Executives that organize the most productive and profitable marketing departments focus on data and consumer insights. Due to the rapidly changing pace of technology platforms an effective structure should always allow for flexibility and growth.

Leaders today organize teams around disciplines and skills. But some are tossing aside conventional arrangements, making new paths for more fluid workflows.

After we discuss the latest successful trends in marketing structures, we’ll dive into how various companies are laying out their own marketing departments. When laying out budgets for events, tools, content marketing, and advertising there is one guiding principle: how does this bring us closer to our consumer?

Organizing For Growth

What is the ideal structure for a marketing department? Sadly, no clear-cut answer exists. But the savvy leaders are asking:

“What values and goals drive our brand strategy?”

“What capabilities do we see driving marketing success?”

“What structures and ways of working supports them?”

Structure is going to follow strategy – rather than the other way around.

Marketing is now more holistic than ever. For brands to be effective with consumers, they are engaging in a total transfer of their internal culture. While many large companies say “good ideas can come from anywhere,” typically ideation arrives from brand managers and top execs that steer the dominant media channels.

The high-performance marketing leaders of today don’t align their department activities with company strategy. Instead, they are active in creating that strategy. A survey by Harvard Business Review found that from 2006 to 2013, the influence of marketing on strategy development increased by 20%.

Companies like Motorola are combining department functions under a single leader. Eduardo Conrado is now the senior VP of both marketing and IT. This way the tech leader is able to seamlessly influence the relationship between brand image and developing technology.

Visa did something similar with their new CMO, also appointing Antonio Lucio to HR leader after one year. This way Lucio could tighten the alignment between the strategy and personnel.

We all want a marketing organization to be flexible, responsive, and consistent when moving towards set goals. Rethinking the structure depends foremost upon how to deliver customers the experience they crave while meeting their needs and wants.

Big Data and the Customer Experience

Big data allows companies to guide strategy with consumer insights and build structures around channels that directly cater to consumer needs. What buyers are doing is obvious – but why they’re doing it will inform tactics and departmental optimization.

Consider framing processes around consumer’s basic drives – such as desires. To achieve goals, find a partner, and nurture a child (for example) are “universal human truths” that must be responded to in order to keep user business.

A multi-touch buyer’s journey is going to require inputs across all marketing departments – but which channels see the most use (and the most funding) is a matter of how your brand engages its target audience. A powerful and clear brand purpose will align an organization and enable the most consistent messaging throughout touchpoints.

Top brands are building themselves in the image of big data information. This enables them to deliver the three important manifestations of their brand to consumers with ease:

  • Functional benefits – why a customer buys the brand (Starbucks coffee gives me a boost).
  • Emotional benefits – how it satisfies the customer’s emotional need (coffee can be a social activity).
  • Societal benefits – what use it provides in context of the larger group (I like to drink fair trade coffee, it’s better for the growers).

Let’s look at a few examples of how to structure your segments and channels to best align with customer engagement.

The Inner Circle Model

Some companies use their organization and budgeting to deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know to better personalize offerings for customers. Others focus upon the breadth of their relationships by increasing their overall touchpoints.

Either way, knowing who your customers are and what they want is top of the pyramid. Or in the case of this graphic, the core layer of the company onion:



This graphic communicates just how important customer understanding and segmentation is to marketing organization. Every circle is a department with distinct function that depends upon the information available from customers. Here, the focus is making customer information and engagement a core, cultural value and structuring outward.

For example, the “Content, Tools, Experiences” circle sits within the “Reach” circle because these interior efforts inform and influence those of the outer sphere. CTE would usually be called inbound marketing. It is more reliant upon customer data and is therefore closer to the consumer insights.

The “Reach” (typically outbound marketing) team is a department of experts who understand traditional media, social, search and other paid channels. This department bases its activities off of its counterpart, filling the gaps and supporting the channels that bring in more information.

The Task Force Model

Some companies are removing the middle layers of management and creating “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and inform best practices while creating flexibility in resources. These brands choose not to categorize marketing roles by title, instead painting functions as one of three broad types:

  • “Think” marketers – who apply the analytic capabilities for data mining, media-mix modeling, and ROI optimization.
  • “Do” marketers – who develop content and design and lead production.
  • “Feel” marketers – who focus upon consumer interaction and engagement, roles such as customer service, social media, online community management.

