Setting up a dynamic marketing operation involves much more than website design and copywriting, or social media shares. If you’re managing a smaller team, it’s possible to coordinate efforts across a group of generalists on an ad hoc basis. But once your business grows to the point of needed complex or intensive marketing work, you’ll need to step it up. Now, it’s time to categorize your marketing efforts and dedicate specialized resources and employees. You want to make sure that every single part of the sales funnel is taken care of.

Not only does this help your team execute on projects, but it also helps them keep their eye on the ball for each activity. A content marketer who only uses product marketing strategies won’t have much success. And a brand evangelist who thinks in terms of demand gen might prioritize the wrong things.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The main activities in marketing
  • What roles work with each activities
  • How those roles interface with each other

At the highest level, there are three main activities in marketing:

  • Product marketing
  • Demand generation
  • Brand marketing

Those three are then supported by a fourth activity: Marketing operations. If we put all of these activities on a spectrum, it would look like this:

Here’s a simple way to think about it:

  • Product marketing is ideally very close to the product
  • Brand marketing is ideally close to the customer base (or market)
  • Demand generation bridges the gap between product marketing and brand marketing
  • Marketing operations makes all of their various initiatives possible

Product marketing

Product marketing is a key role for most companies, whether they sell a physical object, a digital product, or a service. It’s the product marketer’s job to create good product-market fit. Before a launch, this means helping the product team research customer pain points and matching those pain points with the right positioning and marketing strategy.

After a launch, product marketers will continue to analyze product-market fit by reviewing the results of their marketing campaigns. Even a failed campaign can yield valuable data. The product marketer(s) should be in close communication with the product leadership, so they can filter information back to decision-makers.

This isn’t a one-time task that you check off before the product is released. On the contrary, it should be considered continuously with every new release or update.

Building up this combination of product and market knowledge helps product marketers produce a range of promotional content, including:

  • Writing and refining the positioning on the website
  • Producing video content that explains or demonstrates the product or service
  • Developing case studies based off the experience of existing customers
  • Creating sales collateral to help sales reps close more deals

Demand generation

All the product marketing activities are aiming to get potential customers to click the purchase button. But where does that traffic come from? That’s where demand gen comes in.

Activities that fall under demand gen include:

  • Increasing sign-ups through landing pages
  • Running paid digital marketing campaigns
  • Optimizing SEO position to build traffic
  • Conducting webinars to attract new prospects
  • Planning field marketing events or attending trade shows
  • Promoting the product through social media
  • Launching email campaigns targeted at qualified lists
  • Attracting leads by posting relevant content marketing

All of these are focused on one thing: putting your message in front of your target demographic and pushing them toward your product offerings.

Demand gen is generally fast-paced and very metric oriented. The leads generated from each channel can be quantified and prioritized based on lead volume, time to purchase, closure rate, lifetime value, and other metrics. Just make sure what you’re measuring matches your sales process.

For example, let’s say you do high volume B2B sales. In that case, you might not care about how many people see your message, as long as the leads you get are qualified and convert well. If you sell consumer goods through an ecommerce site, you may not care how long the sales cycle is, as long as the traffic keeps flowing.

Reverse engineer your demand gen activities from your sales process. If your company has a sales team, make sure the demand gen teams are in close communication with them.

Brand marketing

You don’t own your “brand.” Your brand arises out of the relationship between you and the market you’re targeting. It’s created by every interaction—big or small—that the prospect has with you, your company, or even the idea of your company. It extends far beyond the logo you create or the colors you choose.

As such, there are a range of activities that are designed to create a positive relationship at scale and in the right ways. These include:

  • Engaging with industry analysts who raise the profile of your company
  • Initiating relationships with relevant influencers
  • Building out PR operations to drive media exposure
  • Developing Out of Home (OOH) marketing channels, like billboards, ad buys, and event sponsorship

The difference between brand marketing and demand gen is that brand marketing is much less metric driven. Yes, you’ll want to measure how many people saw your campaigns. However, with many branding projects, you won’t be able to see a direct connection between those activities and particular leads. Instead, you’ll look at larger revenue or traffic trends. After all, it takes 5 to 7 brand impressions before a particular prospect demonstrates brand recognition.

Spending the time and money to boost your brand recognition can dramatically improve the conversion rates for your organic or paid traffic. After all, people will take you and your offerings more seriously if they already have an idea of who you are.

Marketing operations

Marketing operations roles support all other marketing roles. These folks generally specialize into particular areas, helping your front-line marketers execute their campaigns more quickly and at scale.

Marketing operations helps product, demand gen, and brand marketing with tasks like:

  • Overseeing and updating the website
  • Designing campaign specific images/illustrations
  • Producing promotional videos
  • Analyzing SEO efforts
  • Generating reports that track metrics like Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), Life Time Value (LTV), or Return on Investment (ROI)

For smaller teams, these activities may be distributed throughout the core marketing personnel. As you scale, it may make sense to hire dedicated experts in these fields. This frees up bandwidth for product marketers, demand gen marketers, and brand marketers to focus on core marketing activities, like identifying target markets, executing campaigns, planning out marketing strategy. At the same time, you and your team know that auxiliary activities (design, SEO analysis, etc.) are being done by someone who has the skills and passion to do them well. After all, someone with a formal design background will be able to create better graphics, faster, than someone who learned Photoshop last week.

The goal: Strategic growth

Unsurprisingly, different businesses of different sizes serving different markets will end up structuring their marketing teams, well… differently. The key takeaway is to make sure you and your team understand the full range of possibilities. That way, you can think creatively and critically about how to grow your team and which strategies to pursue.

By delegating responsibility for different stages of the marketing funnel, not only will people take more ownership of their work, but it will help your team accumulate valuable experience and expertise. The jack-of-all-trades approach is well suited for small teams, but as your budget grows and your strategies mature, giving your team the opportunity to specialize will be essential if you want to take your marketing to the next level.

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