The Refiner Marketing Personality: In Pursuit of Perfection
by Aden Andrus • October 26, 2020
The majority of online marketers fit into one of the following personality types: Initiators, Implementors, Drivers and Refiners. Of course, your personality is a unique blend of characteristics from each of these types, but odds are that most of your decisions are guided by a dominant personality type.
To be truly effective as a marketer, you need to understand your own marketing personality type and the marketing personality types of those you work with. That way, you can combine your strengths to produce the best possible results.
On the other hand, if you try to be something you’re not or expect your co-workers to perform well at jobs they’re poorly suited for, you’re setting everyone up for failure.
That’s a chance you can’t afford to take, so let’s take an in-depth look at the Refiner marketing personality type. What are Refiners like? What motivates them? What sort of role do they play in marketing? Let’s find out.
The Refiner Marketing Personality Type
Refiners love to turn potential into perfection. Online marketing is a pretty fast-paced industry that rewards adaptability, ingenuity and persistence, so Refiners are one of the rarest marketing personality types, but in the right roles, they really shine.
Most Refiners are obsessed with doing things the “right” way. They love to break down concepts, processes and theories, look at them backwards and forwards and find the truth hiding within. For technical analysis and insights, Refiners can’t be beat.
The quest for perfection, though, comes with its own share of difficulties. Refiners are a valuable part of any online marketing team, but to really make the most of their potential, you have to understand their strengths, weaknesses and what makes them tick.
Refiners are perhaps the most meticulous marketing personality. For Refiners, it’s not enough to simply get results. They have to get the best possible results…and in the most effective and efficient way.
This obsession with optimizing and improving performance allows them to take good marketing campaigns and make them great. Need to take a paid search or email campaign to the next level? You can count on a Refiner to dive in, review the data, figure out what’s working and what isn’t and then test (and retest) until you’re getting truly incredible results.
As you can probably imagine, most Refiners love data. Many marketers claim to love data-based marketing, but for Refiners, marketing without data analysis is like swimming without breathing.
Refiners love spreadsheets and tracking performance in great detail. And, when it comes to interpreting and analyzing that data, no other personality type can hold a candle to their knowledge or insights.
Best of all, Refiners care deeply about truth, so they tend to report things in the most accurate way possible. They don’t bend the numbers to make themselves look good or delude themselves into thinking that things are better than they really are. They know exactly what’s going on and how different tweaks affect performance.
As a result, Refiners are an incredibly good source of facts, market hypotheses and optimization insights. If you’re a Refiner, odds are that you are constantly thinking about and reevaluating your campaigns. If you have a Refiner working for you, you can count on them to always know exactly what’s happening in the campaigns they manage and to have data-based ideas on how to improve things.
While Refiners are great at analysis and optimization, they often struggle with “paralysis by analysis”. Sifting through data and testing hypotheses takes time, and for many other personality types, the Refiner’s inexorable pursuit of perfection can seem painfully slow.
The problem is, Refiners want everything to be done right. “Good enough” doesn’t cut it for them—even on aspects of marketing where perfection isn’t actually necessary.
As a result, Refiners often have a hard time keeping up in the fast-paced world of online marketing. Where other marketing types love the challenge of adapting to new obstacles and opportunities, Refiners can get left behind.
Even if they do manage to keep up, the stress of doing things “wrong” still frustrates them and they often compensate by overworking themselves in an effort to provide a quantity of quality. Pretty soon, they end up burned out…and end up doing things even more slowly.
This focus on data and perfection can also limit their creativity. Because they want everything to be done “right”, Refiners can sometimes struggle with out-of-the-box thinking. This is why we call this personality type “Refiners”. They aren’t always the best at coming up with new ideas or getting things moving, but they’re great at perfecting what’s already working.
In addition to these challenges, Refiners tend to see the world in terms of data, systems and processes. They often struggle to understand the “human” element of marketing (and the emotions of their coworkers).
To Refiners, doing things the “right” way is more important than making people happy. They tend to be fairly blunt with their coworkers and superiors—especially when those coworkers or superiors are making decisions that conflict with the available data.
If you’re a Refiner, the trick to overcoming most of these weaknesses is to take a step back and ask yourself, “How important is it to be ‘right’ in this situation?” If doing things perfectly won’t add more than 20% additional value, you may want to pick your battles.
On the flip side of things, if you’re working with a Refiner, it’s important to remember that everything they say and do is motivated by a desire to produce the best results possible. They may not always be tactful about how they express things, but there are important truths behind everything they say. If you can put your feelings aside and focus on those truths, you just might learn a thing or two.
Refiners on the Marketing Team
Every person has a mix of marketing personality traits, so Refiners can be found in almost any online marketing role, but they really shine in a few specific capacities:
- Web Analytics: Good web analytics is all about the pursuit of truth. When you’re setting up your tracking, you need things to be as perfect as possible. And, when you’re evaluating your data and looking for insights, you need to be able to interpret your data in reliable and meaningful ways. Refiners excel in both of these areas, making them a perfect fit for web analytics.
- Conversion Rate Optimization: Optimizing web sites through repeated, deliberated testing is like breathing for Refiners. It’s how they live their lives, so they’re a perfect fit for conversion rate optimization (CRO). In addition to being good with data, they’re also good at using data to construct new hypotheses, so most CRO experts usually have a lot of Refiner in them—even if it isn’t their dominant marketing personality type.
- Paid Search Advertising: Refiners aren’t always great at putting together new content or creative, but once paid search campaigns are up and running, Refiners are great at diving into the data and figuring out how to take those campaigns to the next level.
