When I first started working in marketing, I didn't know anything about business structure. In fact, I accidentally fell into the industry. My role as a writer led me to it serendipitously.

But once I started working in marketing roles at small companies, I realized how important an effective marketing department was.

If your team isn't built and managed well, you'll have a hard time succeeding at bringing in leads and representing the company.

That's why it's important to put a lot of care and attention to building your marketing team.

In this post, let's review how a marketing department functions, how it's organized, and how to manage it effectively.

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1. Developing your marketing strategy.

One of the most important roles in the marketing department is to develop your marketing strategy.

This means creating a marketing plan where you review your company's mission, identify your buyer persona's, determine content initiatives, define your KPIs, conduct a competitive analysis, and decide on a budget.

Your marketing team might develop a marketing plan bi-annually or even quarterly. Additionally, various teams in the marketing department might own a certain aspect of the marketing plan including social media, content marketing, product launches, etc.

This is the plan that your marketing team will use to describe its strategies for accomplishing the year's goals. This plan will include channels and resources needed to execute and track success.

2. Managing your brand.

Another core function of the marketing department is to manage your brand. You might consider hiring a creative team to create a brand resource guide. This will detail what your colors are, what logos you use, a written style guide, templates, and resources.

For example, you could have a "Brand Infrastructure Team" consisting of communication designers, graphic designers, editors, and web developers.

Your marketing team is responsible for not just the creative assets of your brand, but also your messaging.

They'll determine how you're going to approach your messaging and company personality.

3. Creating ongoing and temporary campaigns.

Besides creating your overall messaging, your marketing team needs to manage ongoing and temporary campaigns.

A temporary campaign might be a product launch or a short-term campaign to promote an event. Ongoing campaigns could be your overall paid social media strategy or SEO strategy.

Your company will have both short and long term campaigns, and it's your marketing team's responsibility to create and manage those in addition to your overall messaging.

4. Producing content for all marketing materials.

Speaking of creating campaigns and projects, your marketing team needs to build and produce all the creative assets.

This will include elements on your website, blog, emails, social media, or promotional materials. The components could be images, video, copy, and even animation if you want.

Creating these materials takes time, but it's your marketing team's responsibility to make sure every aspect of a campaign is taken care of.

5. Formulating SEO strategies.

We can't talk about marketing without addressing SEO. Your SEO team is the team that's responsible for creating your organic marketing strategy.

The marketing team will need to brainstorm keywords, do research, consider your persona's pain points, and help write and develop content that's optimized for search.

Organic traffic is one of the most important traffic sources because the tactics are cheap to implement.

6. Monitoring social media pages.

Social media is another task that your marketing team is responsible for. They'll need to determine a strategy and manage your accounts. You might create a Facebook group and your team will need to monitor that.

With social media, again, it's about creating assets to showcase your brand. On social media, it's all about brand awareness and driving traffic to your website.

This team is more specialized and will have its own strategy separate from the overall team that goes more in-depth on tactics.

7. Acting as a media representative.

On the marketing team, you might have a PR representative or communications staff that is responsible for the strategic communication of your company.

This includes writing press releases and managing media requests that come through. Additionally, this specialized team will be in charge of outgoing media requests as well. They should try to raise awareness about your overall brand.

8. Conducting market research.

When you want to get to know your customer, your marketing team will conduct market research.

They'll test and see what products your customers want and conduct focus groups to get feedback from them directly.

9. Offering support for the sales team.

One of the main functions of a marketing team is to bring qualified leads to the sales staff.

Using marketing automation software, your team can track and nurture leads to hand off to sales.

Additionally, the marketing team will help your sales team by creating promotional materials to assist in the sales process.

10. Planning events, webinars, or seminars.

If you plan to host an event, seminar, or webinar of any kind, your marketing team will probably be the ones who plan it.

They need to ensure that the messaging at your event is consistent with your overall brand messaging. Additionally, they'll create and design materials to promote your event.

How to Organize a Marketing Department

Now that you understand more about the functions of a marketing department, you might be curious about how to organize one.

The organization is important because it helps position your team for success. A poor team structure can impact your overall output and results.

So, how should you structure your marketing department? The answer is: it depends on your company's needs.

If you run a small business or an enterprise company, the structure will look different. Let's dive into common roles and structures for the various sized businesses.

Small Business

As a small business, you probably won't be able to have -- or need -- a separate department for every area of your strategy. Instead, you'll most likely have one to three people running point on your overall marketing. You might have one or any combination of the following positions:

  • Marketing Director: This person is the main marketing manager who is responsible for developing the strategy and implementing it.
  • Marketing Coordinators: This person will be responsible for creating content and executing on the strategies put forth by the company.
  • Marketing Assistants: This person is responsible for any administrative tasks and will help the marketing coordinator develop assets and content for your company.

