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Building a high performance marketing team

This blog takes you through how to start, build and organise a highly effective marketing department.

As an on-demand marketing director for organisations in flux, I’m often asked to manage recruitment drives and team restructures. It is an area many of my clients struggle to balance.

For me, the steps are: articulate the team mission, seed innovation, hire by skill not qualification and align an agile operating model to your priority channels.

Here’s how:


Start with ensuring you have absolute clarity on your marketing team mission.

Is the function’s main purpose to shift perceptions in existing base or increase brand awareness in new markets?

Being clear on this will help you make decisions around whether you need a marketing lead with a specialism such as PR, or an experienced generalist.


Marketing teams are often homogenised, which doesn’t bode well for creativity and innovation.

Two straight forward way to diversify the recruitment process are 1) ask recruiters for gender balanced candidate panels and 2) ensure half the candidates come from outside your industry.


CIM qualifications are certainly valuable, but more so is a proven ability to be strategic - setting short and long-term targets and explaining complexies, simply. And secondly, a strong track record in harnessing the power of digital.

You need a leader in digital transformation, never a follower.


Rather than simply covering all your bases, successful marketing focuses on the channels and tactics that give disproportionate results.

By evaluating your target client base upfront, you guide investment and resourcing decisions and avoid wastage.

Complement BAU research with a simple survey for a set of representative clients.

Design the survey to gauge what blogs and publications targets go to for industry news, which influencers they follow online, what information they want and what their major pain points are in the next 12, 18, 24 months.

Operating model

Once you’ve nailed down your priority channels and tactical themes, you need to decide on team set up.

It is important to aim for an agile operating model, especially in large and/or global organisations.

Carefully consider how much you want to centralise or push out to regions or disciplines and what initiatives you bring in house vs using agencies.

Cultivating a network of remote workers, freelance and interim marketers is also essential to remain agile and well-resourced during launches and campaigns.

Further reading

Need some strategic help? In-between marketing directors or never considered engaging one? Connect with me today.

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