Keys to Structuring a Marketing Department

by Debra Andrews | April 1, 2019

When it comes to structuring the marketing department (or staffing the marketing function), we’ve seen many leaders get in over their head. When the people making the decisions don’t have enough knowledge about marketing or growth strategy, they just end up shooting in the dark. Fortunately, learning a bit more about marketing’s objectives will help you understand how its structure supports the company’s mission. Then you’ll be able to build a team that’s unified in its mission and prepared for sustainable growth. Here are some key things to keep in mind before you hire:

Marketing is Not Sales

I frequently hear professionals use the terms marketing and sales interchangeably, but they are quite distinct. When you hire a marketing professional, they won’t be strapping on the headset and dialing for dollars. Even though marketers are usually pretty strong networkers, it isn’t their main role to be pitching the company’s services directly. Marketers are meant to define a firm’s brand, maintain that brand, identify target segments, and create plans and campaigns for reaching potential clients. A marketer’s role is usually more indirect.

What’s your marketing strategy?

Oops, don’t have one? You’ll need one before structuring your marketing department or making a marketing hire. Strategic marketers are a unique bunch, in that they are able to think in the abstract and set a clear direction into unchartered territory. Typically, they are pretty pricey professionals to hire full-time, and your firm may not need one on staff. Is your company rapidly expanding its products, services, and/or office locations either organically or through acquisition? If it is, you may want to consider hiring a full-time strategic marketer. Any time an organization is looking at a rapid pace of change, you will need a big picture thinker to evaluate positioning, messaging, and plans on an ongoing basis. Most small-to-midsized companies are better off contracting with a strategic marketing consultant to set the direction and hiring a more tactical marketer to implement the plan.

Who’s in charge of marketing?

Your in-house or outsourced marketing resource will need a senior professional, preferably a shareholder, to champion the marketing function. This person will work with peers to establish clear roles and responsibilities for the marketing function. When there is no marketing champion and the expectations of the marketing function vary from professional to professional, the odds aren’t good for finding a one-size-fits-all resource that can satisfy all. Don’t have someone volunteering to champion marketing? Consider outsourcing the marketing function so that you have access to very experienced marketers who can clarify the expectations of the marketing function and set the direction. Your firm would also have access to marketing tacticians who are experienced at driving plans and tactics forward. This one touchpoint for all marketing needs is the perfect fit for certain firms.  For further insight into in-house vs. outsourced marketing, read our white paper on structuring marketing departments. While there are many more considerations to structuring a marketing department, understanding the following will get you well on your way:

  • Your need for marketing, business development, or both.
  • Where your company is heading and its strategic direction.
  • What is expected of the marketing function and who will champion? 

Do you need help figuring out the marketing provider landscape? Then check out our free eBook.