Building a powerful marketing team is a smart move at any growth stage. I’ve worked as a one-woman marketing team for early-stage startups and with enterprise marketing teams for multinational companies.
In every scenario, I witnessed how establishing and adapting the right marketing team structure generated compounding results that helped fuel all other departments.
A great marketing team is the oil that greases your growth flywheel. Having the right people behind your company helps you lay a strong foundation for your brand, determine the best audience to target, frame your value in an easily digestible way, and ultimately earn more revenue.
That, in turn, empowers sales (through relevant messaging and tools), provides more insights for product (through customer listening and interactions), and reduces support workload (by clarifying your value proposition and addressing objections up front).
In this article, I’ll go over the skills to look for when building your marketing team, different marketing team structures, some common pillars of a strong marketing team, and additional resources to help you build your dream marketing team.
What to look for when building your marketing team
Most startups need to emphasize speed and flexibility in their marketing teams.
In a fast-paced environment, advantages like being first to market or the earliest to cover a trend or topic can give you a major competitive edge.
Enterprise companies tend to focus more on compliance than speed, and have notoriously complex approval processes. An agile marketing team can reduce the review cycle by providing quick iterations and updates to their work.
Willingness to learn
Marketing changes constantly, which means your team should stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies to keep ahead of the competition.
Marketers who are willing to learn can expand their repertoire with the most applicable and necessary skills to boost your company’s initiatives.
Organization arises from well-documented processes and a disciplined team. This is crucial for companies of all sizes, and increases in importance exponentially as you grow larger.
Hiring organized team members will help you stay on top of documents, tasks, and communications, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
In startups, you need marketers who can wear multiple hats. Your content strategist might need to work on creating a video, for example, or your paid ads manager might have to design graphics.
Team members with multi-disciplinary skills keeps you lean, flexible, and agile.
As a marketing team grows, members can develop specializations. Narrowing roles encourages deeper knowledge in each position. A content marketer’s job may suddenly break up into a copywriter, a content strategist, and an SEO specialist.
Nevertheless, you still want to hire marketers who have a healthy foundation across several disciplines. This helps in a few ways:
- You work more efficiently with the teams who specialize in them.
- You gain a competitive edge.
- You obtain a more holistic view of how every action drives different teams’ results.
Let’s discuss two types of marketers by analyzing their skills, experience, and specialties.
A T-shaped marketer has a general understanding of multiple marketing fields, and extensive knowledge of one, in which they possess greater experience and specialization. For example, a marketer might know PR, social media, and community marketing tactics, and have a deep understanding of SEO and content marketing.
This often means they’ve tried their hand at numerous experiments, learned the ins and outs of successful strategies and tactics, and have intricate knowledge of the metrics and KPIs they need to track to gauge ROI.
MKT1 introduced the concept of π-shaped marketers, who have expertise in one and a half to two areas of marketing. For example, they may be experts in both product and growth marketing.
This type of marketer can usually move at lightning speeds thanks to their wider experience and knowledge.
They can execute quickly and operate autonomously, making them — as the MKT1 team calls out — ideal for your first marketing hire.
Different types of marketing and their interactions
“Marketing” is an umbrella term with many subfields. In this article, I focus on a few of the most popular. Pay special attention to brand marketing, growth marketing, product marketing, and content marketing in the list below.
Brand marketing emphasizes your mission, vision, voice, tone, and overall brand perceptions.
It usually involves long-term efforts that span your whole company and affect the entire marketing team.
Brand marketing focuses on telling a story and inciting certain emotions toward your brand. One of the first tasks under brand marketing is formulating brand guidelines.
Growth marketing is all about conversion rates and funnel optimization. It concerns acquiring new customers through paid and organic channels all the way to impelling them to engage with your brand.
This entails understanding your customer and their needs, ensuring you have a seamless onboarding process, and continuously proving your value.
How to create a masterful end-to-end customer onboarding experience
Product marketing is all about product positioning and clearly communicating your value to your target audience.
It aims to ensure you’re positioned in the correct market category, illustrate your unique value buckets, and highlight your advantages against common alternatives.
Content marketing involves the strategy, planning, creation, and distribution of different content mediums.
It encompasses all of a brand’s created assets, such as blogs, ebooks, videos, whitepapers, emails, courses, social media posts, and more.
A content marketer ensures all of these elements live on the most impactful channels, complement each other, and contribute to your overall business goals.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing refers to advertising on social media platforms. This could include creating Twitter posts, writing LinkedIn articles, streaming on Instagram live, or recording product demos on TikTok.
These initiatives focus on engaging with your audience, building your brand, driving traffic to your website through links and other CTAs, and increasing sales on platforms like Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops.
Inbound marketing creates experiences tailored to your target audience with the intent of drawing them to your brand.
For example, hosting a webinar with relevant topics and informative speakers can attract your target audience to register and connect with your brand.
Inbound marketing focuses on solving problems your target audience is facing to engage and delight them, and turn them into brand advocates.
Webinar strategy 101: Everything you need to run a successful webinar
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing communications and initiatives executed online. It handles email, social media, webinars, online communities, search engine marketing, online ads, blogs, website, and more.
Community marketing often refers to creating, managing, and moderating your own communities, such as a private Slack community or Facebook group.
It can also mean engaging with existing, relevant communities to hear what your audience is saying about you, responding to any mentions, and adding value by answering questions and providing advice.
