You want the best of the best within each of the function’s disciplines.
Putting together a B2B marketing team kind of feels like assembling a superhero group. You want the best of the best from every industry specialty.
An essential step towards building this powerful pack is recognizing which areas in your marketing structure currently come up short.
Unfortunately, we’re not actually superheroes and there is no magic formula to pinpointing your perfect people. Your company’s needs are unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. to marketing team structure.
But we do have the power of experience on our side. So, today, we’ll cover some key questions any CMO should be asking themselves when building their ideal marketing team org chart.
T-shaped employee skill-sets or subject matter expertise?
Specialized tasks may require varying levels of expertise. So should a marketing team structure include jack-of-all-trades or single-subject experts?
The answer depends on your needs and objectives.
At the outset of my tenure at ZoomInfo, for instance, the company had just above 100 employees. We adapted and embraced doing more with less. We focused on finding T-shaped shaped marketers — professionals with profound knowledge in two areas of critical marketing disciplines, along with basic industry knowledge.
T-shaped employees are usually hired in-house, since they display agility and handle multiple projects at once.
On the other hand, five years later, ZoomInfo is rapidly approaching the 1,500 employees mark.
When we were smaller, concessions about resource allocation had to be made and ideas either had to be put on the back-burner or attacked by committee team members as ancillary tasks to our core objectives.
These days, the marketing team is able to operate at a much broader capacity, and to do so, we’ve hired more subject matter expertise (SME) within specific focus areas.
For instance, whereas our marketing team used to split duties for public relations and analyst relations, now we have a (growing) function dedicated to each initiative.
It’s useful to consider the aim of structure when weighing the pros and cons of SMEs vs.T-shaped employees. Let’s also consider audience segmentation vs. a center of excellence.
Marketing team structure by audience segments
The concept here is building multiple hyper-focused marketing teams within the overall function.
If you’re a smaller organization, deploying audience-focused marketing pods is probably out of the question. The concept mostly lends itself to larger enterprise marketing teams.
These organizations can afford to build pods with dedicated resources for design, content, campaigns — everything, really.
It all goes back to supporting growth through personalization in strategy, and partnership with sales. Using pods creates agility within marketing and enables the team to more closely align with sales goals.
Parts of our marketing team are tiered out by audience segment. For instance, our product marketing team is segmented into distinct personas (sales, marketing, operations) and by our packaging (ZoomInfo platform, applications, etc).
However, as we’ve grown, we’ve also incorporated a Center of Excellence (COE) model.
Center of excellence marketing team structure
COEs are designed to help build core capabilities with scale and consistency. Similar to the SME employee, the idea, within a marketing structure, is to build expertise in order to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.
COEs help centralize product development through collaborative plans and strategies. A common COE function for analytics could include subject matter expertise and recommendations for SEO or CRO.
In our latest ZoomInfo reorg, we knew the team predominantly needed to adopt COEs. A massive focus for ZoomInfo in 2020 was content. So, how did we build out the team? We took four primary pillars of content as a service organization and broke them down into distinct lanes.
Notice within a COE, then, are SMEs.
COE success requires CEO mindset
The key lies in attracting and retaining T-shaped employees for these roles. You want a team of professionals that are prepared to dive into a handful of subjects, create resources and build up internal knowledge.
These environments can feel like agency life — lots to learn, lots to do, lots of ways to grow. In turn, you can better market to a wider variety of audience segments.
What skills do you need on your team?
Priorities may come and go, but more often than not, they expand and grow.
Let’s use revenue as an example (because it’s a universal priority that is not going away anytime soon).
It starts with the customer. Where do they engage with your brand? And what technographic and strategic subject matter skill sets do you need to optimize those channels.
At ZoomInfo, our marketing team drives over 60% of revenue from inbound efforts alone. This didn’t happen overnight.
It’s about doubling down in the right areas — design, content, operations, and lead-to-management tools — and taking sound bets in the unknown to continually expand inbound marketing efforts.
Which services should marketing outsource (if any)?
Regardless of your company size, outsourcing marketing tasks is an option. Figuring out which services you should outsource depends on companies goals, existing talent, budget and company culture.
According to a study done by Hubspot, 59% of B2B companies use a balance of in-house and outsourced marketing services.
For example: if your company generates a lot of traffic from advertisements but can only afford one graphic designer, you can hire an agency to support ad creation.
In-house marketing services
An in-house marketing team works like a small town. A combination of talent works together to create and maintain a foundation of marketing processes.
Your graphic designer (you know, the one who makes ads) finds out from your SEO specialist which kinds of ads are generating the most traffic. And that SEO specialist works with the product manager to figure out which target audience you want traffic from.
The bigger a company gets, the more likely outsourcing is going to happen. Complete dependence on in-house marketing work can exhaust your budget. There’s onboarding, training, software seats, and facility usage to consider.
Outsourced marketing services
Outsourcing services allow you to utilize experts and skilled specialists trusted by multiple companies. And if they have domain expertise in your industry, the learning curve is minimal.
One of the biggest concerns to outsourcing is conflict of interest. Is this agency working for my competitors? Unless you’re able to sneak it into your contract, agencies are not obligated to give you a straight answer.
So that agency you hired (as mentioned earlier) to create ads could be producing some that are similar to your competitors. And those ads could drive traffic to their site instead of yours.
A hybrid service solution
ZoomInfo produces most of its stuff but sometimes … animation, video, PR.. Getting the best of both worlds calls for a solution integrating both types of services.
Putting together a plan for this includes in-house-created objectives, direction, and strategies. With that framework, outsourced services can then execute them into launched programs.
Going back to the ad creation example: your in-house designer can create specific guidelines and direction to unique designs, from there your agency can work with and complete those ads.
This hybrid method is resource and budget-friendly, but it all depends on your needs.
How can you strengthen a marketing team structure?
Building a B2B marketing team requires consistency with enterprise-wide strategies and plan executions. These steps outline how to maintain that consistency and strengthen your marketing team framework:
- Set goals and objectives that align with the company mission and planned initiatives.
- Define roles and responsibilities for every team member.
- Design hierarchies with team-wide integration in mind.
- Always use accurate data. Bad data can lead to a number of catastrophes, like sending an email campaign to the wrong target audience.
Final takeaways of creating an ideal marketing team structure
Your marketing team structure is unique to your company. The talent you hire is there to provide consistent innovation throughout the enterprise journey, moving toward goal achievement.
And these goals, along with your budget, determine which skill sets and expertise are needed.