As I have begun to dive deeper and deeper into the world of digital marketing, I have been fortunate to have connected with some truly magnificent digital marketers. Hustlers. Entrepreneurs. People who live and breathe by the phrase, "Let's get things done, and done well."
On the flip side, I have also met and unfortunately seen the gaping chasm that is perception versus reality. There are digital marketers who actually know what they are doing, and there are digital marketers who talk the talk but have absolutely no idea how to walk the walk. (A perfect case-in-point are the ones who call themselves "social media experts" and yet can't even figure out how to construct an effective Twitter bio for themselves.)
That said, as someone who cares a lot about delivering value to people, I would like to point out the people I am going to be watching closely over the next year, based on what I have seen from them already--either from connecting with them directly or simply watching from afar. These are 7 stand-out marketers whose work has impressed me, and deserve a lot more attention. These are people who focus on doing great work, instead of just standing around talking about it.
A perfect case study of personal branding and self marketing, Joel Brown is the founder of addicted2success.com, named one of the most motivational sites in the world. His work has appeared alongside some of the greats in the industry, including Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and more.
What impressed me the most about Joel was his ability to keep his sights set on ventures far outside just the realm of grinding out digital marketing accolades. Joel is making his mark on the world through his online and offline contributions, recently raising over $50,000 in 2 weeks with his Addicted2Success community to build a school in Laos with Pencils of Promise for children living in poverty.
If you haven't heard of Joel Brown yet, you will soon.
Leonard Kim is managing partner of InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to position your brand, get featured in publications and grow your social media following.
Leonard has grown his personal social media following from 0 to over 250,000 followers within three years, then on top of that, he has helped both people and companies like Keck Medicine of USC go from around 9,000 to 90,000 followers in a year, while getting them featured in Forbes, Medical Daily, Sporting News, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, Apple News and more.
Deep Patel is a serial entrepreneur and marketer, and the author of A Paperboy's Fable. He helps some of the largest brands and companies target Generation Z, the next wave of consumers. Most recently, he spoke at A.T. Kearney's Consumers@250 event on a panel of 30 Fortune 500 A-list execs, including the CEO's of Foot Locker and Warby Parker, and executives from Google and Spotify.
He has worked on marketing campaigns with viral Kickstarters and VC-backed companies, and is now working on his latest project at Slyde Handboards, an Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban backed startup. Patel's work appears regularly in Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.
If anyone has cracked the code on how to go viral, it's Jon Youshaei. His graduation speech was ranked by NPR as one of the best, alongside those of Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandberg. His articles for Time and Forbes have received over a million views.
Recently, Youshaei created a cartoon series, Every Vowel, which garnered 100,000 likes on LinkedIn and Facebook. It's no wonder Google hired him to be a marketing manager on YouTube. Whether it's through videos, words or cartoons, this Wharton alumnus is a creative force who knows how to use marketing to inspire movements for millennials.
Brian D. Evans is an Inc. 500 entrepreneur. His company, BDE Ventures, is the 25th fastest growing advertising and marketing agency in America. He has worked with an impressive list of celebrity clients and famous brands.
Evans loves partnering with exciting brands that have purpose and passion behind their product, such as the Dollar Beard Club. He is no stranger to creating successful companies: he built an eight-figure direct-response business, and is the founder and CEO of Influencive.com.
One part digital marketer, one part lifestyle guru, Jessica is the founder of the agency SimplyBe, focusing on emerging social channels specifically as they relate to personal branding.
In 2008, she founded Chicago's largest digital lifestyle magazine for women, CheekyChicago.com, publishing over 100 monthly articles, reaching over 100,000 local millennial women and capturing some of the most prolific global brands as clients. Jessica's work as an entrepreneur catapulted her into the consulting world, when she partnered with Starcom's global digital agency, Liquid Thread, launching Skinnygirl Cocktail's new product line and growing its social community to over 1 million followers.
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis's program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.
He is also an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, CBS Evening News and is co-author of Facebook Nation - a textbook taught in over 700 colleges and universities.