Sunday, February 11, 2007

The best Marketing Analyst

Marketing Analysts come in very different forms and shapes. Some are new to the field, some have done it for over 20 years, some are changing the status quo, some are just happy to run SQL queries. I am still trying to figure out how to recognize great marketing analysts when I meet them. It’s one of the most difficult analytical tasks that I have encountered. Maybe it helps to start with first, defining the most important qualities of marketing analysts and then secondly, to discuss what kind of different types of marketing analysts do exist.

In finding outstanding marketing analysts I am looking primarily for three qualities, some of them probably rather unusual:
  • A healthy dose of Paranoia: Paranoia remains one of the most underestimated drivers for success, especially in our marketing field. Why? Most great marketing concepts have not been developed because of strong confidence or certainty about a situation but because of the fear of failing. The paranoia of not being good enough, of not pushing the boundaries sufficiently, is often the driving force to be on the frontline of innovation. Positively used paranoia can be the most important motivator to constantly score your own marketing performance against the competition, and thereby drive one to breakthrough work.
  • Curiosity: Curiosity is the positive sister of paranoia. Only curious analysts are able to question the status quo of certain process or wisdoms. Additionally Curiosity drives people to listen to their environment, their colleagues, their clients, or external opinion leaders to extract anything valuable. It encourages the relentless search for a real insight in a ever growing sea of data.
  • Craftsmanship: Every marketing analyst needs to know something exceptionally well. It can be a software program; it can be the capability of telling insightful stories, it can be the art of visually representing relevant information. It just has to be something that the analyst can leverage positively in his field (e.g. being a great cook doesn’t help). Too many analysts are average in too many fields, instead of being outstanding in one particular well defined area.

These three qualities don’t mean that every marketing analyst has the same traits. It rather creates a huge variety of different marketing analysts. I have seen primarily three different flavors of marketing analysts:

  • The Strategist: This individual is primarily interested in translating quantitative insights into a comprehensive marketing strategy, including a concrete marketing plan. The Strategist is the happiest when he can see the impact of his data driven marketing strategy in individual marketing executions.
  • The Statistician: This individual is primarily interested in finding correlations between different data sets. The Statistician is most happy when he has found an insight that either answers a concrete question or inspires new ones.
  • The Techie: This individual is primarily interested in automating and scaling marketing analytical tasks and executions. The Techie is most happy when he sees the ease and time savings of implemented hard-and software solutions, hopefully at a very affordable price point.

As said in the beginning, marketing analysts come in different forms and shapes. This richness of personalities, character traits, and expertise areas make our field so interesting and innovative.


Anonymous Tom Troja said...

Tom Troja here.... Hans Petrer intro'd us. I would like to reconnect... please email me at

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

I like your analysis of analysts. Have you ever seen the business intelligence reports from CNET Networks - GameSpot Trax, CNET Trax, etc... This stuff is absolutley at the intersection of techie, data and strategy. Let me know if this blog might be a place to share some of that kind of data - think of it as all of the internet measurement ad mindset applied to content consumption. Companies like CNET provide this for free to agencies but rarely to research types see it.

- Ted (

6:33 AM  
Blogger Michael Fassnacht said...


I really like your comment about the CNET networks. Do you have any examples of how we could use it in ourcontext?


3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Michael - Im my experience, providing marketers with user behavior in a semantic context is provides a form of insight no one is used to thinking about. For example, in PR, you get placement reports which is some sort of proxy for how newsworthy information is. Blogpulse from Buzzmetrics does much the same. When you look at advertising market research, one quickly has to deal with small samples of the population and then later in the cycle acutal point of sale data or some other conversion event. By looking at interest patterns on sites like CNET, you can see what the whole population is interested in - actual consumption data. You can compare consumption of content associated with brands in head to head comparison - visually see the impact of good news and bad news as it breaks..and more. My frustration is that if all you ever did were focus groups and tracking studies, you would not know what to do with data on this scale and frequency? would you change your creative? would you get more savvy with PR...lots of questions... - Ted

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Anonymous Moballer said...

Great article! Reading this through i got an interview for a market analyst position tomorrow

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Anonymous Sherlock  Best said...

“It just has to be something that the analyst can leverage positively in his field”--- I believe that if you really love being an analyst, you wouldn’t consider those tasks to be difficult and you’ll feel confident that you’ll accomplish your duties with efficiency. It’s like you’re just doing the work that you were meant to do. :)

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