As part of building marketing teams and leadership styles in organisations, you cannot escape going through a ‘personality questionnaire’ type process or session. These can be helpful in your quest to be a better marketer.
Usually led by someone from HR, who’s been on a course). Or in bigger companies, they’ll hire an external consultant. The process starts with some sort of pre-work. But hey, isn’t ‘pre’ work, still work? No matter. You are sent a personality questionnaire. Marketers love questionnaires. It is usually multiple choice (great!). It involves you choosing between words like “brave” and “intelligent”. Or “leader” and “decent human being”. You spend most of the time trying to second guess the outcomes. Then from this questionnaire. you’ll get a computer generated output from the responses that tells you all about your working preferences. These preferences will show how you like to work, how you don’t like to work and most importantly how you like to work (or not) with others. There will then follow individual feedback and group workshops. Still following?
Personality and leadership tool systems
Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Lifestyles Inventrory (LSI) or Insight Discovery profiles are the ones we’ve come across most frequently. We found the Insight Discovery tool the easiest to work with and the one which has had the most impact. We believe it’s because this is the tool which was the least ‘judge-y’. It recognises the positives and challenges of each individual style and looks to how all the styles can work together. The core 4 colour model (Sunshine Yellow, Fiery Red, Cool Blue, Earth Green) are also just a simple way to ‘get’ the model quite quickly. (When you drill down into the model, it’s much more complex … so let’s not do that for now)
The Myers Briggs tool is based on the same underlying Jungian principles. We do like how clever saying ‘Jungian principles’ makes us sound by the way But with Myers Briggs, all those INTP and ESFJ mixtures can get a bit confusing compared to just four colours. And as for LSI, we generally found that the only people who really liked that tool were MDs and sales people. As a tool it seems to be a bit more rewarding of pushy / competitive behaviours and not really value different types of styles.
We mention these types of survey, because they are actually a great way of navigating your way through marketing, They help identify the various types of marketers you will meet in almost every large marketing team, and who we will call the 3 monkeys of marketing.
Marketing Monkey 1 – Sunshine Yellow (aka Hear no evil)
First off, there’s what the Insights Discovery profile would call the Sunshine Yellow or Inspirer. These would be Extrovert Feelers in Myers Briggs. You’ll spot these marketers because they are the ones who cannot sit still or shut up in meetings. (Hence the hear no evil). They LOVE workshops, team meetings and brainstorming sessions. In fact anything where they get to talk and show people how inspiring they are.
Now, this is not our overall style here at three-brains. But, we’ll be positive and say it is worth having some of these types on the team. They bring undoubted energy and in short bursts can be quite fun to be around. They are particularly good at the start of projects because they have an opinion on everything.
The challenge with sunshine yellow marketing monkeys
HOWEVER, what you will find with this type of marketer is that they are often attracted by shiny new things. They also have the memory of a gold fish when it comes to decisions. So what they enthused about in last week’s meeting, they will quite happily enthuse about the complete opposite in this week’s meeting. That was last week, right? You can spend endless hours, days, weeks, months with these types debating and rehashing brand identity and positioning. They like nothing better than spending endless hours creating a wall of colourful post-its. These will have the 50+ variations of your brand essence and which actually, nobody really cares about too much.
These types do NOT take questions or analytical thinking well. When challenged they will usually come out with some sort of hippyish type mantra. Something like “You’ll never change without a positive mindset” or “It’s all about being agile”. They are never at fault. They are terrible at finishing projects.
The best tactic for dealing with this type is to have coloured post-its nearby at all times. Be prepared with a a stock set of positive phrases to roll out “That’s fantastic / amazing / great”. The chances are the idea will have been forgotten by next week, and these types never hang around for the long-term in role anyway. By all means go have a coffee or a beer with them, they are generally entertaining company.
Marketing Monkey 2 – Fiery Red (aka See no evil)
Next up, would be the Drivers – these are Extrovert Thinkers who “get shit done”. They like to make sure you know that. They go hard and fast at everything, and are super competitive. These people often, but not always, have spent time either working in the sales function, or working in sales driven businesses. They will generally hit or exceed their KPIs, bang out NPDs and campaigns left, right and centre, and they thrive on taking on more and bigger projects. Again, it is helpful having these types in your business as they do keep businesses ticking over. But this style comes with many many ‘watch outs’.
