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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 cover the process which helps you identify different marketing personality types. Learn how the Insight Discovery profile applies to people who work in marketing. We show how Sunshine Yellows, Fiery Reds and Cool Blues act like the three wise monkeys of marketing. Read this for ideas on how to work well with different marketing personality types.

If you’ve ever been part of a marketing team in a big organisation, there’s a high chance that at some point you’ll go through a ‘personality questionnaire’ type process.

For marketers, this working style preference process helps you identify different marketing personality types, and how best to work with them. 

Usually led by someone from HR, who’s been on a course about it. Or in bigger companies, they’ll hire an external consultant.

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

How you experience the process

The process starts with some sort of pre-work. But hey, isn’t ‘pre’ work, still work?

No matter.

You’re sent a personality questionnaire. Marketers love questionnaires. It’s usually multiple choice (great!). It involves you choosing 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 outcomes. As a marketer, you probably know your marketing personality type anyway. But you want to make sure it comes out as a “good” one, anyway. 

Then from this questionnaire. you get a computer generated output from the responses. It tells you all about your working preferences.

Though this test can apply to any function in the business, for the purposes of this article, let’s consider that preference your marketing personality type.

These preferences will show how you like to work, how you don’t like to work and importantly how you like to work (or not) with others.

After that you get some sort of individual feedback (from HR, from your boss and so on) and then group workshops to see how everyone fits together.

Still following?

Personality and leadership tool systems

Myers Briggs Type IndicatorLifestyles Inventrory (LSI) or Insight Discovery profiles are the ones we’ve come across most frequently.

We found the Insight Discovery tool the easiest to work with and the one which has had the most impact. We believe it’s because this is the tool which was the least ‘judge-y’.

It recognises the positives and challenges of each individual style and looks to how all the styles can work together. The core 4 colour model (Sunshine Yellow, Fiery Red, Cool Blue, Earth Green) are also just a simple way to ‘get’ the model quite quickly.

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, all those INTP and ESFJ mixtures can get a bit confusing compared to just four colours.

And as for LSI, we generally found that the only people who really liked that tool were MDs and sales people. As a tool it seems to be a bit more rewarding of pushy / competitive behaviours and not really value different types of styles.

We mention these types of survey, because they’re a great way of navigating your way through some of the marketing barriers you’ll run into.

They help identify the different marketing personality types you meet in large marketing teams. We call these types the 3 monkeys of marketing.

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

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

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

You’ll spot this marketing personality type easily because they are the ones who cannot 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 is not our overall style here at three-brains. But, we’ll be positive and say it is worth having some of these types on the team. They bring undoubted energy and in short bursts can be fun to be around. They are particularly good at the start of projects because they have an opinion on everything.

The challenge with sunshine yellow marketing monkeys

However, what you will find with this type of marketer is that they are often attracted by shiny new things. They also have the memory of a gold fish when it comes to decisions.

So, what they enthused about in last week’s meeting, they will quite happily 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 and targetting and positioning.

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

These types do NOT take questions or analytical thinking well. When challenged they usually come out with some sort of 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, because they get easily 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 a stock set of positive phrases to roll out. “That’s fantastic / amazing / great”.

Workshop post its generic contents

The chances are the idea will have been forgotten by next week, and these types never hang around for the long-term anyway. By all means go have a coffee or a beer with them, they’re usually fun to socialise with.

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

Next up, would be the Fiery Reds – these are 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 either working in the sales function, or working in 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 NPDs and campaigns left, right and centre, and they thrive on taking on more and bigger projects.

Again, it’s helpful having these types in your business as they help keep things moving. But this style also comes with many 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 paragraph exec summary and the bullet point conclusions is about the most information they can process 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 an important customer ‘we didn’t need them’.

6 months later and our sales slowed down, and we did actually 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. This marketing personality type sees 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 is made, there’s no backtracking, ever.

Even if that decision turns out to be a stinker. Never look 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” and that’s a great tactic for them.

If you do need to meet with them, no more than 30 minutes for a meeting. 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 any detail.

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

Finally, we come to the Cool Blues or Introvert Thinkers. They 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 they work at an agency, they’re often in strategist and planner type roles. .

These types can come up with amazing and clever piece 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.

But they can also drive you crazy.

The challenge with cool blue marketing monkeys

Because if you only have Cool Blue types, you’d never actually get anything done.

This marketing personality type struggles to recognise when a great piece of thinking is actually great.

They’ll often struggle to articulate and communicate those clever pieces of thinking unless they’re given lots of time to prepare and are allowed to organise their thinking in at least 30 pages of Powerpoint, so that ‘you follow their thought process’.

They don’t do spontaneity well.

What they also love is to procrastinate and pick away at the articulation of the idea to make it cleverer than it needs to be.

They love to create long-winded and over-elaborate conceptual frameworks and constructs that appeal only to other blue types and are like marketing ‘death’ for everyone else. And who by they time they’re finally happy with an idea, the competitor has already done it and you’re back where you started.

Throw Cool Blues into the mix with talkative sunshine yellows and fiery reds, and these types will 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 actually due.

Brilliant but hugely frustrating to work with for others.

Our advice for working with these types, put their name first to speak on the agenda. Read their emails and force them to do one pagers in Powerpoint if they have to (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 really 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?

For those of you who can count, we did mention there were 4 types of Insight Discovery colour, but only 3 of them we’ve covered in marketing. That’s because you rarely find Earth Green Marketers.

Earth Greens really care about the emotional well-being of others. And, marketers typically are quite 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 and totally 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.

Read our articles where we apply Insight profiles to e-Commerce and to creativity for more on personality types. Or check out our article on how to be a better marketer. Contact us for more ways to raise your game in marketing. 

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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