Being a SaaS startup founder can feel like a one-man band in the early days. And once you start building out the different functions within your org, there’s no way to ensure your teams flow together like a fine orchestra.
One thing’s for certain, though: as a CEO/Founder you can only conduct an empty room for so long. Before you start tuning up, you have to fill those crucial functions. And you need to fill them with qualified professionals.
This is especially true for marketing, who are responsible for promoting your business and positioning your brand. As a SaaS startup, without a streamlined marketing function, your product visibility is non-existent.
You might get away with filling the marketing leadership and product marketing role yourself for a while, and many CEOs will outsource their content and creative needs to freelancers and agencies.
But what’s wrong with this picture? Agencies and freelancers don’t communicate. To create a seamless flow within your marketing function, everyone must be aligned with the value of your product. And to achieve that, you need to bring marketing in-house ASAP.
Here, we’re gonna show you how to structure your marketing teams to achieve maximum synchronicity. There are four essential departments for your marketing function. Okay, so we can’t promise you an orchestra, but maybe you should think about having a fab four instead.
The fab four of a successful marketing function
Here are the four essential pillars of your marketing function:
- Marketing leadership
- Content marketing
- Product marketing
- Growth marketing/demand gen
Before we break down each team in detail, let’s zoom in on the most senior roles at the top.
Since your leaders will be responsible for organizing the workflow within each team, candidates will need an exceptionally high level of experience both in the strategizing and execution of a marketing vision.
Senior management are the mind in the body of your marketing function. Here are the roles you’re going to be hiring for.
Chief marketing officer
The chief marketing officer is your visionary-in-chief. They map out your org’s marketing strategy long-term, ensuring that each team under them is working towards that end goal.
They’re also responsible for performance assessment, guaranteeing that your current strategy is headed in the right direction and is being adhered to.
VP of marketing
The VP of marketing differs significantly from the CMO in that they’re not responsible for the ideation of the plan. They are responsible for actioning the plan set out by the CMO and delegating roles to marketing managers.
Whoever sits in this role is responsible for promoting your brand in communications with media partners. The communications manager will make sure your messaging is consistent and casts your brand in a positive light at all times.
The brand director is responsible for making sure all marketing campaigns consistently reflect well on your brand reputation.
Without having a keen understanding of data, tracking what’s going right/wrong in your customer conversion efforts is going to be an uphill climb. Your growth director takes charge of data analysis and ensures that it’s informing your growth strategy.
The most senior roles in your marketing function will delegate to the managers at the heads of the teams outlined below. These managers, in turn, will ensure clearly-defined roles and responsibilities within your marketing teams.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty, defining the key roles within each marketing team.
The roles defined here are by no means all you’ll need once you begin to grow and scale. Think of them as the bones of your marketing function. Without them, your marketing efforts are dead on arrival and can't progress towards a growth strategy.
The principal role of content marketing is to drive traffic and potential leads to your site. The overall goal here, of course, is to put eyes on your product, but it does so in less obtrusive, friendlier ways than typical advertising or sales tactics.
According to the content marketing institute, content marketing typically generates six times higher conversion than other marketing methods.
We can’t tell you which department to fill out first, but many marketing professionals believe content marketing should take priority over any other marketing department within your org.
The reason? The modern consumer is very savvy to traditional marketing and advertising techniques. It’s much more difficult for marketers to convince a potential customer their product will actually benefit their lives and not just the bottom line of your organization.
Creating content that offers a solution to customer pain points sets a solid foundation for a potential long term relationship. You position your org as a trusted, knowledgeable advisor, not a cynical cash-grabber.
Head of content – Ensures that everyone in the content team is aligned behind the org’s marketing vision.
Content strategist – They conduct industry research, including competitor and SEO analysis, so that your content marketing strategy is as targeted as it can be.
Content writer/creator – Responsible for executing the company’s content strategy in-line with your company’s vision.
