There are essentially four tech marketing roles in any given tech company beneath the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer):
- Demand and Operations
- Product Marketing
Each of these tech marketing roles performs a specific function in the overarching marketing strategy that a tech company operates.
However, not all organisations recognise the crucial differences between the various tech marketing roles, and subsequently struggle allocating the right people with the right skills to the right roles within the company.
Indeed, even the CMO’s role is often confused at a lot of organisations – and this causes tension within the executive suite, particularly in relationships between Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and CMOs. A few years ago, a global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group revealed that a staggering 80% of CEOs “didn’t trust” or were “unimpressed” with their CMOs. By comparison, just 10% felt the same about their Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs).
It’s no wonder, then, that CMOs have the highest turnover in the C-suite. Analysis conducted last year by Korn Ferry shows that CMOs stay in office just 4.1 years on average, compared to CEOs who average 8.0 years and CFOs who average 5.1 years. And research from Harvard Business Review shows that churn rates may in fact be even higher – 57% of the CMOs surveyed had been in their position for three years or less.
(Image source: hbr.org)
Are You a CMO? If So, What Type?
Embodying the top role in marketing, the CMO’s role should be clear.
However, although most CMOs share a few areas of core responsibility – 90% are found to be responsible for marketing strategy and implementation, while more than 80% control brand strategy and customer metrics – beyond these, variations in the range of duties are often vast.
And this stands to reason. No two companies are the same, and so the CMO’s role needs to reflect the differing needs and operations within each particular organisation.
In fact, Harvard Business Review identifies three distinct types of CMO:
- Strategy Role – The CMO is responsible for leading decisions on the organisation’s positioning, and translating those decisions into the design of new products, services, and customer experiences.
- Commercialisation Role – This type of CMO works primarily on using marketing communications to sell the products, services and experiences that others
- Enterprise-wide P&L Role – The third type of CMO combines the responsibilities of the first two – overseeing both strategy and commercialisation – as well as profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities, and is involved, too, with sales, distribution, and pricing.
(Image source: hbr.org)
So – if you’re a CMO, which type are you?
A perhaps more important question is this – if you’re the CEO of an organisation looking to make a hire, what type of CMO would be best suited to your company’s needs?
The Four Tech Marketing Roles
Beneath the CMO, tech marketing roles essentially break down into four categories – communications, demand and operations, product marketing, and creative/brand.
Why four categories? Because, when combined, they cover the core operations of a marketing function that tech companies need to successfully market their products and/or services.
So, let’s now consider each of the four tech marketing roles one at a time.
The communications role is one of the most recognised tech marketing roles in the modern tech company. The main function of this role, as its name suggests, is to deal with communications, communications material, and relationships.
The communications department will largely be in charge of public relations (PR) and social media communities. In terms of social, the role differs from that of a social media marketer (which is covered by the product marketing role) in the sense that it focuses on developing, maintaining and nurturing great customer relationships on social, as opposed to increasing sales and awareness.
In addition, the communications role also covers internal employee communications – including those with the executive suite. It also focusses on building influencer relations as part of the community-building drive.
Demand and Operations Role
The demand and operations role is increasingly becoming one of the most important tech marketing roles.
Marketers embodying this role are responsible for demand generation, and take advantage of technology solutions to continuously adapt marketing messages and engage buyers with personalised experiences.
Indeed, the demand and operations tech marketing role is all about data and marketing technology (MarTech). With a sharp eye for analytics and A/B testing, this department is heavily involved with experimentation, and, in B2B terms, will be the team behind account-based marketing efforts as well.
Product marketing is your traditional tech marketing role.
Product marketers are experts in the tech products and services that the company is selling. The role encompasses creating targeted content marketing materials designed to engage and educate a segmented audience along the path to purchase.
Product marketers are also responsible for brand positioning, which is again achieved via the creation of content marketing materials that focus on the product and/or service being sold. Product marketers enable the sales team to drive sales performance.
The creative/brand role focuses on creating campaigns at brand level.
This is where creatives and designers work to create and develop the “personality” of the brand. The role focusses on creating campaigns that operate at an emotional level with the target audience – i.e. campaigns that aim to increase brand affinity.
Advertising campaigns, name-changes, taglines, and some user-generated content campaigns – these are all functions covered by the creative/brand role, and will often be right under the watchful eye of the CMO.
So – What Type Are You?
No two organisations are ever the same, and so CMOs will of course organise the various tech marketing roles slightly differently from company to company. You may find that your tech marketing role encompasses two or more of the functions outlined above. But the tech marketing roles identified in this article will almost certainly cover everything that falls under the whole marketing department’s remit at any given tech company.
The question is – do you have all bases covered?