How to Structure Your Demand Gen Team (Best Practices and More)
Successful demand gen doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes passionate, skilled people, working together in a team with a clear layout.
Think of it as a well-oiled machine, bursting with creativity.
Now, we understand the thought of structuring, hiring and managing your team can cause anxiety - especially if you’re faced with doing it for the first time.
That’s where this article comes in handy. Because we sat down with:
In this article, they’re going to share everything they know.
Let’s get into it 👇
Why is it important to structure your demand gen team?
All teams need to be structured - that’s obvious.
But what we wanted to know was - how can a team’s structure help to facilitate those all-important DG efforts?
Here’s what Liam had to say:
“With demand generation, there are two things that are really important: consistency and volume. You have to have this ‘always on’ motion for churning out and distributing content. So that’s why it’s important to have a structure.”
Fran added by saying it’s essential to have a structure, as the way a DG team operates isn’t the same as your everyday B2B marketing model:
“Demand generation works in a different way to a traditional lead generation or marketing team.”
“It’s very collaborative, so you require an integration of the different functions to work together, every day. The changing nature of marketing has emphasised the need for a structure.”
Cognism’s demand gen team
You might be asking:
‘Where can I start?’
‘What works and what doesn’t?’
Well, the best way to answer these questions is by showing you!
Here’s a ‘before and after’ of how Cognism’s demand gen team used to function, and how it operates now ⬇️
“The structure before was based entirely on the sales team, and the split between commercial and enterprise.
“This didn’t work for us, as you can’t successfully split your budgets between the two segments. We found there was a crossover of work, and we couldn’t differentiate between the messaging. Now, of course, this is different from company to company, but based on our experience, this approach didn’t work.”
Fran mentioned it was difficult to liaise with the content team, and there was often a disconnect:
“Previously, we had a demand gen team that worked with a content team that was often far away from the work we were doing. For example, we didn’t always know if the content in the wider team could be fed into campaigns we were working on.”
The problems outlined above motivated Liam and Fran to take a hard look at the DG team and how it was organised.
Eventually, they came to the conclusion that there needed to be a focus on Cognism’s two core personas: sales and marketing.
And each persona has its own pod.
So, we wanted to know more about the thinking behind this.
“The structure of a demand gen team can be different in every business: you could have it split by company size, product, or even segment.”
“But for us, it was really important that we integrated our key personas into everything that we were doing in demand gen.”
Enter the pod model…
Both pods have:
- A Demand Gen Manager.
- A Demand Gen Executive.
- An SEO and Content Executive.
“Each pod can own the content, the entire journey, and messaging for the respective persona. There’s ownership and accountability this way.”
“With this approach, you can truly scale your process. You’ve got a sole team, thinking about how to grow and scale the content without any other distractions. So it’s efficient too.”
“If you’re a company marketing to more than one persona, the pod model is useful. Because these people can live and breathe the persona every day. There’s a clear and consistent focus.”
And why is there a separate content person in each pod?
“With the activity in the pods, it’s not just about blog writing, or thinking about the content you’re putting out there. It’s also about the channels, the formats that work best, and how it can be distributed in the best possible way. And this is as much a content role as it is a demand gen role.”
“Let’s say you want to write about 5 pillars of outbound for a campaign. Having specific people on the DG side for this purpose helps. Because you can have someone think about how to repurpose the content, not just in the usual sense, but also for the use of it for a campaign.”
“This is different compared to the wider content team that focuses on more journalistic or broader SEO content.”
“There are other benefits I’ve seen with this approach. For example, the focus on the ICP has meant the quality of the content has just been better.”
“There are also no silos in teams because there’s an SEO and Content Exec in each pod. There’s a joint focus between demand gen and content.”
You’ll also notice Cognism’s demand gen team has a website expert, and Liam stated why:
“We can assess, evaluate, and track the website journey. And this allows us to identify whether we have to tweak it - this creates a percentage difference in conversion rates that can help us move the needle.”
Not sure how to measure the success of your demand gen strategy? Hit play below to learn more! ▶️
Communication processes for DG teams
“The tricky thing is that there are a lot of moving parts within demand gen. We want to work with the wider teams, but also collaborate within our own team too. Again - this is why structure is so important, so communication can happen easily.”
Communicating between the pods
We were curious to understand how the B2B sales and marketing pods work together.
“The nature of the content and the pain points in these pods are very different. So there’s not always a lot of detailed teamwork between the two.”
“But more broadly, there’s alignment or joint work in terms of uncovering new channels, and discovering new types of activity there.”
