How many customer marketers should CMOs hire?

Marketers: Are you adequately staffed to grow customer accounts?

If you answered “no,” you’re in good company: Marketing teams of early-to-mid-stage companies typically focus on growing market share. Customers are “somebody else’s job.” It often stays that way until the firm is suddenly earning $50M annual recurring revenue and the Marketing team is just hiring its second customer-focused employee.

This story proves true in the data. When we looked at Marketing FTEs in Insight’s portfolio companies, we found that ScaleUps generally allocated just ~1-3% of their headcount budget to customer marketing. Out of the seven staffing categories we surveyed, customers landed at the bottom. Even high-performing portfolio companies, when compared to their less performant peers, allocated little more budget to customer marketing staff.

But by under-investing in customer marketing, marketers might miss out on a key means of growth–regardless of the company’s stage. This deficit could “turn critical” in 2023. It’s a year in which many organizations expect demand from new customers to wane further. Some might see customers become the “majority source” of gains.

In light of this, a few of the leaders I’ve recently spoken to are staffing up their customer marketing–even as they cut elsewhere, in some cases. One leader at a late-stage martech is adding a customer-focused ABXer. Another at a post-IPO media platform is adding multiple heads, one each for customer campaigns, customer advocacy, and customer community. Yet another was hired directly onto the customer team of an early-stage direct marketing software firm, where she’ll build an ABX program in support of her CSM colleagues.

Whether by explicitly allocating headcount or by managing existing staff to customer-oriented objectives, marketing leaders might do well to revisit how they’ve resourced the customer component of their forecasted 2023 revenue mix.

Thanks to Dustin Zaloom and team for the data from their forthcoming Demand Gen survey. Stay tuned to the Insight Partners blog for the full report, which includes more benchmarks on hiring and other foundational marketing issues.

Jared Brickman

Jared Brickman is Senior Director of the Marketing Center of Excellence at leading software investor Insight Partners, where he advises CMOs of the firm’s 500+ portfolio companies on how to go-to-market. Learn More →

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