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The three monkeys of marketing – personality types

Wooden model of Three Wise Monkeys - Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

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Why read this? : We share examples of different marketing personality types. Learn how Insight colour profiles make marketers act like the 3 wise monkeys. Read this for ideas on how to get the most out of different marketing personality types.

At some point, anyone who works in a big organisation will go through some sort of ‘personality questionnaire’ type process.

This article looks at that from a marketing point of view. And in particular, what it means for different marketing personality types, and how best to work with them. 

The process is usually led by someone from HR. Who’s been on a course. Or if they want to splash out, HR hires a consultant to do it.

Wooden model of Three Wise Monkeys - Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

How you experience the process

The process starts when you’re sent a personality questionnaire. Marketers love questionnaires. It’s usually multiple-choice (great!). You choose between words like “brave” and “intelligent“. Or “leader” and “decent human being“.

Because you already know a bit about behavioural science, you spend most of the time trying to second guess the best answers. As a marketer, you probably know your personality type already. But you want to make sure it comes out as a “good” one. 

You get a computer-generated output from your responses. This tells you all about your working preferences and personality type.

If you apply those to marketing, you get the idea of different marketing personality types. These show how you like to work, how you don’t like to work, and how you best work with others.

After that, you get individual feedback (from HR, from your boss) and then group workshops to see how the different styles fit together.

Still following?

Personality and leadership tool systems

Insight Discovery, Myers Briggs Type Indicator and Lifestyles Inventory (LSI) profiles are the ones we’ve come across most frequently.

We found the Insight Discovery tool the easiest to work with and the one with the most impact. That’s because it’s the least ‘judge-y’ of the tools.

It recognises the pros and cons of each style and looks at how styles best work together. The core 4 colour model (Sunshine Yellow, Fiery Red, Cool Blue, Earth Green) is a simple way to explain the thinking.

Person holding glasses in front of them against a blurry street background

(When you drill down into the model, it’s much more complex … so let’s not do that for now).

The Myers Briggs tool is based on the same underlying Jungian principles. We do like how clever saying ‘Jungian principles’ makes us sound, by the way. But with Myers Briggs, the 16 different variations from INTP to ESFJ are harder to explain than the 4 Insight colours.

And as for LSI, the only people who seem to like that are MDs and salespeople. As a tool, it seems to reward more pushy / competitive behaviours and doesn’t value other styles.

We mention these types of surveys as they’re a great way to help navigate past common marketing barriers. They help identify the different marketing personality types you find in large marketing teams. We call these types the 3 monkeys of marketing.

We know there are 4, not 3 personality styles, by the way. We’ll come back to that at the end. 

Marketing Monkey 1 - Sunshine Yellow (aka Hear no evil)

First, there’s what the Insights profile calls the Sunshine Yellow types. These would be Extrovert-Feelers in Myers Briggs.

You spot this personality type easily because they’re the ones who can’t sit still or shut up in meetings. (Hence the hear no evil).

These marketing personality types LOVE workshops, team meetings and brainstorming sessions. In fact, anything where they get to talk and show people how inspiring they are.

Young boy in a yellow jersey showing loudly into a microphone

Now, this isn’t our overall style here at Three-Brains. But, we’ll be positive and say it’s worth having some of these types on the team. They bring lots of energy, and in short bursts are fun to be around. They’re good at the start of projects because they bring lots of positivity.

The challenge with sunshine yellow marketing monkeys

However, what you find with these types is they’re often distracted by shiny new things. They also have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to decisions.

So, what they enthused about in last week’s meeting, they’ll enthuse about the complete opposite in this week’s meeting. That was last week, right?

You can spend endless hours, days, weeks, months with these types debating and rehashing brand identity, targetting and positioning.

They like nothing better than spending endless hours creating a wall of colourful Post-its. These will have 50+ variations of your brand essence which actually, nobody cares much about.

These types do NOT take questions or analytical thinking well. When challenged, they usually come out with some hippyish type mantra. Something like “You’ll never change without a positive mindset”. Or “It’s all about being agile”.

They’re never at fault. They’re terrible at finishing projects as they get distracted by the next project. 

The best tactic for dealing with this type is to have coloured post-its nearby at all times. Be prepared with a stock set of positive phrases to roll out. That’s fantastic. Love it. Amazing.

Workshop post its generic contents

Chances are they’ll have forgotten the idea by next week, and these types never hang around long-term anyway. But, by all means, go have a coffee or a beer with them as they’re usually fun to socialise with.

Marketing Monkey 2 - Fiery Red (aka See no evil)

Next up, are the Fiery Reds – those Extrovert-Thinkers who “get shit done”.

They like to make sure you know that.

These marketing personality types go hard and fast at everything. They’re super competitive. Life’s a series of hectic sprints from one challenge to the next, where they need to cross the finish line first

They’ve often (but not always) spent time working in sales or sales-driven businesses.