“For example, we’ve uncovered a new tool called Wynter, where you can stress test new messaging. This is something both pods use. So when it comes to ways of work, the pods work together and share ideas.”
Now, as much as we all hate Zoom brain - regular meetings are important! Here’s how Fran sets up meetings:
- Weekly pod meeting (sales and marketing pods together).
- Bi-weekly sprint sessions defining what’s being worked on for the next two weeks, all tracked in Asana.
- Weekly 1-2-1s with each pod member, but as placeholders.
With regard to the last bullet point:
“I’m a big believer that the meeting is there but we don’t always have to use it. Because I don’t like setting meetings for the sake of it. So we work on a more ad hoc basis for meetings.”
Communicating with the wider content team
And outside of internal communication?
How should demand gen teams liaise with other teams in marketing?
Fran explained how her DG pods work with the wider content team:
“Jamie (Demand Gen Manager in the marketing pod) has been liaising with Binal (SEO and Content Exec in the wider team) to create organic posts for LinkedIn, relating to a campaign that we’re running. These are just a handful of examples.”
Liam also spoke about future plans to better support the line of communication between DG and the rest of the content team:
“Going forward, we’ll make sure that on campaign presentations, content is included on the call.”
As with everything, it’s always a work in progress.
Your structure isn’t going to be perfect the first time, and there’s always room for improvement!
Advice for first-time DG marketers
Fran and Liam shared a few last-minute words of wisdom, to help first-time DG marketers get their teams together:
Earn the right to secure a team
This is useful to note, especially for marketers who are currently operating under a traditional lead gen model.
It’s centred around proving the benefits of demand gen, as Fran notes below:
“To start with, ungate some content. And spend some time distributing some of your best content where your audience is hanging out.”
“For example, if it’s video content, share it in feed on LinkedIn, run that to a valuable blog, completely ungated. With these activities, check if engagement, time on page, inbound velocity, and demos are going up.”
“At the end of the day, senior leadership shouldn’t have an issue with you building out a DG team, if you can prove the results, and show that your audience is at the heart of everything you do.”
“And remember: don’t panic! I didn’t switch everything off overnight. It took me 8 or 9 months before I made the complete transition - that bought me time to convince senior leadership.”
Think about your hiring process
You’ll find that in order to grow and structure your team, you’ll need to source some talent. You won’t always have the right people in-house.
For Fran, it’s about thinking outside the box when it comes to hiring new DG talent:
“We’re increasingly learning that B2B is behaving more like B2C. So, if it’s changing that much, on paper should we necessarily have to hire those exclusively with B2B experience?”
“I think that hiring people from different backgrounds (i.e. outside of B2B) adds diversity to the team, both culturally and in terms of ways of work. For example, we just recently hired a Head of Paid Acquisition who used to be a lawyer.”
“For me, I’ve found these candidates to be better, compared to those who have had four or five years of experience in a B2B marketing role.”
For Liam, there are two things that people should consider when hiring: flexibility and knowing your limits.
“First, I would say that from the beginning, you don’t want to overspecialise. You want generalists - people who can manage all sorts of things.”
“Aim to have someone with a bit of experience in content, paid social, events, and distribution. These broader skill sets are important, because if you specialise too early on, you might have someone with excessive bandwidth, meaning that you can’t build out the team with flexibility.”
“The second thing comes down to bandwidth. Know what it is you want to achieve and base your hiring budget around it.”
“For example, we knew we wanted to run a sales podcast, newsletter, and bi-weekly live events. So three people were necessary to cover this ground.”
“It essentially comes down to trying to do as much as you can, and then fill in the gaps where resources are required.”
The bottom line?
Have a trial-and-error approach to figure out what you’re missing in the team.
No joke - that was a lot of info!
Here are the key points to remember when structuring your DG team:
- It’s important to have a structure, because the nature of demand generation activity requires a collaborative approach.
- It’s also important to organise, because the success of DG is measured in quality, consistency, and the volume of content.
- Centre a DG team around what makes sense for your business. For example, a persona or company size split.
- Think about communication within the DG team, as well as with the wider marketing team.
- Don’t have meetings for the sake of it, only when necessary.
- Consider how you’re going to demonstrate the importance of a structured DG team to senior leadership: prove that demand generation is the way forward and lead generation is a thing of the past.
- Finally, think about how you’re going to go about hiring your team. That'll help you make the most of the structure.
And there you have it - everything you need to know, that’ll help you build out and organise a killer demand gen team!
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