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The 18 Types of Startup Marketers

  1. The 18 Types of Startup Marketers David Berkowitz Principal, Serial Marketer @dberkowitz
  2. About this presentation This is based on a talk given at Talent Land in Guadalajara Mexico in April 2019. This is fully annotated version, based on an article that I originally shared on LinkedIn (the original version had only 16 though). There are lots of generalizations here, as there are in any framework, but they’re all based on real-world examples. All illustrations are original creations via the artist “hiraarshad” who I commissioned via Fiverr. As a bonus, you can find Fiverr and a lot of my favorite services and apps on this public spreadsheet. Please share any thoughts and feedback. I welcome hearing how this resonates with your experience. David Berkowitz Serial Marketer
  3. Connecting ideas and people 3 Join the Serial Marketers community on Slack: Subscribe to my weekly newsletter:
  4. This is based on scores of interviews (both seeking and hiring) and hundreds of conversations with fellow marketers. These interviews are often so draining.
  5. It just seemed like one of us was pushing something that the other didn’t want.
  6. Sometimes, it felt like we were in entirely different worlds, not communicating with each other.
  7. So how do we get past this failure to communicate? That’s the goal of this talk. Jpw cam we start getting along?
  8. How do we get to feeling like this where hirers and seekers interact?
  9. Even if it doesn’t work out quite so nicely, let’s at least wind up in a place of mutual respect.
  10. Let’s meet the marketers!
  11. 1) The Growth Hacker Strengths: • Efficiently acquires customers • Data-driven decision-maker • Loves to test & learn • Can optimize around practically any metric Weaknesses: • Blind spots with building brands • Underinvests in less direct paths to shorten sales cycles Recommendations: • Pair with a Communicator, Creative, or Strategist to have the Growth Hacker better quantify their work
  12. 2) The Manager Strengths: • Management experience • Can handle any size team • Focuses on growth trajectory of members of their team Weaknesses: • Could be a political maneuverer obsessed with headcount above all else • May be so focused on meetings with their team that they don’t have time to do their main job Recommendations: • Focus on evaluating their leadership qualities rather than purely the quantity of their direct reports
  13. 3) The Communicator Strengths: • Verbal and written communication eloquence • Might share responsibilities with the Evangelist or report into them • Can bring ideas to life and make the inexplicable comprehensible Weaknesses: • Can be in a silo if communications is in a separate group from marketing • Needs to be included in core conversations and decisions, not marginalized Recommendations: • Give them access to key processes and personnel, and invite them to be part of making decisions
  14. 4) The Evangelist Strengths: • A strong voice and face for your business • They often have their own audience, so they come with their own media channel • Can dazzle prospects and the press Weaknesses: • Often lacks substance if they don’t have internal responsibilities • That can prevent them from truly being part of the team Recommendations: • Find substantive ways to make use of their talents, such as incorporating them as an executive sponsor on key accounts or contributing in other measurable ways
  15. 5) The Creative Strengths: • Impeccable design skills • Brimming with new ideas • A skilled storyteller • Can give life to the most mundane or technical products Weaknesses: • Potential turf wars if the Creative wants to influence product design and can’t due to their marketing focus • Needs freedom to operate – and may face challenges in a culture where everything is data-driven Recommendations: • Establish a clear process with how they fit in with product design; this is also an easier role to fill via consultants who prefer not to go in-house
  16. 6) The Strategist Strengths: • A master cartographer • Provides the insights that lead to the big idea, small idea, and every other idea • Can at times interchange with and usually interact well with the Creative Weaknesses: • Ideas and plans alone don’t grow a business – you need a team that can execute • Could clash with the Creative, especially without clear roles and responsibilities Recommendations: • Find out how they can execute, or this risks being a luxury hire
  17. 7) The Generalist Strengths: • Can do a little bit of everything • Often surprises the team with how much they’ve experienced and how well they can apply what they’ve learned • They often can muster resources to get any job done • A kindred spirit of the Connector Weaknesses: • They risk being a master of none Recommendations: • Find out where they truly excel, what they can oversee competently, and what areas are totally new for them