Relay sprinter holding a baton in his blocks about to start a sprint relay

They usually hit or exceed their KPIs, bang out innovation and new advertising campaigns left, right and centre. And they thrive on taking on more and bigger projects.

Again, it’s helpful to have some of these types in your team. They keep things moving. You get action. But this style also has challenges. 

The challenge with fiery red marketing monkeys

The first challenge is they often have the attention span of a 5-year-old child. A one-page exec summary and the bullet point conclusions are about the most information they can handle in one go.

And they’ll quite happily make decisions without all the context or facts.

The next challenge is they do indeed ‘get shit done’. But they don’t often consider the consequences. As long as it’s done. We once worked with a ‘fiery red’ sales director who at a time when our products were in high demand, told a big customer, ‘we didn’t need them’.

6 months later, sales slowed down, and we did need them. But it took our sales team about 3 years to repair the damage to the relationship.

Other types can find Fiery Reds intimidating. These marketing personality types see social relationships as getting in the way of their progress and achievements. They’re easily frustrated. 

They have little patience for anyone who takes time to think or chat. Once a decision’s made, there’s no backtracking, ever.

Even if that decision turns out to be a stinker. Never looking back is what drives most Fiery Red types (hence the See No Evil).

Man in a red T-shirt looking frustrated and angry

So, how do you work with these marketing personality types? They’re sometimes described as “Be brief, be bright, be gone”. That’s a great tactic for them.

If you do need to meet with them, keep it to no more than 30 minutes. Make sure there’s a 3 bullet point ‘action list’ summary afterwards (Reds love actions!). And ask direct questions if needed.

Don’t pontificate or meander. Don’t do small talk. If you need them to sign off a plan, focus on the outcomes. They’ll generally agree with it, and not want to go into detail.

Marketing Monkey 3 - Cool Blue (aka Speak no evil)

Finally, we come to the Cool Blues. Introvert Thinkers who speak no evil.

These are the thinkers, the planners, the analysts, the people who like to delve into detail and data.

Frequently ending up in market research-type roles, or if at an agency, they’re often in strategist and planner-type roles.

These types can come up with amazing and clever pieces of thinking.

man in a blue T-shirt looking at the ceiling

Imagine if you have a whole team of these types, think about the great things you would achieve.

The challenge with cool blue marketing monkeys

But they can also drive you crazy. If you only had Cool Blues, you’d never actually get anything done.

This marketing personality type struggles to communicate their clever thinking, unless given lots of time to organise their ideas into 30+ pages of PowerPoint, so you ‘follow their thought process’.

They don’t do spontaneity well. And they love to procrastinate. To pick away at the articulation of the idea, especially if not their own idea. This blocks progress. Creating long-winded,  over-elaborate conceptual frameworks which only appeal to other blues. By the time they’re finally happy with an idea, the competitor’s already done it, and you’re back where you started.

Throw Cool Blues in with talkative sunshine yellows and fiery reds, and they’ll generally be the quiet ones in the corner. They’ll send you a great email 3 days after the decision you needed to make was due.

Brilliant, but hugely frustrating to work with.

Our advice for working with these types? Put their name first to speak on the agenda. Ask them to do one-page PowerPoint summaries, rather than sending long emails. (They’ll complain, but secretly like the intellectual challenge).

Be quiet and listen to them. 

Don’t worry about inviting them for coffee or beer. They don’t care. They’ll probably end up leaving and going to work at a research agency anyway.

A woman with a finger over her mouth making the shhhh signal

Earth Green Marketers?

We mentioned earlier, that there are 4 types of Insight Discovery colours, but we’ve only covered 3. That’s because you rarely find Earth Green Marketers.

Earth Greens care about the emotional well-being of others. And, marketers are on the whole more likely to be self-centred.

The only Earth Green marketing personality types we’ve ever come across in marketing usually work in administrator or team support-type roles.

Blond woman partially hidden behind a leafy bush

Or end up moving into HR. And you know what?

Every single one of them has been brilliant but under-appreciated by almost everyone else in the marketing team. The opposite of fiery reds, they’re rare creatures who hold teams together.

If you have one in your marketing team, please treat them with the reverence they deserve. That’s why Earth Greens don’t get classified as Marketing Monkeys in our little framework.

They’re the evolved human beings of marketing.

See our Insight profiles in e-Commerce and creativity articles for more on this. Also, our how to be a better marketer and brand personality articles. Or get in touch for more ways to raise your marketing game. 

Photo credits

Glasses : Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

Shout (adapted) : Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Sprint : Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Frustrated Man (adapted) : Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Man looking at ceiling (adapted) : Photo by Anton Danilov on Unsplash

Quiet – Shhh! : Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Woman peeking out from bush : Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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