Functions & Roles of a Marketing Department
If marketing seems cool, that's because it is cool.
And you, by virtue of reading this, You are also cool.
But you don't need to watch Mad Men to know that marketing makes the magic happen.
Marketing is everywhere, and when it does its job–well, you just know it.
Because marketing, when done right, can absolutely transform a business, taking it from small and stumpy to stellar and successful.
But did you know that there are core functions of a marketing department and key marketing-department roles to carry them all out?
Miss some of the important ones, and you could be setting yourself up for a world of hurt.
Marketing, at the end of the day, is all about meeting your customers' needs so that your business can not just survive, but thrive.
If business growth is what you want, you need to be effective with your marketing.
To do that, you need to learn a little bit about two very boring words with big meaning: functions and roles.
Whether you're building out a marketing department or double-checking that you're covering all your bases as your marketing department has evolved, this guide will give you everything you need to know about the marketing functions and roles that matter most.
Functions of Marketing Management
It's All About Your Customer (Research)
First and foremost, before you can market anything, you need to know who you're marketing to.
In other words, who's your customer?
A solid marketing department needs to be backed by huge amounts of research.
The more data you can get on who your customer is and where they hang out, the better off you'll be.
With so many analytics tools available on the market these days (and several that are free, such as Google Analytics), there's no excuse for not being data-driven.
It Helps If You're a Good Spy
Customer research is a natural starting point, but your research shouldn't stop there.
Let me ask you some questions that may or may not keep you up at night: Do you know what your competitors are doing?
Do you know how their value propositions differ from yours?
Do you know in which ways they compete for the same customer dollars that you're trying to earn?
Maybe your product really is a mind-altering feat of human ingenuity and there's nothing else in the world like it.
Most likely, that is not the case, and you have to contend with competitors offering similar services.
Know the Value of What You're Selling
Value is not real.
We said it.
It's a perception.
It’s something that exists in the minds of your customer.
That's called positioning, and a big part of marketing is clearly cementing the position of your product or service in your customers' minds.
Do you know what your product or service is worth?
And do you know how to convey that to your potential customers?
It's not just about pricing strategy, although that is certainly important.
It's also about being a good student of psychology so that you can know what matters to your customers.
You Need a Marketing Strategy
And when all is said and done, you need an overarching marketing strategy to guide your marketing work and help your business or organization grow.
This strategy could include:
- Determining how you reach your customers, such as which channels you use to promote your business and tell your brand story
- If you're marketing a physical product, identifying your distribution channels
- Creating a content strategy and content calendar to schedule your communications
- Identifying your marketing goals, objectives, and key results
It is your marketing strategy that will be the guiding force behind what you do as a department.
So it's wise to spend time on your strategy, and it's doubly wise to update it as new data comes in.
Where are your customers?
Where do they hang out?
Do they love Facebook groups, or are they spending their time on Discord servers?
Do they prefer expensive lattes, or do they frequent dive bars?
The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to develop a customer persona, which you should also have, by the way.
It doesn't need to be a cheesy activity with everyone throwing out the alleged interests of Jazzy Jen or Jocular Joe. It can be an objective analysis of the data that you have at your disposal.
For example, have you conducted any customer surveys? Look at them.
Do you know how your top customers hear about you? Build a persona around that.
Know How You Reach Your Customers (Inbound vs. Outbound Lead Generation and Lead Growth)
Now, there are two big buckets when it comes to how you get your customers.
The first one is inbound marketing, which is a needlessly fancy way to say that the customers come to you.
That's right, you put out your magical content, and they just find you.
In reality, it's not that simple, but it's at the heart of how strategies like search engine optimization and social media work.
The key is to create engaging content that answers questions your potential customers are already looking for.
The opposite of that is outbound marketing--going after customers when they're not already looking for what you have to offer.
This could be cold-calling a list of leads. It could be advertising on social media. It could be sending outreach emails until someone answers you and ends your loneliness.
The benefit of inbound marketing is that you could, theoretically, rank a blog post on Google that brings in leads for years to come.
On the other hand, the benefit of outbound marketing is that, if you have the budget for it, you could go find customers right away.
Each form of marketing has its time and place, and which one you choose depends on the type of marketing strategy you have.
If you need lead growth now, you probably have to do some outbound marketing. But your lead-growth strategies will change as your timeline changes and after you factor in how much a qualified lead is worth to your business.
Crafting Your Content: The Medium is the Message
The kind of content you create completely depends on your business and goals and the channels you're using to woo your customers.
