Become a Marketing Superhero in 2010: Part 2 - 10 Essential Super Traits

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the planetary shifts and changes in technology, customer behavior, and marketplace dynamics have presented us with magnetic, transformative powers today. As we take hold of these powers, we can become better than we were before - better, stronger and faster.  We can transform our companies and reshape customer experience -- perhaps not within a single bound -- but a few well orchestrated ones! As we do this, we can also serve and empower our customers like never before.

Do a brief study on Super Heroes and you may just find some surprising parallels to marketing in this brave new era.  In my own research, I noticed there are "10 essential Super Traits"seem to be shared by all Superheros.  Here's how those traits relate to Super Marketers:
  1. EMBRACE DUTY & CALLING: Super Heroes possess a sense of duty and calling - and at some point in their journeys, are forced to act upon their calling and/or to use their powers for good. They are called to an unusual life, marked by duty, sacrifice and hard work. In parallel, Super Marketers cannot sit on their laurels within a traditional comfort zone. They must choose to accept the higher calling, stepping out of the crowd to embrace non-traditional principles for success.
  2. EXHIBIT SELFLESSNESS: Super Heroes always act in the service and best interest of others. In the same manner, Super Marketers demonstrate an "outside in" focus that stresses the experience of prospects and customers rather than the "inside realities" of the organization. Rather than being overly caught up in the corporate dogma, or the plight of the organization, Super Marketers demonstrate a passion and dedication to champion the needs of customers as the brand's best asset. They embrace the fact that consistently positive customer experience is a key element of positive brand recognition, as well as bottom line performance.  They also embrace a servant-leader role within the enterprise, helping facilitate collaboration and cooperation across the corporation.
  3. BE BRAVE: Super Heroes do not bury their heads in the sand, but face their fears by assessing challenges head on. In parallel, Super Marketers cannot cringe in the light of a poor economy and the overwhelming onslaught of digital/social channel proliferation. Instead, they must weigh the realities and impacts of next-generation marketing and develop a clear action plan to meet new challenges head on. This includes the need for new interactive and technical skills and core competencies. Super Marketers always respond by taking action with boldness. They understand that failure is an option, doing their best to mitigate risk, learn quickly and improve over time.
  4. DEVELOP YOUR SUPER SENSES: Super Heroes gain mastery over their powers through diligence and practice, and often in an "immersive" fashion. In exercising their powers, they often discover new abilities -- or ways to use their existing powers -- in surprisingly useful and advantageous ways. In the same manner, Super Marketers must embrace new skills -- and immerse themselves in new with active testing, use and measured experimentation. The learning cycle (about customers, markets, technologies and best practices) is critical to developing brawn and muscle. Failure is a critical element of success, and should be managed with grace and a determination to succeed the second time around.
  5. GET A SIDEKICK (OR TWO): It's hard to go it alone, and that's where a supporting cast fits in. Batman had two sidekicks: Robin, who helped provide on-site supportt, and Alfred Pennyworth, Butler by day and inventor by night, he built the Bat Mobile, utility belts and other gadgets in addition to managing Bat Cave operations.  Both sidekicks had important roles to play -- and both saved Batman's bootie on multiple occasions. In the same fashion, Super Marketers need back up, education, information, training, insight, outside services and occasionally -- rescue! Finding ethical, trust worthy, reliable counsel and service from reliable consultants and agencies can be an important ingredient for success. Keep in mind, that Super Heroes are always on-call and assume full ownership of their duties -- they never outsource their responsibilities. In like manner, Super Marketers recognize that while outsourced support plays an important role, it is unwise to become overly reliant on such support.
  6. HARNESS "SUPER TOOLS": Whether it's the super vehicle, a utility belt, a golden lasso, or protective cape Super Heroes call upon a host of tricky technologies to help them execute more efficiently and gain a competitive edge over the enemy. These tools help the Super Hero be proactive, and are developed in anticipation of "Super Needs". Super Marketers must carefully examine what's missing from the customer experience, take inventory of the tools at their disposal and use these tools to improve the brand experience for prospects and customers. This is especially true with regard to the many, lower cost, socially driven technologies that can improve response time, communication and dialog, whether it's Twitter for Customer Service, Facebook for lead generation and relationship-building, or YouTube and rich media to stimulate SEO, interaction and education or a tool like Foursquare or other mobile apps. Super Marketers find ways to harness these tools, incorporate them into the plan of attack and weave them into a cohesive experience that helps them drive desired outcomes.
  7. DRESS TO IMPRESS: The Super Hero is always appropriately in character. There's always a mask, a costume, a concealed identity and a sense of professionalism. However, while Super Heroes are always personable, they are not always personal.  The costume or motif represent brand identity.  The entity -- and the actions of the entity -- wearing the costume represent the customer experience (products, services and customer interactions).  Super Marketers embrace the importance of brand identity, and the power of personable brand extension, they also understand the importance of developing a unique voice - especially in the era of Social Media. However, beyond "packaging" they understand the only true way to win the regard of the people is through consistently positive, and professional delivery.  The costume that oversells what's inside makes the hero seem ridiculous. In the same manner, corporate missteps and wrongdoing tear, soil and shred brand identity. Super Marketers work tirelessly to ensure the branded experience exceeds people's expectations, extending a personable voice and persona in the marketplace that is always professional.
  8. RESPOND RAPIDLY & EFFICIENTLY: While answering the urgent call-to-action, Super Heroes rarely "trip over their tights." Demonstrating consistent preparation for the unexpected, they are nimble, agile, forward-thinking, proactive, well rehearsed, and have mastered their skills for maximum response. This is a dramatic contrast to the "reactive" positioning that afflicts many marketing divisions today. Super Marketers are always proactive, scanning the foreground for trends, topics, conversations and issues that either welcome or demand engagement. They act in a manner that elicits maximum response, in accordance with brand, voice and professional conduct standards and established policies. They move quickly to answer market opportunity and respond to challenging situations, turning negatives into positives.
  9. BEWARE OF PITFALLS! Every Super Hero has a weakness, or has fallen for a beautiful decoy or deceivingly packaged bomb. For example, Superman knows the sparkle of and magnetic power of kryptonite, which feels like "home" but has a horribly debilitating power. In a similar manner, the rhythmic pattern of task-based focus, rather than strategic focus can be mesmerizing for the Marketer. There are a host of other of operational pitfalls that are easy to get caught in that are unique to each organization and culture. These traps have a neutralizing effect on Super Powers. Super Marketers must work ardently to avoid being trapped by the status quo and be aware of task-based thinking that forces them into a tactical, reactive mode. They must find creative ways to surmount obstacles, bypass pitfalls and deliver value to prospects and customers with steadfast grace.
  10. NEUTRALIZE YOUR NEMESES: Super Heroes destroy the terrible, the troublesome and all things evil. Sometimes the enemy is external -- and sometimes Super Heroes battle a dark side, within.  Super Marketers are realistic about their own personal challenges as well as organizational issues that may thwart success. They work actively to grow beyond and rise above these problems by crushing ignorance, "inside-out" thinking, poor cross-organizational collaboration, poor integration and addressing leaders who encourage silo-based activities and "one-off" thinking. They work actively with executive leadership to neutralize the enemies of good customer experience, and insist on ownership, customer-focused thinking with an eye to the future and a vision for success.
This isn't marketing as we have known it in the past - there are new dynamics at play.  Understanding the shifts that have occurred in marketing, and embracing the 10 traits of a Superhero can help drive critical success in 2010. While every organization is unique, it's a good idea to take a mental inventory of the Super Characteristics above, to define what may be missing in your job and/or organization, and develop a plan of attack for making things better.

