Marketing Team Setup

Alfred Lua / Written on 11 July 2021

As I grow from an individual contributor into a manager, I learned that one of the highest leverage tasks for me is to figure out a good team setup.

When the marketing team is organized well, they can execute the strategy and achieve their goals. Team members also would feel like they are thriving and growing.

Since I started researching into marketing team setups, one thing became obvious:

No two marketing teams are the same.

But there are general structures to follow.

After working at Buffer and ReferralCandy (both self-serve B2B startups) and peeking at other self-serve B2B SaaS startups, I have developed an opinion on how I would set up the marketing teams at such companies.

(Of course, given how inexperienced I am, my opinion could be wrong. If you have a different opinion from what I share below, please let me know!)

Brand marketing & product marketing

There are many functions within marketing. Content marketing, product marketing, branding, social media, PR, and more.

I tend to bucket them into two main areas:

Brand marketing

  • Branding and creatives
  • Content marketing
  • Partnerships
  • Social media
  • Events
  • PR

Product marketing

  • Product marketing
  • Marketing ops
  • Website
  • Growth

Brand marketing focuses on telling the brand story.

The goal generally is to reach as many people in your market as possible and convince them about your brand story. Some people call this "top of the funnel."

Product marketing focuses on selling the product.

This is where you turn your audience into customers. This includes positioning the product, creating messaging, improving conversion rates, and thinking about pricing. You could call this "bottom of the funnel."

These two areas don't work independently. Product marketing has to be mindful of the brand; brand marketing should know the product.

I find it easier to think about just two main areas, especially for small marketing teams or solo marketers.

A single vector

How to set up each of these two areas is likely different for every company. Some might focus on content marketing, like Buffer and ReferralCandy. Others might focus on events or partnerships.

As the team grows, there are multiple possible paths to split the team:

  1. Even as each function forms its team, you can still roughly fit them under brand marketing and product marketing.
  2. If a particular function is more important than others for your company, it could become its area (e.g. events, brand marketing, and product marketing).
  3. It is also common to split product marketing and growth marketing into two areas.

Marketing teams at Buffer and ReferralCandy

Buffer

At Buffer, we changed our marketing team setup several times over the years. Eventually, the 10 of us were organized into three smaller teams that overlapped a little with one another: brand marketing, product marketing, and website/growth.

Buffer marketing team

We also had a data scientist attached to the marketing team to help us with data, experimentation, and analysis.

ReferralCandy

The marketing team at ReferralCandy is much smaller. This is how I currently organize the team:

ReferralCandy marketing team

I am helping out with branding, content marketing, and product marketing for now.

Our team also relies on several freelancers, which I'm learning is another way to scale the team's output. My philosophy is to keep our core marketing functions in-house and get freelance help to support those core functions or to manage our secondary functions.

How is your team set up? I would love to learn from you!

Let's learn together

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