Mat Sweezey’s List of 103 Marketing Thought Leaders, by Category [Opinion]


Editor’s note: This list was compiled by marketer Mat Sweezey based on his insights and opinions. It is not an official MarketingProfs list and does not necessarily represent our view of the industry.

I stepped off stage at Dreamforce to a long line of people with questions. Some were asking for copies of my presentation, but a large majority simply asked for the names of other marketing thought leaders they should follow. Then it dawned on me: In our world, where everyone can claim to be anything, it is hard to find genuine thought leadership.

So I created my Big List of Marketing Thought leaders.

My list contains some of the best and brightest minds on just about any marketing topic you desire—100+ people I consider genuine marketing thought leaders spanning a wide range of marketing disciplines.

Two things make this list unique: First, you will find names on here that do not have big Twitter followings, but they have brilliant minds. Second, it is unique because it breaks down thought leadership by marketing discipline.

So, here is my list of 103 marketing thought leaders, broken out in 13 groups, listed in no particular order. In most cases, I also provide their twitter handles.

I hope you find the list helpful!

Branding Thought Leaders

Marketing is a mix of disciplines, and branding is one. There is a new breed of branding experts, and these five are at the top of the class. A mix of professors, brand leaders, and authors, these are genuine branding thought leaders changing the face of branding.

  • Andrew Davis: @drewdavishere
  • Jeremy Waite: @jeremywaite
  • Martin Lindstrom: @martinlindstrom
  • Bozoma Saint John: @badassboz
  • Mark Ritson: @markritson

Radical Marketing Thought Leaders

Marketing often needs to be shaken up, and these are just the people to do it. This group is a mix of corporate marketers, advertising executives, and pure marketing disruptors. When you are looking for radical ideas, these minds will deliver.

  • Cindy Gallop: @cindygallop
  • Geoff Colon: @djgeoffe
  • Jason Miller: @jasonmillerca
  • Scott Stratten: @unmarketing
  • Travis Wright: @teedubya
  • Joe Chernov: @jchernov
  • Tom Goodwin: @tomfgoodwin

Social Media Marketing Thought Leaders

Social media is a massive part of modern marketing. Social also has many moving pieces and can be used in many different ways. The thought leaders in this group span a wide range, from traditional social, to social selling, to social media technology.

  • Michael Stelsner: @mike_stelzner
  • Mark Schaefer: @markwschaefer
  • Jason Falls: @jasonfalls
  • Vanessa Fox: @vanessafox
  • Sean Gardner: @2morrowknight
  • Jason Keath: @jasonkeath
  • Neal Schaffer: @nealschaffer
  • Peg Fitzpatrick: @pegfitzpatrick
  • Koka Sexton: @kokasexton
  • Jill Konrath: @jillkonrath
  • Jill Rowley: @Jill_rowley
  • Tim Hughes: @Timothy_Hughes

Email Marketing Thought Leaders

Email will never go away. There are a litany of people who would love to be on this list, but I’ve kept this group small for a reason. Each of the three names here is a true expert in the field and continues to push the evolution of email forward.

  • Chad White: @chadswhite
  • Michael Barber: @michaeljbarber
  • Jordie van Rijn: @jvanrijn

Content Marketing Thought Leaders

Content marketing has become one of the biggest facets of modern marketing. For this reason, there is a large mix of things we need to know. This group gives you a solid cross of ideas, tactics, strategy, and execution. There’s even a cartoonist!

  • Ann Handley: @MarketingProfs, @AnnHandley
  • Marcus Sheridan: @TheSalesLion
  • Joe Pulizzi: @JoePulizzi
  • Robert Rose: @Robert_Rose
  • Steve Rubel: @steverubel
  • Tamsen Webster: @tamadear
  • Joseph Jaffe: @jaffejuice
  • Chris Moody: @cnmoody
  • Tom Fishburne: @tomfishburne

B2B Marketing Thought Leaders

Marketing to the enterprise brings with it a unique set of problems and issues that these minds are focused on. Whether you are wanting to look at personas, marketing stacks, and technology, or you want to learn how to be more empathetic, this list has you covered.

  • Lee Odden: @leeodden
  • Ardath Albee: @ardath421
  • Doug Kessler: @dougkessler
  • Michael Brenner: @brennermichael
  • Brian Carroll: @brianjcarroll
  • Megan Heuer: @megheuer
  • Dave Gerhardt: @davegerhardt
  • Alex Ortiz: @1AlexOrtiz
  • Katie Morse: @misskatiemo

Experience-Focused Thought Leaders

Experience is one of the biggest factors changing the traditional notion of marketing. Experience, however, is a very big word, and this group ranges from UX experts to some of the biggest names in experience design.

