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What Skill Sets Does a Marketing Department Need?


How to optimize marketing department structure and organization

Today’s marketing department should require salary support north of $750,000

In the old days, regardless of industry, a company really only needed 3 skill sets, meaning they only needed to employ 3 full-time equivalents (FTEs). To get by well enough, a company needed a marketing manager, copywriter, and graphic designer. If they did heavy advertising, the company would employ an advertising agency.

Today, the typical marketing department really needs about 11 FTEs. Now, except for larger marketing departments typically found in $500M+ companies, companies do not employ 11 people for their marketing. Middle market companies just can’t afford that kind of payroll. So, they still employ about three, if any. And any business owner will readily concede that this approach to marketing is “pennywise and pound foolish.” But what is one to do?

The problem: companies still need more than three skill sets.Here’s the roster of what companies really need, all of which can be completely or partially outsourced through RSM’s exclusive Outsourced Marketing Department (OMD) model:

1. Marketing planner / strategist / CMO

A senior resource helpful for marketing strategy development, new product development, new channel development, pricing/packaging initiatives, more. This person should have some gray hair and be able to hold their own amongst the inner executive sanctum.

2. Marketing manager, coordinator or both

These oversee the day-to-day delivery of marketing tactics like web updates, technical manuals, sales collaterals, social media posting, and more. They also work directly with the different “client types” within a company to identify and create marketing jobs.

3. Copywriter

Every company needs copywriting. Problem is, there’s been an explosion in kinds of copy, and they all have different orientations. Social copy, for instance. The ability to write tech specs differs greatly from writing Twitter posts, well, if a company wants their social media content to actually mean something. There’s also ad copy, short form copy, long form copy, conversational blog copy, scriptwriting, more.

4. Web designer

This position has largely replaced the graphic designer. If you can design for the web, you can certainly do basic design. Problem here: web designers may not be very good graphic designers. Web design is largely functional while graphic design should communicate and connect, convey meaning. Companies regularly need better graphic design than web designers can produce.

5. Programmer

Most web designers are what they call “front end” only, meaning they design the user interface on the site. Conversely, programmers write back-end, invisible code. Most websites that work well — meaning they deliver leads and actual sales — have some programmed functionality that make them really engaging sites that convert.

6. Social media manager

Amateurs talk social posting. Professionals talk strategy and community development as well as social media advertising, reporting, metrics and analysis.

7. SEO manager

This skill set tackles the organic placement of a company’s online assets. Wait, shouldn’t that be stated as organic placement of the company’s website? Not any more! Again, amateurs talk websites. Professionals talk content. When done right, a company can and should have multiple pieces of content ranking organically for targeted search terms, in addition to their website return. Other forms of content can be blogs, videos, photos, graphics, press releases, presentations, third party sites featuring company content and much more.

8. SEM

All companies should be using search engine marketing to some degree. At the very least, companies should be using remarketing on their sites. For those entering e-commerce, abandoned shopping cart tactics are necessary. The online world continues to expand, and having a true SEM expert versus hobbyist will both save and make companies significant dollars.

9. Videographer / photographer

Most companies under-utilize rich media. Most companies do not have these resources on staff. Nearly all RSM OMD clients get the video and photography that makes sense for them. This includes sophisticated and simple animation, which is expensive to resource let alone find in-house.

10. Project manager

This position ensures that the marketing ecosystem actually works harmoniously. While the marketing manager is working with clients scoping projects, getting info and reporting on results, the project manager works with everyone else like an orchestra conductor. Without this resource, project scheduling and on-time delivery goes out the window. Central to this position’s success, within a company or outsourced, is a highly automated workflow system that is transparent and available to all client types.

11. Proofreading / graphic designer / marketing technology technician / marketing analyst / market researcher / public relations manager / media planner and buyer / telemarketer / special events manager, more

Point is, positions 1-10 are essentials, and #11 here offers the electives. Most OMD clients actually use 2-4 of these electives occasionally, if not regularly. At RSM, we have all these resources in house, and the ability to play these skill sets like a keyboard really, really assists clients greatly when they need it most.

So there’s the list of how to structure and organize your marketing department for success.

At RSM, we like to quantify the difference between paying for an Outsourced Marketing Department through a flat fee subscription versus hiring these 11 FTEs. It’s about $750,000 in fixed costs, more if you want some of the elective positions.

The cost in lost business opportunity of not having these skills properly deployed and working on behalf of the company? That can truly be priceless.

Mike has started and led several businesses and is a managing partner at RSM Marketing. Mike has a master's degree in marketing and is a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps. Mike's mission is to help corporate and individual brands create a strategic "Unfair Advantage."

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