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Do you want to be a marketer or do marketing?

I do a lot of coaching and teaching. With all the changes going on in technology, there is no shortage of people hungry to learn. Over the years, I’ve begun to realize that I can tell which students are going to adapt to the changes, and which one will have a much harder time. It’s a simple question that you can ask yourself: Do you want to be something or do something?

It might seem like an odd question to ask you about your motivation for learning digital marketing, but I have found that it really matters. For example, if your motivation is that you want to be an analytics person for a big company, or you want to be the CMO, or you want to be the top-rated marketer where you work, that is actually a red flag. If, on the other hand, you want to improve your company’s conversion rate, or you want to raise your traffic from Google, or you want to increase web sales, that’s a good sign.

Why the difference?

For some reason, those motivated by being something tend to be more risk averse (“I don’t want to run any risks that screws up my chance at CMO”) and less likely to experiment. They want to do it right and right away. They are more focused on their reputation than on their results. This makes them less likely to take the very chances that will allow them to learn and to improve.

Conversely, those motivated by doing something seem to fare better. They are focused on the world and how it is changing, rather than fixated on their own appearance. They learn by doing and they keep learning every day. They are focused on measuring what they did so they can tell what actually worked. They are unafraid of being wrong. They accept it as part of the learning process.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the CMO, but if that is the sum total of what you want, you probably won’t take the real chances needed to actually succeed in a big enough way so that someone might consider you for the job. You’re so busy worried about how you look that you fail to actually accomplish anything.

Instead of worrying about how others perceive you, instead use your own internal barometer to improve every day. You’ll not only adapt to digital marketing, but to everything else that changes down the road.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Hamayon

    Mike you just blew my mind with this simple but most important question. But still its looks a same things to me, don’t you think a person who wants to be a marketer will be doing marketing? So it does not matter whether a person wants to be marketer or want to do marketing, as he will be doing marketing at the end of the day.

    1. Avatar Mike Moran

      To me it is the motivation that is important. From the outside, you might see both types engaging in marketing activities, but the one motivated to “be” something will hang back from taking the chances required to adapt to the changes we all are exposed to.

  2. Avatar Jeff Pederson

    Great post! I love this sentence; “You’re so busy worried about how you look that you fail to actually accomplish anything.” That I think can hold true for many things and not just marketing work. Thanks!

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