Over the past few years, we’ve all seen a surge in the “growth” title popping up everywhere. What exactly does growth mean vs. marketing and which one is better? Are the skill sets different? Which one is right for what circumstances? We’ll help you answer these questions so you have a crystal clear understanding of what all this terminology means so you can cut through the fluff and create the role that is right for your company.
What is the difference between growth and marketing?
Unfortunately you will get a lot of different answers to this question – ranging from people who passionately believe these are fundamentally different approaches / roles to people who think they are basically the same thing. We generally fall into the latter bucket – that there is no huge difference between the two but there are a couple nuances that may warrant changing a title to one or the other.
To understand how we got into this semantic mess, let’s review how we got here. Over the past 15 years marketing has fundamentally changed – we moved (almost everything) over to digital and recently have swung back to traditional channels (billboards, tv, radio, direct mail). And before that, marketing was generally focused around brand building coupled with some “direct” strategies like sending snail mail.
Because of its history – now when you hear “marketing” it feels a bit old and crusty compared to the shiny new “growth” term that is becoming more trendy. All that to say that the terms “growth” and “marketing” are still largely interchangeable, but that “growth” is newer, trendier and sounds more progressive than “marketing.”
Once you dig in, however, there are some small nuances to the terms that may influence how you want to use them. The biggest difference is that when you use the term “marketing” there will always be a bit more of bent toward brand building (even if it’s an analytical performance marketing role). When you use the term “growth” this usually means there will be more product management involved along with the marketing and less time spent on brand/creative.
So generally if you are looking for someone who has product management experience but is still focused on growing the company, a growth title would make sense. If you are not looking for someone with product management experience but want someone who can grow the company while maintaining brand integrity – and has a good creative eye, a marketing title probably makes more sense. If your role encompasses all of this – you might as well flip a coin and just pick one of the two for the title.
Generally if you are looking for someone who has product management experience but is still focused on growing the company, a growth title would make sense. If you are not looking for someone with product management experience but want someone who can grow the company while maintaining brand integrity – and has a good creative eye, a marketing title probably makes more sense.
Just naming everything growth because it sounds more progressive and new could ultimately hurt you because unless you specifically want someone with product management experience, you are probably looking for a candidate that currently has “marketing” in their title. Labeling your role as growth may make it a bit harder for you to find these people – and for them to find the job you are offering.