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Established 2009

The 5 Worst Types of Marketing (Non) Strategists

If you’ve been in marketing or advertising for more than a minute, you’ve probably worked with (or for) someone who always seems to be in the middle of everything, but doesn’t really make any strategic contributions. Let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders when it comes to non-strategy:


Characterized by: A tendency to run towards the limelight and a passion for flash, cash and glory. The Self Promoter is also noteworthy for his constant reminders about how awesome he is. (Note: Many Self Promoters have double identities as Under Deliverers – see below)

Profile: Self Promoters are some of the best career managers around. Ah, if only they would invest the same energy into looking out for the best interests of their employer/client.

It’s not that the Self Promoter doesn’t make a contribution once in a while. (And you?ll know when that happens, because the Self Promoter will never stop pointing it out.) But most of the time these contributions are just accidental collisions of a viable marketing tactic and the Self Promoter’s self interests.

How to stifle a Self Promoter: Punching him in the face repeatedly is one tempting option. But a better one is to take him down with data. Put the burden of proof on the Self Promoter by holding him to high standards when it comes to claims of marketing victory, or when he’s trying to push a non-viable tactic for approval: ?That?s an interesting notion, Self Promoter. But I’m wondering if you can tell us more about how this idea lines up with the motivations of our best customer segments??


Characterized by: An overstuffed notebook; an overstuffed calendar; rapid-fire speech; and a fixation with getting deliverables out the door./A tornado-strewn office; blown deadlines; perpetual lateness and rare greatness.

Profile: The List Checker/Under Deliverer is actually two personalities, but we?re going to talk about them together since they both relate to getting things done (or not done).

The List Checker is usually an extremely busy marketing pro who’s obsessed with output. It?s not uncommon for List Checkers to be smart, organized and capable, so you may be wondering why this marketer is showing up on a ?worst? list. Here’s why: List Checkers are purely tactical creatures, because they never have time to think strategically. Getting things done is great. Getting great things done is even better.

The List Checker?s slacker cousin is the Under Deliverer, who never seems to be working with a list at all. This marketer may talk a good game (see the Self Promoter, Bright Idea Chaser or the Guru), but their promised outcomes rarely materialize.

How to deal with both: For the List Checker: Try to gain visibility into her work load. If you can help her figure out how to offload, re-think, or trash some of her ongoing tasks, you can help this usually capable marketer free up extra time for more strategic pursuits.

For Under Deliverers, the easiest option (and sometimes best) option is simply to cut them loose. But before you do, ask yourself if it?s worth it to probe further. Sometimes Under Deliverers are actually future marketing rock stars who just need some coaching up on their project management skills. In other cases, it may be that the Under Deliverer is capable of contributing, but has somehow gotten slotted into the wrong role on your team.


Characterized by: A recurring tendency to kidnap your business audiences and tell them everything there is to know about your business, by golly ? whether they want to know it or not.

Profile: Autobiographers aren’t always inept marketers, but they have an absolute tone deafness when it comes to messaging. Entrenched in their belief that every aspect of their business is fascinating, they have an inclination to push ineffective messages and content that’s developed from a “I want you to know” angle, rather than a “What do our customers want to know?” perspective.

How to start a new chapter: Once again, the data-focused line of inquiry can save the day. ?We?re all proud of the award we received, Autobiographer. But do you think doing a direct mail campaign to announce it will get as much traction with our customers as say, one that previews an upcoming promotion? After all, our website analytics show that we don?t get much traffic to our ?news and announcements? section, but it does show that our ?specials’ website page has lots of hits.”


Characterized by: An air of pseudo-mystery; a tendency to wear hipster sneakers, sunglasses, and order off the menu; and an endless supply of jargon, buzzwords, and war stories.

Profile: Some Gurus are the real deal and you want them on your team, even if their obsession with their own coolness does occasionally induce eye-rolling. The Guru to avoid like crazy is more accurately called the Faux Guru. This marketer?s Don Draper routine fools the unschooled and lands him groovy gigs, but the Faux Guru’s lack of real insight or ability to manage projects will ultimately leave his client/employer scratching his head at the Guru’s lack of real contributions.

How to get away from The Guru: In the case of a Faux Guru, as fast as you can. If he?s working for you, you?re probably going to pay big bucks for results that don’t really ever materialize. If you?re working for the Faux Guru, you?ll likely end up doing all the heavy lifting while Don Draper takes the credit.


Characterized by: An inability to focus; a shelf overflowing with half-read business books festooned with Post-It notes; and an unrelenting enthusiasm for whatever’s cool – this week.

Profile: The Bright Idea Chaser’s passion can be charming, even invigorating. But this marketer has a way of running around with a butterfly net instead of sticking with a tactic until it starts going somewhere. As a result, Idea Chasers are almost as frustrating to deal with as Self Promoters and Under Deliverers.

How to cut the chase: Help the Bright Idea Chaser learn to flip-flop her way of thinking. When she learns to look for bright ideas after she understands the data (like best customer profiles, analytics, and the company?s overall business objectives), she can re-direct her energy into chasing great ideas that also make great sense for your business.

At MindEcology, we burn all job applications from Non-Strategists. And we love talking with you about your own strategy challenges. Let’s have lunch.