and refocusing their attention on the customer.

2. Building stellar teams

It’s critical to have skills in all four quadrants, but people may gravitate toward one.

And putting people together with opposite strengths can lead to stellar results. The compass is a great tool for assessing the compatibility of people’s characteristics and communication styles that complement each other.

3. Reflecting on whether marketing is for you

Marketers may have to hit on all four quadrants within the first three hours of starting work.

Use your compass to determine whether marketing is where you belong. Take a step back and ask yourself if that’s really what you want to be doing. If you love all four quadrants, you’ll probably be successful.

If you’re not a superstar in one or two areas, you will have to put in the work to get yourself up to par.

4. Publishing thought leadership

Having a fully built-out marketer’s compass puts you in the position of knowing a lot about a lot of things.

So why not make that information and experience widely available?

Push yourself to find creative ways to showcase your research. Maybe it’s through written content. Perhaps it’s through podcasts. You might even speak at industry events. Regardless of the medium, you’ll be growing even more in every direction of the marketing compass.

5. Knowing when to pivot

Sometimes ideas that sound great in theory fall flat in practice.

There might be a way to infuse more creativity into a campaign, or you’re just not looking at the right metrics. But maybe the reality is that it’s just not working. And continuing to invest in it is a waste of time and money.

Rounding out your skills can help you decide when to keep going and when to let go. This is critical in times when budgets are tight.

Lia explained that during the pandemic, EAB had to redesign its event playbooks. “We went to that five-foot level, looked at all the operational details to get back to a place where we could go above and beyond for our customers.”

6. Being intentional with your learning

When you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, it’s easier to focus on bettering yourself.

You might even be able to identify someone on your team who has a knack for something that you don’t. Knowing who to learn from and being open to that help can accelerate your growth trajectory.

Lia talked about how EAB is prioritizing team-based learning in a hybrid working model.

She brings her teams together strategically to learn from each other in-person (these are aptly called “in-days”) and encourages her team members to provide personalized help and mentoring through on-demand videos and tools like Loom.

Leadership also has their own in-person meetings (“Spring Fest” and “Winter Fest”) to make sure they’re aligned on vision and execution.

Importantly, these methods have 2x’d her team’s productivity.

7. Appealing to customers

You need some imagination to put yourself in a customer’s shoes. And you need some math chops to be able to demonstrate ROI.

Liz discussed how a challenge for her team recently has been customer indecision.

Asking her teams to tap into their creative side while maintaining a metrics-focused mindset has helped them understand where customers are coming from and how to speak their language across product launches, sales deck design, and overall messaging.

The growing never stops

There’s always more to learn — even when you’re at the top. Technology, customer behavior, and economic trends are constantly changing. And that means you he to change too.

Being willing to step outside your comfort zone and extend beyond the baseline of what’s expected in each of the four marketing compass quadrants is what keeps you nimble and wise throughout your career.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. The worst that can happen is that you gain skills in an area you didn’t have before.

Wondering what other advice Lia has to impart? Listen to her full episode on Performance Marketing Insiders.

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