Marketing Teams: Does Size Matter?

By Kate Rooney, Brand Manager at Design Pickle

Oftentimes it’s easy to see the differences between small and large businesses. But, at some point, a family-run car dealership and an enterprise-size software company will run into the same question: does the size of the marketing team matter? Do the different roles each person has really matter? 

There are plenty of reasons that leading marketers likely arrive at this question. They’ve exhausted budgets, they’re out of ideas, or they’re not seeing results. Few and far between does each marketer come to a similar solution. While there are a plethora of tools out there to help determine the proper marketing team size, tool proprietors don’t know your businesses intimately enough to understand company dynamics. 

At Design Pickle, we had the same struggle determining the best way forward with our marketing team. Did we need three social media coordinators or would one suffice? Should we outsource all activities to agencies? But, if we outsourced, wouldn’t we be outsourcing our vision and sacrificing our brand? 

We considered the following to find our answer. 

Do you know which function of marketing that you need?

Simply suggesting you need “marketers” won’t get you anywhere when deciding how many minds you need on your team. The term itself can be interpreted in many ways, as there are many subsets of the business function including event marketing, guerrilla marketing, email marketing…you get my point. 

The key is to bring together company leadership or other internal stakeholders and have a candid conversation about where the business’s marketing activities currently stand and what the goals are. Stating what you need and what you’re looking for is vital to picking the right strategy. If goals remain undefined, it will affect all marketing decisions and any new team members brought on board, leading to a misaligned team and ineffective results in the long term. 

Don’t lose sight of your mission, vision and values

Ensuring long-term company success is rooted in a strong, simple and sexy mission, vision and values statement. It’s paramount that each is embodied and expressed on a daily basis across the organization in order to make the right decisions. When mission, vision and values are abandoned, organization integrity and future are at risk. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

The simplest way to lead your business to death is to disregard long-term company goals. This is something we call “having a scarcity mindset.” 

A hyper-focused, limited view of activities leads to a shortsighted view of goals and tactics, resulting in hurried decisions that won’t bode well down the road. It’s more effective to operate from a thoughtful, strategic place. Consistently make time to analyze current goals and reflect on accomplishments. By making course corrections quickly, and continually increasing decision velocity, you’ll learn and grow faster. 

Consider outsourcing

With the prevalence of the gig economy, these days it’s not hard to find a freelancer or a service to help take care of specific business needs such as content creation or social media execution. This can lighten the load on marketing teams in order for them to focus on more strategic tasks. At Design Pickle we act as an extension of businesses, providing cloud-based graphic design help for a flat rate. Our team of professional graphic designers create high-quality design work and can be integrated into existing business workflows to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Outsourcing provides the opportunity for increased productivity but can put your business at risk of eradicating brand cornerstones if the freelancer or service isn’t vigilant. It’s important to vet such extensions of your business as if they’re your employees to ensure continuity across all activities. 

Specialize or generalize?

When your marketing team is large, each member likely has a small and specific set of tasks. On the flip side, when the team is small, each member has a large, more broadly-based set of tasks. Though this sounds like a simple algorithm, it’s not. 

Small teams are generally easier to manage and communicate with. Plus, agility and speed in situations that require quick reaction are better. That said, the load of tasks on each team member is heavy. Should a member decide to leave, a crucial piece of the pie is missing. 

With a larger team, tasks are spread across members with each person doing a smaller variety of tasks. More focus on fewer tasks means fewer mistakes. But, managing a large team can be difficult with a risk of bureaucracy and muddled communication. Large teams can also witness lower personal buy-in than that of small teams. 

There are many theories debating the ideal size for your team. The U.S. Marines believe the best size for their basic fighting unit, also known as a “fire team,” is four people. Other thought leaders suggest a team of eight, which works well until there’s a decision-making deadlock. 

Whichever method you chose to follow, understand that adding team members will affect the existing team, especially considering their fit to your culture, the shift in responsibilities, and onboarding and training logistics. This is equally as important for shrinking teams, especially if a reduction was not anticipated.  

The size of your team is completely up to you. However, the goals and strategy behind your decisions will define your success. 

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