Click here for Part 3:  Become a Marketing Superhero in 2010:  Power to the People!   at  the Conversation Agent weblog.


AnnaB said...

There is so much passion in your posts Leigh. I share the same marketing passion and agree that it takes superhero skills to be today's marketer. The best ones harness every situation and technology and learn from it whether negative or positive. Having conviction takes bravery like a superhero, which is why great marketers are far and few between. Excellent post!

Beth Harte said...


I am a HUGE fan of this series as I think it takes ALL of us marketers back to the roots so many have seem to forgotten (or are unsure of)!

My favorite trait is Exhibit Selflessness -- "Super Marketers demonstrate a passion and dedication to champion the needs of customers as the brand's best asset."

While selflessness seems to fly in the face of capitalism (for some), the fact is that as marketers the more we ARE in touch with our customers and their needs, the more successful we’ll be as a company. As marketers it’s our job to know our customer’s needs and to provide them with a product or service that fills that need (whether it’s B2B OR B2C). How else do we expect to make money and develop loyal customers?

“Wear the Right Costume” is another favorite. I think people who champion ‘personal branding’ don’t always understand what goes into branding overall...especially the brand relationship aspect. How many times have we met people offline who are nothing like their online presence?? Eventually that WILL catch up to them. Exactly like a company who doesn’t stand up to their brand promise or relationships they’ve built. So much to be discussed here... (Perhaps another series for you Leigh?! LOL!)

Beth Harte
Community Manager, MarketingProfs

Post a Comment





TwitterLinkedInYouTubePosterousFacebook G+

Live Path Experience Architect Feed


I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


The Customer Experience Edge


Age of Conversation 3 - Get yours now in hardcover, paperback and for the Kindle.


Web Redesign: Workflow that Works