The 8 Most Influential Marketing Thought Leaders

Of the many so-called marketing thought leaders, who has something genuinely insightful to say? Our team of analysts have surveyed the individuals who appear most often in the keynote slot at conferences, write the best-reviewed books, and publish the most cited content. Below are eight marketing thought leaders who are making a significant impact on the marketing today.

Whether you’re an organizer looking to hire a speaker for a conference or a business owner seeking advice from the most influential thinkers in modern marketing, you should know who these leaders are:

  • Evan Bailyn
  • Flavilla Fongang
  • Seth Godin
  • Michael King
  • Dana DiTomaso
  • Goldie Chan
  • Mari Smith
  • Ross Simmonds

These leaders specialize in different facets of marketing products and services, but they all have one thing in common: they push boundaries. In the following chart, we go over each marketing thought leader’s areas of expertise.  

Marketing Thought Leaders, Organized by Specialty

Leader Marketing Specialties
SEOB2BB2CContent VideoSocialAdsAnalyticsInfluencer
Evan Bailyn 
Flavilla Fongang 
Seth Godin 
Michael King 
Dana DiTomaso 
Goldie Chan 
Mari Smith 
Ross Simmonds 

This chart focuses on each leader’s specialties, but their firms often work in other areas as well. For example, while Evan Bailyn is most passionate and knowledgeable about SEO, thought leadership content, and analytics, his team also works closely with PPC ad campaigns that bolster our primary campaign strategies. So consider it a jumping off point for your own research process. 

Now that you have a basic overview of what each marketing thought leader can bring to a conference, event, or campaign, you should take a closer look at their backgrounds, overarching principles or values, and target audiences or clients. Below is a brief profile for each marketing thought leader: 

Evan Bailyn 

Who He Is: Google expert, international bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of First Page Sage, the largest SEO company in the United States. 
His Best Advice: The value of genuinely useful content is timeless. It even pre-dates Google, as no matter how far back you go, a proprietor that makes itself known for intelligent insights on its customers’ problems is bound to be successful. As much as Google’s algorithm has changed in the last 20 years, the strategy of publishing exceptional content has never faltered. The last mile, as it were, comes down to optimizing your website to the demands of today’s technology, and in this respect, you can anticipate changes to the search algorithm with a basic understanding of modern user experience.
Follow Him If: You want your website to rank on the first page of the Google search results, and for those search rankings to translate into revenue. Bailyn offers essential SEO advice to a wide range of industries, but he has extensive experience in B2B lead generation in particular. Contact Here.

Flavilla Fongang

Who She Is: Award-winning creative brand strategist, successful businesswoman, and founder of 3 Colours Rule. 
Her Best Advice: Follow three marketing principles: Distinguish, Attract, and Convert (the “DAC” brand growth system). To distinguish a brand and attract new customers, collect data in the form of surveys or interviews with current customers. Then, use this data to gain a better understanding of consumer behavior (a process called “neuromarketing”). If possible, use AI tools to find hidden patterns in behavior and structure creative, data-driven marketing campaigns.
Follow Her If: You want to create more targeted online ads. Fongang has years of experience in the tech industry and a deep understanding of the direct advertising tools out there today. If you’re still sending out mass email blasts or buying Facebook ads, she’s an important marketing thought leader you should follow. Contact here.

Seth Godin

Who He Is: Bestselling author, teacher, and founder of the Akimbo podcast. 
His Best Advice: Good marketing doesn’t just sell products; it solves problems. Marketers should be empathetic to their audience’s pain points and connect with customers on an emotional level. Get them to care about your company’s story or form an identity around it. Think of customers as students, not buyers.
Follow Him If: You want advice on how to hone your marketing narrative and get audiences to believe in what you’re selling. His advice is especially great for lifestyle brands. Be prepared to do a lot of reading though—Godin has published 19 books on various marketing topics. Contact here.

