One of the questions I receive most often is, how should we organize our marketing department?

This is a great and worthy question. Before I offer any advice, I proffer a question of my own: What is the purpose of your marketing department?

This may seem like a simple question, but it’s not, and answering this question can be surprisingly difficult.

Let me draw an analogy. When I first began at Stamats I decided that I needed to invest in a good suit.

I went to one haberdasher, and his first question was, “How much do you want to spend?”

This seemed like a good question until I went to another clothier, and he asked, “How are you going to use your suit?

He went on to explain, “The more I know about how you are going to use it the better my recommendation. For example, will you travel a lot? Does it need to be wrinkle resistant? Will you wear it once a week or a couple of times a year? Will your meetings be more formal or informal? What other suits do you already own? What are their colors? What about ties?”

When asked to help a college develop a highly effective marketing organization I begin by asking a series of top-level questions:

  1. How are you and the senior team defining marketing?
  2. What are the persistent marketing challenges this department will need to address?
  3. What is the climate for marketing on campus?
  4. Are your major marketing activities largely centralized or decentralized?
  5. How are these activities funded?
  6. At a later date how will you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts?

My goal is to help them create a purpose-built marketing organization. Before rushing to your whiteboard to sketch out possible org charts, answer the six questions posed above. You will be surprised at how much clarity they add to your thinking.

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