Marketing has many disciplines. Bill Macaitis counts nine. Gabe Larsen enumerates more. Howeve you may count and divide marketing skills, marketing is the team with the broadest mandate of different techniques to master. To handle this complexity, some startups have split the role under two leaders: a head of product marketing and a head of demand generation.
This organizational pattern isn’t an anomaly. I searched on LinkedIn for VP Demand Generation. 464k results. An identical query for VP Product Marketing yields 1.6m profiles. LinkedIn cannot find companies with both titles, but let’s suppose the overlap is between 10-15%.
Though still not a dominant structure, 10% bicephalous (two-headed) marketing teams aren’t rare. A longitudinal analysis would be insightful to understand how this structure’s popularity evolved with time. But I see this company structure more frequently across SaaS startups.
This makes sense. In interviewing great CMOs, the product marketing leader is the first marketer most startups should recruit, and often the first key mishire. Product marketing is the vital work of developing a customer lifecycle journey, pricing, sales support materials, analyst relations, and press. Demand generation consumes the outputs from product marketing and injects them into marketing machinery that delivers content to prospects at scale consistently.
Even the best retained search recruiters will be challenged to find one person to generate demand efficiently and develop a world-class customer lifecycle. By hiring two focused people, the startup is free to find the best person in each role. And the decision increases the likelihood of finding the ideal candidates sooner.
Naturally, the improved effectiveness of the duo must outweigh the marginal cost of an additional team leader. But you only need to believe in the benefits of labor specialization to make that leap of faith. On the topic of challenges, there’s also convincing an aspiring marketing leader to accept a smaller team size and mandate, in exchange for a higher likelihood of success. And the CEO must accept one more direct report, with the management complexity that entails.
Startups with this structure often grow large without needing additional management. Eventually, the startup may hire a CMO to manage the marketing team. As our recent GTM survey found, many companies hire chief marketing officers circa $20M-50M in annual recurring revenue, and CMOs lead the marketing teams at the majority of $100M ARR companies. If you’re thinking about your marketing team’s structure, the dual lead approach is one to consider.