What differentiates a top-performing B2B marketing team from an average one? In today’s competitive B2B SaaS market, this has become a million-dollar question.
As competition surges and marketing challenges become harder than ever to solve, business leaders are increasingly looking to their marketing teams to close the gap by generating more high-quality leads and working closely with the sales team to set them up for success.
After extensive research and conversations with B2B SaaS industry leaders, it’s clear that the structure of a marketing team can vary considerably. However, reviewing all of the data revealed that there were some things that marketing experts could agree on—namely, the importance of having a good product, and a marketing strategy that speaks to multiple stakeholders.
According to Nicolas Zenker, CEO at AddEvent, “Marketing a bad product is hard. Marketing a good product that provides a ton of value but is hard to learn or unpleasant to use is hard. It can be done, but it’s like sailing directly into the wind. No matter the company, marketing should be working closely with product and the rest of the organization to help reduce friction and set the customer up for success however they can.”
The other sentiment that was echoed in every conversation was the importance of understanding both your audience and the latest trends and tech, then using this knowledge as a north star that informs all of your marketing-related activities. As the needs of your target market shift and change, so too should your marketing team and the roles therein.
In this article, we’ll dig deep into the insights gleaned from industry leaders in the B2B SaaS space, including CMOs, content directors, and strategists to answer a number of questions surrounding the anatomy of a high-performing marketing team. This includes what roles are essential to powering a high-performing marketing team and key considerations for planning the structure of your B2B marketing team.
What Is B2B Marketing Team Structure?
A successful marketing team structure consists of clearly defined roles and workflows, with each team member contributing based on their skill set in an effort to achieve marketing goals and meet key performance indicators (KPIs).
Defining the structure of your marketing team is the process of deciding what roles and teams you want to incorporate, depending on your budget and what you think will make the greatest impact in your organization.
On the creative side of a SaaS company, marketing roles can include content creation or a content team, copywriting, web design, and web developers, who typically execute projects based on a larger overall strategy determined by marketing leaders including the chief marketing officer (CMO).
Another important consideration Is whether your team members will be full-time in-house, or whether outsourcing to freelancers might be more advantageous. Be sure to sort out how you want this to look before you structure your marketing interview questions and hiring process.
The structure of your marketing team will depend upon the needs of your industry; in the case of a SaaS company, business leaders need to be thinking about a marketing team structure that caters to the very specific needs of this audience.
The Organizational Structure Of A B2B Marketing Team
So, what distinguishes a B2B SaaS marketing team from any other industry?
For one thing, audiences of B2B companies tend to have a keen eye for what they’re looking for; they want to know exactly what your product can do for them, and will likely want to see numbers to back up any claims. In this kind of buying scenario, ROI is king.
On this, Zenker said, “...as opposed to B2C, where you usually only need to communicate the value you’re providing to a single individual, in B2B your marketing efforts need to communicate your product’s value to multiple people, all with different priorities and points of view.”
Zenker is referring to the fact that businesses marketing to other businesses have to take into consideration that the buyer’s journey often looks much different than when you’re marketing to an individual consumer, as it typically involves more than one person; the person who will actually be working with the software on a daily basis, the person who will be responsible for implementing the software, and the individual who makes purchasing decisions.
Marketing campaigns designed with a B2B audience in mind should be not only entertaining but informative. Customers want to feel seen, heard, and empathized with. Don’t be afraid to get granular—when buyers feel like you can relate to their very specific pain points, you’re connecting with them on an emotional level, and setting the stage for a long-term customer relationship.
As Myles Carter, Director of Content Marketing at Trolley, put it, “Unlike B2C marketing, B2B SaaS marketing is very immediate. Buyers land on your site expecting an opportunity to look at, touch, and use your product within minutes. So, it's critical to build a team around being able to ease the consumer through that journey. You need to have a digital-first team that's keeping user experience and friction reduction front of mind.”
Essential Marketing Roles For Your B2B Marketing Team
While the structure of a B2B marketing team can vary from one company to the next, depending on company size there are certain teams and roles that tend to be regarded as indispensable to an effective marketing strategy.
Inbound Marketing Team
Your inbound marketing team is responsible for attracting new prospects and nurturing long-lasting customer relationships. Lead generation is typically done by creating content and facilitating user experiences that demonstrate to your target audience why your solution is the one they need to solve their problem.