- Consultant Roles: Whether they work as actual consultants or simply play a consultant role on the marketing team, most Refiners do very well in an advisory role. Here, they have the ability to use their knowledge, expertise and analytical abilities to come up with ways to improve marketing campaigns and processes, but they don’t actually have to implement their suggestions themselves. Their job is to simply point people in the right direction, which is something Refiners are very, very good at.
More than almost any other marketing personality type, how successful a Refiner is at work depends on whether they’re working a job that plays to their strengths. The more a Refiner can focus on data and optimization, the happier everyone will be.
Working with a Refiner
Like all of the marketing personality types, Refiners do their best work as part of a team that incorporates all four personality types. Depending on your personality type, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:
While it might seem like Refiners would like working together, in practice, that’s rarely the case. As incomprehensible as it might seem to most Refiners, “right” in online marketing is often fairly subjective.
More often than not, Refiners have very different ideas about the best way to do things. Two Refiners can look at the same data and come up with separate, but equally valid interpretations and recommendations.
The problem is, Refiners often have a hard time believing that their “right” isn’t the only possible “right”. They put so much time and thought into figuring things out that they feel threatened when other people disagree with them.
Initiators, Implementors and Drivers usually don’t care enough about being “right” to compete with the Refiner’s resolve, but when pitted against another Refiner, the results can be…explosive.
That’s not to say that Refiners can’t work together, but it’s important for them both to remember that pushback and alternate viewpoints are the key to perfection. If they can work together towards a mutual goal, they’ll get far better results than they ever could individually.
Initiators and Refiners tend to butt heads a lot. Ideally, the Initiator recognizes that the Refiner is perfecting their ideas and the Refiner embraces the new opportunities created by the Initiator.
Sadly, things often don’t quite work out that way.
A lot of the time, Initiators see Refiners as a stick-in-the-mud. They don’t contribute any ideas of their own, but they’re happy to shoot down or poke holes in all of the Initiator’s ideas.
On the flip side of things, Refiners often feel like Initiators “have their head in the clouds”. Refiners are focused on perfecting realities, not exploring possibilities.
The key to overcoming these gaps is understanding the value that each marketing personality brings to the table. Without Refiners, Initiators’ ideas would never reach their full potential. And, without Initiators to change things up, Refiners wouldn’t have concepts to perfect.
In general, Implementors and Refiners tend to get along fairly well. They’re both focused on the nuts and bolts of marketing, and Implementor’s respect and appreciate the Refiner’s ability to improve the Implementor’s processes.
For their part, Refiners enjoy the reliability and predictability of Implementors. They love how detail-conscious Implementors are and the thoughtful insights they bring to the table.
Most of the time, the relationship challenges between Refiners and Implementors have more to do with how these personality types communicate than actual disagreements over what is being communicated.
In their pursuit of perfection, Refiners can sometimes be rather brusque or outright disdainful. After all, the important thing is to do things right—not to make other people feel good.
Unfortunately, to the socially-conscious Implementor, the Refiner’s direct, often blunt approach comes across as cruel and degrading. Rather than recognizing that the Refiner is actually trying to help, the Implementor’s feelings get hurt and they withdraw or become passive aggressive.
To prevent this, smart Refiners recognize that Implementors are actually working quite hard and doing their very best. So, rather than forcing their suggestions down the Implementor’s throat, they make gentle recommendations and express appreciation for everything the Implementor is already doing.
At the same time, Implementors faced with a difficult Refiner need to approach things with a thick skin. By taking a step back and looking at what the Refiner is trying to say—rather than how they are saying it—it often becomes clear that the Refiner’s suggestions are actually helpful and worth considering.
Of all the marketing personality types, Refiners tend to butt heads most with Drivers. Drivers tend to err on the side of “the ends justify the means” and Refiners typically believe that “anything worth doing is worth doing right.”
With their strong wills and diametrically opposed viewpoints, Driver-Refiner relationships are often something akin to an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object—which can create a lot of drama in the workplace.
The key to preventing this kind of fallout is for both Driver and Refiner to actively recognize the value that they each bring to the table. These two personalities actually have very complimentary strengths and weaknesses, but because they have such opposing values, it can often be hard to see each other’s virtues.
In a healthy relationship, Drivers appreciate the way that Refiners keep them in check. Refiners make sure that the Driver doesn’t get so focused on achieving their goal that they sacrifice quality, sustainability or effectiveness. At the same time, Refiners understand that perfection can get in the way of progress and appreciate the Driver’s ability to keep things moving forward.
Maintaining this sort of mutual appreciation can take a lot of effort and regular communication, but when Drivers and Refiners work together, the results can be spectacular.
Compared to some of the other marketing personality types, there are relatively few Refiners in online marketing. But, put a Refiner in the right position and it’s amazing what they can do.
To achieve their full potential, however, a Refiner needs to be set up for success. They need to understand themselves and be managed by someone who understands their strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re a Refiner, it’s important to include the other marketing personality types in your quest for perfection. You might be great at figuring out the best way to do things, but without the other types to help, it will be hard to make forward progress.
If you’re working with a Refiner, take full advantage of the insights they have to offer. Give them plenty of campaigns, processes and hypotheses to work on, and then let them go nuts. As long as you’re clear and concise in your communication and take their data-based suggestions seriously, you’ll be on the road to success.
Either way, the better you understand your own marketing personality type and the personality types of those around you, the better equipped you will be to deliver great results for your business!
Are you a Refiner? Do you agree with this breakdown? How will this information change how you think about your marketing approach? Leave your thoughts in the comments.