How to Structure Your B2B Marketing Department When Your Digital Budget Increases

How to Structure a B2B Marketing DepartmentWhen your digital budget increases, some questions may cross your mind: Who’s going to do all the work? What skills do we need to hire? Where will we find the right people?  

Exactly.

This article is a follow-up to a post and Infographic I created last year on How to Organize a B2B Marketing Department that showed how to create both Corporate Marketing and Field Marketing teams under a single Marketing Leader (with dotted line supervision for the latter by the Sales Leader).

I get a lot of response and questions as it relates to real-life and what-if examples, particularly since many small- and medium-sized B2Bs are just beginning their journey to ‘invest’ (vs. spend) in integrated digital marketing that is driven by data and customer insights. There is a struggle in finding the best way to staff and manage the work to meet the new and often challenging charter that these B2Bs face. It’s scary territory to many who are accustomed to simply hiring a hungry sales force and a marketing support person with a ‘web and SEO guy’ to build the website and get them ranked in Google.

If you decide to dedicate a Corporate Marketing team to oversee and manage the brand while also sharing accountability with Sales for various topline metrics toward growth and profitability, you need to consider aspects that relate to execution. If a strategy isn’t properly created and executed, none of the numbers will look good.

General advice: B2Bs that are new to integrated digital marketing should think these questions through and ensure the right people are sitting at the table to help answer them:

  1. Who is going to do all the work and what skills are needed?
  2. Where do the lines for Sales and Marketing align, cross or stay separated?
  3. Do we need to invest more heavily in training and tools to better align Marketing and Sales teams and activities?
  4. How do we build the requirements for the technology piece?
  5. Where do graphic design and other creative aspects fit in as a priority?
  6. How should we allocate staff?  Do we need a new leadership team or just a few consultants and contractors to kick things off?

Specific advice: These scenarios below may come up once you decide to up your digital investment. Some tips on what to do or consider:

Scenario #1: 
We’ve decided to increase our budget 20% toward digital experiences and integration across different channels and the sales funnel. Basically this means we’ve decided to invest in inbound marketing, marketing automation and lead management systems, and content. How to best staff for this kind of workload?

Before you start throwing money at digital advances make sure you have a strategy and plan and know what you’re talking about. The biggest mistake people often make is to implement “ideas” from individuals instead of using a well-thought of plan by someone who knows how digital marketing works. Hire a consultant if you’re not sure what to do. There are many who specialize in helping B2Bs get this right.

From that plan you need to assess the reality of the workload (what it will really take for the plan to work). Then in order to decide how to staff for the workload, you may need to carve out a separate assignment to analyze the plan through that lens. In other words, decide the what and why, then decide the how.

As for staffing…

You will likely need someone who can oversee all the pieces and guide the workload. A strong Digital Marketing Director/Chef is key.

Other folks you may need:

  • Content Manager to own and drive the stories and content needed to support the plan. Some folks hire writers to fill this role but I don’t recommend it. Hire someone who understands the role content should play, is an ambassador for your brand’s voice and can project manage a heavy content development workload. You can always outsource the writing.
  • Digital Webmaster to oversee and coordinate all technological aspects, including website development, SEO, Google Adwords, and the integration of separate tools and systems (such as CRM and marketing automation software).
  • General Marketing Project Manager to create specific campaigns and sales support activities (such as webinars and lead nurturing activities), and project manage them to completion. This person could also be in charge of organizing, consolidating and monitoring metrics and analytics for all stakeholders so that everyone on the team is prepared to tell “the story” for return on investment.
  • Events Manager. Depending on how important events and conferences are in your marketing mix, you may need someone dedicated solely to events.

This is just one way to look at it and there is no one right or wrong, and you will likely need some outsourced help to build the infrastructure. But this is why the strategy/plan must come first—you should decide the staffing model based on the confirmed plan and priorities and assess where various skills crossover and/or where you’d want to outsource or hire someone.

Scenario #2:
We’ve decided to up our game as it relates to social media. Now what? 

This depends on what you mean by “up your game” as social media is often just a channel within the broader inbound and content marketing plan. Often times the person responsible for the brand’s voice and content also takes on the social media.

The point is to be careful not to think of social media in a silo—it should be part of a larger strategy and many times the workload can be shared among various team members or outsourced.

Scenario #3:
We’ve decided to allocate 10% of the budget to creative design to ensure we stand out visually.

If your strategy is to generate more inbound leads and help your sales team stand out from the competition, you will likely need to invest not only in someone who can create an awesome content strategy but also someone who can bring stories to life via compelling visuals. Visual storytelling is a common buzzword in marketing circles and there are a lot of talented people out there to help take your “look” to the next level. You need to be prepared to invest in the ones who are truly top-notch and who can work with an integrated team in a potentially complicated business. B2Bs can sometimes be a challenging environment for the creative types.

Bottom Line: Are you seeing a theme here? The answers come back to “It depends on what the strategy and roadmap looks like”. Decide your strategy and plan first; then go back and analyze the best staffing model based on that work that needs to get done and the skills that are needed. There are many consultants that can help if this is not your area of expertise.

Check out this post for a continuation of this theme: HOW TO MEET B2B MARKETING METRIC GOALS WITH JUST ONE PERSON — HINT: YOU CAN’T! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Lydia Vogtner

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in marketing, messaging and content strategy.

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