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Marketing Team Structure for Startups

What are the keys to building your marketing team structure, and 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.

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