Mid-Size Business

When your company needs more support for your marketing team as you grow, you'll want to add a few people to the mix. As a mid-sized company, you might consider adding some specialists.

  • Social Media Specialist: This person is responsible for developing a social media strategy and maintaining your social media platforms.
  • SEO Expert: This person will develop an organic search strategy and communicate that with your marketing coordinators who create content. The SEO expert might even write the content themselves.
  • Influencer/Partnership Coordinator: As your company grows, working with influencers and developing brand partnerships is important. As you grow, you might want to add a specialist for this role specifically.
  • PR Officer/Communications Staff: Again, as your company grows, you'll need someone to handle media requests and outgoing communications.
  • CRO Expert: Adding a conversion rate optimization expert will also help as your company grows. They're in charge of creating offers that your audiences want to see.

Enterprise Business

After you add specialists, if you grow to enterprise-level, you'll probably add several teams to support each specialist. Below are a few roles you could add:

  • CMO: Your CMO is responsible for developing the overall strategy and communicating with the executive team.
  • VP: The VP will implement the strategies of the CMO. You can have several VP's in charge of several teams, such as acquisition, editorial, brand management, etc.
  • Creative Services: Your creative team will be in charge of designing your logo, colors, and templates. They'll be in charge of managing your brand. In addition, they support other teams with graphic design and content creation.
  • Market Researchers: These people are responsible for research and analysis that drives marketing decisions. As you grow, you might have an entire team dedicated to market research.
  • Content Specialists: A content specialist will be in charge of producing content, whether that's blog posts, social media content, or website copy. You'll probably have plenty of content specialists in each team, including the creative team, the social media team, the PR team, the SEO team, the CRO team, etc.

As your company grows, you'll need to reorganize your marketing department several times to add separate teams.

Now, you might be wondering, "Once the team is structured and I have my plan in place, how will I run the department?"

Below are a few tips and best practices to keep in mind when you're running a marketing team.

1. Hire for diversity.

When you run a marketing department, you're responsible for developing innovative, new strategies every year. You'll need to create content for several audiences on several channels.

This requires you to have a diverse team. You should hire people with different backgrounds and from different experience levels to help your team succeed.

The more perspective you have on your team, the better ideas you'll have and the more innovative your approach will be.

2. Invest in marketing automation tools.

If you run a marketing team, make sure your employees have all the resources they need to succeed.

For example, you can't ask your team to spend less time on social media when they have to do everything manually. To spend less time, they'll need an automation tool.

This means you should get all the software your employees need -- marketing automation, SEO research tools, and social media planning tools.

3. Align with other teams.

To run a marketing team effectively, you'll need to collaborate with other teams including product development, sales, and customer service.

These teams work in tandem to make sure they all succeed. At HubSpot, we represent this idea as the flywheel.

According to Jon Dick, HubSpot's VP of Marketing, "Flywheels represent a circular process where customers feed growth. We've invested more in customer marketing, more in customer advocacy, and more in creating delightful onboarding for new customers. We've also invested in an integrations ecosystem that helps customers do more with HubSpot and creates real value for people who adopt our suite of software."

Ultimately, the idea is to promote cross-team collaboration.

4. Educate your team.

Continuous professional development is something your marketers will need to succeed. Professional development helps your employees become better marketers which helps them bring in revenue for your company.

It's important to invest in educating your team, especially if you run a small team. When people have to be a jack of all trades, you need to educate them on each trade.

5. Standardize your processes.

No matter if you run a small or large marketing team, there's going to be turnover. Make sure that none of your processes rely on one person or one person's knowledge.

I've worked at companies where I was given a project and then when I asked about training, they said, "The only person who knows how to do this left."

Try to avoid those pitfalls. As you grow, your processes need to be scalable. Formalizing and standardizing those systems will help train new team members effectively.

6. Don't be afraid to hire experts.

If you work at a small business and only have one or two people on the marketing team, you can't be afraid to spend money on outsourcing.

You can hire two people who are a "jack of all trades," but they won't be a master of anything. You don't want to waste time and money while your team tries to figure out how to do something.

Instead, invest your money in hiring specialists or agencies that your marketing team can manage. That way they can focus on the projects they are masters of.

7. Develop an onboarding process.

Again, training is so important for your team's success. If you have a consistent onboarding process, it'll make training easier. Perhaps consider having an onboarding team who helps train all new employees who then graduate to separate team training (this is how HubSpot does it).

Each team lead should create an onboarding process for people in their department (as it will be different among each unique position). The more standardized this process is, the more efficient and effective it will be.

Building and managing a marketing team is going to be a different process for different companies. Your company will have different needs, so don't be afraid to iterate on the processes listed above.

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Originally published Aug 19, 2020 5:00:00 PM, updated September 30 2023