Three Legs of Marketing (circa 2019)

To build an effective marketing team, it probably helps to gain an informed perspective on the key functions and their activities. Establishing this perspective can be a challenge, given the rate of change in the digital era. So with all due humility, I offer up one view, summarized with this picture:

In the above view, marketers assess the competitive landscape to identify sources of differentiation, develop the story to make people aware of, and lay the path for them to convert into customers. For any customer journey enabled by software, the continuous optimization of this loop is a vital source of advantage. Imagine three legs of a relay, rather than a stool.

How does marketing run such a race? Here’s a simple breakdown of key activities along each leg:

Product marketers conventionally run the first leg, formulating strategic hypotheses informed by research and data. Continuing the metaphor, they hand off a “baton” of key messaging points to the story tellers, and feature requests to the development team.

Brand marketers traditionally communicate the story and design it for promotion across multiple mediums. A newer generation of these marketers creates experiences, such as free trial versions of games or SaaS apps. They hand off creative assets to what once were called performance or direct response marketers.

In the digital era, performance marketers have morphed into growth hackers, demand generators, conversion rate optimizers and their analytic ilk. Their experiments to drive adoption, or progress along the customer journey, fuel a rerun of the first leg. And so the modern marketing relay continues, in perpetuity.

If this picture holds, a profile of the modern CMO emerges. Agree? Have a different picture? Please share!

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