It’s easy to think that extroverts have a natural advantage over introverts when it comes to marketing. Many marketing functions, from networking to sales interactions, involve forging quick relationships with new people. Extroverts tend to be more outgoing and enjoy those kinds of interactions, and introverts are likely to struggle more in those contexts. But does that mean that introverts are at a disadvantage, in general, in the field of marketing?
To investigate this issue, we surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals, asking them about their personality traits and when those traits seem to be an advantage or a disadvantage. Overall, the survey respondents tend to be more extroverted than introverted. Ninety-one percent enjoy meeting new people, and 74% said that they feel energized when interacting with people in social situations. Even so, many marketers, including supposedly “extroverted” ones, show some introverted tendencies. Substantial numbers reported preferring solitary activities over group activities, and a majority said that they need to “de-charge” after a social event. In the survey comments, some marketers explained that they have different preferences at work (more extroverted) and at home (more introverted). Others said that they are somewhere in the middle all of the time: Sometimes they need social interaction, and sometimes they need solitude.
In marketing, there are plenty of extroverts, introverts and people somewhere in between, but does anyone have an advantage? Some survey respondents reported that having an outgoing personality helps. However, one respondent said that as an introvert, when she does speak, she’s “often listened to just a little bit more since I don’t usually speak unless I have something important to say.”
As Susan Cain explained in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introverts may be better listeners and better observers. In marketing, that makes a difference. But it isn’t always easy for introverts. They typically prefer small groups over large groups, and sometimes they have trouble being heard at all. Some introverted respondents told stories of being drowned out at work. They need to focus, and they often find the “open office” setup to be noisy and distracting.
If you work with introverts (as you probably do), make sure that you give them a chance to express their insights. And try to give them a quiet place to work, too. If you are an introvert, take heart. There are many ways for you to succeed in marketing without being the loudest voice in the room.
Take the AMA’s Marketing Personality Test to find out where you stand with respect to your colleagues, and to get valuable advice on leveraging your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses.