Most of the best marketers I have worked with had a common strand of DNA. They were professionally trained, and came to marketing via their science, engineering, or maths training, for a variety of reasons.

Took me a long time to figure it out, but the light dawned (this is now 25 years ago) when interviewing two seemingly very good people for a key role, and having trouble with the final selection despite several meetings with both. Each seemed to have the right experience, were a good cultural fit, had the drive and collaborative mind set I was looking for, and on a personal level, I liked and admired both of them.

What clinched it for the one I selected was a natural “hypothesis/test/analyse/rehypothesise/retest” approach, that seemed to offer the potential of a combination of his comfort with data and his marketing experience to provide useful insights. By comparison,  the other seemed to move quickly to a conclusion based on what appeared to be valid experience and  instinct.

It is pretty easy with hindsight. My lucky (for me) hire moved towards a conclusion based on data, and where there was no data,  he created some by experiment, rather than leap ahead to a comfortable conclusion. This is now a standard marketing  operating procedure, as we have so much data at our door, but then, it was unusual.

Feeling a bit bad about passing over what I thought was a very good candidate, I recommended her to a colleague at another large company. She proved over time to be reasonably effective, but too inclined to favor the cliché over data, which limited the breadth of insight she was able to bring, as every decision was based on what had been, rather than what may be.

Today, with our analytic capabilities and the mountains of available data, marketing is all about the maths, and we should be accountable for results.