Three Reasons Your Marketing Team Should Work On Their Emotional Intelligence

Most people don’t realize how varied the field of marketing really is — even marketing professionals can get tunnel vision to their own roles in their own industries and miss the rise of new skills and industries popping up all over the place. From data and coding for a cause to design and storytelling for a widget, there’s a lot going on behind the marketing scenes. But even with all that variation, marketing has always been based on the same goal — getting people to do stuff. Repeatedly, if possible. And while there have always been people willing to use underhanded tactics to achieve that goal, savvy marketers know that brand loyalty today takes real relationship building. Enter emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, the ability to use information about your own and others’ emotions in order to manage yourself and relationships, is a critical skill set for anyone in the corporate world, not to mention the world at large. But marketing professionals need it for more than just getting along with each other.

Understanding Your Audience

20 years ago, audience understanding meant learning about and embracing your ideal consumer’s behavior before, during and after the moment they may or may not choose your product or service. With the rise of social media, marketing professionals had to figure out a whole new kind of behavior as they were designing the media for that behavior. Now, marketers need to know all of that and be able to develop even more authentic emotional bonds with consumers relating not only to their products, but the state of the world itself.

According to the Havas 2021 Meaningful Brands Report, “Despite growing cynicism, our expectations of brands are at an all-time high, creating a significant expectation gap. 73% of global respondents believe brands must act now for the good of society and the planet, preferring to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit.”

Developing and effectively using audience personas takes more than great data (although, yes please to great data, always). Empathy, communication, and self-awareness are table stakes for really getting into the mind of your target audience and then designing products and experiences they’ll respond to in a way that meets complex emotional needs.

Getting Along With Each Other

Marketing is complicated. Even a one person business needs a multiple person team to execute a basic digital marketing strategy. Getting everyone on the same page requires its own kind of emotional intelligence. Matching different skills, personalities, experiences, and motivations to a single goal based on a person not necessarily like anyone on the team is some fine-tuned leadership.

Then, of course, there’s also just getting along with other people at work, not necessarily for the purpose of efficiency or productivity, but just because it makes work better. Happy, excited, challenged, and entertained marketing professionals make things more fun for everyone.

Being the Best at Internal Marketing

People expect marketers to be the best at marketing under all circumstances. The most creative. The most persuasive. The best at getting people to do stuff. That includes getting funding from the boss, getting the IT team on board, and getting the company rallied behind the next big plan. What a lot of marketers don’t realize is that even when everyone is in a budget meeting asking for more money, expectations are higher for them to perform with ease.

This kind of emotional intelligence is a combination of the other two — understanding your internal audience, and figuring out how to persuade them to give you what you need while still getting along. It’s the ultimate in interpersonal workplace politics, and marketers are expected to be better at it than anyone else. Whether this is actually true depends on the marketer, however, and how well they understand how to use their emotional intelligence skills.

There’s no one way to learn or use emotional intelligence as a marketing team because every team is made up of a unique combination of people with their own unique strengths. When I train marketing teams to use emotional intelligence more strategically, we look at that combination of strengths and focus on leaning into them when possible. Identifying challenges in a team’s ability to reach their goals usually comes down, not to a lack of a particular marketing skill, but to interpersonal issues. By focusing on emotional intelligence as a core skill for marketing professionals, everyone’s unique skills have more room to shine.

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