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.


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

Mar­ket­ing Ops/Automation
Paid Acqui­si­tion Man­age­ment

Medium-sized company

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

Mar­ket­ing Ops/Automation
Paid Acqui­si­tion Man­age­ment

Enterprise/Larger company

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.

Like what you’re read­ing? Sub­scribe to get more Micro Mar­ket­ing Med­i­ta­tions.

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

How to Build a Marketing Team: Starting With the CMO

For startup founders or CEOs needing to revamp their marketing organizations, hiring a Chief Marketing Officer (a.k.a. Head of Marketing, Marketing SVP) may be your first step to build a marketing team that works.

4 min read

What do you need in a CMO?

build a marketing team on a strong foundation
The CMO is the foun­da­tion on which mar­ket­ing teams are built

It can be tricky to build a mar­ket­ing team.

Mar­ket­ing can be so broad and encom­pass so much, it often ends up being the least defined role in the com­pa­ny.

With­out con­sen­sus around what mar­ket­ing lead­ers are respon­si­ble for, how can you pos­si­bly hire a great one?

To get some per­spec­tive, I found insights in the world of ven­ture cap­i­tal. Ven­ture cap­i­tal firms dig into a high vol­ume of com­pa­nies seek­ing invest­ment. Post invest­ment, they’ll coach com­pa­nies in all areas of oper­a­tions and often cross-pol­li­nate ideas and best prac­tices between com­pa­nies in their port­fo­lios. They’re a rich source of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence when it comes to what works and what does­n’t for growth com­pa­nies.

Jeff Jor­don, the for­mer CEO of OpenTable and cur­rent gen­er­al part­ner at ven­ture cap­i­tal jug­ger­naut Andreessen Horowitz, has seen a broad swathe of com­pa­nies in his time. On the a16z blog, Jeff writes that a CMO, teamed with a Head of Sales, has the ulti­mate respon­si­bil­i­ty for growth.

Accord­ing to Jor­dan, mar­ket­ing account­abil­i­ty met­rics may include growth in the num­ber of cus­tomers or users, inbound/outbound lead gen­er­a­tion, growth in prof­its and rev­enues, adver­tis­ing, events, ana­lyt­ics, cus­tomer reten­tion, strate­gies around brand, engage­ment, cre­ative, PR and mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

When is the best time to hire a Mar­ket­ing Lead?

Accord­ing to Jason Lemkin of SaaS­tr, “You almost can’t hire a VP of Mar­ket­ing too ear­ly. But it’s very, very easy to make the hire late.”

Your CMO has respon­si­bil­i­ty over mis­sion-crit­i­cal com­pa­ny func­tions and mak­ing a hir­ing mis­take here can be crip­pling.

How do you tell the good from the bad?

Artist or scientist?

Jor­dan quotes Intu­it founder Scott Cook as iden­ti­fy­ing two types of mar­keters: artists and sci­en­tists.

Artists are mar­keters that mas­ter the qual­i­ta­tive. They are cre­atives, native sto­ry­tellers, pas­sion­ate about brands and cre­at­ing cam­paigns and mate­ri­als that com­mu­ni­cate the com­pa­ny’s voice to cus­tomers.

Sci­en­tists, on the oth­er hand, are quan­ti­ta­tive­ly focused. They thrive on ana­lyt­ics, CRO, and mea­sur­able per­for­mance. Mar­ket­ing for them is a puz­zle of tests and opti­miza­tions.

Since both of these dimen­sions need to be oper­a­tional, it’s impor­tant to under­stand where a CMO can­di­date fits rel­a­tive to your com­pa­ny’s needs.

F. Scott Fitzger­ald once said, “The test of a first-rate intel­li­gence is the abil­i­ty to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the abil­i­ty to func­tion.” More recent­ly hedge fund mag­nate Ray Dalio espoused some­thing sim­i­lar in his book, Prin­ci­ples. The exam­ple Dalio gives is that one must be both assertive and open-mind­ed at the same time. And stud­ies of Nobel lau­re­ates indi­cate that inte­gra­tive com­plex­i­ty is a trait shared by top per­form­ers.

CMOs need to cov­er your bases for both the artist and the sci­en­tist.

Which is to say, in the rare case that you find some­one who is both an artist and a sci­en­tist, hire them.

In the rare case that you find a CMO can­di­date who is both an artist and a sci­en­tist, hire them! Click To Tweet

Oth­er­wise, this frame­work sug­gests you need to find some­one who can address the artist/scientist mix your com­pa­ny needs, whether by their own abil­i­ties or by the abil­i­ty to hire for and man­age the func­tion that does­n’t align with their nat­ur­al tal­ent.

This dichoto­my holds for mar­ket­ing team mem­bers too. Copy­blog­ger has been beat­ing the drum for David Ogilvy, who called adver­tis­ing writ­ers poets or killers.

Critical takeaways

All com­pa­nies need some mix of the artist and the sci­en­tist in their mar­ket­ing team. But the ratio is rarely the same. As you look to build your mar­ket­ing team, con­sid­er just how much of each is need­ed for your com­pa­ny to achieve its high­est poten­tial?

As a founder or CEO look­ing to get this hire right, con­sid­er the stakes. Jor­dan clos­es his rec­om­men­da­tions by say­ing,

…A tal­ent­ed CMO has the poten­tial to make a com­pa­ny. Get­ting this wrong can break it, since it’s very expen­sive and sets the com­pa­ny way back because mis-cast­ing the CMO usu­al­ly comes at the expense of growth. Every start­up CEO, espe­cial­ly tech­ni­cal founders not famil­iar with the role, should invest the time and atten­tion to get this crit­i­cal hire right.”

@jeff_jordan Every start­up CEO, espe­cial­ly tech­ni­cal founders, should invest the time to get the crit­i­cal CMO hire right. Click To Tweet

Your CMO can tru­ly be a linch­pin to the suc­cess of your com­pa­ny. I hope these tips will help you make that hire with zen-like con­fi­dence and peace.

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P.S. When you’re ready to fill this role, you may enjoy 15 Amaz­ing CMO Inter­view Ques­tions.