Marketing Department Transformation: Why Growth-Minded Companies Are Making the Move

by Debra Andrews | September 9, 2021

There’s no shortage of expert advice on the digital transformation of marketing—evolving away from traditional marketing techniques and adopting digital strategies and channels that nurture a B2B buyer’s journey more effectively. But there’s also a different, equally important type of transformation taking hold in growth-minded companies that are serious about using marketing to drive measurable returns.

It’s what we call Marketing Department Transformation.

Marketing department transformation changes the way a company’s marketing team is structured and how it operates. It ensures marketing is properly staffed and focused to contribute measurably to the business’s goals. It turns marketing into a profit center. And it’s crucial for any company that’s ready to leverage marketing as a growth driver.  

Traditional Marketing Department Structures Don’t Deliver

Few organizations view their marketing function as a true growth driver. Most are dissatisfied with how their marketing functions operate and the results (or lack of results) they generate. And they desperately want marketing to take on a more strategic role, drive measurable results, and directly contribute to boosting revenue and profitability growth.  

How do we know this is what today’s organizations are seeking? Because we hear it when we talk with prospective clients. They don’t overtly say “we need to transform our marketing department,” but everything they DO say points to that need.

While the drivers behind this trend were already taking shape, the post-pandemic world has heightened the need and urgency of embarking on a marketing department transformation. COVID-19 forever altered the B2B sales landscape, with no return to business as usual as lockdowns ended and restrictions eased. Now, B2B decision makers are not only comfortable with a digital sales experience; a McKinsey & Company survey found that 70-80 percent prefer digital self-service and remote sales interaction vs face-to-face, even for big-ticket purchases.

If B2B buyers and sellers are interacting differently, then marketing departments need to be structured and staffed differently to support a new way of doing business.

The Pain Points are Real

In most middle market companies, the marketing function takes one of three forms—none of which is effective at nurturing the B2B buyer’s journey, generating measurable results, or driving profitable growth:  

  1. The company outsources much of the marketing function to an agency that provides isolated services, like pay-per-click advertising. The work is rarely grounded in the business’s strategies or goals, and it isn’t linked to key performance indicators that enable the company to measure success.
  2. The company primarily staffs the marketing function with an in-house team that doesn’t have the capabilities, experience, or playbook to engage in true strategic marketing that delivers measurable results.
  3. The company hires a single marketing generalist who reports into the sales team and focuses almost exclusively on creating sales support deliverables. (This is common in sales-driven cultures, where marketing is more of an after-thought.)

No matter which of these traditional marketing structures a middle market company employs, they tend to share one thing in common: They’re experiencing a lot of pain and dissatisfaction.

The CEOs we talk with tell us their marketers tend to operate as reactive order takers, rarely shaping strategies, offering insights, or making recommendations. Their teams are overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of deliverables, like content pieces, collateral, and email promotions, so the turnover is high. They’ve invested in expensive marketing software for functions like workflow automation, but they’re not using it as intended, so the ROI is low. And when they hire marketing agencies that promise a high return on their fees, they usually end up frustrated when those firms fail to deliver.

CEOs Can Envision a Better Path Forward    

Leaders in middle market companies are all too familiar with the pain points of a traditional marketing department structure. But they also have a clear vision for what a more effective marketing function should look like.

  • They want their teams to serve as order makers—providing strategic guidance and direction on the marketing efforts that will make the greatest measurable impact.
  • They want their marketing to be more strategic and intentional—focusing on important objectives like driving greater penetration in existing markets, growing new markets, and winning more business from current clients. 
  • They want their marketing to be more thoughtful—giving them confidence that they’re engaged in the right activities and equipping them with the data needed to test, adjust, and refine for better performance.   
  • They want their marketers to serve as story tellers—crafting compelling narratives that illustrate who the company is and the value it delivers.
  • They want their marketing team to provide a consistent experience—ensuring that everyone involved in marketing has the required company and industry knowledge, whether they’re in-house or outsourced.
  • They want their marketers to deliver measurable results—going far beyond tasks and activities, with robust reporting and analysis demonstrating how their work is generating returns.  

Setting Your Marketing Department Transformation in Motion

Marketing department transformation is the way to turn this vision into reality—eliminating the pain points of your traditional marketing structure and setting up your team to deliver measurable returns.

Transforming your marketing department involves four primary steps:

  • Developing short-term and long-term growth strategies
  • Staffing the marketing function using fractional marketing methods to lead and execute on the strategy
  • Selecting and implementing leading-edge technologies to facilitate scaling, measurement, and optimization
  • Infusing a marketing agency-like sense of urgency, operational mindset, and best practices into in-house marketing functions that are traditionally slower moving

As with any change initiative, it’s a process that takes time and commitment. But the reward is significant: A marketing function that’s primed to drive your revenue and profitability growth well beyond the limits of a traditional marketing structure.  

For a detailed look at the 4-step process for setting your marketing department transformation in motion, watch for Part 2 in this series!

Ready to begin your company’s marketing department transformation? Schedule a free consultation with our CEO Deb Andrews.