Organizational structure may not seem part of marketing’s responsibilities, however how an organization is structured does affect the service, experience and messaging your target audience receives, therefore affecting marketing’s core responsibilities and ability to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
There are a number of dimensions which affect how organizations could be structured:
– The organization’s size i.e. number of employees, if they are national, international or global
– How integrated the functions are i.e. is each function/division able to pull in the same direction?
– How centralized or decentralized the organization is i.e. does it have a main head office?
– Their areas of expertise, or specialization i.e. does the organization have sub brands or functions which all have different areas of expertise?
– Its culture e.g. how formal is it? Relaxed or business professional?
– The span of control each division director/head has i.e. the number of people who work for 1 person, therefore how much influence and control they may have
Depending on the above, there are a number of different structures an organisation may have; here are some examples:
A structure based on each function e.g. MD, then an Operations Director, Finance Director, Marketing Director and HR Director. This is good because each area has its own expertise, contextual responsibilities and objectives. The disadvantage is that each department may have tunnel vision, focusing on their own area of expertise and not necessarily moving in the same direction.
A structure based on the market environment e.g. MD, Director of Europe, Director of Middle East and a Director of Africa. Within each division you then have a Head of Operations, Finance, Marketing and HR. This is a big advantage, from a marketing perspective, as each division can run a specific plan focusing on its own target audience. The disadvantage is the potential lack of consistency in messaging, particularly from a brand point of view, plus this may increase costs as there are less economies of scale across the areas of expertise.
A matrix structure; this is where skills are pooled together e.g. a Marketing department, who day to day report to the Marketing Director, however can work for other divisions e.g. Europe, Middle East and Africa. Whilst they work for the other divisions they will report to the division manager as well e.g. Director of Europe; this means the resource has 2 managers, one for the area of expertise e.g. Marketing and the other for the separate division e.g. Europe. This is good because you can take advantage of the areas of expertise, whilst getting a more consistent approach which is tailored to each audiences needs.
A project based, or ‘group’ structure, which has an expert from each department in it. This is typically run by a project lead, but there are no dual reporting lines like in the matrix structure. This is a structure typically used by agencies as they work on multiple projects as once.
How is your organisation structured? Is it set up to deliver the best products and services to your target markets?