A high-performing marketing team is critical for any B2B company looking to grow in a competitive landscape. But what exactly should each functional area of marketing focus on? Altogether, clarity around marketing job roles and responsibilities allows for greater collaboration, goal alignment, and, ultimately, impact.
I was recently asked to help define the focus areas for different marketing functions. Because of that conversation, I realized how differently many people think about these functions. In this article, I’ll share my definition of the core roles and objectives for four key marketing functions that make up a standard B2B marketing team:
Certainly, properly setting up these teams, along with clear key performance indicators (KPIs), paves the way for an effective and results-driven marketing organization.
Product Marketing Role
Chiefly, the product marketing team serves as the “voice of the customer” internally, connecting different groups like marketing, product, sales, and customer success. They should have a strong pulse on target buyer needs, motivations, and pain points.
The core responsibilities of product marketing include:
Customer Research & Insights: Your product marketers should spend about 50% of their time conducting market research, customer interviews, usability studies, and competitive analysis. This work will allow them to build out ideal customer profiles and buyer journeys, identifying customer pain points and product gaps. Even more important, then, is to ensure this customer knowledge is shared throughout your organization to ensure every team is making decisions with the customer at the heart.
Go-To-Market Strategy: Crafting messaging frameworks, positioning, and narratives around product capabilities and customer problems they solve should be a breeze if customer research is done well! Product marketing can then define (and test) packaging and pricing models. They are the ones to outline launch plans and deliver assets like one-pagers, presentations, videos, and win stories for the other teams.
Sales Enablement: Creating internal training and external collateral to educate the sales teams and customers on the product and value proposition is critical. This helps ensure messaging stays consistent. Assets may include battle cards, objection handlers, product demos, competitor comparisons, ROI calculators, and more.
Key Product Marketing KPIs:
- Number of customer meetings, interviews, and advisory days hosted
- Attendance/content views for product launches and training events
- Adoption rates of sales enablement tools and collateral
- Renewal, upsell and cross-sell rates
Well-defined goals around research, education, and ongoing customer-centric focus keep product marketing teams aligned with company growth.
Brand Marketing Role
When considering which marketing job roles you need to hire for, companies often think of brand marketing last. While product marketing focuses on features and messaging for specific solutions, the brand marketing team owns the overarching company narrative. They build awareness and affinity for the brand itself, which is a critical function that makes all the other marketing roles perform better.
Don’t skip brand marketing in favor of “quick wins!”
Core brand marketing responsibilities include:
Brand Messaging & Positioning: What’s crucial to the success of any marketing strategy is ensuring your messaging is simple and speaks to the problems you solve for your customers. Distilling what makes the company and products unique and developing the brand story that appeals to target buyer values and emotions can make or break any demand generation efforts.
Visual Brand Identity: Creating logos, fonts, colors, imagery, and overall visual design systems that express the brand personality across every touchpoint and ensuring teams are maintaining brand style guidelines are the responsibility of the brand team.
Campaigns & Content: This can often occur in collaboration with other team members, but as you’re building that complete team, planning and executing multi-channel campaigns, events, and creative assets that align with the broader brand strategy would live here. And don’t forget to measure the impact on awareness metrics over time!
Sample Brand Marketing KPIs:
- Brand health/equity through surveys and NPS
- Website traffic
- Social media reach and engagement
- Ad recall and campaign leads
Consistent visualization, values, and voice are crucial for establishing trust and meaning with B2B audiences. Brand marketers keep identity and sentiment strong amidst shifts in messaging.
Content Marketing Role
You may notice I haven’t mentioned SEO as one of the four core marketing job roles. This is because content strategy without a focus on SEO is the difference between content that is happening vs. content that performs. Content marketing focuses on building a resource center of blog articles, ebooks, videos, and other media that engages audiences by solving key questions, pain points and providing insights.
The core content marketing responsibilities include:
Content Strategy: Mapping content to buyer journeys, developing messaging frameworks around customer interests and pain points, and setting a content calendar aligned to stage-based needs is step one. This work should be data-driven and focus on search engine optimization (SEO) goals.
Creation & Production: Writing, designing, and developing content assets like blogs, ebooks, case studies, videos, podcasts, and webinars that educate and guide target buyer profiles.
Promotion & Distribution: Content is distributed in many ways but usually falls into two categories. A “pull” strategy is a long game. This includes optimizing content for search and building a social media presence. A “push” strategy is more focused on short-term visibility. Email nurturing and outreach campaigns and paid amplification drive visibility through both organic and sponsored opportunities.
Performance Tracking: Analyzing content engagement, conversion rates, and buyer attributes to refine strategy over time.
Sample Content Marketing KPIs:
- Organic site traffic
- Keyword rankings
- Social followers and shares
- Newsletter subscribers
Valuable educational content builds trust and establishes thought leadership over the buyer’s journey, priming them for product conversations.
Demand Generation Role
Demand-generation marketers specialize in moving prospects through the funnel by applying targeted messaging to accounts via channels like events, paid advertising, referral programs, and more. They often own the “paid” strategy for the marketing team. This marketing job role is often the first to be hired, but I would caution against spending too much money on this approach without first having a good understanding of your customer needs, and a good library of helpful and unique content to use for distribution.
Typical responsibilities include:
Pipeline Tracking & Forecasting: Maintaining dashboards on every stage of the funnel from subscribers and leads to sales accepted opportunities. Setting targets for volume and conversion rates.
Inbound Programs: Creating compelling offers, landing pages, and nurture streams for attracting net-new names to the funnel. Optimizing conversion points through testing.
Outbound Programs: Running targeted campaigns and touches like emails, events, phone, and ads personalized to accounts by industry, title, use case, and so on. Coordinating with sales on high-value accounts. Account-based marketing can be a great approach for the demand generation team as well, especially if existing customer growth is a focus for the business.
Channel Optimization: Determining the highest converting inbound programs and most efficient outbound channels. Improving ROI through continual testing and experimentation.
Key Demand Gen KPIs:
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL) volume and cost
- Sales accepted opportunity (SAO) conversion rates
- Win rates by channel
- Pipeline influenced as a percentage of revenue goal
- Account coverage and engagement rates
With their emphasis on scale and efficiency, the demand generation team plays a key role in driving predictable pipelines and opportunities for sales teams.
Aligning for Impact
With clarity established around the focus areas and objectives for product, brand, content, and demand generation – marketing teams can shape complementary strategies with sufficient independence and influence over their domains.
But driving greater business impact requires tight collaboration across groups:
- Product marketing and brand teams anchor messaging and experiences back to customer insights and company purpose
- Content and product marketing move in lockstep on go-to-market plans and buyer education
- Demand Gen informs priority segments and channels for other teams through performance data
And everyone ultimately contributes to the core brand vision.
Well-defined roles foster trust in each team’s unique contributions, while shared KPIs and incentives bring them together to speak as one multi-faceted marketing engine. Streamlining hand-offs reduces work and speeds up information sharing from insights to impact.
An effective marketing organization knows how to divide responsibilities across focused marketing job roles while promoting collaboration across teams. With clear objectives, each group can better leverage their strengths while understanding where others fill gaps.
As companies evolve, revisiting roles and metrics helps adjust strategies to meet changing needs. However, anchoring back to the core purpose provides continuity amidst uncertainty.
By empowering specialist teams and setting clear expectations across marketing and leadership, CMOs can enable greater performance, accountability, and agility.
Excellence comes from purposeful design, close partnership between functions, and a unified vision across the marketing mix.