  • Joe Pine II: @joepine
  • Luke Wroblewski: @lukew
  • Laura Klein: @lauraklein
  • Aarron Walter: @aarron
  • Nick Finck: @nickf
  • Donald Norman: @jnd1er

Design, Copy, and Writing Thought Leaders

Marketing is made up of image and copy/text. Regardless of the channels we adopt, those two things will always be true. The following thought leaders are true stars in this field.

  • Ann Handley: @annhandley, @marketingprofs
  • Franklyn: @therealfranklyn
  • Brian Steely:
  • Design Milk: @designmilk
  • Unsplash: @unsplash
  • Abdz: @abduzeedo
  • Aaron Draplin: @Draplin
  • Sonia Simone: @soniasimone
  • Eugene Schwartz: NA
  • Aaron Orendorff: @AaronOrendorff
  • David Meerman Scott: @dmscott

Marketing Podcasts From Thought Leaders

If you like to get your fix via podcasts, here are five marketing podcasts that will empower you, challenge you, and make you a better marketer.

Search Marketing Thought Leaders

Search marketing is—and will always be—a key pillar of modern marketing. Which means we must stay on top of the changes to the algorithms and understand the newest techniques for inbound, and we need to be prepared to convert traffic into business. This list covers a wide range of SEO, CRO, SEM, and general search experts you must know.

  • Dharmesh Shah: @dharmesh
  • Danny Sullivan: @dannysullivan
  • Loren Baker: @lorenbaker
  • Larry Kim: @larrykim
  • Matt Umbro: @matt_umbro
  • Matt Cutts: @mattcutts
  • Rand Fishkin: @randfish
  • Aleyda Solis: @aleyda
  • Angie Schottmuller: @aschottmuller
  • Michael Aagard: @contentverve

Thought Leaders Focused on What’s Next

We are in a rare time, when the pace of innovation has reached warp speed. The group of thought leaders listed here covers a wide range of marketing technology, future ideas, artificial intelligence, blockchain, reporting, agile marketing, messaging, personal brand, growth marketing, and others who just stay on the cutting edge of everything marketing.

  • Steven Van Belleghem: @StevenVBe
  • Brian Solis: @brainsolis
  • Robert Scoble: @scoblizer
  • Scott Brinker: @chiefmartech
  • Goldie Chan: @GoldieChan
  • Ryan Bonnici: @ryanbonnici
  • Vala Afshar: @ValaAfshar
  • Jeremy Epstein: @jer979
  • Paul Roetzer: @paulroetzer
  • Avinash Kaushik: @avinash
  • Sean Ellis: @SeanEllis
  • Morgan Brown: @morganb
  • Steve Gilmore: @stevegillmor
  • Chris Penn: @cspenn
  • Sybil Grieb: @EdelmanDigital
  • Jim Ewel: @Jimewel
  • Larry Kim: @larrykim
  • Avinash Kaushik: @Avinash
  • Sujan Patel: @sujanpatel

Thought Leaders Looking at Consumer Behavior

The consumer is the center of everything we do, and understanding what makes consumers tick should be a central focus of any marketer. This group of thought leaders is pushing the bounds of study of consumer behavior and conducting new research all the time. If you want to get into the head of your consumer, they have the key.

  • Nicholas Carr: @roughtype
  • Tom Webster: @webby2001
  • Danah Boyd: @zephoria
  • Aaron Keller: @kellerofcapsule
  • Doc Searls: @dsearls

Big Marketing Names Worth Knowing

Finally, some names in the world of marketing are too big to miss. To be in this category, you have to have published a least one best-selling book that changed the way the world thinks about marketing. Many of these thought leaders blend categories, such as consumer behavior, technology, and pure hustle, but they all are people you should know and follow.

  • Seth Godin: @ThisIsSethsBlog
  • Malcolm Gladwell: @Gladwell
  • Jay Baer: @jaybaer
  • Gary Vaynerchuk: @garyvee
  • Don Peppers: @DonPeppers
  • Robert Cialdini: @RobertCialdini
  • Daniel Pink: @DanielPink
  • Charlene Li: @charleneli
  • Mitch Joel: @mitchjoel

* * *

The combined list of marketing thought leaders is large, but not exhaustive. Are there more than 103 marketing thought leaders? Of course, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

If you didn’t see your favorite thought leader on the list, reach out to me via Twitter to tell me, and make sure to mention her/his area of expertise.

This article first appeared in

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