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How to Staff and Structure a Successful Marketing Organization

Apr 04, 2022   |   Digital Marketing Ideas
social media manager

Marketing focuses on 3 primary things: 1) customer acquisition, 2) customer engagement and renewal, and 3) employee acquisition and retention. All the marketing functions should help improve one of these.

Effective marketing will do more than just bring in leads, it will also help Sales tell the company story, improve conversion, and decrease the sales cycle length or improve velocity.

The Marketing department has three primary subgroups:

  1. Product Marketing
  2. Demand Generation
  3. Communications

How many marketers does a mid-size to larger company need to succeed? Short answer: About 16. Let’s outline the roles and marketing functions.

Product Marketing

What does product marketing do?

In the traditional definition, a product marketer handles the 4Ps of marketing: product, place, price, and promotion. This means understanding market, personas, use cases, and customer problems to solve. A product marketer should direct distribution strategy and help build relationships with partners and influencers. Pricing requires a detailed understanding of the costs in the product or service combined with an understanding of the customers’ willingness to pay. Promotion covers everything from datasheets to brochures, decks, videos, events, community, web pages, webinars, analyst relations, and public relations. Needless to say, it is a critical function and requires someone who can handle many tasks and clear through blockers.

Product marketing sometimes reports into the head of products on the engineering side and sometimes into the head of marketing and sometimes that fluctuates. A study by Product Marketing Alliance found most product marketers report into Marketing vs Product functions at 61.7% vs 16.4%. 11.7% report directly into their CEO.

Demand Generation, Paid Marketing

What does marketing demand generation do?

leads, MQLs, SQLs

This is the most visible and one of the most tangible functions. The paid channels include: paid search, display, retargeting, CPL, paid email, sponsorship, affiliates, paid social, video ads, native, and podcast. See the Milestone complete Guide to Paid Marketing.

The objective and KPI of demand marketers are usually leads, referred to as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Those that go to appointments and demos are called Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). For sites that handle transactions, they would measure sourced revenue or transactions.

Demand marketers should be good at vendor management, negotiating, tracking, analysis, and reporting. One person should manage multiple and possibly all paid channels until the spend per channel goes into the millions per year.

Inside sales rep

What does an inside sales rep do?

inside sales rep, ISR

In B2B companies, ISRs call the marketing inbound leads and set the appointments. Sometimes they sit in the Marketing group and sometimes in the Sales group. They usually function better as part of the Sales group for management systems and environment. In that case, they should be dotted line to one of the marketing directors. In B2C companies this might be handled by customer service.

Email marketing

What does an email marketer do?

Email has turned out to be one of the most useful and durable digital channels, especially for mid-funnel and customer engagement. It is an effective way to build awareness and engagement on a push or disrupt motion. Email is the go-to channel for building registration for webinar and events. Keys to success include list building, list maintenance and hygiene, segmentation, testing, and automation. Though email provides leverage, it requires a lot of labor to build and test campaigns. It can easily consume an entire headcount or two.

SEO

What does an SEO do?

SEO involves technical SEO for crawl and index and performance, on-page SEO for content optimization, and off-page SEO for links and mentions.

Depending on the size of the site, the team needs a strong technical SEO that can find and fix site performance problems and optimize links. SEO is the largest channel for most companies, so this function needs appropriate talent and coverage. For sites smaller than 1000 pages, they should hire an SEO agency, like Milestone.

Social media

What do social media managers do?

social media manager

Social media is a critical owned media channel and should be staffed with a person who has creative and organizational skills to enable 3 or so posts per week. Remember to be social and use a human voice and not make social a company selfie channel.

Most companies focus on 3 to 5 primary social channels among: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Consider Google Posts within GMB as important social channel that gets visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Marketing communications and public relations

What do marcomm and PR managers do?

Marcomm covers messaging and media and one person from this department will be the public relations manager directly or via a PR agency. PR is critical earned media that gives your company 3rd party validation and buzz. Referral traffic usually is the best-converting channel.

Designer

What do designers do?

digital marketing designer

Designers make the artwork needed for campaigns, collateral, decks, and the website. The demands on this function are usually very high and it is usually under capacity. It makes sense to outsource chunks of design to your creative agency. If you do that, then the designer should be a creative director with the skill and maturity to steward the brand with the head of Marketing.

Content strategist

What does a content strategist do?

A content strategist needs to plan the content calendar, decide what assets to make, understand topic opportunities from the SEO and social media perspective, and be expert at making creative briefs for each of the projects.

Analyst and market research

What does a marketing analyst do?

Understanding the market and consumer are critical for good marketing. The analyst should be able to create first-party quantitative and qualitative surveys and interpret the results. The analyst should be responsible for all reporting and analytics and dataflow automation into the CRM or CDP.

Project manager or traffic manager

What does a project manager do?

