What is the Ideal Marketing Team for a Startup?

Scaling your startup requires an awesome marketing team. Here are some ideal team structures for each stage of your growth. 

Rob Boyle
Rob Boyle
September 10, 2021
Scaling your startup requires an awesome marketing team. Here are some ideal team structures for each stage of your growth. 
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Key takeaways

  1. The structure and size of your marketing team should evolve with your startup's growth stages. It's crucial to strike a balance between generalists and specialists, and maintain a ratio of 1 marketer for every 10-11 employees, as a general rule.
  2. As a startup grows, it's important to diversify sources of traffic and revenue, and start developing an in-house marketing team. This prevents over-reliance on external agencies and ensures knowledge growth within the company.
  3. Don't feel compelled to mirror your competitor's strategy. Instead, identify gaps in their marketing approach that your company can exploit. Your marketing team structure and strategy should be customized to your business's unique needs and goals.

Are you benchmarking marketing team sizes?

In my career I have grown marketing teams that work in multiple countries. I also spent a lot of (too much) time studying what makes a team great at Business School. I have always been fascinated by the structures and strategies employed by competitors and great marketers.

But, I have usually worked in teams where marketing is a small proportion of the total workforce. This often resulted in under-resourced projects. It also required sensitively juggling demands from large sales teams with short term goals.

To understand the causes of this, I researched 100 companies to get a sense of the ideal marketing team structure. 

What I found was that companies with effective marketing have common traits. 

  • They had a focused marketing strategy with a targeted customer in mind.
  • They repurposed their content into multiple different formats.
  • They had a ratio of around 10 employees to each marketer.

Here are the typical setups found at each startup growth stage.

Startup marketing team structure at different sizes

As I discussed in ‘growing a small business’, each company requires a different team structure as they expand. 

Timeline of the five stages of business growth
SOURCE: Churchill and Lewis (1983), Harvard Business Review

CB Insights cite failing to hire the right team as a reason that 14% of startups fail. The top three reasons for failure are 

  1. Running out of cash (38%)
  2. Lack of market need (35%)
  3. Being outcompeted (20%)

These factors highlight the importance of establishing a great team and product-market fit.

Taking inspiration from David Sacks SaaS org chart, here are my recommendations for your marketing team at each stage of growth.

While David recommends a ratio of 50% sales and marketing resource to other employees, his emphasis is on SaaS companies. Your setup is entirely dependent on the nature of your business and how many ‘hats’ you wear. 

NOTE: some roles are optional as a value add based on your business or budget. I have marked these positions in grey boxes to highlight that they may not be essential for all. 

1-10 employees

Recommended setup

Marketing org chart for 1-10 employee organisation. Marketing coordinator/manager supported by a junior marketing assistant or apprentice. OPTIONAL: Outsource to an agency to support with social, advertising, design or web development.
Marketing org chart for 1-10 employee organisation

When the business is small, marketers need to wear many hats

A small company may need 1 or many employees to cover sales, marketing, product and customer service at the same time. The marketing coordinator may also have to ship products, deal with complaints and close business. It requires a generalist with an open mind.

This is a fantastic learning opportunity for a young marketer or founder. But, you should start to segment responsibilities as you grow. This requires identifying your ideal customer profile and hiring specialist marketers.

If you’re the only marketer in your startup, then Erwan Derlyn has some advice for you. Be strategic, test often, build a collaborative network and focus obsessively on the small things that are successful.

11-100 employees

Recommended setup

Marketing org chart for 11-100 employee organisation. Director of marketing supported by a content marketer, social media coordinator (or community manager). Optional hires include a paid advertising specialist or outsourced agency support (web dev, design, content, analytics etc)
Marketing org chart for 11-100 employee organisation

As you find product-market fit and gain momentum, you need to scale your team. At this stage you should start to understand the areas creating demand. 

You will probably find one channel that is most effective and you should maximise it

Ideally, someone within the business can help you dig into your analytics. This could be a tech-savvy marketer, or someone with data skills in finance. IT or operations. Alternatively, your marketing agency could help with this.

Look at Google Analytics and your CRM data to diagnose what activity is leading to revenue. Are you seeing returns from search engine traffic? Then double down on search engine optimisation (SEO) and inbound marketing. 

This could be a case of hiring a technical SEO to improve website structure and performance. Or a content marketer to develop your blog and target profitable keywords within your niche.

Other channels that could be the source of early sales include social media, cold outreach or pay per click (PPC) advertising.


Copper.co is a digital asset manager aiming to make cryptocurrency accessible to all. With 93 employees (source: LinkedIn), their marketing team is focused on growth with a ratio of 10.3 employees to each marketer.

Marketing org chart for Copper.co
Copper.co marketing org chart

101-499 employees

Recommended setup

Marketing org chart for 101-499 employee organisation. Director of marketing supported by heads of demand generation, marketing operations, communications and outsourced agency support
Marketing org chart for 101-499 employee organisation

You may be building momentum and naturally acquiring customers through word of mouth. Now is the time to start building an in-house media agency. This will enable you to execute and innovate without relying exclusively on outsourced support.

