Department structure all depends on the needs of the organization, company culture, and the strategy the team is using to reach its customers. It’s actually one of the most difficult decisions CMOs will make—how to structure their department. You can’t pilot a new structure or test it. And few CMOs have a lot of experience in restructuring departments making it an even greater challenge.
To better understand how different firms structure their marketing organizations, I turned to Josh Steimle, CEO of digital marketing agency MWI. Through in-depth interviews, Steimle learned how the chief marketers of PayPal, HireVue, Ogilvy & Mather and Comedy Central structure their marketing teams. Below are thoughts from Steimle and quotes from his book, Chief Marketing Officers at Work.
Kimberly Whitler: How does PayPal organize marketing?
Josh Steimle: At PayPal, the marketing team is split into consumer, digital and traditional as the team is fairly consumer focused and also allocates quite a bit of resources on digital. “There’s a team that focuses on consumer strategy around the seasonal, quarterly, and annual consumer marketing planning. There’s a focus on consumer segments, one of which is new customer journey. Another, for example, would be around the youth market or highly engaged customers,” said Patrick Adams, Head of Consumer Marketing.
“The next team is a pure digital team that focuses on a best-in- class digital acquisition discipline [display affiliates, SEO, SEM], and digital experience optimization. There is a priority to optimize all of our digital properties, whether it be the dot-com, the mobile site, or the app. True end-to- end optimization.”
Besides consumer strategy and digital, Adams said that his marketing department is home to a third team that handles more of the traditional side of things. “The last team is a traditional marketing services team that is responsible for marketing ops, project management, database management, creative, and QA that services all of North America,” he said.
Whitler: Is the structure different at a smaller firm—HireVue?
Steimle: At HireVue, marketing team structure is dictated by its core functions. Former HireVue CMO, Kevin Marasco (currently CMO of Zenefits) said that his marketing team structure is dependent on the company’s strategic focus. “Our core functions are demand marketing, solid content, digital, and web. We have a field and corporate marketing team that does events, promotions and creative services. The product marketing team does all the product marketing, a bit of intelligence, etcetera. Then, we have a go-to- market team, which takes everything and is responsible for the field enablement of our sales team, services team,” he said.
In addition to their PR and communications team, Marasco said that they’re also focusing efforts on a newly-minted team that handles customer advocacy. “That’s a huge, newer area of marketing that we’re focused on—once we land an account, continuing to drive advocacy, expansion, renewals, referrals, and things like that. We also have a social marketing function, which is another newer area, relatively speaking, for marketers. You used to see social placed in corporate comms, digital, demand, or even HR.” he said. “We now have a broader focus on social. We’re trying to integrate it into all aspects of the business—social selling, social marketing, services and support.”
Whitler: How does a behemoth like Ogilvy organize its marketing function?
Steimle: Ogilvy has a director of content that handles all specialized functions. At Ogilvy & Mather, Senior Partner and Global CMO Lauren Crampsie has a right hand man that handles all things content. “Right now, there’s the centralized global structure, which has a managing director of content, Nikolaj Birjukow. That’s a new position I built particularly for him about two years ago. Nikolaj is my number two on the marketing side and he oversees all of the specialized functions within marketing,” she said.
What Birjukow does is oversee all of Ogilvy’s social media and community management, which also includes the company’s web developers, UX designers and all editorial staff. “Nikolaj also oversees our internal communication staff—the staff that oversees our internal Internet—and how we communicate with our employees. My MD oversees that staff as well. It’s a real content marketing-driven team. I have a worldwide editorial director, Jeremy Katz. I think Ogilvy was the first agency ever to do a content partnership with a publication. We did one with Fast Company about two years ago,” she said. This is because Crampsie is a big believer in content marketing and brands as publishers and so she structures the marketing team (editorial team included) around that philosophy.
As Ogilvy operates hundreds of offices around the world, Crampsie said that of course local marketing teams are structured according to who is running it. PR however is decentralized at the local level. “The only central PR function is me, so I personally take on any big global announcements, crisis management, or anything of that nature because I think it’s the most effective way. In many cases—especially with social media and the Internet, where it’s so hard to control anything—having somebody of my seniority and my tenure take that on personally is the quickest way to get results at the global level,” she said.
Whitler: Lastly, how does Comedy Central organize their marketing activities?
Steimle: Comedy Central does all their creative work and advertising in-house. At Comedy Central, Former Executive Vice President and CMO Walter Levitt (currently President of CMOish) shares that most resources are allocated towards their creative team as they do all of their creative work and advertising fully in-house. “In our creative team, we have a large team of writer-producers. We have a large team of designers and a large team of copywriters. They are working every day to do the best work from an editorial and design point of view for the brand. They are working to create all the advertising, all the campaigns around our content,” he said.
In addition, Levitt said that Comedy Central also employs a brand marketing team that’s responsible for overall marketing strategy, media planning and buying. “We are big buyers of other people’s media, and that brand marketing team is responsible for all that media planning and buying. Tucked in there is our social media marketing, which is handled by some combination of all the groups,” he said.