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Diary of a first-time CMO - Roles to have in-house 

Hey B2B marketers đź‘‹

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

Roles to have in-house

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In an ideal world, you’d want all your skills and resources in-house. But sometimes that isn’t realistic or feasible and it also may not be what will deliver the best outcomes.

I’ve outsourced skills many times and will continue to utilise some external resources where it makes sense to do so.

However, in these cases, I’ll explain why I wanted these roles to be within Cognism.

Content 

Just to clarify something first, I think it’s a great idea to use freelance writers to help scale the output of a content marketing plan. Scaling with in-house headcount once you get to a certain stage is not going to be the most efficient means of growing your output.

But one thing I think is important is to have the foundations and expertise sitting in-house. And this is key because content is what drives a successful demand generation approach.

The way we do content at Cognism means there is a required in-depth knowledge and understanding of our persona and of our product.

There is also a requirement to work closely with our subject matter experts and to be close to all of the content output that happens in order to be able to best make decisions on how to curate and reproduce from this content. 

Demand Generation Team

I don’t believe you can do demand generation - in the way we are trying to do it - successfully without having an intimate knowledge of your target audience and of your product.

And fundamentally for this to work, we need to be tied to a revenue number, which someone external wouldn’t be.

You need to be in your CRM. You need to be laser-focused and obsessed with the activities and tactics that are bringing you revenue.

You need to be intimately connected to all parts of the marketing engine and wider business, from paid to content to sales.

A DG marketer needs to be deeply ingrained in the company, and this just won’t happen if they are external.

Product Marketing

100% has to sit internally. There’s no way of having this role sit anywhere else.

They’re your expert on all things relating to your product. Your positioning. Your messaging. Market intelligence. The ins and outs of product launches.

Working between B2B sales, marketing, product and customer success with all of the information flow that’s required to make this role successful.

The hardest part of this role is managing the ever-evolving internal communication loops required to make it a success. There is no way this can be done unless embedded in-house. 

Customer Marketing

Similarly to product marketing, this role is fundamentally required in-house. If you want to be customer-focused, then you need that resource to sit full-time in your organisation.

They need to understand your customers intimately or they won’t be successful.

Marketing Operations

This is an interesting one.

In the early days, the operations really sat with myself and our Global Head of Demand Generation as he and I were both very operationally driven.

We were comfortable working with our core marketing systems and more than happy to set them up. I think you need to be if you’re an early-stage marketer.

It wasn’t until two years into my Cognism journey that we looked to bring in a dedicated marketing operations role - because operations were becoming such a time suck.

We had a demand generation team needing more systems, we had growing reporting needs, and ultimately, it was drawing time away from other critical tasks so there was a real need.

This role absolutely makes sense to have in-house, although they actually sit within our Revenue Operations team rather than marketing.

But having said that, we do also work with an agency who have helped us to scale operationally to the next level.

I really like the combination of an in-house expert coupled with an agency partner who has a wider knowledge base and just more exposure that they can tap into. The agency is working inside multiple MAPs and CRMs at any one time and they can pick and choose from the best of what they see and implement in order to advise on your organisation's requirements.

This has really been a killer combination for us in taking our operational set-up to new heights.

One top tip here would be to choose your agency partner carefully though. It is very easy to get sold by a senior agency employee, only to find your account handed off to a much less experienced person after signing up.

I always want to know that the person who sells me on the partnership is also going to be the person doing the work as well. 

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