The Three Pillars of Modern Marketing

The Growth Report #31

Happy Friday my Friend!

Folks, we are so fortunate to welcome a whole parade of (outrageously handsome) new faces among our group of marketing renegades. Many of you have joined this list over the past two weeks. So glad to have you! 👋🙏

I will bend over backwards to keep delivering valuable content that is worth your time every week.

You can find all of the content that you might have missed here:

And now, may I present…🥁🥁🥁….

…Today's topics

📈 Growth Strategy:
The Three Pillars of Modern Marketing

⚒️ Tools of the Trade:
Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
We Lack Clarity, Not Motivation

📈 Growth Strategy

The Three Pillars of Modern Marketing

Marketing is evolving at such an immense speed, that it’s helpful to remind ourselves of the fundamentals sometimes. The following framework by Buffer's VP of Marketing Kevan Lee lays out the three major disciplines within marketing and the questions they are answering:

1. Brand Marketing - Defining who you are

This basically boils down to "why should people care". What problem are you solving for people?

Or how advertising agency Ogilvy calls it: Your Big IdeaL: The intersection between a cultural tension and your brand's best self.

Check out this previous newsletter from Kevan to learn more about brand marketing.

2. Product Marketing - Tell the Story about what you sell

The second step is about positioning. What is the narrative that your product revolves around?

3. Growth Marketing - Figure out how to sell it

These are your fundamental growth- and go-to-market strategies.

But Kevan makes a good point to keep in mind:

Often times, brand, product, and growth are a Venn diagram, and your team and your team’s activities live somewhere in the overlaps.

For instance, a blog can be a representation of who you are (brand marketing) as well as a growth channel for awareness, acquisition, and demand gen (growth marketing).

A product launch can help position your company (product marketing), it can help sell to new customers (growth marketing), and it can speak to who you are as a brand (brand marketing).

Building The 3-Pillar Marketing Team

Especially for early teams, the setup tends to be holistic, encompassing all three bodies in a single group. But as you scale, you might start to see these disciplines for brand, product, and growth become more apparent in the way you organize.

And this is a structure that comes up over and over in the podcast conversations I have with growth leaders from around the world. Modern marketing teams are set up around those three pillars as well. A few examples:

  • Drift has three teams: Brand marketing, product marketing and demand gen (growth)

  • Webflow has four teams: Content marketing (brand), product marketing, demand gen (growth) and operations

  • Buffer has three teams again: Brand marketing, product marketing and lifecycle marketing (growth)

They might have different names, but most marketing teams can be (or should be) part of either brand, product or growth.

🛠️ Tools of the Trade:

Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

Graph of the week:

Image Source

Marketing Education

Brands and Products that caught my eye

  • Experiments at Google - Thousands of amazing experiments with the open source codes of Google's Chrome, Android, AI, Web VR and Web AR products. A treasure trove of ideas.

  • Ocean of Books - Each island represents an author, each city is a book. The distance between them is based on their relationship on the web. How cool is that!

Best Reads of the week

⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

We Lack Clarity, Not Motivation

Sometimes in life we lose the motivation to follow through with our projects. Paralysis sets in. We question if we are on the right path and ponder on the pointlessness of it all.

And our thoughts begin to race:

Why am I not motivated? Shouldn't I feel passionate about this? Is the thing that I set out to do maybe not the right path after all?

And frankly, sometimes these are valid questions (and great material for a future essay). But what I found out over time is that more often than not our motivation is a pretty bad indicator whether we are on the right path.

Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity.

Because when we start digging under the surface of why we don't "feel motivated", we often find that even the most basic questions give us a headache:

  • What are the specific next actionable steps that I can take?

    • Hint: "Do research" and "Brainstorm possible solutions" are not specific and actionable!

  • Why am I doing what I am doing? Why did I start this project in the first place?

  • How does the project / task at hand fit into the bigger picture?

If we can't answer such essential questions, it's no wonder that we feel lost and lack motivation. And no reason to feel bad about it, it’s inevitable. Sometimes we are so entangled and focused on a task or project that we lose track of left and right.

"Rowing harder doesn't help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction."

- Kenichi Ohmae

But we when we raise our chins and look around where we are, we gain perspective and context for whatever it is we are trying to accomplish. When we know the why, what and how, usually motivation follows.

However, clarity is fleeting (and entropy relentless). In my experience maintaining clarity is a continuous process. We must ask ourselves these questions on a monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis in order to stay on track. And if you are managing a team, it's also your duty as a leader to make sure that clarity is maintained throughout the organization.

So the next time you wonder why you or a member of your team is not motivated (anymore), a lack of context, perspective and clarity might be a possible answer.

That's it for today. Enjoy your weekend 🏡