The three modalities of marketers (and a proposal on how they could improve hiring)

Culture Modality

  • Caryn Marooney led tech communications at Facebook and her First Round Review article on PR advice crafting stories that make success feel inevitable just rocked my world.
  • Amrita Gurney is a tough one because I’ve learned things from her across all of these modalities. But given that she just published a podcast on brand marketing in B2B, I’m going to put her here.
  • Kim Darling is the HubSpot leader who grew the INBOUND event into the experience that it is today. I can’t imagine a marketer in a different modality creating the kind of expansive cultural event that Kim built.

Customer Modality

  • April Dunford wrote one of the marketing must-reads, Obviously Awesome. She is one of the most pragmatic marketers out there, and I am a huge fan.
  • Dave Kellog is another must-read. I’ve spent days of my life reading through his blog archives and it is is just a wealth of good stuff on matching product messaging to market needs.
  • Bogomil Balkansky is ex-VMWare and a partner at Sequoia regularly referred to as “the greatest product marketer in Silicon Valley. He hasn’t published his PMM handbook publicly (yet that I know of), but someone should convince him to because it’s one of the best summaries of this modality that I’ve ever come across.

Data Modality

  • Gioncarlo Lionetti, aka GC spent time at Confluent, Atlasssian, and Dropbox. Google his name + podcast and you’ll find some of the most valuable listening out there.
  • Jamie Barnett is a must-follow on Medium. She’s another one who flexes easily across all of these modalities, but I’m putting her here because her writing on managing pipeline and demand-gen have been enormously valuable to me personally.
  • Kamil Rextin runs 42/ and an associated Substack. His thoughts are often expansive and don’t lend themselves to immediate implementation. Because of this, I find his thinking to be a a particularly useful balance to the incessant hype of marketing “thought leadership”.

Closing thoughts…

  • I bet it would be relatively easy to identify a few questions that help suss out the natural modality of early career marketers (something that I have found to be consistently challenging because without some years of experience, it’s hard to know our own preferred modality)
  • For a first marketing hire, I would bet harder on Customer Modality the higher your ACV is. The lower your ACV, the more you likely you’re pursuing a self-service motion and would benefit from a Data Modality. Then again, you could go the Superhuman track and raise a ton of money to buy yourself time, pursue premium positioning, and then you might want a Culture modality to make a big splash at launch.
  • My guess is that you’ll find fewer marketing leaders in the Culture modality in early stage B2B startups, but by the time a company is thinking about IPO, that modality starts to matter a whole lot more — at that stage, you’re speaking to a wider audience than customers alone.

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Janessa Lantz

Janessa Lantz

Building the marketing team at dbt Labs

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