  18. 8) The Soldier Strengths: • Great at following orders • A strong team player who knows their job and reliably performs it Weaknesses: • When you need them to take ownership, they’re usually ill-prepared to do so • So averse to confrontation that they tend to stick to saying what their superiors want to hear Recommendations: • Decide on if you want to groom the Soldier to lead; if so, push them out of their comfort zone; if not, find ways for them to advance internally without taking on leadership responsibilities
  19. 9) The Connector Strengths: • They’re two degrees away from anyone you need to get in front of – and maybe one degree • Skilled at coming up with great options for anything and anyone you need • Can add value when trying to find other key hires Weaknesses: • Just because they can connect you, they still might not get you in front of the right people in the right way to close a deal Recommendations: • Pair the Connector with the right Closer, or at least strong counterparts from the sales team
  20. 10) The Product Marketer Strengths: • Can build in feedback loops to keep customers hooked while roping in new customers • If the product itself can sustain such loops, this may be the only key marketing hire needed for awhile Weaknesses: • Few products work that well, so product marketers can only work so much magic Recommendations: • Ensure the Product Marketer has enough resources to support product growth and get the product into more prospects’ hands
  21. 11) The Ladder Climber Strengths: • Rising through the ranks and constantly promoted, they often come from other teams and take on marketing as well • Adaptable and loyal, they have tremendous institutional knowledge Weaknesses: • Often lacks any training in marketing • Can prevent the company from seeking a skilled subject matter expert Recommendations: • Typically, one needs to hire someone for the Ladder Climber to report into; couch this as a way to expand opportunities for them, or switch them to another role
  22. 12) The Globalist Strengths: • Your ads targeting Mauritius will never run in Mauritania • This marketer can target any audience anywhere and has years of international experience Weaknesses: • If you only need to focus on your home market or another key region, their experience will be overkill Recommendations: • Set realistic expectations before making such a hire, as many companies that say they are building global businesses and teams rarely expand very far quickly
  23. 13) The Closer Strengths: • Typically a salesperson who winds up in marketing roles • Perfect for when a seller is best to lead marketing Weaknesses: • Sales is not marketing, so there still needs to be a team that can do marketing properly Recommendations: • Even when this kind of CMO may manage sales and marketing together (just like a chief revenue officer may), the Closer should have marketers that complement their strengths
  24. 14) The Engineer Strengths: • May be as technical as the founder, if not more • Can apply methodologies like Agile or Waterfall to the marketing process • A dream for developers given there’s no language barrier Weaknesses: • Often struggles to translate what they’re doing to anyone but the most technical audiences Recommendations: • Best fit to lead a team if external audiences are also developers or otherwise technical; ensure Engineers can collaborate well with Sales and other groups that don’t have as much technical knowledge
  25. 15) The Spendthrift Strengths: • Convinced it takes money to make money, and making money is their endgame • Generous with supporting other teams like Sales and Product Weaknesses: • Protecting the burn rate tends to be an issue • May pad metrics to ensure spending fits in with target customer acquisition costs (CAC) Recommendations: • Frugal CEOs and COOs are bound to clash with the Spendthrift; look for the Spendthrift to show results to justify expenditures
  26. 16) The Miser Strengths: • Very protective of the burn rate • Won’t blow through even a modest marketing budget Weaknesses: • More caution comes with less experimentation • Might skimp on quality and make your brand look cheap • Reticent to seek necessary additional resources Recommendations: • Encourage them to think bigger as if money is no object to learn what is really on their wish list; regularly check in with other teams like Sales and Product to ensure Marketing is supporting them
  27. 17) The CEO Strengths: • The CEO or another founder may serve as the default CMO • Knows the company better than anyone • Some CEOs are inherently talented marketers Weaknesses: • Typically doesn’t have the time to focus on marketing, even if they have the skills Recommendations: • Know when to let go, let the right hire take over, and then figure out which type of marketer you need
  28. 18) The Unicorn Strengths: • Can do literally everything • Great at direct marketing and brand marketing • Creative strategist with deep analytics chops • Worked in exactly the vertical you want • Doesn’t cost anywhere nearly as much as they should • Has right amount of experience – a lot of what’s relevant, but not too much • A 10 out of 10 in every single criteria you list Weaknesses: • Does not actually exist Recommendations: • Use this guide as a way to get past your fantasy of this unicorn hire. Consider this your reality check.
