How to organize your B2B growth marketing team
And what's the difference between growth marketing and demand generation?
Back in August, I tweeted one of my deepest, darkest marketing secrets, I hadn’t yet developed definitive definitions of growth marketing and demand generation. I knew they weren’t the same thing, but I wasn’t ready to put my stake in the ground. 8 months later, and I’m ready.
Over 2 years ago, I wrote my first MKT1 newsletter on B2B org charts–it was a hit and it really illuminated for founders, marketers, and other teams what a modern B2B marketing org chart looks like. I included growth marketing, but knew I could provide more clarity on this part of the marketing org.
So this newsletter has been years in the making, and I hope it provides some clarity on the ideal way to organize a growth marketing team.
Growth marketing is an umbrella term, while demand gen is a sub-function of growth marketing.
Demand gen teams are responsible for outbound efforts and events in service of driving leads to sales—their efforts are mostly top of funnel.
Don’t limit your company’s growth by only having a demand gen team—even if you have a top-down, sales-driven motion only.
You should augment the demand gen function with an inbound and lifecycle team to diversify your growth channels and support full-funnel growth.
Make sure your growth marketing team, or your marketing “engine”, works effectively with your product marketing, content marketing, and brand marketing teams who generate the “fuel”.
Growth marketing (and marketing) at scale is a matrix-style organization with channel owners, campaign owners, creators, and ops & analytics roles.
The role of growth marketing
At the beginning of time before anyone had uttered the term growth marketing, the engine for B2B marketing was demand generation. But now, demand generation or the outbound efforts targeted at specific leads and accounts with the goal of driving qualified leads to a sales team is just one piece of a much larger growth marketing function.
Modern growth marketing is complex, here’s what’s changed and why those changes led to B2B growth marketing teams with several sub-functions:
Marketing (more frequently) has a full-funnel focus
Marketing should drive growth throughout the entire funnel, instead of operating as a service organization to sales focused only on top of funnel.
As marketing has evolved, more startups recognize this—marketing is a strategic lever for the entire business that helps drive full-funnel growth.
Demand gen alone cannot support full-funnel growth efforts.
Increased # of GTM motions
Top-down sales motions used to be the only game in town to sell a product. Now we have all sorts of sales motions–with a whole handful of confusing names.
Most startups now have a hybrid-motion of some kind, with a mix of sales-driven, marketing-driven, and/or or product-driven purchases.
Inbound and web marketing can be effective even if the primary motion is top down sales motion.
Now, almost all marketing teams need some mix of outbound and inbound efforts, plus a lifecycle marketing team to help down funnel.
Increased # of channels:
Paid offerings, communities, online events, etc have grown in number over the past 10-20 years.
With more channels to choose from, you need more specialists to do the work and more strategic oversight to prioritize across these channels.
Data and tooling have evolved. This doesn't need a lot of explanation. We now have to build engines for rocketships instead of cars.
4 areas of growth marketing
To support full-funnel marketing, multiple GTM motions, and all of the data and tools available, 4 sub-functions of growth-marketing are needed: Demand Gen, Inbound & Web, Lifecycle Marketing, and Ops & Analytics.
Breakdown of how each of the 4 growth marketing sub-functions operates:
For a full spreadsheet version of this chart that includes all 15+ growth marketing sub-functions, upgrade to the paid version of my newsletter.
When all of these areas of expertise are covered by a growth marketing team, you can handle hybrid go-to-market motions, manage complex data, automation, testing, and reporting, and drive full-funnel growth.
This diagram shows how these 4 areas (blue circles) map to funnel stages:
Growth marketing org chart and roles
Within each of these 4 growth marketing sub-functions, are even more growth marketing specialties. Early marketing teams will have one growth marketer for all of these things, who spikes in certain areas depending on the business model. Contractors and agencies can augment and bring specialization to the team—especially for SEO, SEM, and marketing ops (newsletter on this topic here). As the team scales, you typically bring in owners for each of these areas. When you get to scale you’ll continue to build out the team until you have individuals in each role (and sometimes multiple individuals).
Some of the functions in growth marketing are shared responsibilities with other roles in marketing:
Demand gen works with product marketing and content marketing to “fuel” their campaigns and events.
Social media is often co-owned by content & brand and growth marketing.
Managing your website involves growth marketing (conversion rate optimization, technical SEO, sign up flows, analytics, a/b testing) but also needs copy, content, and design.
Events managers sometimes sit on the content & brand team, and sometimes on the demand gen team, and sometimes both. It depends on the goals and types of events.
Paid acquisition is also sometimes called performance marketing or ads.
Lead generation is often used interchangeably with demand generation.
My vote’s to call it all demand gen. I think technically they’re 2 parts of the process of driving opportunities: demand gen is from awareness to lead and lead gen is from lead to qualified leads.
For more information about how to organize your entire B2B marketing team, go back to my first ever newsletter I mentioned at the beginning of the post.
A note on product growth teams
I often get asked questions about centralized growth teams product-led growth organizations. Here’s my not-so-hot, measured take:
I think marketers like to be on teams with marketers and product managers like to be on product teams, so I think dotted line relationships work best here.
To drive growth through marketing and product, the relationship is a lot like the relationship with marketing and sales. You need shared goals, clearly stated areas of collaboration, and defined “handoffs”.
Typically, I think the lifecycle marketing team should pair with the product growth team to drive product engagement, upsell, retention etc. They should collaborate especially closely on onboarding, in-product marketing (announcements, help content, upsell flows), and upsell flows.
How growth marketing fits into the rest of the B2B marketing org chart
Growth marketing can’t be a marketing island—they need value-add content to distribute, clear and differentiated messaging, etc. So while there are 15+ specialties within growth marketing alone, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I organize marketing into 3 broad functions
(See the org chart diagram at the top of the newsletter)
Brand and Content Marketing (aka Corporate Marketing)
But, to remove some of the jargon, I think of product marketing, brand, and content as marketing “fuel” and growth marketing as “the engine”. You need to produce great fuel and craft a well-running engine to succeed at marketing. Your fuel needs to be custom made for your engine and your engine needs to be custom made for your fuel. More on the fuel & engine framework in this newsletter.
For growth marketing to be successful, you need clear roadmaps, hand offs, request processes, and feedback loops within the marketing team (and other teams too) to make this happen—and this only gets harder as you scale. It’s even harder to get this right when your growth marketing team is disorganized.
The bottom line
A modern marketing organization needs a full “growth marketing” function with 4 sub-functions: demand gen, inbound & web, lifecycle marketing, and ops & analytics. Even if you get this right, you still need to make sure the other half of your marketing team is producing value-add “fuel” to reach and convert your audience effectively.
Other things from MKT1…
4-hour MKT1 course to improve your web content & conversion in March
If you enjoyed the homepage newsletter from last fall, and want to dive deeper into these topics with me and get peer feedback on your website, I’d love to have you in my second cohort of this course. Use code “Community20” for 20% off.
Quick note on MKT1 Job Board
We are currently in the process of moving and updating our job board. We’ll have a new and improved job board soon. In the meantime, if you are a B2B marketer looking for a new role at an early or growth-stage startup, please fill out our form and we’ll reach out if we have a great fit.
What’s in the paid version of this newsletter?
Access the full breakdown of every role in the growth org chart in a spreadsheet (not just the 4 high-level sub-functions) This will help you craft job descriptions, among other things. Plus, we have a full template library, video chats, and more.
Thanks for supporting MKT1. It took me an extra week to get this newsletter out due to some circumstances in my non-marketing life. To make it up to you there will be 2 free posts in the next month—so get ready for lots of MKT1 in your inbox.