Email marketing revolves around outbound customer communications, with a focus on increasing opens, clickthrough, and read rates.
Every email has a different CTA, whether it’s to read a blog, sign up for a demo, or complete your onboarding process.
An increasing number of lifecycle marketing roles now focus heavily on email communications, from lead nurturing to onboarding, product updates to engagement and retention.
Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing involves earning more leads from search results, whether that’s through organic means like SEO, or paid means like Google ads.
The goal of each strategy in this type of marketing is to increase your website visibility and clickthrough rate in search engine result pages.
Account-based marketing uses personalization and custom messaging to target key accounts.
This type of marketing starts with the ideal customer in mind, then works backwards to produce the marketing materials most likely to resonate with those customers.
It also composes your channel strategy and develops features around those target accounts’ preferences.
Affiliate marketing leverages a network of affiliates to share your brand and generate new leads through their own network and marketing channels.
Affiliates are typically rewarded upon sending qualified leads. For example, you might pay a flat-rate per new customer they send, or a percentage of sales from their affiliate link.
Loyalty marketing focuses on improving your customer experience to boost customer retention and extend your customer lifetime value.
Some common tactics include launching and managing a rewards program, and producing more user-generated content like reviews.
Customer retention 101: 9 Strategies you can implement this week
Internal marketing promotes your brand, mission, vision, and objectives within your own company.
This helps everyone maintain consistency in voice, tone, value, products, services, resources, and upcoming events.
It’s also useful for justifying marketing activities and any time investment you request from other departments, like having the sales team undergo positioning training.
Marketing team structures at different stages
1) A lean marketing team
Each team member needs to be a powerhouse.
In this type of team, you need to hire people with marketing skills that complement each other. You want diverse marketers without too much skill overlap.
- A brand marketer who knows content marketing, copywriting, and SEO.
- A product marketer who knows events management, partner marketing, and web design.
- A growth marketer who knows conversion optimization, ad strategy, and SEM.
At a lean startup I once worked with, I initially focused on brand and product marketing, and outsourced content marketing and ad strategy.
2) A growing marketing team
Each team member needs to be a voracious learner.
The most important trait of this team is the ability to grow with the company’s needs. That could mean a copywriter learning to create videos upon discovering that type of content performs better with their target audience.
Other examples include:
- A brand marketing team that takes on everything related to the company’s voice and image (for example, the website, emails, and social media).
- A growth team that handles all things acquisition, with a focus on revenue (for example, ads, SEO, and sales enablement materials).
One of my clients had a marketing team composed of a content marketer, an email marketer, a paid ads manager, a product marketer, and a data scientist.
3) A mega-marketing team
Each team member needs to be an expert.
This team structure accommodates a dedicated role for any channel or initiative within marketing. That includes:
- Brand manager – Sets the tone and manages the brand image across all channels.
- Content strategist – Aligns the content team with company goals, plans next steps, and monitors metrics.
- Copywriter – Creates content, including blogs, emails, video scripts, web copy, and more.
- Editor – Proofreads and ensures all content follows editorial guidelines and is error free.
- Content marketer – Oversees amplification of content after publishing.
- SEO specialist – Optimizes the website and blogs for search.
- Email marketer – Handles all customer-facing email outreach, including writing, scheduling, and coordinating newsletters.
- Social media manager – Produces social media content, requests it from relevant resources, and manages the posting schedule.
- Public relations specialist – Monitors and manages your brand image in the press and other news outlets.
- Relationship marketer – A hybrid between marketing and customer support who responds to negative reviews, generates positive reviews and other UGC, and helps resolve any public issues from customers.
- Community manager – Interacts with relevant communities, owned and otherwise, and boosts engagement on your owned channels.
- Event manager – Plans, executes, and moderates events, both online and in person.
- Partnerships manager – Coordinates joint marketing opportunities with relevant partners.
- Affiliate manager – Acquires and builds relationships with affiliates, and provides necessary support to make them successful.
- Paid ads manager – Arranges, optimizes, and monitors ad spend across different channels.
- Marketing designer – Creates branded images for blogs, newsletters, social media, webinars, and any other marketing efforts.
- Web designer – Crafts an intuitive online experience for your visitors and users.
- Web engineer – Builds and optimizes your website, handles the technical SEO, keeps your site secure, and ensures your marketing tools are integrated and work correctly.
- Data scientist – Builds and reports on your attribution models, pulls actionable insights from your tool, and provides data needed to optimize your funnel.
You wouldn’t hire all of these roles at once, but larger marketing teams usually have their highest ROI channels broken down to dedicated specialists. For example, if content marketing drives a lot of paid signups, they might break the department down into a strategist, copywriter(s), and editor.
Resources for building your marketing team
Here are some excellent online resources I used when building out marketing teams for various clients:
- How to organize your early-stage SaaS marketing organization (MKT1)
- How to Structure a Marketing Team of Any Size (HubSpot)
- How to Build a Powerful Marketing Team From Scratch (MarketerHire)
- Marketing Team Setup (Alfred Lua)
- 221. Org charts (Kevan Lee)
Wrapping up – Choosing the perfect marketing team structure
Your marketing team structure should and will change continuously as you grow, shift priorities, and discover new insights. Finding team members who can wear multiple hats and stay flexible will help you adapt to fluctuating industries and stay on top of emerging marketing strategies.