How should a modern marketing department be structured to get the most out of that department?
The answer is different for every business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that companies can turn to. The individual skills of your marketing team and the way your organization as a whole as structured should play a key role in how you decide to structure your marketing department as well.
Keep in mind that marketing departments are often unique. Because they deal with many creative projects on the fly, often people are required to work in multiple different roles in order to complete projects with the appropriate quality and on time. The lines between marketing, PR, tech, sales, and tech can be blurred as individuals take on multiple roles.
Additionally, the rise in remote work has changed the way that companies structure departments. Often a portion of or all of a department will be remote and subject to a different structure or set of roles in regard to how they interact and work with the rest of the department.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the more popular types of marketing org structures that are employed today:
A product-focused org structure is most common when only a few large enterprise customers (or customer types) make up a majority of the business model. Product and brand managers are responsible for creating the product’s marketing plan. Implementing the plan requires the work of the entire team, but most of the actual planning comes from a few positions at the top, known as product managers.
Product managers typically handle all of the operations within the department — marketing strategy, marketing operations, and customers insights and analytics. These structures tend to be a top-heavy structure, with sub-managers handling the oversight of individual projects.
Big companies that have offices in multiple locations may have several different marketing teams or complete departments at the different locations, depending on the operations of the company itself. The amount that these departments collaborate with each other depends on a number of factors. The sheer size of a market area might require that some teams focus solely on that area, with very little interaction between them and other teams.
Geographically-focused organization structures in marketing teams can still provide a customer-first approach. Customers may respond better to marketing that is focused on their local area. The teams in each individual area may have their own structure or approach, depending on the goals of the organization as a whole.
Segment-focused structures organize marketing teams around a group of customers. They may segment those customers by industry, application, usage, or another internal metric that you use. This structure allows for certain teams to research and stay apprised to industry changes within the customer segment that they focus on, and custom-tailor their messaging directly to the concerns of the segment that they specialize in. They can better understand the people that they are marketing to, which results in more marketing materials that connect with their intended audience.
Additionally, this type of structure can streamline hiring processes as well, as teams will be able to hire people that have experience in a specific industry. The expertise in a specific industry can help teams to identify opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell customers in specific situations and lead to a better overall experience based on their industry.
Sometimes, marketing teams are structured around the channels that they have expertise in. You may have individual teams that are focused on PPC, SEO, television ads, radio ads, etc. This arrangement has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the fragmentation of channels due to digital marketing.
There are some benefits to a channel-focused structure for marketing teams. First, it makes hiring easier and straight-forward. It allows you to hone in on candidates that have skills that are specific to the team that you are hiring for. Specialist expertise in each individual channel often means better results, but can mean a higher overhead as you segment your marketing team. Additionally, each channel will need their own management structure, which could increase the number of manager-level employees in the department as a whole and increase overhead for your marketing department.
Customer Journey-Focused Structure
The customer journey-focused structure is a trendy structure that we have seen more often in tech teams than in other industries. It represents a shift in the way that teams look at the marketing process. In this structure, specific employees or small teams handle different areas of the customer journey — including research, nurturing, and other steps that may be specific to your products.
This structure helps to ensure that you are delivering a positive experience to customers throughout the customer journey, never missing a beat or providing a confusing experience to customers throughout their evaluation and purchasing of your product.
Structures Require Commitment
No matter which of the above marketing team structures that you are considering, it is important that you go into your decision with a certain level of commitment. While many of these structures can differ quite a bit from one another, it is important to remember that each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. To get the most benefit out of your chosen structure type, it requires a full commitment.
The marketing structure that you choose for your company will depend on a number of factors. Chiefly, the overall structure of your company matters. The products that you sell matters. How you connect with customers matters. It all plays a role in what the right choice for your company will be. Take your time in evaluating the different options available to you and find a structure that fits best with your current operations.