4 Kinds of Marketing: Growth, Inbound, Product and Technical

In the last weeks, I‘ve written about how to set up a growth team and how to hire for it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the different skills and jobs that fall within marketing and how hard it can be to keep an overview in a world of hackers, ninjas, evangelists and heroes.

I have a talk coming up in Russia and the organisers asked me to reduce the text on a slide of mine that listed the different roles in my growth team. After spending some time brainstorming with our graphic designer, we came to the conclusion that everyone in the growth department could be categorised in one of four types of marketing: growth, inbound, product and technical.

And thus, a new article is born…

What started as a quest for convenience actually helped me re-think the whole “marketing vs. growth” paradigm shift. Aren’t we all just doing different types of marketing whilst trying to avoid the word ‘marketing’ because of its limited or negative connotations?

The 4 types of marketers

At this point, I need to emphasise that I am using the terms above in the most general sense, as broad categories. I am aware that growth marketers, inbound marketers, product marketers and technical marketers are all specific job roles.

Growth Marketing

There are all kinds of growth marketers out there and the label is used quite liberally. Generally speaking, they tend to have a broad skillset with a few specialised skills. Many growth hackers are simply glorified or next-level digital marketers, whilst others can be more product-focused, with skills in UX, coding or data science. Regardless of their special expertise, good growth marketers are almost always all-rounders who can facilitate on a number of different areas. They are often the glue that keeps together the different roles in marketing and growth.

When I was planning out this post, I was considering whether to include ‘performance marketers’ as a fifth type of marketer. The reason I’ve decided against it is because I believe that classical performance marketers are slowly dying out as they become just another role within growth marketing.

At Recruitee, we don’t have performance marketers in the classical sense. Instead, we have growth marketers who specialise in performance marketing. The same goes for a lot of other tech companies I’ve worked with.

That’s not to say that performance marketing is in any way less important than it used to be. It’s just that the discipline of growth is becoming increasingly comprehensive.

Inbound Marketing

The most common role within inbound marketing is generally that of the content marketer. Inbound marketing relies on the principle of attracting customers by creating value, meaning that content often plays a central part.

As a result, a number of roles fall under the ‘inbound marketing’ mantle, including content marketers, graphic designers, PR specialists, events organisers, community managers and social media specialists.

Anyone whose efforts contribute to driving inbound leads through some sort of value creation falls within the ‘inbound marketing’ category.

At Recruitee, there is a pretty heavy overlap between growth marketers and inbound marketers because we strongly believe that marketing should be all about creating value. Content is such central part of our efforts that we all need some inbound expertise.

Product Marketing (Growth)

I usually try to avoid the term ‘product marketing’ because it has come to mean so many different things at different companies. However, for the sake of my ‘4 types of marketing’ thesis, I am willing to add to the confusion.

What I mean by ‘product marketing’ here is usually what I would refer to as ‘product growth’ and includes user researchers, UX designers, onboarding specialists and product marketers in the traditional communications-centric sense.

At Recruitee, half of the team working on product growth is actually part of the product department. This is partially due to our team setup, but also the fact that, being a product-centric company, we have a huge overlap between growth and product.

Technical Marketing

I expect that some of you might argue that technical marketing is the same as either growth marketing or product marketing. Whilst I recognise the likelihood of there being some overlap, I’ve found that there is a difference.

People who fall under the ‘growth marketing’ mantle tend to be more technical than classical digital marketers (they might even be just that), but they are not necessarily very tech-y. The same goes for many people in product marketing who are more into design, research and communications than the technical stuff.

The roles that fall within technical marketing tend to include developers-turned-marketers, marketing automation experts, data scientists and analysts, and any other highly specialised technical roles one might find in the growth department.

What ties these roles together is a strong technical background and a heavy focus on execution and the facilitation of broader strategies.

The field of growth is maturing and is still quite messy. The departmental setup can and will differ from company to company. I can imagine a UX designer reading this and having a heart attack at the thought of being viewed as someone who ‘works in marketing’.

That being said, I’ve found it helpful to think of these 4 types of marketing as a way to break down the different roles involved in growth.