What is the role of ego in marketing anyway?

Posted by Nicole Sengers

Does ego help or hinder marketing success?

After reading an article on the soft skills every marketer needs, it got me to thinking - what part does ego really play in marketing, and can ego be harnessed to achieve marketing success?

Putting this in context, ego is our vision of ourselves based on our life experiences. Every single person is looking to see themselves in the best possible light and be seen in a positive light. Historically, ego is considered to be a bad thing, but there are both positive and negative aspects of marketing that relate to the ego. The more I thought about ego the more I wondered if ego plays a bigger role than I originally thought. So I decided to break down the various roles of the ego in marketing and see if it can be used to increase the overall marketing ROI.

Let’s start with the marketer.

The marketer’s ego

There is a huge difference between taking pride in your work, and being egotistical in marketing. In fact, being passionate, committed and driven to do a great job can actually mean parking your ego at the door. One of the soft skills required by a great inbound marketer is EQ (emotional intelligence) which often means learning how to take constructive criticism.

So let's consider what that means for a marketing team. A well-oiled marketing machine knows that ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. The team leader or strategist is not the only brain behind a strategy, and a great marketer should be listening to ideas and willing to run with the very best concept or strategy, even if it wasn't their idea.

This means two vital things:

  1. being willing to try new ideas, and
  2. testing your own assumptions.

A good example of this is when somebody suggests that you A/B test a landing page that you built and love: your first instinct may be to insist that the page is converting well and that you don't need to fix it as it isn't broken and ignore the suggestion. While you may be right, that could also be your ego at play. Before you throw out their suggestion, ask some questions about the reasons they want to run the A/B test and consider their hypothesis. Be willing to hear them out and consider their reasoning before deciding, and don't make the decision to run the test based on your own feelings alone. Remember you need to be testing your assumptions, trying new ideas and always aiming for higher conversions and better results.

Want some tips on how to stay productive and be on point at all times? Download our guide, Navigating Productivity: Some thought starters for some helpful tips.

The inhouse marketing division’s ego

I’ve worked as both a marketing manager in corporate, and as a marketer at a marketing agency, and understand there are team dynamics - and egos - to consider in both roles.

In my experience, the shift towards using an agency in conjunction with an inhouse marketing division can be viewed by some in the business as being expensive and unnecessary but it can be a huge ROI driver. A marketing agency  supports the efforts of the in-house marketing team by pushing creative boundaries, providing an outsider perspective, allocating dedicated hours to the project that may not be possible for the in-house team, offering unique (and often niche) skills and a strong understanding of the local business landscape.

A good example of a healthy inhouse ego is the Initial Hygiene Services marketing team. Lemay Rogers and her team have strong internal communications skills, a strong website presence, a great PR strategy and execution, stellar digital marketing skills and insightful reporting skills and metrics. In short, their team is highly talented, yet they weren't worried that asking for help would make them look less talented.

When Lemay and her team did their research, they discovered that they were missing a key component in their strategy: inbound marketing. They knew that despite all their skills and expertise they couldn't achieve inbound marketing success without partnering with an expert agency in the field. As one of the Spitfire Inbound staff members who work on the Initial account, I can personally tell you that this is a collaboration where we all win and succeed together. There’s no room for ego in a relationship like this.

Read more about the success we have gained with Initial in our case study.

The agency’s ego

As a marketing agency we compete with other agencies and the brands they represent for pitches as well as for recognition like awards. These are, of course, a great achievement and we all love being recognised but we shouldn’t forget that the recognition we should seek is seeing sales figures rise as we help our customers achieve success.

A marketing agency is successful when their customers see increased revenue, growth in market share and increased brand awareness. These are the metrics that show that an agency is on track. These are the metrics that build our ego, as individuals and as an agency

So when is ego crucial in marketing? When you consider the ego of the person who will buy your product!

The Ego of the Customer’s Customer

As a marketing agency, we have to keep in mind the ego of our customer’s customer. This is the person that we are ultimately aiming to impress with our marketing efforts and the person that we aim to engage with. Keeping in mind that every piece of content we produce and campaign we run is aimed at our customers target audience. This means that we need to consider how we can work to show how our product will make the consumer feel better and how to boost the ego of the consumer and not the ego of the marketing team.

Ian Greenleigh observes “The quickest way onto someone’s radar is through their ego. We like to surround ourselves with people that make us feel good about ourselves.”  The same can be said for the brands we buy from.

A word of caution: there is an extreme to harnessing your customer and their customer’s ego where stroking the ego becomes blatant flattery and looks insincere. Brands and agencies need to keep in mind that the message they project while making their customers look good should be sincere first and foremost.

In conclusion, the reason we as marketers need to park our egos is simple: we all have them and we are all pretty happy to keep them. Used effectively the ego is a powerful tool but marketers need to consider when and where to use it if they want to achieve great marketing success.

Now that you understand a bit about the role of ego in the world of marketing, take a look at the inbound touchpoints you’re using and ensure that you’re not letting ego affect your online communications. Download our Inbound Touchpoint Checklist for some help with choosing the right touchpoints.

Get our guide, Navigating Productivity: Some thought starters



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