How to Build and Structure a Marketing Department
According to the American Marketing Association’s latest definition, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” Nearly every organization and institution engages in some form of marketing to sell their ideas, products and services to a target market.
Deciding to create and build a marketing team signifies an important step in the growth of a small business. It’s even more important to structure the marketing team so that it aligns with your industry’s trends, your product offerings and your customers’ needs.
Before filling the different roles that comprise your marketing department, you must first understand the different functions essential to running an effective marketing strategy. These functions include content creation, demand generation and lead generation (also referred to as lead management).
There are two components of content creation: researching and creating. You’ll need to hire one or more individuals to research and study your consumers’ interests, concerns and purchasing behavior. The researcher will need to pinpoint, gather and distill this information so you can craft marketing material that educates customers, offers solutions and positions your products and services as part of that solution, during a time and in a place that’s convenient for them.
The other component of content creation is the production of interesting and useful materials. Creating highly relevant and personalized content is becoming increasingly important as more consumers take to social media sites to research brands, read business articles and blog posts, and access interesting data and infographics. Conducting research, hiring writers and designers, and investing money in developing high-quality and relevant content are large parts of inbound marketing. An effective inbound marketing strategy drives prospects and customers to act, whether it’s signing up for a webcast or subscribing to your email list in order to download a free e-book off your website.
Hiring employees to not only create content but to also measure how that content generates product demand is another responsibility you’ll need to assign to a member of your marketing team. Demand-generation roles identify the best channels to distribute, track and measure your marketing content. Another key part of demand generation is using this information to optimize your marketing content with search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to increase your online presence and rankings on major search engines.
Many marketing organizations use automation software to electronically funnel and track sales leads throughout the entire marketing and sales process. For example, a field marketing manager may use a customer relationship management system, such as Salesforce.com, to determine when a web visitor (i.e. a lead) subscribed to a corporate newsletter, entered the database or became a customer. It’s also this person’s responsibility to nurture marketing leads – repeatedly connecting with prospects through print and digital marketing channels – until they can be passed along to your sales team.
From size to function, the characteristics of marketing departments vary across organizations and sectors. Typically, the first role hired for marketing focuses on developing and implementing strategic programs that increase a company’s customer base and brand presence. As your company grows and evolves over time, you’ll likely add more marketing roles to accommodate growing customer demand and internal communications needs.
VP of Marketing
Your VP of Marketing is typically the most senior person on the marketing team who manages employees and spearheads strategy. He or she is primarily responsible for reviewing, approving and executing your marketing plan. Whether it’s identifying new target markets, setting product prices or acting as a PR spokesperson for the company, the VP of Marketing ensures that your company’s larger vision and business goals are present throughout your marketing strategy.
The Marketing Director generally reports to the VP of Marketing and handles the day-to-day operations of the department. Because this senior role is also responsible for translating the company’s business objectives into sales revenue, you may decide to only appoint a director to lead your marketing department and have them report directly to the CEO.
In addition to planning and executing marketing programs, a significant part of the director’s role is identifying and building relationships with other department leaders. Managing the marketing budget, forecasting potential sales revenue, and conducting thought leadership and market studies are additional tasks that Marketing Directors handle depending on the size and structure of the department.
A Marketing Assistant, Coordinator or Specialist role varies in terms of level of experience and company needs (some organizations consider this an entry-level position, while others require candidates to have anywhere from two to five years of experience). However, almost all marketing coordinators and specialists are responsible for handling tactical duties, such as event planning, database management, content development and creation, and market research. This role may also be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with outside vendors, writing press releases and fielding inquiries from media.
Typically, the title “Marketing Specialist” is targeted toward experienced professionals, whereas a “Marketing Assistant” or “Marketing Associate” position is more appropriate for a recent college graduate or an individual with less than two years of full-time marketing experience.
There are many other roles that fall under the marketing umbrella, including social media strategist, public relations manager, marketing manager, sales coordinator and marketing analyst. Similar to other company departments, your new marketing team might decide to share responsibility for these functions or to create a new role altogether to handle the team’s growing responsibilities.
No matter how fast your company expands, make sure your marketing team remains nimble enough to grow with it. Equipping your marketing team with adequate staff and the right talent will allow you to quickly respond to market changes as you plan your long-term business strategy.