Full-stack Marketing by

When I saw the title of this one (Rise of the full-stack marketer), I thought it was going to be about marketing for vendors that sell “the full stack”… Not so.  This article is about the Marketer who can “do it all” in a founding role at a startup.

The basic argument is that as the costs of starting up have declined, the role of a non-engineer in early-stage startups (or as part of a founding team) has grown.  (Especially when combined with the angel and early-stage funding environment) Full-stack marketing is presented as a counter-point to the “full-stack developer” – the folks who can “do it all” – web, mobile, and native without requiring more or different people.  In the past I’ve heard such folks referred to as utility players or fearless technologists.

Apparently there is now a consensus about what “Founder B” looks like – not a mini-technologist with social skills, but a true full-stack marketer:

PSDs in Photoshop, wirefaming UI/UX iterations, building marketing pages with product positioning, setting up newsletters in MailChimp, answering support emails and showing real people your product everywhere he goes (the store, the bar etc.)

A couple of interesting takeaways however.  First, this isn’t someone’s traditional definition of marketing, either.  Most of the people I’ve seen who are truly good at this are actually people with CS or technical backgrounds (earned in school or in the school of hard knocks).  These people can invest a bit in automation as well as personalizing – and definitely aren’t afraid of new tools and technology.  They promote and sell their company’s offerings at all opportunities (and have the credibility to do so because their whole personality isn’t defined by selling).

Also, this assumes you’re building a user-acquisition-oriented startup.  Depending on what your startup is, your micro-economic circumstances are going to be different.  If you’re building the next biotech research firm, you don’t need a full-stack-marketing co-founder, no matter how much less expensive it is to get started.  If you’re building a services-first firm, you need some of the activities a full-stack marketer would do for you – but you need to make-do with the team that can be productively billable for clients.  Bootstrap mode.

Still, I like the re-framing of the general startup-founder-pairing – seller and builder – to marketer and builder.  Just further evidence of more refinement in the process of starting up.