March 28, 2016 10:00 AM / by Joshua Ballard Joshua Ballard

Perhaps you have never actually experienced an online marketer referring to them self as a ninja. This in and of itself, almost qualifies the term. Keep reading.

For a quick idea of just how many online marketers decide to put the word ninja into their job description, jump onto twitter and type “marketing ninja” into the search bar, and then switch over to the ‘accounts’ tab.

Perhaps you have never actually experienced an online marketer referring to them self as a ninja. This in and of itself, almost qualifies the term. Keep reading.

For a quick idea of just how many online marketers decide to put the word ninja into their job description, jump onto twitter and type “marketing ninja” into the search bar, and then switch over to the ‘accounts’ tab.

 

This is not a new phenomenon, by internet standards at least.

To really try and understand why this has become a largely adopted title for a marketer, we need to take a closer look at two different topics.

  • what is the core function of a business title
  • why would ‘ninja’ be an appropriate point of reference for a marketer to describe their role

 

What is the core function of a business title

This question can then be broken into two categories. Fundamentally these categories represent the degree of choice that the professional has in choosing their title.

When you are working in an organisation as an employee, it is quite likely that you did not choose your title (though this is not always the case).

It is quite likely that the position you applied for was initially advertised with the job title as the primary headline of the advertisement.

All your traditional roles are generally covered, such as:

  • customer service representative
  • administrative support officer
  • marketing manager
  • marketing assistant
  • sales manager
  • sales person
  • operations manager

and so on.

We are all familiar with these titles, as they are run of the mill titles that you could reasonably expect any business to have.

As a general rule, the older the business, the more traditional their job titles will be.

The job title (and the corresponding position description) plays a fundamental role in making sure that the employee knows exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing.

It is a point of clarification in their job role, and helps define their responsibilities.

When you are running your own business or working as a freelancer, one of the first things you get to do is come up with your own job title.

There is hordes of literature, all as convoluted as one another, almost all argued from a subjective position, on the best title to give yourself when you run your own business.

I’ve read dozens of articles that are urging fresh business owners to not use the title ‘founder’, as it is a clear give away that the business is either new, or incredibly small.

Note: Despite numerous webpages on the internet telling me that I am ‘capping my growth possibilities’ or ‘crushing my expansion opportunities’ by using the title ‘founder’, I decided that it was the title that best suited my current position.

Your job title is the way that you invite every person that you meet, to categorise your role within the business. 

The two schools of thought are:

  • make it interesting so that you stand out
  • make it completely understandable so people clearly know what you do

Arguably, as long as you place a little emphasis on both of these concepts, you are in a good position. Interesting enough to stand out, yet also completely transparent about what you do.

Recently on Facebook I saw someone reference their job title as “Domestic Engineer”.

It was interesting, and I instantly knew that their principle role was to look after the home life in their family.

So many people with this job role fall into the trap of saying:

  • stay at home mum
  • stay at home dad

When I read stay at home mum, stay at home dad, or domestic engineer, I know exactly what job role they have.

However, when I read domestic engineer I appreciate it more, as they come across (to me) as having a little more pride in the important work that they do. Whether this is the case or not, it is how the titles come across to me.

Why a Marketer Would Use the Title of Ninja

So if we know that a job title in the modern age is supposed to be both interesting and descriptive, we ask ourselves which of these two functionsthe word ninja is supporting.

Because Ninjas are Cool

If you have been around the internet quite a bit, you will get the impression that ninja’s are cool.

It could even go as far as to simply give the impression that Ninja in and of itself has simply become an adjective to describe how great something is.

In this instance, it is nothing more than a hollow attempt at taking another cool buzzword and trying to make something that would usually be quite stock or boring, and make it cool again.

There may very well be some marketers who have adopted the term ninja simply because it is a cool term, deeply engrained within internet culture.

Because Ninja actually is a reasonable description of what they do

Hold up, if they are a literal ninja then they are engaged in covert espionage, sabotage and even assassination… you can see more about the literal definition of a ninja by visiting the oracle of all internet information.

It is safe to say (hopefully) that a Ninja Marketer is not actually killing people.

If we break down the idea however of what a Ninja’s position description would have looked like, and what their core skills were; we can actually start to draw some parallels.

Ninjas Were Involved With Espionage

Espionage is essentially targeted information gathering without being noticed.

Fair enough, the actual Ninja were engaged in information gathering that would then later help their boss to win a war or battle.

The loose parallel we can draw is that they were information gatherers, who found out as much strategic data as possible and then sent it back to the chief decision makers, so that they could create a strategy around better information than guess work.

This is exactly what you want your marketer to be doing. 

Your goal is not to win in battle, rather it is to win in business.

A ninja infiltrated a fortified building and learnt it’s weaknesses, a marketer infiltrates a marketplace and finds opportunities, competitors and data on what tactics may or may not work in penetrating this particular marketplace.

The better a marketer is at their job, then the less they will be noticed as they conduct it.

The more knowledge you have of a marketplace when you enter, the better your business can operate and compete in that marketplace.

Ninjas Did Not Operate In The Spotlight

As much as the classic image of a ninja is a guy in a black jumpsuit covering his face, this is not what a ninja would have actually looked like.

A ninja was not noticed, by simply being unremarkable.

Purposefully not standing out in a crowd, being able to blend in and simply be part of the scenery.

Essentially, a ninja was perfectly capable of becoming invisible.

The internet has definitely had some fun with ninja memes going down this theme.

This parallel between marketers and ninjas comes from the fact that many marketers simply are not operating in a client facing role.

For all intensive purposes, they are not a visible member of the business.

Sure, they may potentially have their picture on your ‘our team’ page, but they are frequently not:

  • on the phone to clients
  • on the phone to prospects
  • sending emails from their own name

Their job is to gather data, interpret data, and then tune the overall marketing of a business. They are not customer service based, they are not sales people. They have their own unique job role.

If you, like many others, have fallen into the trap of thinking that Marketing and Sales is much the same thing, or that these two titles can be used interchangably, then I highly recommend you read our Free Ebook, “The Difference Between Sales and Marketing”

Topics: marketing, ninja

Joshua Ballard

Joshua Founded Paradox Marketing with the goal of providing high quality Inbound Marketing services. Above all he values efficiency, transparency and communication.

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