The past year of the pandemic and lockdown has exposed the critical need and irrefutable importance of digital assets in delivering successful marketing programs. Enterprise SaaS companies have had to revamp how demand for products and services is created. With field and events marketing largely on hold due to COVID restrictions, it’s currently all about reaching an audience through the web. For this reason, the demand for marketing leaders who tilt towards the revenue-generating side of marketing has never been greater. However, not all rev-gen marketers are created equal. In fact, this is a highly nuanced category to navigate and a critically important role to get right. So, if your company finds itself in need of a revenue-generating marketer, here’s a roadmap to help you navigate this ever-evolving group of growth-oriented leaders.
Launching a Marketing Search — Where to begin?
Where I begin any sort of marketing search is by asking the CEO or CMO how they define the various parts of their marketing organization. It’s a basic question, but no response has ever been the same. It usually comes down to the growth stage of the company, an enterprise versus SMB audience, and if the go-to-market strategy is a product-led motion.
Before bringing on any one of these revenue-generating marketing leaders, a company must first establish product-market fit. Perhaps I am biased, but I always suggest bringing on someone in a Product Marketing capacity prior to hiring growth-oriented marketing leaders. In my experience, it doesn’t matter how you push content to the market if it’s the wrong content (a separate topic worthy of its own blog post!). However, once your organization has determined it is, in fact, the right time to hire a revenue-generating marketer, what’s the next step?
Revenue-Generating Marketers — Navigating the title “alphabet soup”
SVP Demand Generation, Head of Digital Marketing, VP Growth Marketing, VP Performance Marketing, Acquisition, Member Growth, the titles go on and on… These are all relatively new functions that emerged over the last decade and have matured and accelerated dramatically over the last few years, and now the market for these experts is hotter than ever. I have seen all of these titles as individual functions at the senior level, and I have seen them live in unity under one leader. So, what is the difference and when should you hire one?
When I see a Growth title I usually think of a lower-touch, higher velocity, self-serve, freemium product. A Head of Growth owns a user’s journey with the website — everything from a free trial to account creation to a credit card swipe to the nourishment of that user’s product journey. This is a one-to-one relationship. A Head of Growth marketing must be able to blend the analytical and tactical aspects of an online conversion machine and build relationships without ever directly speaking with the end-user. A Growth marketer must work closely with Product to influence the roadmap and the breakdown of web-revenue versus product-revenue.
- The best time to hire a growth leader is when a company needs to uplevel its customer activation techniques and better engage the end-user. Need a better self-service funnel? Hire someone strong on engagement, activation, and retention.
A similar function to Growth marketing is Digital marketing. Digital marketers are charged with creating immediate awareness and boosting conversion quickly. This role is where I see the most overlap across consumer and enterprise marketing leaders at the senior level, as it is closely tied to brand identity. When a CMO is trying to identify a VP Digital, they are looking for someone who can tie together the digital and physical experiences of a product and heavily leverage paid media to acquire new customers. This leader must be able to tell the story of community engagement and expansion through the web and be passionate about the market they are serving.
- Companies usually think about a Head of Digital when strategy around web, media, and advertising must shift for an improved customer experience. Need someone to evangelize an omni-channel vision? Hire a digital expert.
Demand Generation Marketer
The Demand Generation title often owns both Growth and Digital (and sometimes everything in between), but as an individual function, it’s much different. When bringing on a senior Demand leader, this person should be a subject matter expert of the market they’re serving given the emphasis on segment-specific campaigns. As of late, the demand for sophisticated Account-Based-Marketing (ABM) has been booming, which is often a major component of this role. When a company is looking to scale, one way to fuel this growth is maximizing relevance among the highest-value accounts. This requires a data-oriented, analytical leader in order to feed sales in a quantifiable way. At many growth-phase and public companies, the SDR (sales development rep) function lives under this leader to ensure alignment with sales and marketing.
- To me, Demand Generation has enterprise connotations — a demand marketing leader comes in to enhance longer-term scalability with enterprise-heavy, targeted activity. Need to uplevel your ABM plan? Bring on a demand leader to drive repeatable lead flow.
Despite the number of titles and tilts we see across growth-oriented marketers, these functions and skillsets share some critical similarities. They all drive awareness, and ultimately revenue, for a product or service — and they all require a high degree of expertise when it comes to analytics and metrics. With the demand for more and more specialization, finding a marketing leader who checks all of these boxes is nearly impossible. The key is to take the time up front to map the needs and objectives of your organization to the right type of marketing leader. Identifying a strong rev-gen leader can mean the difference between stagnation and propelling your company to its next growth phase.
If you’re looking to add to your executive team or seeking general advice on hiring a marketing leader, please contact me directly or visit SPMB.com.