The cowboy in the marketer

I belong to the breed of cowboy marketer that confronts the wild west with his instinct and guts. On most occasions, I’ve found that market research has always been an exercise of confirming what my gut instinct has already told me. This is not to say that I have the uncanny ability to divine the future with a crystal ball because I’m not right all the time, but, on those occasions where I miss the mark, it’s usually the timing that’s wrong and not the outcome. Before you get me wrong, this is not an exercise to satisfy my narcissistic self. 

Just last week, I read an article in the local daily that stated the Apple’s iPhone has at least 40% of the mobile phone marketshare here in Singapore. Just prior to the publication of this article, I was presenting an iPhone application idea to a certain statutory board. I was posed the question on iPhone’s penetration into the local market, at which time I had no hard facts. I however made an educated “guesstimate” to be around 40%. How so? Very simply by keen observation. In any social or business gathering that I have attended, I noticed that at least 3.5 out of 10 people present used the iPhone. You might want to try this exercise yourself to verify my unconventional research findings.

Having been in this practice for over 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many brilliant marketers and through observation, I’ve discovered traits common to many of these cowboys that lend them the ability to achieve marketing success again and again. These are what I deemed inherent traits that come naturally to a few but requires much practice by others, different from skills which can be learnt and acquired by all.

  1. Empathy – Great marketers walk in the shoes of their customers, they’re always looking at ways to create value for their customers while protecting the interest of the brand/company. Being sensitive to market movement and trends also help them stay relevant to consumer needs and wants.
  2. Keen Observation – When the cowboy strolls into town, he scans his surroundings and quickly picks up on things that are out-of-place. Likewise great marketers have high situation awareness, their antennas on the lookout for opportunities. A lot of what they see might not be of immediate use but it’s stored away for future reference.
  3. Questioning Mind – “Why is this done? Why did this succeed/fail? What can I learn from this? Can I do better?” The mind of the marketer never stops questioning. Rather than textbooks, his learning comes from the environment that surrounds him.
  4. Courage – It takes courage to overcome fear and hesitation when the cowboy rides off into the wilderness or gets on the back of a bull 5 times his size. Cowboys  take the road less travelled to beat a path for others to follow. They’re willing to try a new formula when existing ones don’t work and is never one who’s shy to stand out from the crowd. Lastly, they’re always dare to put their money where their mouth is.
  5. Great Executors – Far from being an operator behind a desk, this cowboy leads the way at the head of the cattle drive. He is born with the desire and drive to make things work, works with a meticulous nature paying great attention to planning and details, and rolling up his sleeves to get the job done. He is highly resourceful and works within limitations of any given assignments.

These traits are by no means pre-requisite for success in the professional practice of marketing but it is through my observations that marketers possessing them have achieved greater success than others. Far from being a great marketer, yet, I’m constantly a keen student, still honing my skills, acquiring knowledge, gaining experience in hope that I’ll be able to ride off into the sunset in the fashion of the Lone Ranger, “Hi ho Silver!”

BTW, if you think that you posses such admirable qualities, drop us a mail at cos we’re always on the lookout for great cowboys. Yee Haw!