Liberty Global, an international media company, uses the task force organization at specific customer engagement points – such as billing. Teams are lead by managers of marketing and non-marketing functions, allowing an agility to draw from different talent pools to tackle a strategy. This requires a confident leadership, one that believes local marketing understands global strategy and that global marketing understand the local marketing reality.

3-think-marketing-organization-structure 4-task-force-marketing-organization-structure


This model makes budgeting simple. By allocating funds by areas of primary engagement, brands like Liberty are able to dispense resources to those areas that have shown previous need. If percentages should shift, so does budgeting.

By calculating the touch points within a buyer’s journey and adding them together, your brand can use this model to determine the proper balance of marketing personnel (and the segments they service) in the organization.

An Inbound Marketing Model

Ultimately, your organization is comprised of goals, products, customers, and proven channels. Making sure that each significant division has a leader to regulate the budget and activity can be great for focusing teams on different areas of specific customer engagement.

Below is Hubspot’s marketing organization chart:



How to Budget

Iowa State University, and Entrepreneur magazine, recommend that start-up businesses devote around 20 to 30 percent of their annual budget to advertising and marketing during the first and second years. Established businesses should find that 7 to 10 percent of a total budget will be enough.

The budget is split between:

  • Brand development costs – all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.
  • Costs of promoting your business – campaigns, advertising, events, etc.

Budget for Tools

For a companies like Hubspot, a tools budget is essential:

“Tools abound to help PR practitioners not only create and distribute great content and find and target key stakeholders, but to ultimately measure reach and effectiveness. The key is making sure you’re laser-focused on who you’re setting out reach and influence, then ensuring that your budget supports how they’ll most likely want to receive (and share) your key messages.”

“As the media and digital landscape evolves at breakneck speed, continually reassessing the tools, services, and programs you’re employing is a great way to determine real-time ROI of your overall spend. Today’s measurement tool may be worthless to you tomorrow.”

Nathaniel Eberle, HubSpot’s Director of PR & Brand

Budget for Content Creation

Budgeting for tools goes hand-in-hand with content creation. Curata tells us that 76% of marketers saw an increase in customer engagement as a result of content marketing. Fortunately, content marketing is a relatively cheap aspect of a marketing budget with high ROI per lead.



To budget for content creation, consider that you will want a great deal of original content. With more than 2 million blog posts being pumped out every day, creating the best content is the best way to drive traffic and increase conversions with your customers.

A steady stream of quality materials, from paid research, infographics, whitepapers, to blog posts will bring your target audience directly to you.

The Content Marketing Institute found that 25% is the average spend for a content out of an entire marketing budget. CMI also found a correlation between content marketing effectiveness and the more a company spent on content marketing.

Budget for Advertising

To ensure your content creation budget is well spent, ads will be helpful in generating awareness for your brand and providing targeted lead engagement. Putting promotional dollars into LinkedIn, Facebook, Slideshare, etc. will help your content find its ideal audience.

How much you spend on ads will also be determined by who you’re targeting. Executives will respond to direct mail and cold calling, as will most older prospects and young professionals, but otherwise traditional advertising like TV, radio, and print ads can be very expensive.

What portion of the budget was used for these outbound channels has now shifted mostly to inbound. But cold calls and direct mail do generate immediate results – unlike lead nurturing – so there’s value to be had.

Budget for Events

As a cost of promoting your brand, a budget for an event can include everything from paid speakers, promotional materials, entertainment, name badges, giveaways, decor, hotels, and more.

As an outbound function that supports customer retention, allows you to demonstrate thought leadership, generates quality leads, and allows for customer one-on-one time, events are best done well and on select occasions. Understanding events as satellites to larger marketing efforts should help you budget accordingly.

Key Takeaways

Structuring a modern marketing organization requires some creativity. It asks you to weigh and consider every aspect of marketing: customer data, engagement channels, creative production – then decide which areas deserve the most funding and personnel. I strongly recommend using customers as the center for all these initiatives to give you the flexibility you need to assign projects across your organization.