This is article #5 out of 50 in The Startup Marketing Playbook.
If you are starting marketing in a B2B startup, you probably see the entire team every morning in the mirror (i.e. it’s just you). As the first marketer, you’re faced with a mountain of challenges:
- Defining what marketing needs your organization has
- Researching what tools and infrastructure will work best
- Creating a marketing plan for the next 12 months
- Assembling a team to work with you
If you don’t have the funding needed to hire others, then assume you will have to start by doing every job outlined in this post. If you are ready and able to assemble a team, let’s walk through the primary roles. An early-stage B2B marketing team pursuing an inbound content strategy ideally balances several roles that I refer to as the “Core 4.” These roles are:
This is the first marketing hire or the appointed Director/VP of Marketing. They are a Jack/Jill of all trades and responsible for selecting and configuring the marketing automation system, crafting the initial messaging, launching the early marketing campaigns and hiring the team.
Demand Generation (Gen) Manager
This is the “Growth Hacker” – a technical marketer who loves data, A/B testing and SEO, but can easily jump into writing content. They are often the next hire once the lead has established the basic infrastructure (i.e. automation system, website, CRM) for the team. They work closely with the lead to define the inbound strategy, manage the content calendar and test different tools to optimize digital marketing performance.
Good inbound marketing requires content, and good content requires good design. From ebooks to checklist templates to social media graphics, B2B marketing teams are in constant need of designed graphic assets. Much of the inbound strategy relies on designers crafting content into beautifully publishable pieces that keep targets coming back for more as they convert to leads.
If you can afford it, the final member of the “Core 4” is an excellent writer whose sole job is to produce content. On a daily basis they should be writing blog articles, interviewing customers, and crafting ebooks to feed the inbound engine. Consider starting with an intern for this role.
The next several roles are outside of the “Core 4” because they are not a requirement from day 1. These responsibilities are handled by a mix of the lead and growth hacker in the early days. However, as the team grows, so does the need for skilled marketers to take on these roles:
Product Marketing Manager
The Product Marketing Manager works with the product team to define messaging, outline collateral and define personas of target customers. They help coordinate projects between content writers, designers and other departments, typically acting as the liaison between the sales team and the marketing team. They also support the product team by helping with product copy in features (if you are building software).
You’ll quickly find after operating a marketing automation system for even a few months, you are generating a lot of data. Within this data are metrics, trends and insights that when unlocked can drastically improve your marketing team’s performance. Early on, the Lead and Demand Gen Manager will handle metrics reporting. As you grow, having a data expert can be beneficial.
Marketing Operations Manager
A bigger team mandates more “back office” operations support. The Marketing Ops role involves maintaining the automation system, managing incoming lead data, configuring new marketing tools and providing overall support to the department to help it scale faster.
How These Roles Fit Together
Product marketing and demand generation managers each own a side of the marketing mix (story, messaging, sales enablement on one end and lead gen execution on the other). The design and content roles act as service providers to each side of the marketing mix. They are shared resources that support the product definition/messaging initiatives, plus the top-of-funnel (TOFU) and middle-of-funnel (MOFU) lead gen activities. Throughout, the marketing ops and data roles are supporting everyone, and the Lead provides guidance for all.