A marketing organisation structure aligns and focuses your business so that you can embrace agile solutions and scale more profitably. Here’s what you need to know:  

Have you ever heard an orchestra warm up on stage? 

There’s a collision of sounds as each musician tunes their instruments. It’s a total racket…

Then, suddenly, the conductor takes their place at the podium. On their cue, music begins to swirl from the stage, creating magic where there was once just noise. 

Just like a symphony, your business needs orchestration to operate smoothly and in unison. Each employee must know their notes and understand how their melody supports the larger composition.

In other words, you need a marketing organisation structure.  

Now, there are many different marketing organisation structures from which to choose and no one-size-fits-all solution. The best marketing designs will:

  1. Align team members on their responsibilities 
  2. Clarify how individual roles impact larger company goals
  3. Streamline communication for more effective results

In this article, we’ll review important considerations so you can choose the right organisational design for your business. We’ll also cover a few of the most common organisation structures. 

10 questions to help you select the right marketing organisation structure

A marketing organisational structure is a tool that organises teams, defines responsibilities, and establishes employee structure and leadership. 

More importantly, marketing organisational structures provide clarity and improve efficiency; they simplify workflows and enhance execution while minimising opportunities for miscommunication and siloed teams.

Not every marketing organisational structure will work for every business. You want a framework that helps you achieve your unique goals — not a cookie-cutter structure that will confine creativity or hinder agility. 

So, before you blindly choose a structure and run with it, here are a few key questions you’ll want to answer:

10 Questions to answer before choosing a marketing organisation structure

1. Do you operate in one country or multiple?

2. Do you operate one product line or many?

3. Who is your customer? What does their buying process look like?

4. How important is marketing for your business growth?

5. How big is your marketing budget?

6. Which marketing skills do you require? Are these skills generic or specific?

7. What specific outcomes is your business trying to achieve?

8. Do you have a centralised team responsible for company-wide marketing operations? Or do you have multiple decentralised teams for individual departments?

9. Who is (or should be) responsible for decision-making and accountability? 

10. Agility versus stability: Which is most important for your business now? 

By answering these questions, you’ll begin conceptualising a systemic approach to marketing organisation structures that accounts for your key growth objectives. More importantly, you’ll avoid rigid, murky structures riddled with internal politics. 

One more note: 

It’s crucial to revisit these questions regularly. As your answers change, adjust your marketing organisational structure accordingly. For example, Amazon restructures several times a year! 

5 Common marketing organisation structures

Let’s examine a few of the most popular organisational designs for marketing. 

1. Functional marketing organisational structure

When you first think of a marketing organisational structure, functional is likely what comes to mind. 

At the top of the structure is your CMO or VP of Marketing. They oversee your marketing divisions, each of which has a project manager and team members.

A functional structure is straightforward, making it easy to delegate tasks to different divisions and helpful if you require a wide array of specialised skills. 

But functional structures have distinct disadvantages, too. Often this framework lends to working in silos, which can impact brand consistency and customer experience. Functional structures can also limit creativity and agility. 

2. Segment-based organisational structure

Do you have a large enterprise company with multiple demographics or target audiences? Do you have a complex sales process?

A segment-based organisational structure might make sense for your business. 

A segment-based structure is organised by customer segments. Each team is responsible for understanding different segments of customers and crafting marketing campaigns accordingly.

While a segment-based structure is a fantastic way to improve customer relationships and drive engagements, operating multiple full-service teams is not always possible. 

3. Product-based organisational structure

If you offer multiple product lines, dedicated marketing teams for each line might make sense for your business. 

Like a customer-based structure, each team is responsible for developing and executing a marketing strategy for their assigned product. 

4. Matrix organisational structure

As you can see, rigidly sticking to one marketing organisation structure can quickly feel limiting — like it doesn’t account for the daily complexities of running and growing your business. Enter: the matrix structure. 

The global matrix structure, sometimes called the hybrid structure, combines two or more different organisational designs. 

Typically, employees work on multiple teams and report to more than one manager. 

Matrix structures promote collaboration and communication, making it easier to adapt quickly to changing technologies. 

The flip side? Matrix structures are more complex and require cross-department coordination that can exhaust and overwhelm your employees

5. Helix organisational structure

Given the notable limitations of each marketing organisational structure outlined above, McKinsey, the global management consulting firm, has coined a new organisational design: the helix structure.

Inspired by the double-stranded shape of DNA, the helix model proposes a two-way approach to organisational design in which your marketing is structured beneath two managers — each of whom is equally important.

Beneath one line of the helix, you have your people-leadership tasks: setting standards for work and driving excellence. The second line focuses on your day-to-day business leadership responsibilities, like creating value and boosting customer experience. 

McKinsey believes that a helix approach to marketing organisation structures reduces complexity and provides a better balance between centralisation and decentralisation:

The helix organisation provides a balance between flexibility and stability that is the hallmark of a truly agile approach.

Helix vs matrix organisation: Which is right for you?

Choosing between a helix and matrix organisation structure can be confusing. Both combine elements of functional and divisional structures to improve communication and flexibility. 

However, a matrix structure can become complex and time-consuming — negating the desired effects of implementing marketing organisation design. 

Here’s what I want you to remember: 

There’s no right or wrong way to organise your marketing, whether you choose helix, matrix, or another structure. Consider your current and future marketing needs, and take time to answer the ten questions included in this article. 

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to revisit your organisational design and make changes as needed so that you can refine a structure that works for your business.