Raja Saggi is senior director of product marketing for Google in the U.K., founder of employee resource group Asians in Marketing, and a frequent speaker at major industry events. He is also an introvert.
I never considered myself an introvert until I started working in marketing. While studying engineering and in my early career in product development and programming, I felt like everyone else around me: analytical, thoughtful, and someone who thrives and recharges in quieter moments.
My move to sales and marketing changed that. Suddenly the emphasis was on spontaneity and engagement. I found myself in a world of extroverts, where body language, working the room, and the capacity to contribute in the moment mattered.
But the marketing industry is changing — and with it the value of introverts. In an era defined by data, analysis, and the ability to connect with audiences, the skill set of the introvert is in demand.
Here's how I've learned to get the best from myself and bring it out in others — and why now is the perfect time to do it.
The time of the introvert is now
During my time in the industry, marketing has undoubtedly evolved into a more analytical profession. Nearly 4 in 5 marketers globally say data quality is now key to driving marketing-led growth and the customer experience. This shift plays into how those with introverted tendencies are most comfortable working.
Not only does data help introverts get their point across (most of the stories I tell are rooted in numbers), but we also thrive on the facts. We like to listen and take in all the information before making a decision. These qualities help make introverts a perfect fit for the current marketing landscape, where listening to customers is key to understanding and responding to their changing needs.
The same goes for brands. Now, Google has always taken pride in being data-led – so much so that engineering teams in the early days had signs up saying "In God we trust, all others must come with data." This required a big culture shift at the time, especially in areas like marketing.
Introverts are a perfect fit for the current marketing landscape, where listening to customers is key to understanding and responding to their changing needs.
But recently, we've seen a trend in organisations taking on some of those more introverted characteristics. Gymshark, for example, switched from acting on “gut feeling” to taking the time to listen to customers and putting data behind its big decisions. This focus on analytics helped the fast-growing U.K. fitnesswear brand respond to complex customer behaviours and drive marketing performance.
And nowhere is it more critical to listen than with Generation Z, an audience group that now accounts for about a third of the global population. As Alex Schmider, director of transgender representation at GLAAD, previously argued: “a catchy ad won’t alone win these consumers.” He says that to connect in a meaningful and authentic way “this cohort demands companies and products reflect their values in internal practice and external advertising”.
This is something that I believe introverts, with their analytical and thoughtful nature, are well-equipped to achieve.
Harnessing the power of the introvert
Of course, being an extrovert or introvert isn’t binary. We all fit somewhere on a scale between the two and the way we behave or feel at any one time is deeply impacted by context.
For example, a person who feels extroverted working in one country might feel very different working in another. I do a lot of mentoring around performance reviews and frequently see how people of Asian or some European backgrounds can struggle to sing their own praises. It’s not that they are shy — it’s rather something that is culturally ingrained, and this can put them at a distinct disadvantage in such a setting.
I work with them to overcome these challenges, but it’s something organisations should be aware of and factor into their review process.
Organisations need to solicit a wide spectrum of voices — and that should always include the quiet ones.
Large meetings can be challenging, too. In some cultures, like North America, people are more used to jumping into group conversations and thinking on their feet, but this doesn’t work for everyone.
That’s why it’s important for managers to give people a chance to prepare and reflect, rather than put them on the spot. Enabling people to submit their input in multiple formats, whether that’s sharing pre-reads beforehand or using the chat box and “raise hand” features on a video call, can help you ensure everyone gets heard.
The marketing industry is undergoing constant change. Navigating the challenges and opportunities that come with that requires managers and organisations to bring together different personality types and solicit a wide spectrum of voices — and that should always include the quiet ones.