Agencies should still play a role in your marketing team by adding external expertise. But I wouldn’t rely on them exclusively. You will risk siloing your knowledge without developing your own talent.

It is at that stage that you may start to see diminishing returns from your most profitable channel. You may have saturated your market or been joined by new competitors. This can reduce conversion rates and increase the cost per click of paid ads.

Alternatively, algorithm changes can throw you off course. In previous years, Facebook was a fantastic channel for small businesses to reach new customers. But reduced organic reach and changes to privacy policies have weakened its effectiveness.  

Addressing diminishing returns

Constant changes to social and advertising platforms should encourage you to build an audience on a channel that you own. For most businesses, this is your website and mailing list. 

Seek to drive traffic to your own site by hiring copywriters and developing your blog and email newsletter. 

That said, If you have previously seen success with SEO and content marketing, then Google updating their algorithms or rewriting your titles will inevitably derail you at some point. 

Dealing with diminishing returns from previously successful marketing channels

With that in mind, you should look to diversify your sources of traffic and revenue. This is where insourcing your marketing can help. Build specialist teams focused on a variety of marketing channels to grow new sources of profit. 

This could be moving into new social platforms or expanding to non-digital channels like events. Or vice-versa if you are an offline business.


11:FS is a research, consulting and media company for digital challengers in the financial services industry. They have a dedicated media team designed to grow their brand and educate the market on their services through podcasts, videos and blogs.

They also have a large customer strategist function to provide competitive intelligence to clients. These roles may sit under customer success or the consulting function. They likely contribute to content strategy by repurposing research and sharing market insights. 

According to LinkedIn, out of 150 employees, 16 employees work in marketing and 6 are customer strategists. Not including the strategists, the ratio of employees to each marketer is 9.3.

11:FS marketing org chart

Peak.ai is an AI platform provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Their ‘decision intelligence’ platform provides customer behavioural insights and data to clients.

According to LinkedIn their current headcount is 250 with 14 working in marketing. The ratio of 17.8 marketers per employee could be an indication of the product-led nature of their business. They employ many data scientists and engineers to improve the platform and a product marketing manager to promote it.

Peak.ai marketing team structure
Peak.ai marketing org chart

500 employees and above

Recommended setup

Marketing org chart for 500+ employee organisation. At this stage, there is more variation in specialists depending on the business strategy
Marketing org chart for 500+ employee organisation

Evolving the marketing function as the business scales

Once you reach 500 employees and above, you will naturally evolve into more formalised processes and structures. Your marketing team should continue to grow in order to meet demand to enter new markets and continuously increase revenue

You will probably find that the team that was effective at 50 employees are not able to step up to the responsibilities of a large organisation. Or, they have become bored as roles became more specialised and milestones achieved. 

You may need to hire experienced leaders to take you to the next level and develop new talent.

At this stage, it is easy to let your organisation structure grow out of alignment so be careful that you don’t over or under hire talent. A good rule of thumb here is to assign 1 marketer for every 10-11 employees. 

You may also benefit from hiring a content marketer or copywriter that specialises in each market you are targeting. 

This ensures they develop expertise in that industry and can create compelling content that creates demand. This approach will be essential if you implement Account Based Marketing (ABM) to land larger enterprise clients.

Avoiding silos as you you grow

It is important that you don’t build silos within your marketing team. Ensure they are constantly collaborating by encouraging the repurposing of content for different channels. 

The master of content repurposing is Ross Simmonds. I strongly encourage you to check him out for his content strategy breakdowns and distribution guides.

Ross Simmonds on content distribution tactics


Payfit is a provider of payroll solutions for small to medium-sized businesses in Europe. According to Linked, their current employee headcount is 706 and 62 work in marketing. A ratio of 11.3 employees to each marketer.

With 24 employees including ‘Growth’ in their job title, Payfit has an emphasis on scaling fast in order to get to market early. This follows the approach adopted by other SaaS firms looking to disrupt industries.

The global nature of Payfit can be demonstrated by the regional marketing teams spread across France, Germany, Spain and the UK. 

Payfit marketing team structure
Payfit marketing team structure

How will you build your startup marketing team?

A good rule of thumb is to hire 1 marketer for every 10 employees as you scale.

Smaller orgs will need to hire generalists and add specialists in PPC, SEO, social etc as the business becomes more complex.

Take a look at similar sized firms in related industries and benchmark how your team compares.

However, don’t feel you need to copy your competitors. Identify gaps in their marketing strategy that you can exploit. They may have a very small team and rely on a large outbound sales organisation.

Can you compete more efficiently by investing in SEO or social media? Or another channel that is not being exploited?

Need some advice on marketing strategy? Get in touch with our team for a strategic audit tailored to your needs.

Frequently asked questions

About the author

Rob Boyle is the founder of Jigsaw Metric and oversees content strategy and research projects. 

As a child of small business owners, Rob understands the challenges of growing without resources. He set up Jigsaw Metric as a side project to help more small businesses grow from 10 to 1,000 customers. 

For Rob, digging into the data and seeing KPI charts trend upwards is the most rewarding part of the role.

When not devouring business plans and books, Rob enjoys playing guitar and spending quality time with his infant daughter and toddler son.