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The 6 Traits and Habits of Every Successful Marketing Executive

By Bob Ruffolo

The 6 Traits and Habits of Every Successful Marketing Executive

You’re a go-getter.

And that’s great, because so was I when I first entered the digital marketing world, and I still am today.

Whether you have your sights set on an executive role or you're currently a marketing executive who wants to step their game up, this drive is one of the first things you need to advance and leave a mark on your organization and industry.  

 Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

In my mid-twenties, I had very little influence or, quite frankly, experience, but in the past eight years, this drive has helped me grow leaps and bounds as both an executive and marketer.

Reflecting on this grown, the following are the six traits and habits that have helped me and IMPACT get where we are today.

After working with hundreds of successful businesses of all sizes in a variety of industries, they are traits every successful marketing executive seem to have in common.

1. They Understand How to Build the Right Team

Any business can leverage the best technology available and the most efficient processes, but the people always end up being the biggest differentiator. After all, your competitors can have dozens of the same assets as you, but they can’t have your team.

Successful marketing executives are good at recognizing great talent and putting them to use in the right ways, but you have to consider more than this when you're at the executive level.

As a marketing executive, you are responsible for much more than hiring people who are good at what they do – you also have to consider how they will fit with your existing team. Cultural fit is arguably more important than talent because a strong company culture can improve even average talent.

On the other hand, a talented employee who doesn’t quite fit will only add toxicity to the workplace environment and can easily cause problems within the team.

2. They Know How to Get the Most Out of Their Team (Without Burnout)

Once you have your talent in place, you need to know how to work with them.

Successful marketing executives understand what good employees need to be most productive and how to get the best work out of them -- without burnout.

Today, employees want the autonomy to work on tasks the way they find most productive. A good marketing executive understands this, and as long as the work gets done properly, they grant their team the autonomy they desire.

Getting the most out of your team also requires creating cohesion between different personalities and skill sets. Successful marketing executives know how to identify which people will collaborate the best and on which tasks.

People don’t want to work in a stressful environment, but at the same time, top performers want to work for companies that push them to do their best work.

Great marketing executives create this kind of healthy stress and equip their teams with the tools and resources they need to do put their best foot forward.

Great leadership in any situation requires effective communication. Without the ability to get your intentions and goals across to your team clearly, it’s much more difficult to get everyone on the same page with objectives and visions for your brand.

Ideally, if you really want to maximize productivity from your team, you should implement Agile Marketing in your workplace. Agile combines all of the qualities mentioned above into an organized system for work and collaboration.

3. They Have a Clear and Documented Marketing Strategy

For any strategy to work, the entire team has to be in alignment. The best marketing executives create strategies that leverage the strengths of everyone on their marketing and sales teams and aligns marketing initiatives with the organization overall.

To keep everyone on track, good marketing executives often use OKR (objectives and key results) software that shows their team how their work affects the big-picture marketing objectives.

Although you don't need software to create OKRs, below are some of the most popular choices:

4. They Have Influence

Marketing and influence go hand-in-hand, so it only makes sense that successful marketing executives need to be influential – within and outside their organization.

Great marketing executives know how to build their network and capitalize on existing networks. The ability to network will help you promote your brand and connect with other influential people who can help your organization advance (i.e. through referrals, testimonials, etc.).

While networking is an essential skill of successful marketing executives, you also need to be good at what you do. The best marketing executives are influential because they have proven their knowledge. When they talk, people listen.

5. They Are Masters of Adoption

Speed is a real factor in business (especially digital marketing), and too many executives are slow to react to changing circumstances.

Successful marketing executives have their pulse on trends and tools and are quick to make smart changes to maintain competitive advantage.

As a marketing executive, you have to adapt to change and feel comfortable adopting new strategies. As your industry advances, you always want to stay one step ahead of your peers, and you can't do that if you aren't up-to-date with the latest knowledge.

In my experience, the best marketing executives allocate at least five hours to professional development each week. This includes reading, going to conferences, working with consultants, and taking online courses.

In addition to their own professional development, successful marketing executives lead enabling the professional development of their team members. They run highly-productive brainstorming meetings and provide guidance.

6. They Can Take the Heat

Until you experience it firsthand, it's hard to appreciate the pressure that comes with owning marketing for an organization.

You've got a lot of people and money counting on you to create the best strategy possible, and if things go wrong, you will receive the blame.

You need to have a certain type of personality to take this heat.

For instance, you will need to find healthy ways to manage your stress levels. Your emotions and actions can often affect those around you and if you are stressed out of your mind all the time, everyone around you will be too. That can be toxic to any work environment.

Great marketing executives know when to take breaks.

As much as you might not like to to, even the most driven executives need time away from work to relax and refocus. It’s all a part of bringing your best self to the table. Whether a meeting or the office in general, executives can set the tone for the rest of their organization, so they need to take steps to ensure it’s the right one.

They must also be humble. To be frank, marketing executives aren't usually known for being modest, but for many of the greats, the opposite is true. The most prominent leaders give credit where credit is due without hesitation. They didn’t get where they are today alone, right?

Last, but not least, successful marketing executives have a great sense of humor. They truly love their work and enjoy doing what it takes to accomplish their goals. They want to make work fun for everyone around them and also know when and how to use humor to keep spirits up.


Successful marketing executives know how to walk the walk and talk the talk.

They practice what they preach, and they’re experts in their field, but they also understand that they can’t do it alone and want to be able to transfer their knowledge to their team.

By hiring the right people for the right roles and creating the right environment, they’re able to see their strategies executed at the highest level, however, at the end of the day, they know that the responsibility to succeed falls on them and they are relentlessly dedicated to it.

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.


Hiring a Marketing Team
Executives and Leaders
Published on March 20, 2017

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