  29. Which type of marketer are you?
  30. Which type of marketer are you? (Okay, not her – she doesn’t exist!)
  31. Who’s missing? ? I’d love to know what other types of marketers should be here. Please contact me with other ideas.
  32. Action items: if you’re hiring… Be very specific about the kinds of marketer or marketers you’re looking for. Put more time into determining criteria up front, and save time later as you zero in on the right kinds of candidates faster. Prioritize skill sets – don’t always worry about someone checking all the boxes. Make sure you get the best match for the most important criteria, and you can always fill in the rest. If you’re building a team, decide on who should lead. Practically any type has leadership potential, but the CEO or hiring lead has to determine where to start.
  33. Action items: if you’re seeking jobs… Be honest with yourself about what kind of marketer you are and what you’re not. You probably relate to more than one type. Be selective. Don’t try to apply to any and every job when the hirer’s priorities are different from yours. Build networks. Make friends with other marketers. If you’re an Engineer, know who good Communicators. Make the world a little smaller. Share the wealth – and the opportunities. Set goals for the kind of marketer you want to be. Play to your strengths while learning new skills. Ensure that others will see you in the same way you want to be seen. Adapt accordingly.
  34. Plot yourself on these trait scales Oftentimes, you will find yourself partially identifying with one kind of marketer, but also identifying with some of a very different kind of marketer’s traits. Where do you fit on these scales?
  35. Trait: Maker vs. Communicator Do you like to make and build things, or do you like to make prospects and customers understand the value of what others create?
  36. Trait: Miser vs. Spendthrift Is your priority protecting the company’s burn rate at all costs, even if it means underinvesting in marketing, or spending whatever it takes to go after your target customers and make your company seem like a much bigger, more powerful brand?
  37. Trait: Internal vs. External Focus Are your meetings mostly with internal team members or external parties? Is your job to always be at the office or be there as little as possible?
  38. Trait: Tactical vs. Strategic Are you all about flawless execution or brilliant strategies?
  39. Trait: Specialist vs. Generalist Do you prefer to specialize in that one area and build your reputation around how great you are at it? Or are you that Renaissance hire who can do a bit of everything? This could also be the hedgehog vs. fox scale, where Isaiah Berlin wrote a story based on Greek poet Archilochus who said “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing.”
  40. Trait: Soloist vs. Team Leader Are you determined to be your own department, with all the autonomy it brings, even if you’re not as tied into a bigger team? Or do you love managing others, building out your department, and shepherding others along their career paths?
  41. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) These are questions I’ve received on stage and in response to some of the published columns. I’ll add to this as more questions come in.
  42. FAQ What is my ideal team? Balance is key. You want to have a mix of strengths, especially in a smaller team. A Product Marketer and a Growth Hacker together may overlap too much with limited resources, but a Connector, Closer, and Engineer could do wonders, depending on the company’s needs. Most people also fall into more than one category, with one trait leading the way, so again, with a small team, you can tap into some of those lesser traits of your team members as being good enough to get you far enough along.
  43. FAQ Is there a best type? You’re probably going to find that the best types are those you relate to, or those you’re jealous of. I’m envious of growth hackers; they’re in such high demand and have a very valuable, specialized skillset. As a generalist, I wish I could have that kind of focus and such a clear mission statement. But some growth hackers might be jealous of the breadth of what I’ve been able to work on and accomplish. It’s also possible though that you just love the type you are, and that’s fantastic. We should all be so lucky to love our jobs so much.
  44. FAQ Should I be more of a specialist or generalist? Yes. It depends though. When you reach advanced stages of your career, it helps to have a wide range of experience. Still, with 10 or 20 or 30 years under your belt, many people will probably know you as one thing – ‘the closer gal’ or ‘the social media guy.’ There’s something to be said for owning your reputation and leaning into it, rather than trying to change perception. Earlier on, it is so much easier to be a specialist. That doesn’t mean you have to go that route, but if it’s a skill that’s remotely in demand in your market, it helps to be known as having some degree of competence or expertise there.
  45. FAQ If I’m a generalist, how do I become more of a specialist? Learn however and wherever you can. There are probably tons of online courses in whatever field you’re looking to get into – search engine marketing, account-based marketing, public relations, using content marketing for demand generation, or practically anything else.
  46. Thank you! Reach out anytime. David Berkowitz Principal, Serial Marketer @dberkowitz Subscribe: