Growth Marketing

What is a Director of Growth Marketing? (and 4 Alternatives)

Carter Edsall
by Carter Edsall / October 18, 2021

Carter Edsall is the founder of Brand Theory, a growth agency that helps businesses eliminate the guesswork from online marketing. Through a career spanning nearly 3 decades, he’s launched and marketed projects for household names like Nissan, Disney and Four Seasons — but remains passionate about helping small businesses scale profitably and predictably. He lives for food, wine, the outdoors and spending time with his family in beautiful Marin County, CA.

For businesses looking to scale, a Director of Growth Marketing can provide the specialized expertise necessary to plan and execute a smart growth marketing strategy. The job title alone seems perfectly aligned with the objective, doesn’t it?


If your business has any experience with marketing, however, you may be apprehensive. There’s no shortage of trendy marketing tactics, buzzwords and titles out there. What do they all mean? Will you be investing in the right solution? Or, will you be losing time and wasting money?


In this article, we’ll address the basic questions: What does a Director of Growth Marketing do? How much does a Director of Growth Marketing make? How do I hire one?


And, we’ll answer the questions you should really be asking, so you're making a smart growth marketing investment that actually moves the needle.


For better or worse, it's a decision that can have a major impact on the future of your company. Whether you go with a Director of Growth Marketing, another type of growth marketer, or even a growth marketing agency, understanding your options is a great place to start.


Let’s dig in.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is a holistic approach to customer acquisition that aligns every marketing and sales touchpoint along a “pipeline,” and uses data-driven strategy to streamline the flow of prospective buyers into and through it. 


A simpler growth marketing definition: Growth marketing helps businesses scale profitably.


Where many other forms of marketing limit their focus to initial awareness or lead generation, growth marketing encompasses the “full funnel.” Lead generation, sales, revenue, customer retention and referrals all work together to drive profitable growth.






What is a Growth Marketer?

Just as growth marketing encompasses the full range of marketing activities, a growth marketer must possess a multidisciplinary skill set to match. 


From producing engaging content to measuring, testing and improving its performance, a combination of creative and analytical thinking is essential. And that’s just the beginning. 


A growth marketer job description (from an entry level position to a growth marketing lead) may include any of the following:



Yep, that’s a lot of skills. So, how does a single person do it all? In most cases, a growth marketing lead will focus on strategy and project management, while a team of specialists carry out the tactical execution. 


These skills are not exclusive to growth marketing, either.


That’s where a lot of confusion can creep in and complicate the hiring process. So, before we consider the ideal qualities in a Director of Growth Marketing job description, let’s clarify a few of the digital marketing buzzwords out there.



Growth Marketing vs. Demand Generation

Growth marketing and demand generation are often confused with one another, and for good reason. Both look to attract website visitors, generate leads, and nurture those leads until they become qualified sales prospects. In fact, they share many of the same channels and tactics. 


So what’s the main difference between growth marketing and demand generation? 


A growth marketing agency focuses on the entire pipeline, or buyer journey. From initial awareness, to purchase, to upsells, resells and referrals. It’s a metrics-driven approach to scaling profitability by improving the flow of potential buyers at every stage. 


A demand generation (or demand marketing agency), as the name suggests, concentrates solely on creating interest in the early stages and handing qualified leads off to a sales team.



Digital Marketing vs. Growth Hacking

Businesses in search of a Director of Growth Marketing are likely to encounter other industry terms, like “growth hacker” and “digital marketing.” A growth hacking definition is certainly in order, but let’s start with its relation to the broader realm of digital marketing.


HubSpot defines digital marketing as “all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet.” Broad, indeed.


What is growth hacking in digital marketing? It’s a practice that relies on continuous, data-driven testing and improvements in every stage of the customer journey, to achieve rapid business growth. 


Yes, it sounds an awful lot like growth marketing. The difference? In a nutshell, growth hacking leans heavily toward immediate results. Growth marketing takes a longer, more sustainable view of business growth that includes brand building and brand management.


Now that we’ve clarified a few of the buzzwords you’re sure to come across as you look to scale your business with online marketing services, let’s talk about that Director of Marketing role.





What is a Director of Growth Marketing?

A Director of Growth Marketing is a key member of the marketing leadership team, often reporting to the VP of Marketing. In many cases, however, it is a role defined by the needs and growth stage of an individual company.


A startup, for example, may need a director capable of wearing multiple hats – a strategic leader, who can also execute on a tactical level.


A mature company looking to expand into a new market might have existing systems and team members, placing more emphasis on managerial skills.


While roles will vary, the responsibilities of a well-rounded Director of Growth Marketing include:


  • Developing and executing growth strategy
  • Brand management
  • Building a marketing and sales pipeline
  • Developing and optimizing a lead nurturing process
  • Customer acquisition and retention
  • Developing, executing, coordinating and measuring campaigns
  • Design, development and optimization of company website(s)
  • Creating compelling content, offers, and assets
  • Identifying and implementing the marketing technology stack 
  • Establishing growth metrics and defining KPIs to track progress
  • Continuously measuring, testing and improving campaign performance
  • Developing and reporting on monthly, quarterly and yearly growth targets

What is the Average Head of Growth Marketing Salary?

