What are the differences between a VP of Marketing and a VP of Demand Gen?



Perhaps nothing, but in most cases, likely everything.

A classic VP of Marketing will do 4 things (although of course no one is great at all 4):

  • Brand and Corporate Marketing. You need very little of this in the early days, but much more important when you cross $50m ARR or so. Gets the color of the logo right. Does stuff for the brand. Manages press. Manages inbound (vs outbound) PR. Big companies have a lot of these folks. So if you hire a VPM from a big company, this is the primary skill set you often get. Works with the analysts in the space (which is important, but gets more important over time). Do you even need that today? A little yes. But not 40+ hours a week. More on this here: Hire the Right Type of VP Marketing — Or You’ll Just End Up With a Bunch of Blue Pens with Your Logo On Them
  • Product Marketing. This is confusing. Ultimately, product marketing and demand gen have >>nothing<< to do with each other, but in big companies, product marketing is closely tied to brand and market positioning, so is part of “marketing”. It’s not always even clear this should be part of “marketing” in a start-up. A Director of Product Marketing often reports to your VP of Product and isn’t even directly part of the marketing team in many organizations.
  • Field Marketing. Events, steak dinners, supporting a field sales team. This is a specialized and important skill set. But if you don’t do bigger deals, you won’t actually need a ton of this in the early days. Good field marketers do demand gen, in the sense that their events are responsible for a pipeline commitment out of the events.
  • Demand Generation. This is something that many marketers have never done, believe it or not. This means two things. It means getting you leads. And it means managing the leads you do get through the funnel. But most importantly, what it really means is holding a true lead commit. 95%+ of “VPs of Marketing” have never held a lead commit. More on this here: Your VP Sales Has a Sales Quota. Your VP Marketing Needs a Lead Quota. Period.

So, you don’t necessarily need a VP of Marketing and a VP of Demand Gen. A VP of Marketing, in theory, should also be able to do and own Demand Gen.


if you hire a VP of Marketing that hasn’t been a Director of Demand Gen at least previously, and held a lead commit, and met it, and grew it quarter over quarter …

He won’t get you any leads.

View original question on quora

Published on October 14, 2016


  1. #ProductMarketing and #DemandGen DO go hand in hand. They belong together. They must work together to PROOVE product market fit. Any Solid SaaS VPM will understand this.

  2. As a CMO, I get asked quite a lot of “what do you do” questions. The generic answer, even to those with lots of experience in SaaS, is always that I bring clients to Softwares. Sometimes it means events, sometimes it means PR and branding, but it always means lead gen and nurturing AND product marketing.
    A good VPM, just like a CMO, needs to be able to find the right mix, at different stages of growth and funding. This is not an easy job, as you need to always stay on top of what to do next and there is a constant learning task, especially when resources are limited. However, I do not know how a marketing professional at that level could operate without those adquired skill sets.

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