What makes a great marketer? Or, as they call it in Europe, a marketeer. 😉
Is it the stereotypical, i.e., traditional, image of the uber-confident networker with the gift of the gab? Is it the extrovert whose effortless collecting of business cards instantly converts contacts into contracts?
Or is it the strategic, deep-thinking analyst, who is more at home behind a computer than at a networking event? Is it the introvert who uses all the digital tools and platforms at their disposal to predict and react to what their market wants online?
Modern marketers face high expectations about what they must bring to the table, including:
strong communication skills
strategic and analytical thinking
good project management skills
ability to self-start and work independently
flexibility and adaptability
passion for learning
desire to help others
leadership and management skills
excellent sales abilities
When you look at that list, it’s easy to see why both introverts AND extroverts might feel they’re not cut out for this work.
This overwhelming demand for a broad set of skills has left many small businesses struggling to compete in the digital marketing realm and larger companies finding themselves unable to effectively utilize the teams they have.
Because there isn’t enough understanding of the different personality types within marketing and sales teams. And that is why most workplaces fail to recognize that both introverts and extroverts offer unique, valuable skillsets.
Commenting on this failure, Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort, authors of Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships, remark:
“Organizations aren’t getting the performance they need from their teams. But often, the fault doesn’t lie with the team members, our research suggests. Rather, it rests with leaders who fail to effectively tap diverse work styles and perspectives—even at the senior-most levels. Some managers just don’t recognize how profound the differences between their people are; others don’t know how to manage the gaps and tensions or understand the costs of not doing so.”
In this article, I answer the question whether extroverts or introverts make better digital marketers and what they can do to enhance their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.
If you’re a digital marketer (especially if you are solopreneur or work for a small business), you may be expected to possess all, if not most, of the skills listed above.
These skills are largely linked to one’s degree of extroversion, with some found more commonly in introverts and others more commonly in extroverts. If you identify with one more than the other, it is likely you’re missing, or are weak in, a number of those listed skills.
Is it possible to fix the gaps in your skillset?
And, if most people lean more to either introverted or extroverted end of the spectrum, which is the better personality type for a digital marketer?
The answer to both questions is, it depends.
Are you a solopreneur or part of a large company?
What is your degree of introversion or extroversion?
And finally, it depends on the skill in question.
While you can’t change your level of extroversion, you can learn to excel in the areas you are strong in and improve or outsource the tasks occupying the areas you are less adept at.
The real difference between introverts and extroverts
Many perceptions float around about the differences between introverts and extroverts.
Not all of them are true.
The most common misconceptions about introverts include the following statements. They are believed:
- to be more intelligent or creative
- to always want to work or be alone
- to hate social gatherings
- to be shy
It is also commonly thought they are not good leaders or great public speakers.
Common misconceptions about extroverts include the following statements. They are believed:
- to be always confident
- to have lots of friends
- to like public speaking
- to prefer always being around people or crowds
They are also often thought of as not creative or good listeners.
While there are certainly extroverts or introverts who fit these traits, it is a mistake to assume they are the norm for people with these personality types.
The true difference between extroverts and introverts is explained by the nervous system and the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute, dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that induces reward-seeking behavior. This neurotransmitter provides you with motivation to seek external rewards, such as earning money, climbing the social ladder, attracting a mate or getting selected for a high-profile project at work.
When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings and motivated to take risks and explore the environment. While both introverts and extroverts have the same amount of dopamine available, what makes introverts and extroverts different is that dopamine is more active in the brains of extroverts.
Introverts, on the other hand, prefer the feelings produced by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Although also linked to pleasure, it differs from dopamine because it makes you feel good when you turn inward. It powers your abilities to think deeply, reflect and focus intensely on just one thing for a long period of time.
This explains why extroverts generally find stimulating situations preferable while introverts lean towards calm, introspective situations.
