Psycho Marketing

When it comes to marketing, is your company a guru, sportsman or warrior?

This may not be an exhaustive list of psychologies, but these three traits cover most go-to-market plans and mentalities I have encountered in B2B marketing. They can be as individual as the CMO or corporate-wide traits. Each has its own operational MO and they apply well to different markets. Pitted against one another, any can win depending on the market they seek to exploit. With some overlap, market dominating mutts can be whelped.

Gurus: Passive marketing, which these days is largely typified by social media marketing, is nearly spiritual. It seeks to affectionately coax buyers to come forward — encouraging, not pushing. Gurus play the long game and seek actual relationships with customers, and are willing to take time, invest effort and wait for returns.

Sportsmen: These are people who keep score. Market share, quarterly revenues, and win/loss ratios. For them the thrill of marketing has little to do with happy customers or even market dominance. They are in the game for the same reason amateur rugby players give blood on the weekend — the thrill of competition.

Warriors: Total market domination, bordering on bloodlust, it what drives these marketers and companies. It is not enough to win; their competitors must be deposited in unemployment lines, run into bankruptcy and dumped in the dead pool.

Start-ups routinely choose marketing chiefs without regard to the type of drive they display which will, by the nature of start-ups, infect the entire organization. Start-ups in early markets can both afford and benefit from the guru approach. With few competitors and buyers requiring education, long evaluations and a lot of handholding, guruism has benefits.

Fast moving but not-yet mature markets require hiring sportsmen. Constant advancement is the goal because these markets are foot races. Since there is no way to wage war against multiple nimble competitors, start-ups in these markets need to grab as much land as quickly as possible to stake a beachhead.

Warriors tend to do well in any market, but thrive in crowded and mature markets. For them winning is everything and no (un)reasonable means of draining life from competitors will be ignored. Warriors can where white, black and gray hats and change headgear as needed. They can poetically sing their product’s value propositions one moment, then pump FUD into media ears in the next.

Warriors with any armament (budget) are the most dangerous competitors and have high success rates (Larry Ellison is a market warrior and has created a dark empire based on total market dominance desires). They actually enjoy reading about competitor failure and pop champagne when another goes nipples-up. Their eyes even look a bit sinister.

Ask yourself which phase of maturity your market is in. Then ask which psychology works best for the next few years and if your marketing squad is headed by the right personality type. If lucky, you hired a marketer with multiple personality disorder who can switch between guru, sportsman and warrior as needed.


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