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Diary of a first-time CMO - Content team in a demand gen org

Hey B2B marketers 👋

Here it is. Four years, $50m+ ARR and 200 pages later… My journey as a first-time CMO.

Covering the key learnings I've gathered in four years of leadership. This diary reveals the lessons that helped me scale Cognism from $3m to $50m ARR, build a team from 3 to 39, and transform our set-up from a classic lead gen function to a demand gen engine.

It’s my handbook for B2B marketers looking to thrive in leadership.(especially if you’re as daunted as I was when I started out!)

Diary of a first-time CMO by Alice De Courcy
By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read

Content team in a demand gen org

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We have three different content roles within the Cognism marketing team structure.

This set-up is to maximise our media machine aiming to both capture and create demand with our content.

We’ve built a brand around our content differentia, something I have already spoken a lot about throughout this diary. This was my vision for it on day one.

I knew our advantage was being lean, being able to act quickly and to ship lots of output.

Our processes have evolved with our move from lead generation to demand generation, and with the separation of activities across create demand and capture demand.

These changes meant a need to rethink the content roles we had in the organisation and to look at how we structured ourselves in order to achieve success. 

Content Function 1: SEO

Our SEO efforts are focused on capturing demand. This team spends its time working where the commercial intent is greatest.

There is so much continual effort that goes into obtaining, maintaining and expanding your SEO footprint that it has to be separate from your other content functions and roles.

The skillset, the focus and the type of content required are very different to any other parts of the content engine. 

Content Function 2: Journalistic Content

Early on in my shift into demand generation, I doubled down on the idea of building a media machine. I felt like a critical part of this was a change in the way we produced and went about writing our content.

Old way: Map out the blog content titles we wanted to cover a quarter in advance.

These titles were based on ad hoc feedback and ideas from the demand gen team and the sales organisation, as well as desk-based research.

New way: Commit to a base level of content delivery per week/per month, but don’t commit to titles.

Have a place for storing title ideas for times when inspiration is low. But otherwise, act like a journalist. Go out and find interesting people and stories to cover that are relevant today. Make connections with subject matter experts and get really good at interviewing them.

This requires a big shift in mindset and also in the profile of the type of person you hire into the role.

Content Function 3: Demand Gen Content

These people sit within the demand gen org. They are the ones who know their persona intimately and are tasked with content in all of its formats: video, scripts, blogs, webinars, podcasts, snippets and more.

They are the ‘create demand experts’.

Their content is powering all the create demand activity the demand generation team executes.

This is without doubt the hardest role to hire for.

So many people assume when they see ‘content’ in a role, that means they’ll be writing blogs or other long-form content only.

They only know how to operate based on a pre-planned calendar and they definitely aren’t comfortable building out processes that will power a create demand content powerhouse.

These people need to be agile, they need to be content creators with a flair for creativity and a very strong bias for action and delivery.

You want someone in this role who is able to help ideate on key content themes, then take those themes, map out the best content format for the core deliverables and then understand how they will take one asset and multiply that into many.

This is a unique and new skill set. It is arguably probably better suited to a DG marketer that would like to focus more on content than it is a traditional content marketer that loves to write blogs and plan content calendars.

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