Common traits of introverts and extroverts
The difference between extroverts and introverts might be a matter of brain chemistry, but it translates into very common traits. Below are some of the most common traits of each personality type.
Although you may lean more strongly towards introversion or extroversion, you might feel you are neither or both of these.
In this case, you may be an ambivert.
The Ambivert (Omnivert)
An ambivert is someone whose personality has a mix of extrovert and introvert features.
Think about it this way. Personality traits exist along a spectrum. Most people are not simply introverts or extroverts – they fall somewhere along the spectrum.
In fact, Adam Grant at Wharton discovered that two-thirds of people don’t strongly identify as introverts or extroverts but rather as ambiverts.
This is a benefit. Ambiverts are generally more flexible, adapting to new situations more easily. They also usually “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back,” according to Daniel Pink.
How Introverts and Extroverts Differ and Excel in Digital Marketing
Strategizing – researching and planning – is an essential part of digital marketing.
And when it comes to which personality type is best suited to this type of task, introverts win hands down.
According to Dr. Laurie Helgoe, the part of the brain responsible for remembering, planning, decision-making and problem-solving is notably more active in introverts.
This is why introverts are often:
- very observant
- sharp listeners
- inclined towards self-reflection and research
- dedicated to feeling prepared and well-read
If you are an extrovert or ambivert with strong extrovert leanings and are responsible for research and planning, work to your strengths. For example, for research, you might want to focus more on interviewing people, whether in-person, by phone, via video or social media.
You can also make it easier for yourself by scheduling shorter periods of time for tasks such as research and planning and adding stimulating activities after these periods, such as meetings or coffee breaks.
Marketing without engagement is simply broadcasting, which no longer grabs the attention of your ideal clients today nor does it build relationships or trust.
Engagement, however, is one of the most effective tools to get the attention of, connect to and build relationships with potential clients.
Extroverts are the clear frontrunners here as they enjoy speaking with others. In fact, they are energized by interacting with both friends and strangers alike.
Other traits that help extroverts excel in engagement include being:
- more open
- better able to accept change
- quick thinkers
- good at dealing with conflict
These traits come in handy on social platforms and ideally suit extroverts.
If you are an extrovert or ambivert with stronger extrovert inclinations, you can further increase your excellent engagement skills by ensuring you take the time to really listen to what your ideal clients say and how they say it.
If you are an introvert or ambivert with stronger introvert inclinations and are responsible for social engagement, focus on your strengths, which are your abilities to listen and ask questions that encourage people to talk. Phrase your questions to be open-ended so they can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.
Asking questions is a great way to gain people’s trust and build rapport. It quickly signals to people you’re interested in them. That’s one of the reasons why, as a Harvard study found, the simple act of asking questions makes us more likeable.
Content creation is vital in digital marketing. It establishes your authority, builds trust and keeps you top of mind with your prospects.
Both introverts and extroverts can make great content – although usually in very different formats.
Their chatty, confident and charming nature makes extroverts ideal creators of video content, particularly live videos. This is a great advantage as video continues to grow in popularity on social media.
Video content allows you to connect with your ideal clients and develop stronger relationships quicker. Video humanizes you and allows people to get to know you more intimately.
It’s also a powerful medium for storytelling.
If you’re an introvert but would like to create video content, try strategies that take the pressure off you, such as narrating a slideshow, finding a narrator or spokesperson, having a co-host or finding ways to encourage your community to create the content for you, such as a contest.
The introvert’s ability to research, plan and express themselves better in writing than in conversation makes them excellent at creating blog content.
Blog content, while less popular than videos, is still an extremely important part of B2B marketing, especially with decision-makers. Written content has a number of important benefits, including that it is:
- easier to skim
- searchable by search engines, such as Google or Bing
- quicker and easier to produce in high quality
- less expensive to create
- reusable and can be transformed into other types of content
If you are an introvert, use your abilities to research and listen to your ideal clients to discover their greatest challenges. Then create blog posts that help them solve their challenges, establishing your authority on your topic and building trust between you and your prospects.
