Passive vs. Active Marketers: Which Are You?

shutterstock_209815978We’ve all heard the phrase “passive communication.” It may describe someone who lacks conviction, direction and, sometimes, respect. As such, this type of communication has given rise to the term “passive-aggressive,” or someone who tends to express negative feelings in an indirect manner rather than state their disapproval directly to the person concerned.

We’ve all dealt with the passive-aggressive individual in the business world—we may even be that person. But have we encountered the passive-aggressive marketer? Are you a passive marketer?

Let me back up…

Two days before Thanksgiving, I ventured to Northern Connecticut with members of my editorial team to meet with one of our clients for a massive strategy session. You could argue that given the time of year—with the smell of turkey and sweet potatoes in the air—our meeting would be anything but productive. But the antithesis was true.

For more than five hours, we talked content marketing: discussing what tactics are working well for their company and which need a bit more TLC; pinpointing what personality their brand should have as we head into the new year; and identifying new content options for this client. The meeting was direct, pointed and innovative, and it became quickly evident to me that I was among a sea of active marketers. And I LOVED it.

As I meet with more and more companies, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are both passive and active marketers out there. Let’s take a look at each closer:

Passive Marketers:

This is the professional who sits back idly to see how his or her content marketing strategy will work for the brand. This is the individual who sits in strategy meetings and when story concepts are pitched, he or she immediately retorts, “Sounds good; start writing.” This person doesn’t ask questions. He or she doesn’t ponder whether this proposed editorial calendar actually makes sense. He or she doesn’t ask about distribution/syndication options. Rather, this person wants to knock marketing tasks off the to-do list expediently—not pausing to play devil’s advocate or encouraging the team to consider a new angle.

This individual isn’t concerned with studying metrics; this marketer assumes that content marketing will just work. Course correcting isn’t of interest. Course correcting, after all, requires further discussion. And this marketer seldom thinks about strategy, just execution.

Active Marketers:

This is the professional who loves creative dissonance and strategic discussions. He or she will spend ample time combing through a proposed editorial calendar or email marketing campaign before executing to make sure every stone has been unturned. If someone pitches a blog concept, this person doesn’t give the quick “yes.” Conversely he or she may say things like, “I love that topic, but what action do we want to drive with this blog?”

This marketer worries about metrics… every single moment. He or she wants content marketing to incite behavior, elicit a response and be intrinsically tied to profitability. This individual is willing to admit when something isn’t working and doesn’t shy away from tough marketing discussions. In fact, he or she realizes that often the best ideas come from a lengthy brain-storming session.

So Who Are You?

In previous posts, I’ve argued that if your job as a marketer is starting to feel easy, you may be doing just enough to get by as opposed to making big splashes in marketing. If your job feels easy you are most likely a passive marketer. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a passive marketer. These types of individuals can execute quickly—making sure your blog, social media and online platforms are regularly updated with content. These individuals can make quick decisions at it relates to content strategy.

But passive marketers will not reach moments of marketing genius because, simply put, they aren’t committed to greatness. Passive marketers, for example, would not have realized during the Super Bowl outage of 2013 that they could have capitalized on that moment from a marketing perspective. It was the active marketers, specifically those at Oreo, who seized the moment and sent out a tweet in real time that said “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” The passive marketer sat there when the blackout happened and had just one thought: “How will this affect the game?”


So as we head into a New Year, now’s the time to ask yourself… who will you be in 2015? Will you be the passive marketer who sits on the sidelines letting greatness happen around you, or will you be the active marketer driving innovation who inspires others each and every day.

Carrie-SDubbed a “Chatty Cathy” from the time she uttered her first word, Content Boost’s Director of Content Marketing Carrie Majewski (née Schmelkin) is nothing short of verbal. Her love of talking matured into love of writing which inevitably transformed into a love of marketing. Carrie is responsible for overseeing the cutting-edge content marketing beast that is Content Boost—managing brand and editorial strategy, fostering client relationships, identifying new revenue opportunities and striking strategic partnerships. Carrie has worked with a variety of high profile clients on branding and copy creation from Sprint to Panasonic to AT&T to Emerson Network Power. When she’s not busy wordsmithing and debating content marketing versus traditional marketing, you can find her working on her swag in a hip-hop dance class, clogging her DVR with “Friends” reruns and trying desperately to make it up past 9:30 pm on the weekends with her hubby. #OldSoul.



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