To sum up the pivotal value of content marketing, take it from Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot. 👇
"Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience”
Content marketing is the heart of your department. It humanizes your marketing efforts.
The product marketing team is responsible for making sure your product’s value (including the benefits and features) are communicated to your customers, partners and sales team. The team will conduct research into competitor products so your product’s messaging stands out from the rest.
This role is critical because your product’s positioning and use case needs to be clearly defined on launch, ensuring a greater chance of conversion and interest from the market. A typical product marketing team looks like this:
Product marketing manager – Responsible for defining the marketing strategy in- line with current customer personas
UX writer – A pivotal role, as this position is responsible for writing the copy that showcases the product’s features.
Partnerships Manager – A partnerships manager will work to reinforce your brand reputation by aligning your product with other reputable orgs and influencers, often through sponsorship.
Marketing Strategist – Outlines GTM strategies for the team.
Researcher/Data Analysts – Conducts pivotal persona research in the hope of providing data to support your GTM strategy.
Sales enablement manager – This is your liaise between the product marketing team and sales. To make sales, the sales team has to make persuasive pitches - impossible if they aren’t aware of your product’s values. The sales enablement manager establishes a clear channel of communication between these two teams.
Demand generation/growth marketing
This team is responsible for attracting potential users to your product, farming highly qualified leads, and pushing them through the pipeline. To carry out their role effectively, you’ll need to fill this team with top analytics wizards.
They’ll need to analyze various marketing channels (including PPC ads) to determine which ones generate the most interest from potential users, and then implement this into their strategy.
When it comes to effective marketing, it’s essential to keep an ear to the ground. As experienced CMO Bozoma Saint sums it up:
"“For me, pop culture is very fluid: it's music, it's movies, it's books, it's art, it's tech, it's so many things — and as marketing and brand advocates, we should be able to take products and services and match them to what's happening in pop culture.”
Demand generation is your ear to the current climate. Without it, you risk rendering your product obsolete on arrival. Astute social listening is essential to stay ahead of the curve.
Consider the following positions.
Head of demand generation – Oversees the work and collaboration of all the positions outlined below.
Marketing operations manager – Responsible for the management of data and analytic software to ensure leads are identified.
Paid acquisition manager – Responsible for whipping your paid ads into tip-top shape to attract potential leads.
SEO specialist – Conducts keyword research to give your landing pages and web pages the highest possible chance of showing up on search engines.
Email specialist – Oversees your email marketing campaign, managing segmentation and automation.
Bonus: Cross- functional roles
Within your team it’s going to be necessary to have folks whose roles don't necessarily fit into any specific category in your marketing function. They’ll be critical for achieving tight links between the various branches of your marketing department.
Your marketing team are the cheerleaders of your product, championing its value to the market. If that value is lost across the channels of your company, though, your marketing department’s hard work might be going to waste.
So, let’s break down the key players:
Marketing coordinator – Facilitates collaboration and consistent communication across the various teams in your marketing function.
Digital marketer – It’s a no-brainer, clearly for a SaaS org the vast majority of your marketing is going to be digital, but that’s why you might need someone who oversees your digital efforts across all departments.
Marketing assistant – All of your teams are going to be busy, and it helps to have someone who can lend a hand with the workload across all teams.
Graphic designer – Your marketing teams might have a firm handle on your messaging, but in an age where casual, detached scrolling abounds, eye-catching presentation is everything. Ensure your ads are dressed for success with a highly skilled graphic designer.
Content strategist – The truth is, all your departments will be dealing in content to some extent, whether that’s an attractive infographic in your paid ads, or a social media poll designed to engage potential users. It’s essential that content has a hand in every department.
To wrap up
Starting a marketing department from scratch is a daunting task even for those who’ve had experience running a SaaS org. And, in an increasingly oversaturated SaaS market, there’s no way to guarantee that your product’s message is going to rise above the noise of the market.
But one thing’s for certain, you need to give your product a voice for it to stand a chance at all. The marketing team is that voice, so don’t take it lightly! Get building!