Content marketing is a catch-all term for creating valuable content that attracts and retains the individuals you want to buy your products or services.
A LinkedIn post is going to appeal to a certain demographic, and a TikTok video is going to appeal to another one entirely.
Unless that business executive is dabbling in karaoke videos during a mid-life crisis, short, snappy videos probably won't fly.
Your marketing department needs to use the data at your disposal to drive these decisions.
Product Promotion is at the Heart of Marketing
Above all else, marketing needs to be the head cheerleader for whatever it is you're selling.
Yes, you're selling something, and you need to get attention in ways that align with your company's mission and values.
So, promotion is one of your top tasks, if not the top task.
When you think of your target markets, how do they expect to hear from you?
What is typical in the market, or markets, you're in?
What's not typical but still might fit into your potential customers' typical paradigms?
What kinds of promotional materials and marketing tools will you need to make an impact?
Maybe your customers expect sleek, modern design, or maybe they feel more comfortable with an unedited video that shows your personality, warts and all.
Show up where you're expected to show up, be it tradeshow events or podcasts your customers respect. And then show up again in unexpected places that seem justified by the data you've collected.
Sprinkle in a Bit of Sales
You may not like to hear this, but one of your marketing activities is sales.
Without sales, you don't have a business. You have a hobby--and not a fun one at that.
Not all marketing teams have the benefit of having sales team to assist them--or even a designated salesperson.
In this case, you'll have to educate yourself on the best ways to close the deal.
Your marketing plans should factor this in.
How is it that your customers buy from you? Do they explore your site and purchase? Or do they need a call or two to explain the value of what you're selling?
And just because you're engaged in digital marketing doesn't mean you should forget that your potential customers are human beings with hopes and dreams of their own.
The more you can do to establish trusting relationships with your target customers, the more likely they will be to give your their hard-earned money.
Branding Ain’t Just For Cattle
Finally, part of having a business is building a brand.
Your goal should be to create a strong, positive image of what your company does and what it stands for.
What you say and do is part of your brand.
The kind of content you create is part of your brand.
That one comment made by the rogue employee you fired is also part of your brand.
You can't control everything that happens with your business, but you can control the time and effort your marketing team puts into brand-building efforts.
This marketing function comes down to who you are and the way you operate.
Think of branding as the qualitative side of business.
How do customers feel when they interact with your business?
No, don't go ask them that direct question. That would be awfully direct and kind of weird.
Plus, most people won't share their true feelings when asked like that.
Instead, use traditional customer-survey methods and any available public data, like comments on social media or review sites, to learn what your customers really think of you.
All your marketing efforts could be for nothing if a large part of your customer base secretly hates you.
Reputation is one of the hardest things to establish, but it's also one of the best assets you could ever build.
Brand-building might not be easily quantifiable, but taking it seriously leads to real value for your business.
Roles of the Marketing Department (Covering the Top Marketing Roles for High-Impact Teams)
Now you know what you should be doing, but do you know the types of roles you need to fill on your marketing team?
No, that college intern you found on Craig’s List can’t be your Google Ads specialist, customer service representative, and best friend.
Below you’ll find the main roles to be covered on a marketing team.
Not all marketing roles listed here will make sense for all teams, but they’’ll get you thinking about how to set up your team for success.
What's a marketing department without someone to manage it all?
Marketing managers need to have a high-level view of company operations and know what's needed to reach customers, get them to buy, and then get them to buy some more.
It's not for the faint of heart, and marketing managers must have knowledge of proven tactics as well as general marketing principles.
They are both team cheerleaders and coaching confidantes.
To reach customers, you need content. Why? Because the content you create is the vessel that shares your message with the world.
It could be long-form written content (like this blog post) or dazzling images that make up your brand aesthetic.
Before hiring a content marketer, you need to consider your business' needs.
If you attract customers through education and written content, you most likely need someone who understands SEO.
If you're in the B2B space, it's better to have a content marketer who is well-versed in white papers and webinar presentations.
Think of the content marketer as the manager of your content efforts. To know what kind of content marketer you need, know what kind of content you need to create.
Email is not dead. In fact, it's alive and well.
Building an email list is one of the best ways to ensure that you can reach your customers whenever you need to. Working with a good email marketer is a surefire way to not get trapped behind the algorithms of the social media giants.
Email marketers craft copy that converts, they understand outreach strategies, and they know how to design impactful emails that get results.