Titles aside, an individual proficient in the above skills will be in a leadership role, steering your company toward its growth goals. As such, they may warrant a significant investment. While location and other variables will come into play, Glassdoor reports the average salary for a Director of Growth Marketing in the U.S. is $141,916.





Alternatives: Different Types of Growth Marketing Experts

As mentioned, titles, roles, responsibilities and costs can vary widely with growth marketing experts of every kind. At the end of the day, what matters most isn’t necessarily a title – it’s finding the right solution for your growth goals. Below are a few alternatives to a Director of Growth Marketing that might be a better fit.



In-House Growth Marketing Team

Established businesses with consistent revenue growth are often ready to build their own in-house growth marketing team. The larger the company, the quicker the volume of work will overwhelm a single director-level hire. An in-house team may be as small as 1-2 specialists and a Growth Marketing Manager.


Keep in mind: With in-house hires, you’ll need to budget for training, hardware, software, benefits, turnover, taxes and other operational costs.



Growth Marketing Agency

Like growth marketers, growth marketing agencies come in all shapes and sizes. But finding an outsourced growth marketing team that aligns with your needs and goals will provide a host of benefits. 


The best growth marketing agency will guide strategy and all tactical execution, without the need to hire multiple specialists in-house. They will maintain the most up-to-date skills, hardware, software, and processes – but you'll only invest on a fractional basis, according to your needs. This can often translate into more expertise, more capabilities, and more flexibility, at a lower cost than hiring in-house.


Best of all, you’ll leave the critical growth marketing work to the growth marketing experts, so your business can focus on what it does best. 



Growth Marketing Strategist

A growth marketing strategist or a growth marketing consultancy can offer high-level direction for businesses that aren’t ready for a big commitment. However, this is another decision that should be weighed against your specific growth goals. 


Generalist advice from a business growth consultant, however, is not the same as an actionable 1-3 year growth marketing strategy with defined revenue targets. Proceed with caution, particularly with nebulous terms like “growth strategy consulting” or with individuals who claim to be experts at everything.



Growth Hackers

Among the many flavors of “marketers on demand” today, growth hackers tend to promise shortcuts to revenue growth through data-driven testing and other growth hacking tools designed for short-term results. 


Whether it’s a growth hacking agency or a consultant using growth hacking techniques, keep in mind that sustainable, long-term results are often a low priority.

Navigating all of these options can be tricky, especially with so many overlapping terms and concepts. Our advice?... Request a detailed strategy proposal before committing to a growth marketing solution of any kind.


Unless it’s a complete strategy that begins with your revenue goals and outlines a clear, data-driven plan to get there – profitably – you may want to keep looking. 


At Brand Theory, for example, our SmartGrowth marketing system is a comprehensive framework for 10x growth, but it starts with a well-defined strategy for the first 12 days, 12 weeks, 12 months and 12 quarters.



What is a Growth Marketing Framework?

A growth marketing framework is a proven, step-by-step process for planning, building and scaling profitable customer acquisition. 


Where a typical marketing growth strategy might begin with a website redesign or any number of marketing tactics, a growth framework begins with the right foundation and moves forward in a deliberate sequence to validate profitability before scaling. After all, you can’t scale a broken system.


The SmartGrowth system developed by Brand Theory is a framework based on 3 essential stages of growth:


1. Plan

Growth marketing succeeds by streamlining the flow of buyers into and through a customer acquisition pipeline – from stranger to visitor, visitor to lead, lead to sales prospect, and so on. The importance of getting the right message to the right person, at the right time, with the right next step, simply cannot be understated. 


In the planning stages, customer development, customer-centric messaging and competitive positioning are just a few of the foundational elements that set growth marketing up for success. 


2. Build

When a brand gets its positioning right, the creation of high-performing marketing assets is easy. Now is the time to build a growth website. Not a “brochure website” that just promotes your products or services. We’re talking about a conversion machine that attracts visitors, engages them at every stage of the buyer journey, and moves them forward. 


Add compelling lead magnets, offers and nurture campaigns, and you’ve got a well-oiled growth engine that’s ready to scale.


3. Scale

With the right messaging and the right assets in place, it’s time to measure, test, learn and improve – continuously. With growth marketing, the launch of a website or marketing campaign is not the end of a project – it’s the beginning. 


Leveraging data is the key to improving website traffic, lead conversions, closed deals, retention … everything. Establishing growth metrics, tracking website analytics and asking the right marketing metrics questions each month will turn performance data into the decisions that scale profitable revenue growth. 





A Smart Growth Marketing Strategy Begins With Your Goals

While businesses with a growth mindset are often looking to implement positive change, it pays to consider all of the options before diving into a solution.


For some, a Director of Growth Marketing may prove to be a pivotal role that will lead the way. For others, an in-house team or an outsourced growth marketing agency will provide the most bang for their buck. 


In all cases, prioritizing profitable, scalable growth is a must. As you weigh the options for your business, be sure to look beyond the titles and the marketing buzzwords at the underlying strategies. A proven path to results that aligns with your growth goals is the best place to start.








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