In today's fast-paced business world, everyone seems to be talking about marketing and branding. Whether a company is looking to connect with its target market on social media, or an individual is polishing up a résumé for a new job search, how to market and brand is more important than ever.
Marketing in the digital age continues to evolve almost on a daily basis; some traditional methods continue, but technology has inevitably created a shift in strategic and tactical thinking. Today's marketers focus heavily on content marketing, social media and metrics. From SEO to PPC, Eye-Tracking to Churn, there are so many different theories and tools available that it would be hard for even the most experienced marketer to make sense of everything amid all the noise.
One solution to better understanding what works and what doesn't is to seek out people who are considered to be 'marketing influencers'. Generally a title given to someone who is a subject matter expert and a trusted information source, these individuals are able to analyze existing and future trends, offering opinions and ideas that shape and expand the marketing landscape. These same people are usually entrepreneurial, but that doesn't mean their goal is to sell a particular product or service to an audience: their aim is to be a 'thought leader', to educate and promote new ways of thinking. Through articles, books, at conferences and speaking engagements, these experts regularly contribute to how marketing is tackled today.
Criteria used to determine today's influential leaders include content creation, social media engagement, number of active followers and current ranking on websites like Klout, one of the leading social media tools for measuring online social influence.
Any list might be considered arbitrary, and certainly leaves out other excellent experts, but here is the list of Top 10 marketing influencers in 2014.
10 Ted Rubin
Ted Rubin once worked with Seth Godin when the two were at Yoyodyne in the late 1990s. Rubin then moved on to e.l.f. Cosmetics, Open Sky and is currently acting CMO of Brand Innovators. A leading influence in social marketing and branding, Rubin believes that the key to marketing success is building relationships. This maxim led him to start using the term 'ROR: Return on Relationship', subsequently co-authoring a book of the same name.
Currently ranked by Klout at 73, Rubin has a massive Twitter following and has been named number 13 on the Forbes List of Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, 2013.
9 Mari Smith
265,000 Twitter followers and a Klout score of 74 place Mari Smith alongside Ann Handley on this list. Scottish-Canadian Smith, author of 'The New Relationship Marketing' and co-author of 'Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day', is considered a top Facebook marketing expert and social media strategist.
On a Forbes List of Top 10 Social Media Influencers, Smith and her team travel widely to provide in-depth media training to entrepreneurs and corporations. A regular contributor to publications such as The New York Times, Fortune and Success magazine, Smith naturally has a popular Facebook page and a large, loyal following.
8 Ann Handley
Ann Handley is Chief Content Officer for Marketing Profs, a marketing education and training company. Considered one of the most influential women in social media today, Handley started her career as a business journalist and regularly contributes to publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine, in which she writes a monthly marketing column.
Klout ranks Handley at 74, a rating that is hardly surprising given her influence as a thought leader in content marketing. She is also the co-founder of ClickZ.com, a pioneering source of interactive marketing news. Together with C.C. Chapman, Handley is the co-author of the best-selling book 'Content Rules'.
7 Dorie Clark
Branding expert and marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark has a Klout score of 78. A contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, Clark was once a journalist and political campaign spokesperson who has since taught marketing and communications at various US universities.
Currently adjunct professor of Business Administration at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Clark is also the author of 'Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future'. Clark is on the #Nifty50 List of top women on Twitter, and has been included on The Huffington Post's 'Must Follow on Twitter' List of 2013/14.
6 Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi is the founder of the respected Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a leading organization for education and training in content marketing. A Klout score of 79 indicates Pulizzi's influence as a leader in this growing area of online marketing. Pulizzi's thinking is that marketers must own their content and appeal to buyers through delivering intelligent content.
Pulizzi is also the creator of the Content Marketing World conference, now in its fourth year, and is the author of the bestselling book 'Epic Content Marketing', one of Fortune Magazine's 5 Must Read Business Books of 2013.
5 Bryan Kramer
President and CEO of Silicon Valley agency Pure Matter, Bryan Kramer is listed as a global Top 50 Social CEO by Kred and by the Huffington Post. Kramer has a Klout score of 80, ranking him close to the top of this list. A social business strategist, Kramer has extensive experience in branding, integrated marketing and digital media.
A key tenet of Kramer's marketing philosophy is about remembering to communicate with people rather than simply conveying messages about products and services – instead of 'B2B' or 'B2C', thinking should instead be 'H2H' – Human to Human.
4 Seth Godin
Arguably one of the biggest influencers in marketing today is Seth Godin, author, blogger, entrepreneur and speaker. Once the Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo, Godin is also behind community user website Squidoo. His books have been printed in more than 35 languages and his blog is considered a marketing must-read for companies and individuals, especially the concept of 'permission marketing.'
Bestselling books include 'Linchpin', 'Tribes' and 'Purple Cow'. With a Klout score of 80 and Twitter followers numbering almost 342,000, it's no surprise that Godin was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013.
3 Ann Tran
One of the highest rankings on Klout – a score of 80 – belongs to social media and marketing consultant Ann Tran. Tran is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, which named her one of the '16 People Who Inspire The World', and has been featured on the Forbes 2013 Top 20 List of Women Social Media Influencers. Tran is also a travel and tech writer, as well as a consultant in hospitality, marketing to brands such as Marriott.
With over 367,000 Twitter followers, her influence is considerable and she is regularly invited to speak at conferences and seminars about online marketing and audience building.
2 David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott is a strategist, author, and speaker who has enjoyed a varied career, primarily in online news distribution. As Vice-President of NewsEdge Corporation during the late '90s, he has said he discovered, by accident, that by creating news content in-house for distribution, he and his team saved money and got better results than when using material developed by expensive creative agencies.
Ranked at 83 by Klout, Meerman Scott now has a very successful marketing strategy business. He has written over 10 books, including the bestselling 'The New Rules of Marketing & PR' and, more recently, 'Newsjacking'.
1 Brian Solis
With a Klout ranking of 85, award-winning author and futurist Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, has been a leading influence and trailblazer in marketing since the 1990s. His work in assessing the impact of disruptive technology and social media on business and marketing has been instrumental in helping organizations develop strategies and achieve goals.
Among his best known books are 'The Social Media Manifesto', 'Engage' and 'The End of Business As Usual.' Solis has a marketing blog that is ranked in the AdAge Power 150, an online video series, 'Revolution,' that showcases industry thought leaders, and hosts the annual new media Pivot Conference.
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