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Do you know the ideal structure for your marketing department? In this blog post, I explore three principles that will help you to determine the best way to build the ideal marketing structure for your organisation.


Strategy before structure


I believe that structure follows strategy. This well-established business maxim is based on work done in the 1960s by Alan Chandler. Frederik Bisbjerg discusses this concept in his blog ‘Structure follows strategy… or does it?’

The ‘structure follows strategy’ principle means that you need a marketing strategy first. You need to know who you are targeting, how and why before you can create the best structure for your department.

If you don’t have this in place, don’t panic. Set this as a goal, and put an interim structure in place. Perhaps outsource roles rather than recruit a full team of permanent staff. Then once the strategy is clear, identify the levels of specialist expertise needed to achieve the strategy. Now you can appoint accordingly.

Building your ideal structure can be a process, rather than a once-off event. As you reassess your strategy, also review the structures.


The sales and marketing conundrum


For many years, sales teams worked separately to marketing teams. No longer. The digital economy has necessitated some convergence of these roles. The two departments can run separately but must connect at a leadership point. This is important in order to understand and optimise the full customer journey.

So they might report to a Chief Revenue Officer or an Advancement Director, etc. But the senior head overseeing the Marketing and Sales activities is ideally the same person. There should be regular interaction between the two.

For further info on this – In his blog post: ‘The 34 marketing principles I live by’ Neil Patel writes: Principle # 3: Sales and marketing should be owned by one person. 

In a schooling situation, Sales is called Admissions or Enrolment. This role may begin as a part of the school secretary’s portfolio, separate from marketing. Ideally, you want this to be a role that is overseen by the same person that oversees the marketing role. 


Insourcing, outsourcing and automation


In small companies, especially non-profit organisations, the marketing role may initially be outsourced to a volunteer. This could be a parent of a school, for example. Then specific projects may be outsourced to paid contractors.

A hybrid model of insourced and outsourced personnel can be effective for marketing as digital change is rapidly shifting talent requirements. It may be worthwhile appointing a generalist as the head of marketing in a strategic role, with an assistant and a range of contractors for specialised areas. For example graphic design, content development, social media, publishing, photography/ videography, event marketing, email marketing, web design and maintenance. Interns are another opportunity to bring in new ideas and energy.

While outsourcing can be more expensive and less reliable in the short-term, this model allows for flexibility. It can be built up with appointments into full-time positions as the organisation grows.

In addition, every activity area of sales and marketing, either insourced or outsourced, should be considered in terms of automation. This will differ according to the marketing strategy, but a level of automation can optimise sales, increase customer satisfaction and boost retention if applied effectively.


Building the team


If you have the above three items in place, you are well placed to design your own ideal marketing department. It helps to look at some best practices in your industry or parallel environments, but copying a competitor is not a great idea. Marketing is, by definition, about distinguishing your brand.

An effective marketing structure can provide an edge in a competitive market, especially if it enables a high-functioning team to implement the strategy for your specific brand.

You may also be wondering if marketing should be on the Exco or the Board of Directors of your organisation? This important topic will follow in a later blog post, so watch this space.


I'm Keryn House

I enjoy writing on my niche in marketing strategy for independent schools. I’m inspired by global trends driving change in this sector – from consumer trends to educational trends to market and macro trends.

I like to draw from my background in strategy across multiple sectors as well as my personal and professional journey to craft short conversational and topical pieces.

I hope you feel informed, inspired and supported as readers of this blog from wherever you are in the world. I encourage comments and suggestions on content. Please also connect with me on my social platforms.