Six Characteristics of a Good Marketing Organisation Design


As a marketing employee you’ll be part of an organisation design with a reporting line from your boss to you and from you to your team members. This design is likely to change regularly, prompted by big and small changes in the business and marketing function, but how do you know if the design is any good?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all these questions, you are headed in the right direction.

1. Is the customer at the heart of your organisation design?

It’s all too easy to design your organisation around the needs and competencies of the people in it – for power and influence, personal development and job satisfaction. Yet your starting point should be about meeting the needs of your customers, hopefully as defined in your business and marketing strategy. Do you need more personalised marketing skills, e-commerce capabilities or influencer know-how? Define the activities your marketing team will be required to deliver to meet customer needs and therefore the organisation you need to support those activities.

2. Is your organisation design built future proofed?

Motorcyclists who want to ride smoothly and progressively are taught to look at least 50 metres ahead, as anything nearer than that is gone before they’ve had time to react. Take the same approach with your organisation design, thinking 3 years ahead. Your legacy organisation is unlikely to be changeable overnight, so it may take 18 months to get to your ideal organisation model. By having a design built with a three-year outlook you can be confident each short-term adjustment will move you closer to your long-term goal.

3. Is your organisation design ‘brought to life’ by a clear statement of roles and responsibilities?

We’re all familiar with Owner’s Manuals for new gadgets and devices. Organisation Designs also need the equivalent of an Owner’s Manual to explain how they work. Good organisation designs are accompanied by a clear statement of governance, describing how decisions are made (often in the form of a RACI matrix), how participants are expected to work together and the key routines and meeting forums that keep everyone up to date and involved. This team governance also needs to be reflected in individual job descriptions and in the best organised organisations, a set of short ‘purpose statements’ for each team that clarify to the uninitiated who does what, without needing to read, compare and contrast every individual job description.

4. Does your organisation design reflect a considered view on what should be done inside and outside of the organisation?

Marketing organisations extend beyond the team of employees to include the services of specialist providers in many different fields like advertising development, data management, media planning and buying, consumer research, etc. A good marketing organisation design will include careful consideration of the capabilities that should be part of the internal marketing organisation design and those that are better sourced externally, as part of the wider marketing ecosystem. These are rarely straightforward decisions, particularly in areas like social media management, data science and programmatic media but it’s better choices are made by design rather than accident or circumstance. Marketing teams are increasingly discovering that traditional in-sourcing versus out-sourcing approaches are limiting when they are applied to the collection, analysis and use of data, and a fresh outlook is required if business critical capabilities are to be properly developed and protected.

5. Is your organisation design enabled by an Operations specialist?

If you’re the Captain Kirk of your marketing enterprise, you’re going to need a Scotty i.e. someone who can keep the marketing organisation running smoothly and efficiently. Some of the best and most forward-looking marketing organisation designs assign responsibility to an Operations specialist for management of operational aspects of the team, ensuring ‘all the trains run on time’. Flock customers, including McDonalds in the USA and Asda in the UK, have added the Operations role to their marketing organisation design and look after essentials such as ensuring campaigns are delivered on time and to budget, providing systems that enable colleagues to follow the agreed ways of working, managing the performance of agency partners and monitoring and reporting on key performance indicators.

6. Does your marketing organisation design serve a higher purpose beyond that of management convenience?

Yes, organisation designs are there to give clarity about who works for whom, a convenient way of effectively managing responsibilities across a group of people. But more fundamentally the organisation design should serve the requirements the business makes of the marketing team. These requirements (e.g. sales growth in target consumer segments, improvements to brand awareness and perception, etc.) will drive the activities of the marketing team (e.g. campaign development and implementation, new product and service development, etc.) which will in turn shape the team’s ways of working (WoW) i.e. formal or semi-formal processes for regular activities, ad-hoc collaboration for project-based activities, etc. A good organisation design will be created to support these WoW, grouping people together in the right numbers to make it easy to work in the desired way. Don’t let your organisation design cut across and impede collaborative ways of working – adopt the mantra of ‘ways of working first, organisation design second’.

Flock is the marketing transformation company, helping deliver the ‘how’ of marketing. Marketing teams approach us for help with their organisation design for a variety of reasons, including top-down restructuring, periodic refreshes and increasingly as an intuitive reaction to market disruption. With our deep experience and understanding of marketing capabilities we can both propose and implement bespoke organisation design solutions.

To find out more, contact Paul Duxbury, Twitter @pcduxbury, LinkedIn or visit

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