Inbound marketing methodology is about attracting the right people, engaging them in a way that demonstrates how your product can help them solve their pain points and get them closer to their goals, and delighting them by supporting them through the product adoption process.
Demand Generation Manager
A demand generation manager oversees the ideation and execution of marketing strategy and the creation of campaigns that aim to capture leads and nurture them through the buying cycle.
Product Marketing Team
Product marketers are experts in identifying the features and benefits of your product and knowing how to effectively communicate this to your target audience. They also carefully track of the product lifecycle, from introduction and growth to full maturity.
Content Marketing Team
Your content marketing team determines exactly how the story of your product will be told, and makes sure that all marketing materials are created in accordance with a cohesive narrative.
The type of content these teams create can range from landing pages and case studies to podcasts and webinars. Team members can include graphic designers, content marketing writers, and social media managers, among others.
I always suggest content teams have robust marketing planning software in play; it helps you track and visualize all your campaign movement at once, as well as communicate deadlines and dependencies across the team.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Last, but certainly not least, every effective B2B marketing team needs a CMO. In the world of B2B marketing, it’s the CMO’s job to align marketing initiatives with the realities of a business’s marketing budget.
A CMO acts as the liaison between the marketing department and the executive branch of the company. They use metrics to communicate the contributions of the marketing department and the overall impact that marketing activities are having on the company, making it more likely that marketing operations get the necessary funding to be carried out effectively.
Considerations For Your B2B Marketing Team Structure
After speaking with several industry leaders in the B2B SaaS space, there was a clear theme of storytelling as a central component of successful marketing efforts.
Regardless of how you choose to structure your marketing team, there needs to be someone with vision leading the charge; someone with a growth marketing mindset who knows the story they want to tell and ensures that all marketing activities are in line with this narrative.
The Value of Effective Messaging In B2B Marketing
According to Carter, “I think that great product storytelling is fuelled by great product knowledge. In that sense, product marketing managers are essential as enablers, data gatherers, and insight curators. Once that person is in place, with the insights ready, content marketing comes into play. They're going to take those rough gems and polish them into something great. When I say content marketing, it's less about writers to blog, but more about having people with a storyteller mindset who want to attract and entice people with great narratives.”
Kristie Holden, Fractional CMO & Marketing Consultant for B2B SaaS, echoed these sentiments, stating, “It’s not enough in B2B SaaS to create brand awareness through influencers, paid advertising, sponsorships, and PR. You need a strong message to communicate the value of the product and use cases to convert traffic into qualified leads. This is why it’s so important that there’s a marketing leader that owns the overall GTM strategy and that both Product Marketing and Demand Gen report to the marketing lead.”
B2B Marketing Requires An Agile Digital Marketing Team
According to Marissa Stone, Product Marketing Manager at AddEvent, B2B SaaS marketing in particular presents a unique challenge as it requires an agile marketing team that’s able to adjust at the drop of a hat.
“In SaaS, your software is a living product that evolves as the product is shipped and the roadmap changes. Your marketing and product teams must work harmoniously to communicate about feature launches, bug fixes, and to tackle ever-changing customer needs while driving demand generation and lead generation, activation, and retention. With an enormous amount of marketing tasks and goals comes the need for a dynamic digital marketing team.”
Coming Together To Create A Unique Customer Experience
As Stone pointed out, an effective B2B marketing strategy is the result of the collaborative efforts of product marketing and content marketing.
Carter affirms this sentiment, stating “In B2B SaaS, you need to have a distribution and funnel management team in place. That doesn't mean they just run your website or SEO (though it could). What you're looking for here is a digital marketing team. They're trend followers who know who your audience is, where they "hang out," what social media platforms they’re regulars on, and how they can inject your narratives from content into those marketing channels. And once those prospects land on your site, they're making it as easy as possible to experience the product and take the next step.”
Building Your Best Ever B2B Marketing Team
Ready to build a marketing machine for your B2B SaaS business?
Whether you’re working in a startup or a Fortune 500 company, you’re now in an ideal place to oversee the optimization of your own marketing functions.
Sometimes looking to those who have come before you is necessary for the production of novel concepts in marketing. Hopefully you’ve found some of these insights inspiring and are feeling inspired to make some tweaks to your marketing team, tackle digital transformation, and get into gear for another year of stellar marketing initiatives, full steam ahead.
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