Are You A Forest Person Or A Tree Person?


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “[so-and-so] can’t see the forest for the trees.” It’s usually used as an insult to detail-oriented people but the reality is that especially in the marketing world, we need all types of thinkers and dreamers to create a concept and carry it through to implementation.

Some people are all about “big picture” ideas. We’ll call them the “forest people.” Others are skilled at understanding the details of a big idea. We’ll call them the “tree people.” Forest people and tree people both have it going on in the creativity department, even though they often butt heads when making decisions about a marketing strategy. Today we will briefly talk about how to capitalize on the strengths of both forest and tree people, as well as how to keep an end goal in mind while enjoying the journey.

The Forte of the Forest People

Many great marketing concepts come from brainstorming sessions in which the whole team is involved. It’s that process of collaboration and bouncing ideas off of one another that makes what you do unique and innovative. Forest people tend to have a lot of big ideas to contribute to the brainstorming step of the process and when the group does settle on one concept, these people have the best understanding of the overarching message of the strategy.

The Talent of the Tree People

It’s only when the group begins to hash out the logistics of implementing that message that forest people lose their footing. They believe that for the most part, small details handle themselves, while tree people understand the value of each component of the message–even if they have a difficult time keeping the big picture top of mind.

So how do you reconcile these personalities to end up with a robust and effective brand message?

  1. Turn the big idea into a concrete goal. Instead of inviting confusion and conflict by keeping your concept in the abstract, answer the question, “How will we know when we’ve executed the purpose of our message idea?” You do this by setting clear markers of achievement–a certain email open rate, a specific number of additional Facebook “likes,” and eventually more annual revenue. This way, the forest people understand the big picture in the context of a goal and the tree people understand the details in the context of that same goal. 
  2. Identify the strengths of your team members and delegate accordingly. Since no one style of creativity is better than another, the best thing you can do for the people working out your marketing strategy is to put them in positions that play to their best skills. With that in mind, it’s also important to facilitate consistent collaboration between forest people and tree people so that all keep the concrete goal in mind.
  3. Inspire enthusiasm all-around. If leadership is bored or hands-off with a new marketing message, the team tasked with carrying it through is less likely to get excited about the process. When people are un-enthused, creativity stalls and conflict happens. Talk to your team in a way that inspires a shared vision for the campaign and company as a whole.


It’s clear that concept and process are not always simpatico. If you’re struggling with your marketing strategy in either area, remember that the creative team at Primm is here for you. After conquering decades of successful ad campaigns, we’ve mastered the art of balancing the big picture and the details. Call or contact us today!

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