Marketing Strategy

How Are Most In-House Marketing Teams Structured?

by Stormie Andrews . February 26, 2020
Frameworks you need for developing and building an efficient and high-performance in-house marketing team.

As the world becomes more reliant on technology, modern marketing teams face an ever-increasing pressure to be more effective with their content and outreach. This has resulted in the disruption of traditional marketing frameworks and change their internal tactics and team structures. If you’re thinking of expanding your marketing team to keep up with the demands on it, you’ll need to make sure it has the expertise to perform. Check out how modern marketing teams are structured so you can grow yours effectively.

Internal Marketing Positions

Traditionally, marketing companies were organized into individual departments. Public relations was separate from development, development didn’t overlap with account management, and account management didn’t overtake production. Employees were separated into these departments based on their skills and capabilities, and often stayed, pigeonholed, within that role.

This set-up was organized and straightforward, but ultimately inefficient. It allowed a group to cater to the department’s individual needs, goals, and priorities—not to the task or problem. It also resulted in single-point failures, where one department’s difference in priorities could affect the entire company’s ability to complete a task.

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In marketing companies with a more modern structure, the problem and situation determines the employees. This forces departments to mesh and allows organizations to create cross-functional teams, where roles are fluid and fall under several departments. These structures also experience less single-point failures and help with workforce morale as employees are less likely to become bored. Some examples of internal marketing positions that have recently emerged include:

  • Vice President of Marketing
  • Marketing Manager
  • Pay-Per Click Specialist
  • Creative Copyright
  • Search Engine Optimization Specialist
  • Developer
  • Designer
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Content Manager
  • Graphic Web Designer
  • Copywriter
  • Quality Assurance Editor
  • Strategic Marketer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Event Manager
  • Advertising Manager

How Are Most In-House Marketing Teams Structured?

The type and number of new marketing positions that emerge depend on the structure of the in-house marketing team. Five of the most common structures are as follows:

  • Small marketing team structure
  • Traditional marketing team structure
  • Digital marketing team structure
  • Integrated marketing team structure
  • Enterprise marketing team structure

Each structure has its strengths and weaknesses and caters to a specific marketing focus. Your group’s overarching mission and interpersonal landscape influences what will work, and thus will determine the new roles that may be needed. A company that divides its marketing teams based on product may discover different roles or challenges than a marketing company that divides its team based on geographic locations.

Essential Must-Haves

Yet, marketing has some essential ‘must-have’ roles. Some essential roles for a successful marketing team are:

  • Vice President of Marketing: Manages budgets and functions as a liaison between marketing and leadership.
  • Marketing Manager: Assigns marketing tasks to the team.
  • Return on Investment Specialist: Understands the finances behind the marketing.
  • Developer: Creates creative, interactive content and fixes site issues.
  • Search Engine Optimization Specialist: Analyzes trends and audience research.
  • Designer: Analyzes layout of content and understands conversion rate optimization.

As shown above, the ultimate goal behind marketers hasn’t changed. Our modern marketing teams continue to aim to plan, draft, develop, monitor, and collect the data and content for their organizations. Yet, the approaches to achieve such a mission has drastically changed, and thus a marketing team’s structure must shift along new channels or risk being severely underutilized.

Small Marketing Team Structure

A small marketing team structure involves hiring one to three people to oversee all of the marketing outreach. For example, one employee may be the designer, who is responsible for the creative work. The other employee could focus on marketing and analytics, including social media and webpages. The third is the manager or business owner, who oversees all the tasks and directs the vision of the team. Alternatively, you may have one employee that works directly from concept to completion, speaking directly with the CEO to develop applicable content.

This structure is common in small-businesses. Its size means that much of the marketing is controlled and consistent because one or few people are responsible for its content. However, it also means that there are limited resources that are available. In addition, your employees may have a lot of breadth, or insight, into different tasks or roles, but no real depth; they’re versatile, but not specialists in any specific skills. One way that small businesses resolve such issues is to outsource their marketing to other agencies that specialize in certain areas or can at least lighten the team’s load.

