Kieran Hannon of Belkin reveals what it takes to become a successful marketer.

#1: The successful marketer has an innate curiosity

Having an innate curiosity is what makes a successful marketer. It’ll help ensure that you’re always wanting to understand, learn and constantly evolve.

Being more of a listener than a talker also helps, because you’ll be able to connect the dots and ask why people behave in certain ways.

What you have to remember is that there’s no such thing as stupid questions, only stupid answers.

Innate curiosity manifests itself through asking questions like, what makes people tick? And why would they be interested in something?

Don’t be embarrassed to ask these questions. It may seem daunting, particularly if it’s in a large meeting where you’re the most junior person there. But still, you have to ask why. It will make a huge difference once you understand

All marketers have preconceived notions of things, but we’re not the target audience. We need to suspend belief if we are to truly understand what’s trying to be achieved.

This connection can best be made through research. Although in the world of big data when everyone bases decisions on analytics, there’s a certain aptitude in ensuring the human element prevails in a campaign.

It can sometimes be missed and you need to ensure there are left brain right brain components in everything you do. You need to balance the qualitative with the quantitative to really get a full picture of the market.

For example, here at Belkin we do a lot of research. We actually have our own focus group facilities on premises.

And so we have consumers coming in here constantly being exposed to existing products to ensure it is still satisfying their needs and new concepts.

With their feedback we can make prototype revisions overnight with our 3-d printers on site. That’s what we call agile research.

Our motto is, through complexity comes simplicity.

And so really understanding people, really understanding human behavior and really understanding how products are consumed and used is important for us. All are part and parcel of the successful marketer.

And that’s why we value user feedback so highly, whether it is at the product ideation stage, whether it is in marketing- or the final product, we will continue to test.

Afterwards, even in our customer care organization we do a lot of listening, a lot of learning, always looking for ways we can feed that back into the product loop.

#2: Think of your career as a tree trunk

Think of your career path as a tree trunk. The classic route used to be going from the roots to the top.

Nowadays however, you’ll use all the branches on the tree as you make your way up.

In doing so you’ll experience and understand lots of different businesses, consumers, markets and competitors.

You may end up going out towards the left, exploring one branch, and then laterally moving over to another branch on the right and learning something there.

But by really trying to experience different things, you’ll finish with a more rounded total capability.

To get there however, you need to be prepared to take many side roads on the journey to becoming a successful marketer. You’ll constantly be learning, but your path will move in different directions.

You could even move a branch lower. But you’ll still be heading up that career tree. You may just be getting a different kind of experience.

#3: Make sure your marketing objectives are tied to business objectives

Never lose sight of the forest and the trees.

Constantly ask yourself, has anything changed – are we doing the things that we should be?

Or rather, should we be changing our tactics based on what’s happening in the market place?

With good strategies in place, a lot of marketing can become opportunistic.

It can be a reaction to a competitive situation, an opportunity in the market place you’ve identified, or just an attempt to solve something that’s been pinpointed.

But whatever it is, be flexible, be nimble, and don’t just try things for the sake of it.

To be a successful marketer, it’s key to ensure you understand your strategy so that you’re constantly working towards long term goals. Even in short term practice.

For example if I sold a product for $5, and the next day I sold that same product for $2, of course data would show that the product which sold for $2 will probably sell more.

But data can’t tell you the impact of that on the brand.

What’s the long term effect on the price value perception of that product at $2 rather than $5. What does it mean for the value of the brand?

You’ve got to look in totality, rather than specifically.

For the bigger picture, big data and analytics can be great. But getting from big data, to insight, to knowledge is the real key thing.

The insight leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to becoming a successful marketer.

This article originally appeared on Tech Stories