Two Types of Digital Marketers: The Tortoise and The Hare

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Andy Crestodina

Marketing is a zoo. From the chirping birds of social media to the hippos who dominate meetings, we’re a diverse bunch.

But there are two types of marketers who are very special to me: the turtles and the rabbits.

You know the story: slow tortoise, fast hare.

These are the strategists and optimizers. One loves the big, new ideas and the other loves the ongoing, iterative improvements. It’s revolution versus evolution. The 10x marketer and the 10% marketer.

I love them both for different (and opposite) reasons. Let’s take a look…

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Now let’s look at each and see their strengths, weaknesses and how they are both special in their own way…

The 10x hare (the game changer)

How does the 10x marketer differ from a typical marketer? 

The ideas are bigger. The 10x marketer loves new beginnings. They are pioneers who challenge the status quo. Risks are higher but so are the rewards.

Goal: Find the big idea that sets the brand apart.

Strengths: Positioning, strategy, PR, branding, differentiation, brainstorming, connection to purpose.

“Don’t worry about how. Let’s focus on why. 

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

Weaknesses: Not the best at follow-through, use of data and persistence. 10x marketers sometimes chase shiny objects. Prone to boredom. They overbuy technology.

“Data? It’s interesting but often irrelevant. 

A report didn’t tell Steve Jobs to invent a smartphone.”

Value to the organization: They see the competitive landscape and have strong ideas about the path forward. They’re often inspiring. Fun in meetings. But not the kind of input you need every day.

Pet peeves: The hare gets frustrated when people don’t get on board quickly. When they have to repeat their explanation …because we’ve been talking about this for months. If we’d just started back then, we’d already see the impact!

Meet some great hares: 


I’m at my best when I’m deconstructing “lightning-in-a-bottle” success stories and finding the secrets to replicating their success.”


My goal is to deeply understand who my real competition is, the value we deliver that they can’t, and the profile of a customer that really cares about that value. My objective is to position the product so that our strengths are obvious to the customers that care about them the most.”

The 10% tortoise (optimizer)

How does the 10% marketer differ from a typical marketer?

They’re not as cute or fuzzy, but a consistent performer. The 10% marketer is methodical and tactical. Each action has a specific, desired outcome.

Also, not necessarily slow in their work, but they are takers of smaller steps.

Goal: Better results than yesterday. Build a successful program. See the impact in the data.

Strengths: On-page SEO, conversion optimization, testing, data, analysis and documentation. Consistent process and execution. iteration and steady improvement. They resist giving in to personal preferences.

“We should test this.”

Weaknesses: Prone to recycling last year’s plans and goals. Over compliance. May improve efficiency without improving effectiveness. Sometimes misses trends.

“This is how we’ve always done it.

Why change? It works and I’ll prove it to you.”

Value to the organization: You can’t just use a turtle now and then. Let them stick with their program for the long haul to see the best results.

Pet peeves: The turtle hates it when people use themselves as examples in meetings …because the person who says “I like it when…” is a dataset of one. They have no statistical significance, they are not a data-driven marketer and they’re personal preferences are irrelevant.

Meet some great turtles: 

Britney Muller, Marketing and SEO Consultant

I’m at my best when I’m analyzing data and improving what’s worked well for a website in the past.”

Justin Rondeau, InvisiblePPC

“My goal is to identify and launch predictable growth systems (that are breakeven or profitable in 30 days) to bankroll more experimentation for my ‘hare’ counterparts.”

My career advice for individuals

Which type of marketing do you like to do? Are you in the right role?

  • If you want to be a hare, you may be a better fit at an agency that works with lots of clients. Brands don’t need big-picture strategy every day.
  • If you prefer the turtle route, you may enjoy working on the brand-side more, where you get to work with the same marketing programs and data sets a lot over a longer period of time.

My strategic advice for brands

What kind of marketing is needed on your team most right now?

  • Are too many cooks in the kitchen? Does your team chase shiny objects? Did you buy fancy tools that no one uses? No one is analyzing results? …you may be on a rabbit farm. Get more turtles on your team. Consider hiring.
  • Is your marketing stale? Does everything look the same? Maybe you’re seeing data but it’s flat …your team may be all turtles. Get input from a hare. Consider outside advice.

Really, we’re all a bit of both…

It’s tempting to label someone as a hard-shelled 10% optimizer or a fast and fuzzy 10x strategist. But of course we’re all a bit of both. Even if the job title says “strategist” or “manager” everyone switches between modes.

Personally, I use the turtle mindset when doing marketing for Orbit. I use the hare mindset when talking to clients.

Know a great turtle or hare? Share and tag them!

Or do you want to add your $.02? Or disagree with the premise? Let us know below…

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Comments (18)
  • I am 95% hare! Need to be more like a tortoise 🙂

  • Thanks for this framing of the challenges for CMO’s. Working in a small software company, I find myself tugged back and forth. I also replaced a tortoise who retired. People are used to slow and steady. Any counsel from others about standing out in a slow moving market? We are B2B with manufacturers. Lots of tortoise action there.

  • I’m a hare trying to be a turtle. But this made me feel better about being a hare.

  • I agree that everyone has a bit of both the tortoise and the hare in them. Developing a successful marketing strategy is all about finding the right balance between the two.

  • I am 80% turtle 20% hare. And I just bought the 5th edition Of your book! Yay can’t wait to dive in you ALWAYS provide excellent advice.

    • I am the same mix!

      I hope you like the book. Any and all feedback is welcome!

  • Great analysis and a beautiful infographic!

    Sometimes our work needs Hare approach and sometimes it’s a Turtle.

    I’m both.

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • This perspective is valuable, and somewhat similar to Blue Ocean Strategy, i.e. incremental change will not make a business (or nonprofit) competitive. Your infographic is a brilliant way to think about and recall it!

    • Thank you for that input, Janet. I’m glad if this was useful to you!

  • 10% for sure. I’ve found that’s the best way for me to not only impact business but also gain more autonomy, which ups my engagement, which makes me want to impact the business more. Kind of a virtuous circle.

  • I was hired to be a rabbit. But I’m advised to work turtle-mode. Your article explains everything. Andy, once again intriguing writing. You should consider an anthology (book) updating annually. Keep up the great work.

  • Hare I am.

  • Team turtle!

  • Self reflecting article. I am hare mostly and turtle sometimes.

  • I’m a turtle

    • Me too. I go into rabbit-mode a few times per year, but most of the time, I’m steadily working on our programs!

  • Love this deep dive into marketers’ personalities. We need both types to win the race.

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