The Difference Between an Account Executive & Marketing Strategist

By: John Loury & Anjali Thomson

If you’re sick, you call the doctor. If your shower is leaking, you call the plumber. But what if your business isn’t taking off like you hoped, sales are sluggish, or you see opportunity that you don’t quite know how to leverage? Who do you call then?

The answer’s easy: The Marketing Strategist

What exactly is a marketing strategist?

At its essence, the job of a marketing strategist is to analyze qualitative and quantitative information to determine the best way to promote a product, get new customers, or increase donations. Oftentimes, this role can be confused with that of an account executive or client coordinator. Account executives and client coordinators focus mainly on the business of building and maintaining client relationships and the logistics of executing marketing plans. While there is certainly some overlap, a marketing strategist, for the most part, is a different animal. In the words of former GE executive and author, William E. Rothschild:

“What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.”

So what makes a marketing strategist’s job so different? First off, it’s a research-focused, data-driven role. That means success in marketing strategy requires extensive digging – into a company’s competition, historical data, demographics, statistics, economic trends, and advertising methods, among other factors. Insights gleaned are then distilled into unique, strategic recommendations.

Beyond the overarching strategy, it’s also the job of a strategist to drill down into the details, determining which marketing tools and channels (i.e. tactics) can help a business achieve its objectives 1) the fastest, 2) is cost conscious, and 3) with the best results. Again, that comes back to research and data. If a company has a limited marketing budget, as many do, a marketing strategist can determine where to get the most bang for the buck, so to speak. In essence, strategists take some of the guesswork out of marketing with research-backed, data-driven answers and solutions.

Consider this basic example: Say you run an online retail company. Your objective is to increase sales by 10%. After reviewing the data you discover that you’re not leveraging existing customer relationships enough, a marketing strategist recommends a strategy that segments existing customers based on frequency of their purchases. One tactic for executing this strategy is to develop a couponing program via email for each segment, including those who abandon their shopping cart up through your most frequent buyers with tracking mechanisms in place to optimize the program over time.

What makes a good marketing strategist?

What makes a good marketing strategist?

Not all marketing strategists are created equal. If you’re interested in working with one, make sure you conduct plenty of due diligence. Interview them, ask for references and case studies, and look for these personality traits, including:

  • Adaptability. Human nature hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years. What has changed is technology, and how and where people get information. And it’s still rapidly evolving. That means it’s vital to have a marketing strategist who not only understands today’s marketing tools, but is also willing to evaluate and understand how future ones can impact your business.
  • Data and results-driven. Strong marketing strategists will have the right resources on hand, enter research and data. They’ll also know how to synthesize metrics into analytics so that true insights can be uncovered. Based on this insight, they’ll be able to correct course or modify strategy and tactics to produce optimal results. This is what leads to conversion and ROI.
  • Curiosity. People make purchases and donate to causes with their hearts more than their heads. A curiosity for continuously tapping into that truth is what keeps the best marketing strategists continually learning, testing, growing and ultimately succeeding.
  • Patience. Marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it takes a consistent and measured strategy over time to achieve objectives. The best strategists know this and are willing to wait for the results.

How can a good strategist impact your business?

For many who don’t work in the industry, marketing can seem complicated, nebulous, or both. Not so with a good marketing strategist in your corner:

  • A strategist can act as a North Star as your business evolves. They can look at company-wide goals and provide a step-by-step strategy on how to achieve those goals. Not only will this help take your business to the next level, but it also simplifies your decision-making process. If an opportunity doesn’t align with your strategy, then you don’t do it.
  • Likewise, a strategist can provide the direction and encouragement necessary to stay the course or make adjustments where needed – always with an eye toward achieving overall business objectives.
  • A good strategist can also give your company a valuable competitive advantage. While your competitors are taking a piecemeal approach to marketing – and missing the mark, you can rest easy that your efforts are built on a sound strategy and the most effective tactics.

In the end, a marketing strategist can provide you with clarity. Everyone on your team is therefore able to march in line with each other, toward the same common goals – making the probability for success far greater.

Interested in learning more about how a marketing strategist can benefit you? Let’s talk.

John Loury - President

John Loury