How to Organise your B2B Marketing Function for Maximal Business Impact
Deciding on your organisational blueprint is one of the major enablers or disablers of Marketing effectiveness and efficiency. Yet, too often this topic is not addressed strategically, or things are done like they have always been done, even though the world has moved on quite dramatically. This topic usually includes two dimensions.
1. Organising the Marketing function: How do you organise your marketing department across the different tasks that need to be done as outlined in the value delivery chain?
2. Balancing local autonomy and central authority: Which of the activities do you centralise, and which do you allow for regional variation? The truth is that across these dimensions, there are infinite models and combinations. This also means that we have never seen two models that are completely alike. The key is to know your priorities and then define a blueprint that supports this in the most optimal (or least harmful) way.
In this article, we will cover dimension 1 (read more about both dimensions in our CMO guide, which you can download for free in the buttom of this page).
There is no one-size-fits-all within organisational design
No matter which structures your company is governed by (or a combination thereof through a Matrix-structure), you need to contemplate how you should organise your marketing team (or teams). In order to do so you need to balance two, at face level, opposing forces:
- The need for specialisation, which fosters a drive to break all tasks and functions down into smaller and more specialized groups
- The need for integration, which fosters a drive towards “connectivity” across the buyer and customer journey
Based on these forces, we see six ways of organising that comes with certain drawbacks and upsides:
Type 1 – Organise by product-lines: Where the company is organised based on product-category departments. Each department has its own marketing team. This type of structure is common in large enterprises that make lots of different types of products.
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspective: This approach is very old-school and is usually applied in companies that have not looked at how they organize their Marketing function in decades. This approach comes with many downsides including disjointed customer experiences, lack of customer-orientation, duplication of work, and no realization of benefits of scale.
Type 2 – Organise by customer segment: teams are split up based on customer-centric divisions instead of product-based ones. In this model, each segment team will have all Marketing services included.
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspective: While organising according to segments is more customer-oriented than organizing according to products, this approach still comes with a range of inefficiencies similar to the first type. This is as all services are then duplicated across segments, and it is difficult to share learning and realize the benefits of scale.
Type 3 – Organise by tactics: A popular way to organise Marketing is to do it by channel (supported by a tech lead and strategy lead, maybe). This legacy way of organising was especially prevalent 5-10 years ago, but in some instances, it has survived the cut. Typical teams or roles: Project or program lead, PR manager, Social media manager, website manager, event manage, Programmatic lead, Email marketing and CRM manager
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspective: This option is the default mode for many legacy organisations, but it reinforces silos and fosters a disconnected experience, as it often leads to poor synchronization across different channels. Also, this approach mixes up functional skills such as content, technology and strategy and infuses it all into each role.
Type 4 – Organise according to buying journey stages: We have seen a few companies organise their marketing team by stage of the sales funnel or buying journey. For example, they have:
- A team for the top of the funnel (creating awareness and traffic)
- A team for the middle of the funnel (creating engagement on digital destinations and lead generation)
- A team for the bottom of the funnel (lead nurturing, scoring and routing as well as sales enablement)
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspectives: This approach sounds good in theory, but rarely works, as the majority of messages, tools and content used at one stage can and should be repurposed in another. An insight used to get a prospect’s attention may be exactly what you need later in their journey. Also, the journey from prospect to lead is connected, hence isolating each buyer stage can lead to very disjointed customer experiences.
Type 5 – Organise by channel/target group: Another way to organise is based on links in the value chain. This approach is most often seen in B2B businesses that has strong resemblances with B2C business. This includes having many intermediaries, retail presence, and a fragmented end-customer base. In this approach the split could look something like this: E-commerce, Distributor / Retail marketing, End-customer marketing and Alternative decision-makers (politicians, industry analysts, consultants, etc.)
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspective: This approach can definitely make sense if your channels are instrumental to your business. Alternatively, you can have certain roles within an activity-based split (see type 4) that are responsible for serving specific segments that are very different from the end-customer (this could be a Channel Marketing Manager or similar).
Type 6 – Organise by activity: The backbone of a strong marketing organisation starts with acumen in different fields. This approach follows the value creation flow, and there is also a clear handover between each activity and roles included. An activity-based split could look something like:
- Insights & Analytics: function providing market, customer, product, and channel insights across marketing and sales to drive analytically based decision-making
- Marketing Strategy & Planning: Function responsible for setting the marketing strategy, annual marketing plan and budgets, and high-level campaign calendar based on prioritisation.
- Marketing Operations: Content creation, cross-functional program management, agency management, marketing tools management.
- Marketing activation: Includes uploading of content, creation of landing pages, distribution of tools internally and onboarding of colleagues.
- Marketing technology: the increase in the technical complexity of digital marketing requires someone to understanding both marketing as well as marketing technology.
- Brand management: Defining and ensuring a consistent brand experience.
Kvadrant Consulting’s perspective: This is, in our experience, the most effective and efficient way to structure the organization, as it also allows for increasing granularity & specialisation as the department grows while ensuring a connected experience from prospect to customer. It is more likely that someone is good at planning across channels, than good at planning, content development, and activation within a single channel. But for this approach to be successful, it also requires “connector people” that takes the lead and connects not just the different roles, but also ensures that the strategy is translated into compelling content and effective activation. Without this person as the glue, programs can easily become disjointed, and sub-optimisation can become the norm. The final type could have been a geography-centric one, but this model is, in our experience, almost always applied concurrently with one of the types from above.
How to design the ideal organisational blueprint for your company
Having helped several B2B companies design their marketing organization, we see some crucial steps that you need to cross in order to put together the most optimal solution for your needs:
1. Review goals and objectives: Outline the goals and objectives of Marketing as a function according to target groups
2. Determine the activities necessary to accomplish objectives: list and analyse all the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to reach goals & objectives
3. Classify and group the necessary work activities into manageable units: Group activities based on models of departmentalisation: functional, geographical, product, tactics or target group.
4. Define needed roles under each unit; Break each unit down into separate roles in order to ensure role specialization and optimal division of labour
5. Assign activities to individuals and delegate authority: Assign individuals (internal or external) to each role
6. Design a hierarchy of relationships: Determine the vertical (decision‐making) and horizontal (coordinating) relationships of the Marketing function
I hope this article made you reflect on your current way of organising and maybe even gave you some food for thought in terms of how it should be organised to improve your internal efficiencies and external impact.
Do you want to read more?
This topic is just one of the topics we cover in our recently released Marketing guide for Commercial Executive in B2B companies. It will help you answer questions such as:
- How should I organise my marketing department to create maximum value for the resources available?
- How do I define the most optimal tech stack to boost my department’s productivity and improve customer engagement?
- How do I make the collaboration with sales more value-creating and frictionless?
- How do I organise my Marketing department for maximum value
- How do I make sure that my people spend time on creating value for our customers and business instead of putting out fires or doing tedious, repetitive manual work
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