Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Marketing guru or marketing expert?

Marketing guru, marketing expert, marketing coach or marketing mentor? Who are you looking for?

Web designers are online marketers. Graphic designers are creative marketers. Social media marketers are digital marketing experts. It can be tough to wade through the massive mess of marketing advice to find the right marketing guru.

It’s a dilemma. Who do you read to learn from? Who do you follow online? Who do you believe when they tell you “this is what you need to do?” Plenty of advice. Too many options. And overwhelming confusion. Let me try to clear it up a bit.

After 40 years in the marketing and design business, I can claim some expertise and, of course, I have my own opinions and people I follow.

What are you looking for? What do you need?

Are you looking for insight and ideas? Or do you need someone to guide the marketing strategy for your business? Would you like to learn more about the ins and outs of online marketing? Are you looking for specific guidance for tradeshow marketing? B2B marketing? Or to learn more about inbound marketing? Or SEO?

  • As a business owner or manager, it’s important to understand the marketing basics, then match the right strategies to your audiences and what you offer.
  • As a graphic designer, you must learn the marketing concepts that will help you deliver effective design to your clients, not just follow the trends.
  • As a young marketer looking to advance, you may want to immerse yourself in the newest strategies and approaches once you’ve learned the basics — start with the audiences.
  • As a website developer, it’s essential you understand the nuances of marketing to web searchers with short attention spans while developing a website that functions effectively.

Who do I consider a marketing guru? Someone to read and follow?

There are only a few in my view. Most you may have heard of. These are my favorites as the “big picture” marketing gurus. They’re your foundation to understand marketing as a whole, to discover how people think and respond. With the basics of audiences and perceptions, you can add to your knowledge with specific tactics for social, content marketing or digital strategies.


Seth Godin, brilliant and quirky. Nearly anything he writes gives any business person or marketer something new to think about. Check out his books and his blog. So many “ahas” in every one.

Al Ries, a force for decades. I love his “22 Immutable Laws of Branding” and the long-time favorite, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.”

Harry Beckwith, great writer and great thinker. I’m addicted to his small, pithy and to-the-point books beginning with “Selling the Invisible” through “The Invisible Touch” and “What Clients Love.” His books are worth ordering and keeping.

Malcom Gladwell, insight into our minds. Beginning with “The Tipping Point” and through “Blink” and “Outliers” he isn’t writing about marketing, he’s writing about how we think and respond. Since great marketing starts by understanding your audiences, his insight is valuable. Fascinating. And incredibly useful for an aspiring or avid marketer.

Marketing experts in the online marketing world.

I have to start with the folks at HubSpot. Not only have they created and defined the term “inbound marketing,” they continue to review, test, teach, and promote digital marketing in many different forms as in integrated marketing strategy. They provide a huge volume of content information and free tools on everything from better blogging to effective social media marketing. Follow their marketing or sales blog and consider them your inbound marketing guru and resource.

Marketing mentors for social media and content marketing.

jay-baer-social-guruJay Baer is a favorite social marketing guru. He has provided continuing support for the value of social media marketing. He pinpoints the strategies that have shown success in many different industries. His emails and various websites continue to both curate great content and put out fresh new perspectives.

He also provides advice and direction for content marketers, pinpointing trends and guiding content choices for both social and online marketing.

The Buffer blog. Although not a marketing guru per se, Buffer has created an excellent blog and community of followers. Subscribe and you’ll find detailed, easy-to-read guides and tips covering a wide range of content marketing and social media topics.

SEO and website content marketing guru.

When it comes to the latest insight on best practices and effective tactics in the world of SEO, the first one that comes to mind is Rand Fishkin and MOZ, formerly SEO Moz. Their software is used by top names in industry. And I know people who are addicted to his whiteboard Friday talks. Complex and detailed, they may be more detail than what you’re looking for. But worth knowing.

There are more … 

When it comes to the marketing gurus who stand out in specific areas or platforms, there are many … such as

  • Dan Kennedy … amazing copywriter who offers training on writing to boost sales
  • Bonn Tennant … another exceptional writer focused on web conversion copy and offering copywriting training as well as reliable guidance to make your website easier to read
  • Mari Smith … many people rely on her for Facebook marketing guidance
  • Marcus Sheridan … Also known as “The Sales Lion” saved his pool business by using inbound marketing, search for his excellent videos and Ted Talks

Where to start? Consider where you are in your marketing … running your own business, ready to ramp up, learning more to add to your skill base? Then start reviewing what’s out there. Start with these resources, you’ll discover new insight no matter what you’re up to.

If you’re looking for a marketing coach for your business, consider Creative Company. I can help. Read more here. 

Let me know if you have any questions … or any recommendations of marketing gurus to add to this list!

Looking for one-on-one guidance from a marketing mentor?

I can provide mentoring and act as your marketing coach. Those I’ve worked with say it has been very valuable to get an outside, objective point of view on their work. I can help with defining strategy, developing messaging and guiding implementation. Visit our marketing mentor page on our website to learn more.

You could also start with our overview marketing guide, 10 Steps to Optimize Your Brand.

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About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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  1. Thanks very much for the compliment, Jennifer, and best wishes to you,
    Harry Beckwith

    • You’re very welcome! I love your books. Anything new coming? Cheers! … Jennifer


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