How to Design the Perfect Marketing Team Structure (Part 1)

Building your marketing team structure, what are the keys to doing it right? 

5 min read

Brand or demand?

marketing team structure

Mar­ket­ing team struc­tures are all over the place.

If you’re expect­ing a one-size-fits-all org chart, you’re going to be dis­ap­point­ed. Sor­ry about that.

There isn’t a mag­ic struc­ture that fits every com­pa­ny. What’s more, the struc­ture won’t be sta­t­ic for very long. Accord­ing to Kipp Bod­nar, CMO at Hub­spot, they have reor­ga­nized their mar­ket­ing team about every 6–9 months since 2010.

It’s a mov­ing tar­get. But there are some key prin­ci­ples to design­ing your team struc­ture in a way that deliv­ers what your com­pa­ny needs right now.

Companies at different stages of maturity require different things from their marketing teams

In Hire the Right Type of VP Marketing—Or You’ll Just End Up With a Bunch of Blue Pens with Your Logo On Them, Jason Lemkin describes mar­ket­ing lead­ers as capa­ble of two kinds of con­tri­bu­tion. Those that build on an estab­lished brand, what he calls cor­po­rate mar­keters, and those that gen­er­ate demand for brands that are unknown (yet).

Do you need brand or demand from your mar­ket­ing team?

Demand gen mar­keters tend to be quan­ti­ta­tive or at least used to the account­abil­i­ty of hit­ting a lead num­ber. Lemkin argues that this is the only type of mar­keter you want if you’re an ear­ly stage start­up. Your main job is to dri­ve aware­ness of your prod­uct or ser­vice because aware­ness is what is miss­ing.

Estab­lished brands, how­ev­er, aren’t lack­ing aware­ness.

That’s where a brand mar­keter, a cor­po­rate mar­keter as Lemkin says, comes in. If you’re run­ning mar­ket­ing for Uber, your job isn’t find­ing peo­ple who have nev­er heard of Uber (unless you’re talk­ing about new mar­kets where Uber is still emerg­ing). Your job is trad­ing on the mind­share you already have to get peo­ple to pick Uber instead of either the taxi or Lyft.

Which is a total­ly dif­fer­ent job than the demand gen mar­keter.

Before you set out to struc­ture your mar­ket­ing team, you need to decide which type of team you need. Then you can put that kind of team togeth­er.

Marketing team roles

When­ev­er I am giv­ing founders and exec­u­tive teams advice about mar­ket­ing, I typ­i­cal­ly start by try­ing to under­stand how well they are doing with three basic things. Who, why and where?

How well are you doing at three basic things. Who, why, and where?

Who means under­stand­ing their buy­er per­sonas or Ide­al Cus­tomer Pro­file (ICP). Who is the cus­tomer that is right for what they are sell­ing? By default, that means every­one else is not right, which is just as impor­tant to know.

Why is how the com­pa­ny com­mu­ni­cates to these prospects that their prod­uct is right for them. It’s the mes­sage. Mes­sag­ing includes the core val­ue propo­si­tion and ben­e­fits, posi­tioin­ing, com­pa­ny tone or voice, appro­pri­ate­ly low- or high-con­text language—so the prospect feels like we are all from the same tribe.

Where means under­stand­ing the mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels. Where does the prospect see our mes­sage? What con­text is includ­ed in the way the mes­sage is dis­trib­uted? Is this mes­sage deliv­ered as part of an inbound or out­bound strat­e­gy?

Your pri­or­i­ties about the team you build will be dic­tat­ed by these things as well as your com­pa­ny size and avail­able resources.

Using outsourced resources, agencies, or freelancers

Func­tions that can­not or should not be hired, may be out­sourced.

Out­sourc­ing is usu­al­ly expen­sive when com­pared with the hourly rate of an employ­ee, but less expen­sive than pay­ing for an employ­ee when the job requires few­er hours than full-time.

Out­side resources typ­i­cal­ly don’t have the sin­gle-mind­ed focus on your brand, mean­ing they won’t have the depth of trib­al knowl­edge around things like the com­pa­ny’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion voice or nuance details of the prod­uct or oper­a­tion. You’ll need to make that up for them.

The more strate­gic the func­tion, the less dis­crete and often less well-suit­ed to out­sourc­ing. Man­agers are hard­er to out­source than straight­for­ward tac­ti­cal func­tions such as writ­ing, design, web­site devel­op­ment, events, etc.

Who should be on the bus?

How an Ide­al Mar­ket­ing Team Should Be Struc­tured (in the B2B Mar­ket) by Myk Pono does a great job of giv­ing some con­crete exam­ples of how this might look (respon­si­bil­i­ties and KPIs for each role) for com­pa­nies of dif­fer­ent size.

Startup

Inter­nal
Mar­ket­ing Leader (Ana­lyt­ics / Life­cy­cle Man­ag­er )
Web Man­ag­er (Dev / Design / Ops)
Con­tent Man­ag­er (Social / Events / Con­tent / PR)

Out­sourced
Mar­ket­ing Ops/Automation
Paid Acqui­si­tion Man­age­ment
Design­er

Medium-sized company

Inter­nal
Mar­ket­ing Leader
Web Man­ag­er (Design)
Con­tent Man­ag­er
Mar­ket­ing Life­cy­cle Man­ag­er (Ana­lyt­ics)
Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Man­ag­er (Social / Events / PR)

Out­sourced
Mar­ket­ing Ops/Automation
Paid Acqui­si­tion Man­age­ment
Design­er

Enterprise/Larger company

Inter­nal
Mar­ket­ing Leader
Con­tent Man­ag­er
Web Man­ag­er
Paid Acqui­si­tion Man­ag­er
Mar­ket­ing Ops Man­ag­er (Automa­tion & Ana­lyt­ics)
Mar­ket­ing Life­cy­cle Man­ag­er
Social Media & PR Man­ag­er
Event & Cam­paign Man­ag­er

These are exam­ples, not a pre­scrip­tion. Notice how the small­er the com­pa­ny, the more inter­nal hires wear mul­ti­ple hats and more jobs are out­sourced. The larg­er com­pa­ny hires most of its roles and is increas­ing­ly spe­cial­ized with one per­son han­dling one job. This can expand to spe­cial­ized teams tasked with just one job.

As a mar­ket­ing leader, a posi­tion in orga­ni­za­tions of every size, your job is to deploy both inter­nal and exter­nal resources to sup­port your Who/Why/Where as your way to team with Sales to dri­ve top-line rev­enue.

Addi­tion­al Read­ing: What’s the best way to struc­ture a mar­ket­ing team, by Ameer Rosic.

Key takeaways

Ensure you are solv­ing for the right kind of team. Do you need demand or brand?

What are your most impor­tant chan­nels? What roles are need­ed to exe­cute and grow those chan­nels? Can you afford to hire them all inter­nal­ly? If you must out­source, how can you work close­ly with your agency/contractor part­ners to main­tain con­sis­tent brand/voice/and mes­sage?

Be ready to peri­od­i­cal­ly restruc­ture the team as you scale, as you add more chan­nels, or as you refine your mar­ket­ing goals and mes­sage.


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@cmo_zen is a blog of micro med­i­ta­tions for mar­ket­ing lead­ers, designed to help them find clar­i­ty and peace in the mar­ket­ing mael­strom.

Published by Chad Jardine

@chadjardine is the CMO @goreact, an edtech company making game film for the classroom. He teaches graduate finance course @uutah and is the coauthor of Pillars of Inflection: Seven Fundamental Strategies for Explosive Company Growth. He accepts a limited number of consulting engagements each year.