Two Types of Marketers: Upstream and Downstream

In my industry interactions with marketers (both at startups and at large corporations) I’ve found there is a dichotomy between marketers, and the organizations which they serve, succinctly, I see two types of roles:

1) Downstream Marketers
This style of marketer is most common.  They are often marketing products which are handed to them from product teams, or remote engineering teams, even abroad in other countries.  They often have little say over what they will market, and are often measured on transactional measurements, often signups, leads, or total sales.   The downside for this marketer is they are often non-strategic, and focused on marketing tactics, but the upside is they’re role is often safe and secure for the short term.

2) Upstream Marketers
This role is less common, but often found if there’s a research, strategy, analyst, or intelligence group within the marketing unit.  This group often researchers and interacts with the market to define long term direction of where the market is, then brings in key product teams to define a roadmap based on future direction.  This group has challenges, as if they don’t tie their efforts to the point of transaction (signups, revenue), they’re efforts will not be considered grounded and their value to the company will be challenged.

In the end, a mature marketing organization will have elements of both to serve the brand they’re part of. Downstream marketers that want to develop upstream capabilities can do this by first reading secondary research in their market, then conducting research using surveys, online brand monitoring, and working with third parties who focus on the future of their market.

With the plethora of raw emerging from every direction and, consumer voices, marketers of both types have an opportunity to quickly be strategic and make sense out of this orginization and lead the company –not just push products down the channel.  Prior, I’ve discussed this on Facebook.