Traditional Marketing Team Structure

A traditional marketing team structure is usually product- or function-centric. However, it can be geographic-, segment-, or channel-centric. Product-centric means that each individual product has an individual marketing team. The roles that emerge in this structure are aimed at supporting that specific product. This structure incorporates deep-marketing expertise and enhances the ability to create product feedback loops. However, it can make cross-selling or up-selling difficult.

Function-based marketing means that teams are divided based on their jobs. For instance, a sales representative would be in the same team as a sales manager, regardless of the product being sold. This structure helps employees to gain deep insight into their specialized roles. The decision to divide groups, though, can lead to rigidity and make it difficult for organizations to integrate new channels, create internal competition, and make it difficult for their employees to expand their outreach or grow.

Digital Marketing Team Structure

A digital marketing team structure is customer-centric and is common in today’s hyper-connected world. It is driven by a customer’s insights, desires, needs, and feedback. It requires its team to not only deeply understand its customers/audience, but also be able to grow with the customers, while maintaining the company’s overall business goals. This may mean shifting a marketing channel or product to target the same audience over time, such as joining the latest social media trend.

The advantage behind this structure is that you can effectively increase audience engagement while maintaining control over a message. Digital resources are also more accessible, offering the team unique avenues and channels for your business. However, following this structure can be an expensive undertaking as it’s heavily reliant on specialized-roles and online ads. It also can be difficult to garner support from business leaders. One way to mitigate these issues is to create a role that involves measuring performance with analytics, which will provide direct, quantitative data to business leaders and some direction for future campaigns.

Integrated Marketing Team Structure

An integrated-marketing team structure is also customer-centric. Its structure involves using an interconnected approach to create positive, personal relationships with customers. This means that its teams aren’t divided based on products, skills, or functions. Rather, the teams are cross-functional and meld all the aspects of marketing to cater to the customer needs or channels. For example, a social media content manager could be on the same team as a sales manager, public relations specialist, or advertising coordinator.

This structure is designed to ensure that a consistent, unified message is being reinforced across all channels. It’s a structure that is cost-effective. The advantage to this structure is that there is little to no division in such a group. This enables employees to be an expert in their domains, but also have opportunities to influence the organization’s strategic direction, rather than simply carrying out misinformed decisions.

This can lead to more fulfilling careers and offer employees more opportunities to expand their skills. Yet, it is a structure that relies on communication and collaboration. A team that lacks strong communication skills or a willingness to collaborate can impede the organization and ultimately sink the mission. That’s why integrated-team structures need to consistently incorporate team-building exercises and promote communication, flexibility, and creativity.

Enterprise Marketing Team Structure

An enterprise-marketing structure involves specialists with deep-expertise. Oftentimes, it is used by large companies—about 250 people or more—looking to push its customer growth across the entire organization. The structure can have several layers of management that each have groups with team leads and specialists. For example, a public affairs role may be divided among several leads (community outreach, social media outreach, corporate affairs, congressional affairs, etc.) that continue to break down into more specific roles, such as writers or analytics.

This approach creates a large chain of command. However, the chain of command is more fluid than traditional marketing team structures as its teams are encouraged to cross-over and work together. On one hand, the structure can make it difficult to coordinate as teams are often dealing with an expansive list of products and channels. It may be harder to manage this large group as the CEO. But, this structure also creates more opportunities to find specialists that capitalize on different skills, ultimately increasing customer growth and achieving the organization’s mission.

The new tactics and team structures invite innovation and efficiency. However, every group is different. Some companies may have only one, talented employee in the marketing department. Other companies may have a small, but less-skilled group that can work. Establishing a structure that successfully works depends on the group’s specific capabilities and goals. This can result in new positions that are unique to this modern demand, but keep your organization thriving now and in the future.

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