Michael King 

Who He Is: Founder and managing director of iPullRank, a performance marketing agency. King also has a degree in computer science. 
His Best Advice: Content marketing isn’t the best strategy for every business and some businesses benefit from using an audio-visual medium like video. Video content is the future of marketing. However, don’t make video content you hope will go viral; instead, focus on making quality videos that educate the audience.
Follow Him If: You want to make eye-catching videos for your website. Video content is a great way to explain complex topics to an audience or showcase products in action. You can also supplement these videos with a thoughtful content strategy to see the best results. Contact here.

Dana DiTomaso 

Who She Is: Entrepreneur, web developer, digital marketing expert, and award-winning speaker. 
Her Best Advice: Getting buy-in across your entire company is absolutely essential to any marketing strategy. Everyone involved in the campaign should understand the brand and the marketing strategy. It’s also helpful to create buyer personas to zero in on your target audience. Fostering a “digital first” mindset is another key component. Prioritize online engagements over offline ads.
Follow Her If: You’re just dipping your toes into the digital marketing world for the first time. She offers great advice on how to transition from offline to digital marketing and provides useful tips on creating realistic personas for targeted campaigns. Contact here.

Goldie Chan

Who She Is: Award-winning keynote speaker, LinkedIn video creator, and social strategist. Huffington Post calls her the “Oprah of LinkedIn.” 
Her Best Advice: Influencer marketing is a powerful tool. Asking influencers to market your product to their followers is a great way to make your brand more relatable and increase trust. LinkedIn videos are another way to engage with B2B audiences. The key to a great video strategy is to consistently produce content, make a hub or homebase for this content, and use branded hashtags (in moderation).
Follow Her If: You’re interested in hiring influencers to market your brand or you want to learn how to create your own video content channel. Her advice on hiring influencers is especially important for companies that market lifestyle products or experiences, like clothing or resorts, as these translate well on visual social media channels. Contact here.

Mari Smith 

Who She Is: A successful social media marketing thought leader, speaker, author, and webcast host. She is known as “The Queen of Facebook.” 
Her Best Advice: It’s hard to reach customers organically on social media platforms, especially Facebook. These websites change their structure and algorithms so frequently that it’s difficult to keep up. Focusing on producing quality content that social media users actually want to read or click on is the only way to maintain an effective long term social media marketing strategy.
Follow Her If: You’re struggling with social media outreach and engagement. Her advice applies to direct sales companies as well as SMBs and startup brands. She also offers relatively evergreen advice that doesn’t go out of date every few months or years, making her a useful resource for businesses that want to develop a good baseline social media strategy. Contact here.

Ross Simmonds 

Who He Is: Author, keynote speaker, and digital marketing strategist. He founded the Foundation Marketing agency and an ecommerce store for entrepreneurs, Hustle & Grind.
His Best Advice: Account-Based Selling (ABS) is a great way to target B2B audiences at multiple touchpoints and improve your conversion odds. Business conferences, Facebook groups, location-based advertising, and good use of social media platforms like Snapchat during events is also an excellent way to generate leads and interest in your brand.
Follow Him If: You want solid advice on connecting with a B2B audience through multiple channels. Simmonds has a breadth of knowledge, particularly when it comes to generating brand awareness on Snapchat. Contact here.

How to Engage with Marketing Thought Leaders

All eight of the influential marketing thought leaders in this guide offer sound advice to their respective audiences. While they may disagree on specific approaches or details, ultimately they all want to drive the marketing industry forward and help their clients succeed.

Whomever you choose to spend your time listening to, make sure their approach is a fit for your campaigns. For example, if your company offers a B2B SaaS product, you won’t gain much from an elaborate Snapchat campaign. You should work with a marketing thought leader who understands the SaaS space and who will focus on producing quality content in the form of a blog, white paper, or video. Or, if you’re a fashion brand, you should consider working with a thought leader with experience in social media, influencer marketing, and other visual engagement channels. 

This goes for conference and event organizers as well. Think about what your audience wants to see or learn and choose a marketing thought leader that delivers on those promises. You need someone who has a unique message or perspective—one that has real results—and who can teach the audience this skill in a fun, engaging voice. To get the message across, being entertaining is equally as important as the content itself.

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