Econsultancy has been investigating the topic of marketing knowledge and skills for more than 20 years. In that time, we have conducted multiple research studies and interviewed thousands of marketing leaders and practitioners about the capabilities required for a successful marketing career.
One thing that has become clear is that some of the most important requirements for modern marketing are not ‘skills’ at all, at least not in the way most professionals use the term. Time and again, when we interview marketing leaders and ask them to name the skills required in modern marketing, they mention attributes like “curiosity”, “customer centricity”, “commitment to learning” and “commercial focus”. These are admirable qualities but they are not strictly skills. Together, these and other qualities form what Econsultancy has come to call the ‘marketing mindset’.
In 2019, our Skills of the Modern Marketer Best Practice Guide we surfaced the idea that that while knowledge and skills are vital, marketing mindset is the foundation upon which a successful career is built.
In 2020, we decided to dig deeper into the topic of mindset to articulate and define the specific components of marketing mindset and to offer guidance in terms of how to cultivate them. The results of this research are published in our report titled Fundamentals of Modern Marketing Mindset.
Based on in-depth interviews with marketing leaders, a review of mindset related literature and a quantitative study of more than 800 marketers, it has been possible to build a framework that marketers can use to reflect upon and model their own mindset.
This model is illustrated by the 10 characteristics (10 Cs) of Econsultancy’s Modern Marketing Mindset (Figure 1), which is loosely split into three broad categories:
- Self: Mindset characteristics needed to excel as an individual
- Team: Mindset characteristics needed to excel as part of a team
- Company: Mindset characteristics needed to excel within a company
The 10Cs of Modern Marketing Mindset
Reflect on the 10Cs and how you might score yourself for each one. Understand that each of these characteristics can be cultivated through purposeful effort.
1 & 2. Customer-centric and commercially focused
At the core of the marketing mindset, marketers must balance customer centricity with a commercial focus.
Balancing customer centricity and commercial focus requires capability. Thorough knowledge of marketing principles empowers marketers to face challenges in the knowledge that they can work through them by adopting and adapting those principles as they see fit. Marketers who lack this knowledge will be ill-equipped to navigate challenges and may fall into a fixed mindset mode of behaviour.
Cultivating capability, commercial focus and customer centricity requires commitment; commitment to learning, commitment to achieving strategic objectives and commitment to customers.
Commitment to capability breeds confidence in one’s ability to overcome challenges and transcend from competency to mastery.
The pursuit of mastery manifests in curiosity. Marketers who know their subject deeply have the freedom to be more intellectually open and can speak in terms that involve uncertainty. They maintain a learning mindset and avoid speaking in absolutes.
It is the act of curiosity that leads to new information being gathered that can spark creative ways to overcome challenges as well as coming up with new and novel products and ways to reach customers.
To cultivate curiosity and creativity in their truest sense requires thinking in terms of abstract ideas that involve uncertainty. Marketers need to challenge themselves to do better. They need to challenge both their own ideas and beliefs and the processes and structures that surround them.
At the heart of challenging and being open to being challenged is collaboration. Modern marketing requires the collaboration of marketers with different skillsets and increasingly, collaboration with colleagues who add value to the marketing function but who may not identify themselves as marketers (IT, data, customer service etc.).
Connection is all about connecting to purpose. That is, connecting to the purpose of the organisation and connecting to one’s own purpose. When marketers can connect their personal values with business values will they be able to invest their whole selves in their work.
The case for cultivating a marketing mindset in an organisation
Marketing Mindset is grounded in the concept of Growth Mindset which is based on the belief that a person (or organisation’s) qualities represent a starting point for development.
In a survey of more than 800 senior marketers for the Fundamentals of Modern Marketing Mindset report, 99% agreed a that good corporate culture can encourage a growth mindset, while 96% agreed that a poor culture can narrow it. Marketing leaders would do well to consider the benefits of instilling the 10 Cs into their culture.
Research has shown that people with a fixed mindset interpret change as stressful. In contrast, those with a growth mindset experience change as a positive and motivating form of challenge that can serve as an opportunity for improvement.
Facilitating and encouraging employees to cultivate the characteristics of a marketing mindset can help them to embrace change and increase their propensity to remain motivated and determined in the face of change.
From an organisational perspective this is important. If mindset refers to how a person responds to their environment and an organisation is a collection of individuals working towards a common goal, then it makes sense to cultivate the right mindset in order to create the right organisational culture. In this sense, the health of an organisational culture depends upon the mindsets of the individuals that make up the organisation.
This means that cultivating a marketing mindset can help with:
- updating an organisation’s attitude to failure;
- facilitating a test-and-learn culture;
- positioning line managers as facilitators and mentors;
- creating transparency and buy-in;
- increasing creativity and innovation;
- supporting two-way communication;
- promoting organisational agility.
In a professional environment characterised by change, the need to learn new skills is understood. But skills change quickly. Marketers should reflect upon their mindset and consider cultivating a marketing mindset as a foundation for career success.
Let us know what you think of the 10Cs model, or download the Fundamentals of Modern Marketing Mindset Best Practice Guide to find out more about putting the model into practice.