On Intuition in Marketing

Hey party people! This blog post includes an excerpt from a big ol’ Marketing brain dump that I originally published to an internal team P2. Thanks for reading! 🤘🏻

Let’s talk a bit about intuition.

Intuition is, of course, not magic, and so it cannot stand alone. It is, instead, the product of a lifetime heuristic process and arises from one’s deep attention to and active involvement in a discipline.

By now it should be clear that intuition is not the opposite of rationality, nor is it a random process of guessing. Rather, it is based on extensive experience both in analysis and problem solving and in implementation, and to the extent that the lessons of experience are logical and well-founded, then so is the intuition. Further, managers often combine gut feel with systematic analysis, quantified data, and thoughtfulness.

“How Managers Think” by Daniel Isenberg, published in Harvard Business Review

Just as we need to filter third-party or external feedback through the lens of our context and workplace reality, we should not ever rely solely on intuition unless it’s borne of earned expertise and meaningful experience. So like, TL;DR— intuition and expertise both come from practice and relevant experience.

One’s intuition in the context of any discipline is borne of meaningful experience combined with purposeful practice. Whether you’re leading a team or executing deliverables (or a little of both), intuition is absolutely crucial, and the good news is, your intuition can be nurtured.

📣 Real talk: it will be a long, difficult road for anyone in any line of work if they’re not actively learning and doing-the-things— both of which contribute greatly to one’s ability to develop intuition about a body of work. I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it? How can you possibly have developed the required insight and experience without ever having explored, researched, or better yet, done the work yourself?

With new tech and trends always on the horizon, it behooves us to keep our skill sets sharp and our insights fresh. That way we can make effective decisions quickly and confidently, so we can pivot like a Bugatti. (And that’s it for my tryhard rhyming punnies. 😅)

Intuition is a form of knowledge that appears in consciousness without obvious deliberation. It is not magical but rather a faculty in which hunches are generated by the unconscious mind rapidly sifting through past experience and cumulative knowledge.

Psychology Today > Intuition

Oh and a rule of thumb: if it’s intuition, it probably doesn’t have to be stated as such. If you find yourself chomping at the bit to cite intuition as the source of a ReallyGoodIdea™️, I’d bet on that not being an intuition situation at all. What’s being shared in such a case is more likely to be but a ✨confident✨ assertion, which may or may not be competently reasoned or founded.

Miscellaneous aside: The career stakes are high in this industry, and marketing work has always faced heavy scrutiny from the rest of the tech world— I’m not sure there’s any other function that’s as aggressively questioned, strip-searched, and probed as Marketing and Sales, tbh.

And when bubbles pop, as they do in times of economic turbulence uncertainty, your ability to pivot and adapt will be your lifeline. Adaptability definitely goes hand in hand with possessing a strong and reliable intuition.

On intuitive UX design.

Not quite the same thing as intuition, but conceptually related vis-à-vis one’s experience…

Think about what it means when a product is intuitive: it’s an easy, breezy, lemon-squeezy experience for the end user. They’ve just met <insert tool name here>, but they already love ‘em and know them better than they know themselves.

That dopamine hit of pleasant surprise when the 💡 goes off, that quietly confident aha! feeling that gets you going when an idea gets forming— that’s (sometimes) what intuition feels like. YMMV on the butterflies and excitement. Sometimes it’s all just BAU.

On nurturing your intuition: Tips from a Robot

I asked ChatGPT (henceforth known as Chatty):

How do I nurture my intuition? include references

Chatty responded:

Sure, here are some ways you can nurture your intuition along with references to scientific studies that support these methods:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can help you tap into your intuition. Research has shown that mindfulness can improve attention, self-awareness, and emotional regulation (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015).
  2. Engage in creative activities: Creative activities like art, music, or writing can help you tap into your intuition and develop your creativity. Studies have shown that engaging in creative activities can increase intuition and enhance cognitive flexibility (Zabelina & Robinson, 2010).
  3. Pay attention to your body: Your body can provide valuable insights and signals that can help you tune into your intuition. Pay attention to any physical sensations, such as butterflies in your stomach or a tightening in your chest, as these may be indicators of something important. Research has shown that the body can provide valuable cues for decision-making and intuition (Damasio, 1994).
  4. Seek quiet time: Taking time for yourself, away from distractions and noise, can help you connect with your inner self and your intuition. Studies have shown that solitude and quiet time can enhance creativity and intuition (Kaufman & Gregoire, 2018).
  5. Practice decision-making: Practicing decision-making in everyday situations, such as choosing what to eat or wear, can help you develop your intuition and make more intuitive decisions in the future. Research has shown that practicing decision-making can improve intuitive decision-making (Dane & Pratt, 2007).

Remember, nurturing your intuition is a process that takes time and practice. Trust yourself and be patient as you work to develop your intuition.


  • Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Putnam.
  • Dane, E., & Pratt, M. G. (2007). Exploring intuition and its role in managerial decision making. Academy of Management Review, 32(1), 33-54.
  • Kaufman, S. B., & Gregoire, C. (2018). Wired to create: Unraveling the mysteries of the creative mind. New York: Perigee Books.
  • Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.
  • Zabelina, D. L., & Robinson, M. D. (2010). Creativity as flexible cognitive control. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 4(4), 136-143.
– From a conversation with ChatGPT (GPT-3.5) on April 24, 2023.

A bit trite, to be sure. But it’ll do from my not-yet-sentient robot assistant.

That’s all for now! 👋

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