Good project managers should make each function more efficient and keep projects moving along. They need to be organized and gritty to clear blockers and hold people accountable to committed schedules.

Web front-end developer

What does a front-end developer do?

The front-end web developer needs to understand user interface and user experience. They should be up on the latest techniques and code for contemporary site and mobile experiences.

Marketing Division Head/VP/CMO

What does a VP of Marketing or CMO do?

The division head needs to define the marketing strategy, go to market strategy, positioning, brand strategy, marketing plan, and budget. They are responsible for the demand generation and often focus on employee communications, morale, and retention.

They are likely the chief evangelist of the company, a webinar speaker, and the moderator of events. They define and manage the culture of the group and set the standards for creative and operational performance.

What is the difference between VP of Marketing and CMO?

The CMO title is used in larger companies where it makes sense to have multiple VPs roll up from the 3 primary functional departments. That means CMOs are very likely to run and own product marketing. VPs who report to CMOs usually have more operational responsibilities and hard- number goals. CMOs are often focused on resources, planning, vision, and evangelizing the company and offerings. Sadly, according to surveys, CMO is the least-trusted executive by the CEO and has the shortest tenure of all the C-level positions.

Can marketing VPs report to other VPs?

This does happen, but it tends to create some confusion between the VPs and others in the company. It makes sense to promote one VP to SVP and have the VPs report to the SVP.

Functions often handled by contractors or agencies:

Video editors — video requires very specific skills but may not be needed every week, so using contractors makes sense.

Content writers — demand for content can vary, so it is good to have a bench of a few writers who can produce in times of high demand.

Designers — design needs usually go from high to extremely high, so like writers, it is helpful to develop and train a few outside designers who can absorb excess projects.

Marketing organizational structures

Divisional

Usually in this structure, the marketing leader reports to the CEO and sits on the executive committee. This is the most common, especially in B2C where marketing drives the majority of demand.

The typical divisional structure has 1 VP, 3 directors, and then the functional managers, which brings the total for larger companies closer to 20 people.

Divisional organization concentrates creative power and creates efficiencies with the departments in the division. It can get inwardly focused and siloed away from the customer-facings orgs. To prevent that, make sure the team regularly joins sales and customer calls to keep their fingers on the pulse of the people and the market.

Distributed

There is a trend in some B2B companies with narrow target customer lists to embed marketing functions in the pre-sales and post-sales groups. The problem with this approach is akin to an orchestra without a conductor for the strategy, positioning, thought leadership, and messaging. While it appears to save some money, the burden of product marketing, email, design, SEO, PR, and events will fall into the other divisions and likely overlap and create inefficiencies. This approach is not used by the fastest-growing and highest-value companies. This approach does keep marketing operators closer to the customers and prospects.

pods for marketing

Pods

Pods combine different functions across divisions in small groups. For example, putting the following people together and giving them common goals to hit: 1 sales person, 1 marketer, 1 customer service rep, 1 account manager, 1 analyst. The unit economics will usually work if the book of accounts is over $4 million and the net recurring revenue or NRR is over 120%.

People in the pods often enjoy the greater agility and camaraderie that come with this structure. Marketing is difficult to put in a pod because almost no one has the 16 functional skills of the division. However, the central marketing function for strategy, positioning, and branding needs to continue to exist independently.

What are the key operational functions of Marketing?

Product-market fit

If you are launching a company or a product, make certain that the market has a problem you solve and is willing to pay enough for it to cover costs and provide room to grow. Selling a product with poor product-market fit leads to stalled revenue and heavy churn.

Milestones-Digital-Marketing-Roadmap_ (1) - milestoneinternet.com, Milestone Inc.

Develop a marketing plan and budget

Start with product the target contribution per quarter, add the paid channel efforts, plan for site redesign, launches, summits, trade shows, events, like the customer advisory board, and then add integrated thematic campaigns in between. See the popular Milestone post on marketing roadmap.

content calendar for marketing

Develop a content calendar

Content calendars are tough to stay with outside of 1 quarter, but the company always wants visibility on what is coming. The calendar identifies the umbrella message for the year, the themes for the quarters, the planned messages for the specific executions by channel: PR, website content, paid, and social.

Positioning

Position your solutions in the market and focus on the unique differentiators it has relative to the alternatives, including the alternative of doing nothing.

Deliver leads

A marketing department that delivers a lot of leads and conversions will be well regarded. If the branding is great but the results are poor, the organization will be disappointed.

Milestone Analytics - Multi-source business intelligence reporting tools
Milestone Analytics

Track and report progress

Track the progress to the plan and report to the executive team. If you fall short, ascertain why and be ready to explain it to the company and what countermeasures Marketing will take to get it back on track.

These functional definitions and structures will be helpful for designing and operating your marketing division, departments, and functions.

Milestone increases acquisition by enhancing digital experience and increasing content visibility. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 408-200-2211.

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