The Inbound Marketer’s DNA: Mastering the 5 Skills of Innovators

In the world of information overload, brands are becoming publishers and the old cliche “Content is King” is on the rise more than ever. How do you, as a Marketer, separate your inbound marketing strategies from your competitors?

Think of it this way: there will always be a competitor with more marketing budget who will try to go after the same client that you are targeting, and employ the same marketing strategies that you’re using.

How do you become a disruptive innovator and disrupt the status quo of how Marketing is typically done? How do you innovate and leapfrog your industry?

Jason Fried is the author of “Rework” and co-founder of software company 37signals. The company’s first product, Basecamp, is the leading web-based project management tool today with over 5 million customers. Even Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is so confident about 37signals that he acquired a minority stake in it worth $10 million. Jason’s strategy is simple – instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, he tries to out-teach them. And this is how he wins. He advises businesses to educate consumers, teach them new skills, and use the power of content to engage them. It turned out to be an effective strategy – but how did he get all these ideas?

The skills needed in today’s hyper connected world for a marketer performing inbound marketing strategies (mix of seo, social, marketing automation), to create innovative marketing techniques, I have been studying and observing closely the top inbound Marketers in the industry. I also got inspired by “The Innovators DNA” book by Jeff Dyer, Halg Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen that did a similar study of world innovators.

I also looked into marketing folks like Rand Fishkin from SEOMOZ; Seth Godin, famous author and founder of Squidoo.com; Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot; and many more who are not marketers but great innovators such as Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz.

Instead of outspending competitors in winning the sales war by keeping the Marketing status quo alive, how do these great minds innovate by simply introducing ideas?

Based on my research, I found out that innovative thinking is not a genetic gift but a set of skills that can be taught and practiced. I discovered that these 5 skills are the common denominators of these top innovative marketers:

Constantly Challenging the Status Quo

Innovative marketers have the tendency to always question how things have always been done. They always want to find problems and look for better ways of solving things.

Questioning Skills

One of the skills of an innovator is to question everything. Studies show that when you are stuck at a problem, “question storming” helps more than regular brainstorming. During brainstorming, people often fail to come up with ideas because people tend to ask the wrong questions. With question storming, people are asked to come up with 50 to 75 questions collectively, and pick the top ones from the list, in order to help them create a more concrete solution to a given problem.

Ideas Networking

Most marketers like to keep an “ideas network”. This is typically a conference that they periodically attend to network. These marketers are always on the rise to meet people with diverse backgrounds and discover innovative ideas.

Discovery Skills

Great marketers have the skill to always be on the lookout for something new. Howard Schultz discovered the coffee bar culture of Italy when he visited the country. He took the idea and introduced it to the United States. When Steve Jobs visited Xerox PARC, he walked away with a number of secret technologies he discovered from PARC and built it right away.

Experimenting

Most innovators have failed several times. But even if they keep failing, they still continue to experiment with new things. I think most innovators are bold risk takers. You never know if what you are experimenting on might turn out to be the next disruptive idea for your website.
By acquiring these 5 skills of innovative thinkers, you will be able to think like one and come up with ground-breaking ideas to innovate your company’s inbound marketing techniques.

This basically sums up the 5 skills which I believe are unique to innovative thinkers. Work on acquiring these skills and you just might end up thinking like them. These could help you come up with groundbreaking ideas that will drive your company’s inbound marketing strategy to the next level.

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Zafar Ahmed

Zafar Ahmed is a recognized marketing professional with experience scaling revenues through direct customer acquisition channels (Lead Gen, SEO, Social Search, Content Strategy, PPC, and Demand Generation) with a record of aggressively capturing market share, and growing revenue.Zafar leads Search & Social marketing initiatives at TrueLogic Philippines.

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