Few people have the courage to pursue their dreams at any point in their lives. Fewer still have the capacity to learn, grow, and reorient themselves in the process. Digital marketing visionary Gaetano DiNardi has done both – and found success along the way.
Just eight years ago, DiNardi was a lost grad student, setting out to chase his ultimate goal of becoming a superstar music producer. Today, he’s a renowned growth marketing leader, capitalizing on the skills he acquired in the music industry.
Here’s how DiNardi accomplished this surprising transition, how he balances his passions, and how B2B marketing, at its core, really isn’t that different from producing music.
Early Passions Inspired By Italian Heritage
DiNardi’s guiding passion for music was born early on. At only six years old, he recorded his first song – the Italian classic “O Paese D’ O’Sole”, brought to fame by great singers like Luciano Pavarotti and Mario Del Monaco.
“When I was a kid, I’d listen to the Italian classics. You know, those old-school Napoletano songs with tons of heartache and pain behind them,” DiNardi recalls.
Growing up in the Bronx in New York, he was intimately aware and proud of his Italian heritage. His upbringing, he believes, served as a crucial cornerstone for his later success.
“My family came here with nothing. It helped me build work ethic, character, respect for others, and a strong sense of self-awareness,” he says.
A Lost College Grad Plunging into the Music Industry
Throughout his education, DiNardi pursued his passion. While earning his BA and MA in Digital Communication and Multimedia Production, he continued to write and sing songs. When he graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 2012, the vision of his dream was as clear and audacious as ever.
“I began my professional career as a lost college graduate who didn’t want to do anything in life other than become a platinum superstar music producer,” DiNardi fondly remembers. “It was my dream to produce gold records for the biggest artists in the world.”
For the next five years, he dedicated himself to this vision with his signature energy and perseverance. He became a full-time music producer and songwriter, finding some success in New York. During this time, he was able to land some of his music production on projects for major artists from Fat Joe and Shaggy to Ryan Leslie.
He loved the life he was leading, DiNardi recalls, but it was also a brutal grind. He gradually realized that he was finding his calling elsewhere: in digital marketing.
From Music to Marketing: The Fundamentals Still Apply
Looking back, DiNardi realizes that his experiences in the music industry equipped him with a unique competitive advantage in the business world.
“I realized that musicians and B2B companies have the exact same problems,” DiNardi explains.
“They have to cut through the noise in a crowded market while competing against industry giants. Building a trusted brand and developing an engaged audience are crucial. And ultimately, they have to convert leads into paying customers – and transform them into loyalists.”
While working as a music producer, aiming to grow his brand, DiNardi learned to master these challenges. He became a digital marketing autodidact, acquiring the skills he needed as he went along.
For example, he began to master the art of writing when he launched his personal blog. “Literally, I fell ass-backwards into growth marketing. It all started by blogging about my perils in the music industry. Eventually, my blog compiled over 100k views.”
Fascinated by what he was learning, DiNardi dug deeper and kept on growing his skills.
Becoming a Smash-Hit B2B Marketing Success
Eventually, DiNardi decided to pursue his newfound passion. He capitalized on the transferable marketing skills he’d acquired – and became an instant B2B marketing superstar. He found himself working with big brands in no time.
“In my first month of doing professional level marketing via iPullRank, an agency founded by marketing genius Mike King, I was working with clients like Major League Baseball, Trojan Condoms, and First Response Pregnancy Testing Kits,” DiNardi explains.
What set him apart from other players in the industry was his unique background in the music industry. The combination of his experiences as a musician and his marketing acumen made him a stand-out hybrid with creative and analytical skills.
The sweeping success of DiNardi’s background formula is evidenced by his staggering industry track record. From VC-backed unicorn startups to Nextiva, a cloud communications platform that earns a staggering $200M annually, DiNardi’s strategies have generated stellar results.
For example, DiNardi was the marketing mastermind behind the incredible growth of Sales Hacker when the media startup was acquired by the sales automation unicorn Outreach in 2018. DiNardi’s strategies helped the company grow by over 400%, playing a crucial role in the acquisition process.
In a case study for the software giant Moz, DiNardi explains that this success was based entirely on the creation of high-value content: “If you’re not creating 10x quality content that satisfies the specific needs of your target audience, you’re completely wasting your time.”
DiNardi’s Philosophy: Strive for Excellence While Balancing Passions
Fast forward to today, DiNardi is thriving in his role as Director of Growth Marketing at Nextiva, a leader in the cloud communications industry. He specializes in full-funnel demand generation, focusing on customer acquisition via inbound driven growth.
But perhaps even more astonishing than his smash success in the world digital marketing industry is that DiNardi managed to retain his foundational passion, balancing his life between marketing and music.
Maintaining his creative pursuits, DiNardi writes for the Harvard Business Review, makes him better at his job.
“I can easily fall into the trap of the ‘72-hour workweek.’ When I crash, there’s always the temptation to do something sedentary and mindless,” he explains. “But by spending time on music, I boost some of my most important workplace skills.”
“To stand out and compete in today’s crowded and constantly changing business environment, organizations need new, innovative ideas that will rise above the noise. But coming up with a fully original idea can be difficult when your mind is filled with targets, metrics, and deadlines. A creative hobby pulls you out of all that.”
There is no conflict, DiNardi explains on ringDNA’s popular Sales Enablement podcast, between being a growth marketing superstar and dropping professionally produced italian trap songs. He’s not aiming to make music his primary gig, but harnesses the energy and creativity he derives from it.
“During my downtime, I want to be able to work with great artists and make great music. And it’s a passion of mine. And I talk very openly about it in the business world, nothing to hide.”
The business world, it seems, agrees. On DiNardi’s LinkedIn, his musical posts are among the ones generating the highest engagement, from both creative and marketing professionals.