Yesterday, Mark Ritson joined virtual screens once again to impart his wisdom. This session was exactly what it said on the tin, entertaining and highly unscientific, and consisted of a visualisation of the ‘perfect marketer’ according to Ritson, which was of course, a monster.
The following blog post takes you on a whistle-stop tour of the twelve most desirable traits Ritson has found in his years of experience working with the good, the bad and the ugly of the marketing world. Each trait was also paired with a character from a movie who epitomised these traits.
How many of the twelve do you think apply to you?
Much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, great marketers should, at their core, have the capacity to be empathetic towards their customers. They should not assume they understand the consumer’s life, but try to put their ‘boots’ on and attempt to understand the world from their point of view.
Ritson identified a constant sense of curiosity as a main trait in the great marketers he has known, who like Marge Gunderson in Fargo, display a perfect blend of innate and constant curiosity and seek to uncover and understand beyond the surface.
Ritson pointed out the importance of ‘Big Picture Thinking’ in marketers’ approach to research design and implementation. Just like Billie Bean in Moneyball, who challenges his staff of researchers to step back and look at the wider issue before they approach the problem. A ‘perfect’ marketer will understand the benefit and limitations of each method of research and work backwards from the problem with the ‘bigger picture’ in mind.
Ritson pointed out that despite marketers’ attempt to solidify numbers with concepts of ROI, the nature of ‘marketing math’ is assumptive and deals in estimates. The ‘perfect’ marketeers that he has come across, have all had a capability to be comfortable with the imprecision of numbers. He called on John Told from Margin Call for his ability to simplify a complex and high stress situation, without having all the information.
Ritson noticed that the marketers who exemplify this trait don’t get stuck in the vicious cycle of obsessing over tactics and neglecting strategies, instead they make time for the process of doing both. These marketers find time and organisation to achieve everything through maximising efficiency, much like Eddie Morra in Limitless who discovers a drug which unlocks his mind to limitless capabilities.
Much like Sarah Connor in The Terminator 2, who understands the long term vision that her son will one day save the world, Ritson purports that the ‘perfect’ marketer should have the capacity to understand the importance of the long term view, building your brand across the top of the funnel over time.
However, this isn’t to say that Ritson’s Frankenstein would only think long term, as there is no ‘long’ without the ‘short’. The perfect marketers Ritson has met along the way have had an ability to match long term outlook and focus with complete short termism and a capacity to deliver. He matched this trait to Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross who always closes the deal.
Taking Blake and Sarah Connor together, Ritson pointed out the tension between the long and the short, whilst seemingly working against one another, these two traits reflect two pieces of the puzzle of successful marketing according to Ritson.
According to Ritson, the highest compliment a marketer can receive regarding their strategy is that it makes sense and is ‘obvious’. To him, this means that the marketer has repackaged complex thinking on their part ‘behind the curtain’ and simplified the output. He pointed to the character Michael in Michael Clayton for his ability to handle simplicity and certainty in a situation where neither of which are present.
This trait for Ritson was not about ‘managing’ creatives, but the art of learning how to select, and support creatives and work with them in a symbiosis. He pointed out that great marketers took a sensitive approach to creatives and creativity, understanding that they themselves are not the creatives. Leaning on the character Viola in Shakespeare in Love, Ritson attested to her ability to both inspire and direct Shakespeare in their final moments.
Although having contrasting meanings, Ritson pointed out the shared nature of the terms ‘distinctiveness’ and ‘differentiation’ in that they both transgress boundaries. Great marketers look for opportunities to make a statement and break rules, operating close against the ‘line’ to stand out against their competitors.
Ritson identified his final trait in Phil Conners in Groundhog Day, who learns from each day, albeit the same, becoming a better person as a result. The ‘perfect’ marketer has a great capacity for learning and sets a rigorous process of planning and objectives which are then measured against.
Taken together, and with a strange resemblance to Adrian Brody, Ritson’s Monster is a combination of 12 traits and a wealth of experience which make up a successful marketer. He challenged us to think of ourselves in light of these traits, question where we measure up and asked us to come up with a trait of our own based on our own experience.
The session, marking the end of The Festival of Marketing, certainly left us all with some food for thought, as well as some much-needed film suggestions to see us through to the end of lockdown.
Thank you for reading this blog on Ritson’s Monster, while you’re here why not read our wrap up of Ritson’s first session – Ritson on Coronavirus – Key insights from the Marketing Week Webinar.