If the only drip campaign you know about is the one coming out of your leaky faucet, it's time to get some email-marketing help.
Ah, the writer. The one with the way of words.
Can't anyone on your team just write some stuff? Surely, you don't need a designated writer?
Sometimes, you need an issue-area expert who can write knowledgeably about a topic.
This is especially common in technical fields, such as legal matters and engineering, but it's also common in areas where information can affect a person's livelihood, such as mental health or dietary advice.
And maybe the writer you need is a copywriter, someone who has special knowledge in writing in ways that get customers to buy.
Copywriting is a marketing category unto itself, so investing in someone who gets the art and science of it could be one of the best investments you ever make.
Regardless, words matter. It's how humans communicate with one another, often through stories.
Do your words tell a powerful tale, or do they wimpily whine, turning your customers off in the process?
If you're running a business, you most likely need to run some ads as well.
And in this digital-first world, digital ads can be the bread and butter of your marketing strategy.
Still, there are so many types of ad platforms to understand.
From the traditional players like Google and Facebook to the newer networks like Instagram and Tiktok, teaching yourself how to run effective ads can be a full-time job and then some.
You need someone who eats ad creative for breakfast, but not really, because then you wouldn't have a campaign. But, in all seriousness, you need someone who loves crunching data and setting up systems to run lots and lots of ad experiments.
It's a demanding role, that's for sure, and one that blends both visual and written elements.
Social Media Manager
Social media is everywhere these days.
Older people hang out on Facebook. Professionals humble-brag on LinkedIn. And teenagers make careers on TikTok as world-renowned influencers. It's enough to make anyone's head spin.
A social media manager should know which platforms your business should be on, and they should know how to create content that engages your target audience.
Social media is social after all, and social media managers are typically organized and creative types who know how to--and are comfortable with--getting lots of attention.
Your business has a brand, whether you like it or not. We’ve already covered that above.
Maybe people know you for your excellent customer service, or maybe they know you as that company with the "weird yellow blob" for a logo.
Who would know what people of think of you?
A brand manager would know.
Brand managers are masters of the look and feel of a business, carefully calibrating colors, images, and stories to create a cohesive brand identity.
What does supporting customers have to do with marketing? They're already customers, aren't they?
The support you give your customers has a lot to do with marketing, actually.
People who have already purchased what you sell are more likely to buy from you in the future, so you should treat them well.
Whether you have one person for your customer support or an entire team, you need to develop a customer-service department built on relationships and respect.
A customer-support professional should have excellent people skills and a high degree of empathy.
They also should be effective communicators on the platforms you typically use to reach your customers.
How do you know if your marketing is effective?
You know it from the data you collect.
How do you know if the data you collect is any good?
You know it from paying close attention to the information you need to make good business decisions.
How do you know if these questions will end soon?
You keep on reading.
Data analysts are never satisfied until they can quantitatively answer a business' most burning questions, like "What channel drove the most revenue last quarter?" or "How many repeat customers purchase from emails we send?"
The more data you have, the easier it is to make good decisions. But it's also easier to get buried in a sea of meaningless nonsense.
That's where a data analyst comes in.
If you want to get attention, it's much easier to show than tell.
For that, you need designs and images that speak to your potential customers.
A visual designer knows how to do this. Trained in color theory and modern-design best practices, a designer is the visual Romeo to your word-based Juliet.
You most likely don't want to drone on and on with words for the rest of your life. Do yourself a favor, and find yourself someone who thinks in images.
For online businesses, web developers are a must.
Even with the rise of no-code tools, marketing departments often need the technical expertise of web development.
Do you really want to figure out why that form on the page ending in /new-marketing-content-version-2-newest of your website isn't submitting?
Do you really want to try to change your website's theme on your own again?
There are all types of developers, so focus on the ones that are well-versed in the types of problems you need to solve.
Building a data-driven web app and launching a dynamic site redesign are two different things.
To Set Your Marketing Team Up for Success, Remember Functions and Roles
A marketing manager has many hats to wear, and one of them is knowing how to put together an effective marketing team in the first place.
Knowing what to do and knowing who will do it are two realities that marketing directors must constantly grapple with.
If your marketing operations are feeling like they’re standing on a stool with a missing leg, we can help.
First Call is a full-service marketing agency that puts strategy front and center.
Whether you’re refreshing your brand or looking to get more traffic to your website, make sure you know the right details to consider.
From marketer to fellow marketer, we’re here for you.