The challenge with fiery red marketing monkeys
The first ‘but’ being that they typically have the attention span of a 5 year old child. A one paragraph exec summary and the bullet point conclusions is about the most information they can process in one go. And they will make decisions without context or facts quite happily.
The second ‘but’ is that they do indeed ‘get shit done’. But they have a tendency to not think about the consequences of their actions. As long as it’s done. We can remember a ‘fiery red’ marketing director who at a time when our products were in high demand, told an important customer that ‘we didn’t need them’. 6 months later, when our sales slowed down and we did actually need them, it took our sales team about 3 years to repair the damage to the relationship.
Other types can find Fiery reds quite domineering and intimidating. Reds see social relationships are getting in the way of their progress and achievements. They have little patience for anyone who takes time to think or chat. Once a decision has been made, there is no backtracking, ever. Even if that decision turns out to be a stinker. Never look back is what drives most Fiery Red types (hence the See No Evil).
Top tactic for navigating these marketing types, They are sometimes described as “Be brief, be bright, be gone” and that’s a great tactic for them. If you do need to meet with them, no more than 30 minutes for a meeting. Make sure there’s a 3 bullet point ‘action list’ summary afterwards (Reds love actions!). And ask direct questions if needed. Don’t pontificate or meander. Don’t do small talk. If you need them to sign off a plan, focus on the outcomes. They’ll generally agree with it and not want to go into any detail.
Marketing Monkey 3 – Cool Blue (aka Speak no evil)
Finally, we come to the Cool Blues or Introvert Thinkers. These are the thinkers, the planners, the analysts, the people who like getting into the nitty gritty of marketing. Frequently ending up in Market Research type roles or if at agencies as strategist and planners. These types can come up with amazing and clever piece of thinking. Imagine if you have a whole team of these types, think about the great things you would achieve. But they can also drive you crazy.
The challenge with cool blue marketing monkeys
Except you never would achieve anything. This type are generally terrible at recognising when a great piece of thinking is actually great. They will often struggle to articulate and communicate those clever pieces of thinking unless they are given lots of time to prepare and are allowed to organise their thinking in at least 30 pages of Powerpoint, so that ‘you follow their thought process’. They do not do spontaneity well.
What they also love to do is procrastinate and pick away at the articulation of the idea to make it cleverer than it needs to be. They love to create long-winded and over-elaborate conceptual frameworks and constructs that appeal only to other blue types and are like marketing ‘death’ for everyone else. And who by they time they are finally, finally happy with an idea, the competitor has already done it and you are back where you started.
Throw Cool Blues into the mix with talkative sunshine yellows and fiery reds, and these types will generally be the quiet ones in the corner who’ll send you a great email three days after the decision you needed to make was actually due. Brilliant but hugely frustrating to work with for others.
Our advice for working with these types, put their name first to speak on the agenda. Read their emails and force them to do one pagers in Powerpoint if they have to (they’ll complain, but secretly like the intellectual challenge). Don’t worry too much about inviting them for coffee or beer, its not a big driver for them. They’ll probably end up leaving your business and going to work at a research agency anyway.
Earth Green Marketers?
For those of you who can count, we did mention there were 4 types of Insight Discovery colour, but only 3 of them we’ve covered in Marketing … and that’s because finding an Earth Green Marketer is really unusual.
Earth Greens really care about the emotional well-being of others, and marketers typically are quite self-centred and the only ones we’ve ever come across in marketing typically work in administrator or team support type roles. Or end up moving into HR.
And you know what? Every single one of them has been brilliant and totally under-appreciated by almost everyone else in the marketing team. The opposite of fiery reds, they are rare creatures who hold teams together, and if you have one in your marketing team, please treat them with the reverence they deserve. That’s why Earth Greens do not get classified as Marketing Monkeys in our little framework. They are the evolved human beings of marketing.