What are the organizational implications as a company grows?

As most functions begin in smaller organizations, the marketing function can start with a single “player-leader.” This is a marketer who likely has prior industry and stage relevant experience (think “ecommerce marketer in a start-up stage business). And often, marketing ends up reporting to the sales function in smaller sized businesses.   Or, the marketing title and responsibility is merged together, creating a title like VP Sales & Marketing. Other times, marketing responsibility is carried by a founder, or an outside marketing consultant.  As mentioned earlier however, the marketing function can evolve to be quite complex as an organization grows & expands. At one extreme, when a business’s revenue is driven by a direct sales force, marketing often serves a parallel sibling role to the sales function, and may have a less complex set of responsibilities. However, in an ecommerce business for example, or any business that drives revenue via an intermediary—channel strategy, direct web/Internet selling and/or ecommerce, etc.— marketing becomes the fulcrum off of which all revenue is generated, and is therefore responsible for both marketing and sales, versus the more traditional responsibilities.

To go back to some of the first principles of marketing, it is the function that houses all brand responsibilities (brand marketing), along with all publicly facing content (written, audio, visual, video, etc.) However, depending upon the industry and stage of company any or all of these components may fall under the aegis of the marketing responsibility:

  • Marketing strategy
  • Brand marketing (company-focused)
  • Product marketing
  • Marketing communications
  • Field marketing
  • Public relations
  • Merchandising
  • Lead generation

Including but not limited to some of the following marketing functional subcategories

    • “Pull” marketing (lead generation-focused marketing via white papers, conference & trade show participation, etc.)
    • “Push” marketing (outbound marketing to target lists via mail, email, or social media targeting specific “personas”
    • Advertising
      • both brand, and product specific advertising either via
        • “linear” advertising channels (often defined as TV, print & radio) that include
          • newspaper
          • TV
          • radio
          • periodicals
          • outdoor advertising, and/or
        • non-linear advertising
          • Internet based search engine marketing (SEM)
          • Guerilla marketing
          • Grass roots marketing
          • Influencer marketing
          • Event marketing, etc.
    • Content marketing (often Internet-based)
      • e.g. search engine optimization,
      • web-content generation,
      • thought leadership/white papers,
      • back-linking,
      • affiliate marketing etc.


Often is the case that the larger the potential buyer base, the more complex the marketing function. A good posterchild for this is Amazon, Google, or Facebook. With over 7 billion in global population, marketing their products, services & brand is geometrically more difficult than a business-to-business product with a small buyer population focused on a narrow application. Exemplified by industries like aerospace, military & defense, or car manufacturers where there are fewer than 100 worldwide.

Some of these marketing responsibilities are often procured and executed via a third party, with examples of external partners that include advertising agencies, branding firms, internet marketing agencies, or outside public relations firms.

Finally, marketing functions and their complexity vary significantly based on several macro influencers:

Is the business—

    • Selling a product, solution, or service?
    • Selling to consumers (business-to-consumer or“B2C”), or “B2B” (business-to-business)?
    • Selling high volume/lower price point transactions, or high price/lower volume?
    • Operating in an industry that typically sells directly to their buyers (in ecommerce referred to often as “DTC” or “direct to consumers”) or instead via a channel or dealer/distributor network like the automotive industry’s car dealership structure)?
    • Selling a “first of it’s kind” (Tesla electric vehicle as example), or simply a better variant of an existing product or service--sometimes referred to as “a better mousetrap”—like a new-and-improved product be it laundry detergent or newest release of a software program