221. Org charts 📎
How Buffer and Polly built a marketing team
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Hi there 👋
Recently I’ve enjoyed catching up with some fellow SaaS marketers who are building out teams of their own, and it’s been so fun to swap notes on how they’re building and how I’m building. One thing’s for sure: There’s no universal blueprint. Each marketing team is a snowflake, and each marketing leader is the only one with all the context on how best to build for their organization.
If you’re building out a team, I’d love to hear how you’re thinking about it.
If you’re part of a team, I’d love to hear what’s working and what’s not. Similar to one of my favorite manager questions: “If you were in my shoes, what’s the first thing you’d change?”
Wishing you a great week,
A sampling of marketing org charts (including Buffer’s and Polly’s)
There is no universal, “right” way to build a marketing team.
So many variables will dictate the roles you need, the order you need them in, and the timing for filling them.
How does your product grow?
What channels have you validated?
What stage are you at — fundraising, revenue, company size?
What industry are you in?
Where do your customers hang out?
So with that being said, any exploration into marketing org charts should serve less as gospel truth and more as guiding light. I’ve been particularly interested lately in how marketing teams are built since it’s one of the primary focuses for my role at Polly. I need to build a great team that fits with the unique needs of the Polly machine: large userbase, PLG plus sales-led, integration focus.
When team-building, I’ve found that there’s often an overarching philosophy for how to create your ideal team — a future version of sorts, and you’re always striving toward it (though might not get there for awhile).
Then there’s the reality of who’s on board today and how do you best fit those pieces together to make the most of the moment.
For my overarching philosophy, I tend to see marketing within three main areas, which can ultimately translate into three departments within the marketing org:
Brand marketing — “who you are”
Product marketing — “what you sell”
Growth marketing — “how you sell it”
(Growth marketing can vary from company to company. For any product with a sales motion, growth marketing may look a lot like demand gen. For B2C products, it may be more self-serve, acquisition focused.)
Hubspot has a marketing org that I’ve long admired (👋 hi to the Hubspotters reading this), and they’ve done a great job evolving their team at various stages of the company. Here is an early look at the way that Hubspot set up its marketing team:
In Hubspot’s case, there are four main divisions within marketing:
Brand & Buzz
There’s also this handy “Attract, Convert, Close” breakdown from Hubspot’s Mike Volpe, and it’s broken down further by marketing team size.
Examples of SaaS marketing teams and their org charts
Stage: Series A
Company Size / Revenue: 90 people, $25M ARR
I had the privilege of joining the Buffer marketing team when it was in its infancy. Our co-founder led marketing, and I was the second marketing hire. The first hire (my friend Courtney) and I both did content.
The team eventually grew to 10 people, and this is how I organized it:
My next step with this marketing org was to layer in a growth marketing function.
Despite the way I made the graphic, we were a flat organization. All the circles reported to me, and the rectangles were dotted-line reporting: their direct managers were in design and engineering, respectively, but I functioned as sort of a PM.
Stage: Series A
Company Size: 35 people
I was fortunate to join a Polly marketing team with one great content marketer already in place. Here is how I’ve built out the rest of the team.
Polly has a large userbase because of its presence on Slack and Teams, so the marketing team leans more heavily into product marketing and lifecycle work to engage and activate all those cool users.
Also, as you can see, Customer Experience (CX) reports into marketing, which is somewhat unusual. Long-term, I imagine CX as its own primary function, separate from marketing. But today it’s a high-leverage partnership between the two especially considering the positive brand impact you can have when you’re engaging with 1000s of users each day.
For the next companies, I did my best to guess at their marketing structure from some LinkedIn sleuthing and the occasional conversation or tidbit from folks I know. If anyone reading works for these places, please do let me know what I got wrong!
Stage: Series B
Company Size: 300+
Stage: Series C
Company Size: 150+
Stage: Series D
Company Size: 350+
(If you like these org charts, let me know, and I can share some more in upcoming newsletters.)
About this newsletter …
Each week, I share playbooks, case studies, stories, and links from inside the startup marketing world. If you enjoy what’s in this newsletter, you can share some love by hitting the heart button at the top or bottom.💙
I’m a marketing exec who specializes in startup marketing and brand-building. I currently lead the marketing team at Polly (we’re hiring!). I previously built brands at Buffer and Vox.
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