Marketing types

4 marketing types: Which are you?


It’s gut check time. As my Uber driver reminded me on a recent trip to the airport, “Marketers are evil.”


But we marketers all know that this perception exists. We’re aware that marketing is often associated with advertisements that disrupt someone’s day, or wasteful spending on things that don’t “move the needle.”

Indeed, the latest data and reports point to the fact that marketing does have a problem. Which marketing type are you?

Marketing pet peeves: Consumers reveal what they most dislike from brands

In a recent study, over 20,000 global consumers were asked what bothers them the most when dealing with a brand. The top 3 dislikes were related to marketing:

  • 60% said ‘receiving too many marketing and sales calls’
  • 50% said ‘receiving too many marketing and sales emails’
  • And 46% said ‘irrelevant content pushed to us’

As a profession, marketing has got to do better, and we can.

Marketing types: What kind of marketer are you?

We’ve got to fix marketing’s impact and reputation, and this starts with taking a hard look at ourselves. First, we need to understand what kind of marketer we are, or what kind of marketer we want to become.

I’ve been working on a framework to help facilitate this introspection and I’d like to share it with you here. I hope it helps you answer the question in the title of this blog.

I’ll start by defining the X-axis and Y-axis, then the four types of marketers.

X-axis: Product / technology focused vs. audience focused

A marketer who is product / technology focused thinks first about the “thing” they are selling when they produce marketing content, campaigns, or events.

A marketer who is audience focused thinks first about the people they are targeting, and what their needs/wants/desires are when they produce marketing content, campaigns, or events.

Y-axis: Factual vs. emotional

A marketer who is factual by nature appeals to a prospect’s desire to consume tangible, sourceable information about the “thing” they are planning to buy. Examples of this type of information could include product specifications and features, competitive materials, pricing, and forward-looking research.

A marketer who is emotional by nature appeals to their prospect’s inner drive to be the best employee, friend, spouse, parent, teammate, etc. that they can be. They will use this to produce content that serves to initiate an action by the consumer; an action motivated either by fear or by aspiration.

The four types of marketers

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that this isn’t an article about which type of marketer is best. Rather, it’s about understanding the four marketing types in an effort to achieve more balance in your overall marketing approach.

Whether you produce content, execute campaigns, deliver customer-facing presentations, or are a data scientist, there is value in understanding the tradeoffs we make as marketers.

Marketing type 1: The fear monger

The fear mongerer is the marketer who strives to deliver product-focused marketing and content based more on emotions rather than fact. We see examples of this every day, and it is most often referred to as FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt).

The objective of the marketer is to create a need in the mind of the customer based on what the kids these days are calling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

This type of marketing happens frequently in B2B and B2C industries, as it’s often easiest to instill a sense of urgency in someone when you appeal to their emotional well-being. Most people want to be the best they can be, and often are motivated to take action if they sense a threat to their own success.

Consider this: While there may be an immediate benefit to the approach of instilling fear, it’s important to think long-term. Is this the best way to forge a lasting relationship, built on trust, with a customer? If not, perhaps it’s best to minimize the fear-mongering style.

Marketing type 2: The feature-function

The feature-function marketer can be broadly classified as your typical product marketer. This person is responsible for educating customers on the features and benefits of the product they are interested in. There is no emotional appeal here. Instead, it’s all about the facts (hopefully) and it’s focused more on the product rather than on the audience and their needs.

This type of marketing will never go away, and it shouldn’t. Customers need to be informed about the products or services they want to buy. Once again this form of marketing is important for both B2B and B2C industries, whether someone is interested in marketing automation software or in a new 4k HDTV.

Consider this: Though the feature-function marketer is an essential role on any marketing team, there still needs to be balance. It may be okay to blur the lines between product-focused and audience-focused when producing this type of content. If your content inventory is heavy on feature-function, you may be neglecting your customers’ need to solve longer-term, higher-level problems.

Marketing type 3: The thought leader

The thought leader is focused on just that: Thought leadership. This person is constantly thinking about how things will be, not how they are. Their approach is always based on facts, like technology, people, and processes. Research is often the foundation of thought leadership marketing, as their audience craves a view into where things are heading.

This type of marketer is critical because they are fulfilling something for their customers that the feature-function type cannot. They are appealing to the underlying business problems and trends that their audience is faced with on a daily basis. They are delivering insights and content that helps their readership bridge the gap in their mind from where they are today to where they need to go.

Consider this: Thought leadership meets a very specific need for your audience. Without it, it’s difficult for them to connect the dots between the present and the future. However, too much thought leadership without a direct link to the products or services that can solve these problems is a lost opportunity. Again, the key word here is balance.

Marketing type 4: The mindful

The mindful marketer is still emerging as a prominent role. This type of marketer is dedicated to delivering helpful, relevant content that appeals to their audience’s emotional aspirations. When we think about the personas we are addressing, we often dive deep into their emotional drivers. What makes them tick? What does greatness or success mean to them?

Mindful marketing is important because it establishes an emotional connection between the brand and the audience. It creates a trusted relationship that starts with the brand’s ability to answer someone’s most burning questions/needs with content that isn’t self-serving.

Consider this: The key here is that the content has to be written, crafted, and delivered in a way that does not promote the product or service being marketed. This is all about being helpful and relevant to your audience.

The next time you write a blog for your corporate website, try really hard not to include a section about how your product is the perfect solution for this problem. Instead, use a smart CTA strategy to send your reader to the next likely stage in their journey. You’ll deliver higher-quality leads down the road, and build lasting relationships with your audience as a trusted advisor.

What does it all mean?

It’s simple really. This isn’t an analyst quadrant where you want to be in the top right of the matrix.

There is no “best” type of marketer. But, if you’re leading a team of marketers, or developing integrated campaigns, it is absolutely essential that you consider these four marketing types as an essential mix in your plans. One person can be a different type of marketer on a given day, or on a given project.

Marketers are not in a box. We need to be agile, we need to be responsive to the needs of our audience, and we need to understand why certain approaches work better in different situations. I’ve said it before, and I’ll close with it again: We need to find balance in our teams, our content, and our strategy.

Learn what effects the current health crisis might have on business strategy, digital transformation, and the future of e-commerce HERE.

Gurdeep Dhillon
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Gurdeep Dhillon

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