Marketers puzzle over the best structure

In the past week, I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with dozens of marketers at all levels of seniority, from young brand managers in their first job to seasoned directors with experience of many brands under their belt.

Branwell Johnson

I’ve met these marketers in a variety of situations, from small groups in judging days and at advisory panel meetings to big events, such as Econsultancy’s Digital Cream, and I’ve had time to listen to and absorb detail about their daily challenges and worries – as opposed to what are sometimes touted as the ‘big issues’.

I could fill a book on the driving concerns of marketers (now there’s an idea) but I’ll just highlight one challenge and that is structural organisation. At all levels, in all sizes of company, marketers are wrestling with how best to organise their teams in the face of fast-moving digital technology and how to work with other departments.

Examples include the evergreen question ‘who looks after the social media?’ – customer service or public relations? Or should it be outsourced to an agency? Vodafone is the latest company to tackle this – placing its new head of social media within the marcomms team.

In a similar vein, is a question regarding the content marketing remit. With content marketing coming to the fore as a key way to engage with customers, marketers are trying to figure out if development and execution stays with the traditional marketing team or is handled by PR. Then there is the data question. The data insight teams are rising in importance but practically, should they be sited within the ranks of the brand marketers? And where do companies find the right kind of person to act as an ‘interface’ with the data miners, able to speak their language and translate their findings into actionable insight?

All these concerns quickly bubbled to the surface in the disparate groups I met and there’s no easy one-size-fits-all answer for these conundrums. Each company will find its own solution.

But what was reassuring in my exposure to the industry at large was the passion for marketing. Everyone wants to do the best job they can, to direct the enthusiasm of their teams and to make use of the new tools becoming available.

Companies that can harness the passion of their marketers and least impede them will be the ones most likely to survive these tough economic times.

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