If you are more extroverted and want to create more written content, a little planning will increase your productivity. If you need to research, for example, aim to write in a public space or with a writing buddy next to you doing the same. Setting aside shorter blocks of time to write will drain you less, and chatting with someone before and after you write might energize you.
When writing, imagine you are having a conversation with a friend, and avoid industry jargon or complicated sentences.
Teamwork is vital in digital marketing, especially in larger companies, where you need to work with a variety of individuals and departments.
Even if you are a solopreneur, you will often need to work with other contractors or professionals to get larger or more complex projects completed (graphic designers, copywriters, editors, video editors, etc.).
Extroverts’ outgoing nature and ability to form quick and easy friendships make group work not only easy, but pleasurable.
Extroverts tend to:
- remember names and faces
- be charismatic and confident in social settings
- communicate easily with a variety of people
- work well in group settings
- invite others to participate
- be willing to assist others with difficulties
- be upbeat, chatty and able to speak publicly
If you are an extrovert, you can help introverts perform at their best by:
- sharing an agenda prior to meetings
- asking introverts to share their thoughts on agenda items privately before or after meetings
- breaking into duos or small groups to discuss ideas and then report back to the larger team
- asking introverts via text or IM whether they are free to discuss a project, before interrupting them with conversation or phone call.
While working in teams might come most naturally to extroverts, introverts can also contribute to groups in meaningful ways. Although they usually work well in smaller groups, even in a larger group they can increase the group’s focus and effectiveness because they are frequently detail-oriented and precise.
Introverts tend to:
- be good listeners
- be impartial and critical
- be detail-oriented
- prefer to focus on one project at a time
- be self-reliant and think purposefully
- be dependable, cautious, and deliberate
- be well-suited to manage potential pitfalls
If you are an introvert, you can facilitate teamwork with your extrovert team members in the following ways:
- feel more comfortable in meetings by trying to speak during the first ten minutes
- be ready to do some brainstorming at meetings
- avoid sending extroverts long e-mails or leaving detailed phone messages as they may only skim the ﬁrst few words or paragraphs
- if you’re stumped by a question, request a moment to think about it and/or let the person know you’ll follow up with an answer later.
If you are a B2B business, getting your ideal clients to have the all-important sales conversation with you offline is the goal of all your digital marketing efforts.
But who is better at sales – introverts or extroverts?
The answer is neither. Ambiverts are, in fact, the best when it comes to making the sale.
What is an ambivert?
An ambivert is a person who has a balance of extrovert and introvert features in their personality.
Recent research has disproved the powerful and widely held notion that the best-performing salespeople are extroverts.
A study by Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, concluded that ambiverts perform better in sales than either introverts or extroverts, closing 24% more sales.
“Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale, but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”
Whatever your personality type is, it is important to remember not to rush into a sales pitch. Focus on listening to the individual needs of your prospect, then help them solve their problem with your solution.
Pay attention to your prospect’s personality. Are they more introverted or extroverted? Adapt your strategy to suit. If they are more introverted, connect with them on a deeper level by listening more and asking open-ended questions. If they are more extroverted, speak less, ask questions for clarifications but let them steer the conversation. Let them shine.
Know your strengths, outsource your weaknesses
Understanding your personality and personalities of those who handle your marketing will give you valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your digital marketing team, including yourself. This knowledge will allow you to maximize each person’s strengths and compensate for the gaps in their skillset.
That being said, don’t be afraid to get help in areas you don’t excel at. This can mean asking for help from your teammates or outsourcing, especially if you are part of a small company.
Digital marketing is a team effort – whether you’re a small business working with contractors or part of a team at a large company. The beauty of that is each personality type brings its own value to the table.
The key to success is staying mindful of the different personalities and skillsets in your team and giving them the right environment to shine. Do that, and sales success will follow.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between introverts and extroverts in digital marketing? Let me know in the comments below.