What Does A Marketing Department Do?

Rob Engelman
President of Engelman Management Group

Published March 1, 2007

Not too long ago, a friend posed the following questions to me…”What should a marketing department do? What should they be responsible for?”

After reflecting upon the query, I came to the realization that my friend had asked quite interesting and thought-provoking questions for which there are not simple answers. For starters, the responsibilities of a Marketing Department vary based on several factors including business size, industry, corporate structure, and more. To complicate the matter, a Marketing Department’s role will undoubtedly be different for organizations where the department is considered to be a “cost center” vs. a “revenue center.”

While understanding that “it depends” is not a suitable answer for any direct question, the following are my thoughts on 9 core activities / responsibilities a Marketing Department must handle. They are not listed in any particular order, as they all should be accomplished if an organization wants to grow the value of its business.

1) Focus on the Customer.

Marketers should spend time listening to their customers (and prospective customers) in order to understand their needs and wants regarding a particular product or service. Soliciting thoughts and input from internal stakeholders such as Sales and Customer Service is also appropriate, as these departments are typically closest to the customer.

2) Monitor the Competition.

Learning about, and understanding the competitive landscape is also an important function of the Marketing Department. Marketers should be the “go to people” within an organization to answer the following types of questions: Who is the competition (both direct and indirect)? What do they communicate? Which customers do they serve? Why do customers choose the competitor versus you?

3) Own the Brand.

The perceptions and feelings formed about an organization, its products / services, and its performance is what is known as its “brand.” The Marketing Department is responsible for creating meaningful messages through words, ideas, images, and names that deliver upon the promises / benefits an organization wishes to make with its customers. Furthermore, the Marketing Department is responsible for ensuring that messages and images are delivered consistently, by every member of the organization.

4) Find & Direct Outside Vendors.

Internal Marketing Departments do not create magic alone. Therefore, Marketing needs to source and oversee a group of outside resources (a.k.a. “partners”) such as copywriters, graphic designers, web designers, database specialists, and printers so that a company can get the most “bang” from its marketing efforts.

5) Create New Ideas.

Whether it’s customer acquisition campaigns, keep-in-touch programs, new product promotions, retention efforts, or something in between, the Marketing Department should ultimately be responsible for developing new ideas that generate revenue for the company. This does not mean that the Marketers have to come up with every idea on their own; however, they need to identify, cultivate, and work with others (see point #4) to execute programs that will create revenue.

6) Communicate Internally.

It is important that the Marketing Department communicates with all departments inside an organization. Since any employee (regardless of position) can support (or damage) a brand, value proposition or even specific program initiatives, the Marketing Department needs to take responsibility for disseminating information throughout the organization (this includes internal education and training when appropriate).

7) Manage a Budget.

Establishing and communicating messages to the marketplace costs money. Therefore, Marketing Departments should be responsible for estimating the anticipated expenditures associated with marketing activities. Once set, Marketers should be held responsible for meeting all budget projections.

8) Understand the ROI.

Since marketing activities are an investment — an investment in time, money, and effort — they should be monitored and measured against specific concrete goals and objectives. Marketing Departments should constantly ask themselves…”What’s my expected return?” Answering this simple, yet often overlooked question will result in better, more accountable decisions.

9) Set the Strategy, Plan the Attack, and Execute.

One of the key activities for a Marketing Department is to integrate an organization’s goals, strengths, channels of distribution, competitive environment, target markets, pricing, core messages, and products into one cohesive document known as the Marketing Strategy. As part of the strategy, the Marketing Department should also develop the list of tactical ideas such as direct mail, print advertising, and search engine optimization that will enable the organization to communicate its message to customers and prospects. With a strategy and tactical ideas in hand, the Marketing Department is now ready to take on the responsibility of executing the programs and initiatives to drive sales and revenue for the organization.

Whether you are part of a Fortune 500 corporation, a regional manufacturer, a local distributor, an independent professional service provider, or somewhere in between, marketing is a critical component necessary to increase the value of your business. Take a look at your Marketing Department…how many of the 9 activities above do they handle? If something is missing, it is a sure sign that your marketing efforts are not as effective as they could be; therefore, your company is leaving money and valuable resources on the table.

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  1. Nathan k cheruiyot on August 13, 2010 at 12:51 am

    The question was well answered.Regardless of “it depends factor” in the question “what should a marketing department do” The role of marketing is well defined in this article

    • Peace_nahabwe on June 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

      then how is the marketing department different from sales department

  2. MANNY on March 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm


  3. Samuel Azong on May 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    This is a great piece of enlightenment about the functions of marketing. Thanks a lot.

  4. jyj on May 26, 2011 at 4:36 am


  5. Robert on June 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Very good article indeed. My next question would be, what is the best organigram for a marketing department and the number of employees involved.

  6. Ludmil on September 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Very good question Robert!

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  8. Sasirekah on November 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Its a good overview of marketing department..n it he;ped me alot with my studies. tq

  9. Gon on November 18, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Helpful dude!

  10. Arun on December 15, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Got some use full info from your Essay

  11. 9 Marketing Departments Sites on December 26, 2011 at 6:50 am

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  12. PaulinSD on February 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Although this article is very written and articulates many of the operational details required of a marketing department, it misses the point completely.

    The job of any marketing department is simply to generate qualified leads for sales to follow up on.

    All the rest of this is just path that gets you there. If you’re not generating qualified leads in the end, you’re just masturbating.

  13. nomfundo on February 17, 2012 at 3:58 am

    This marketing responsibilieties really give me the whole picture on how to conquere in the marketing industry.Thank you for that.

  14. Savadogo rasmane on February 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Its very good idea to make us understand the strategy of business.thanks

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  17. Vermasoni on May 7, 2012 at 7:33 am

    is marketing include sales job also?

    • Cwood on July 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Yes. We are all salespeople no matter what position is held.

  18. July_0907 on May 10, 2012 at 8:39 am

    This article is very helpful. Well articulated, clear and quite complete. Well done. Thank you for taking the effort for doing it. 

    • ME!!! DANNIE on April 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      yes this was very helpful

  19. S_ojaw on June 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm


  20. Monu on September 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    This article really very helpful………

  21. akiii on October 1, 2012 at 8:48 am


  22. nefg on October 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    i really liked the article, except for this bit:
    >Marketing Departments should constantly ask
    themselves…”What’s my expected return?” Answering this
    simple, yet often overlooked question will result in
    better, more accountable decisions.

    I agree this is a very important question, but it is not a simple one at all.

    Try measuring the return on a 3.5M USD investment on a superbowl advertisement.

  23. Thilina on October 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Those are helped me to learn marketing

  24. fridah on November 9, 2012 at 6:01 am

    This article will really work for me if put in consideration thank you for your time you took to come up with it.

  25. Sammy on January 17, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Complete report of accurate and well explained information, well done.

  26. nawaz on September 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

    please i want to know about how marketing department work in xyz company .. any1 help me ?? :/

    • sean bean corb on October 1, 2015 at 4:16 am

      stop asking stupid questions capiche peace out bitches

  27. LiL-Cryme Atiku on November 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    This is such a good n rich work….God bless you

  28. Tigisti on February 7, 2014 at 5:02 am

    what is the responsibility of marketing in collection of credit sales

  29. boom on September 25, 2014 at 3:21 am

    right love

  30. boob on September 25, 2014 at 3:22 am

    thank u for making my essay so much easier

  31. Nelson Tongeni on June 7, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Thank you!!

  32. […] love the blog post Rob Engelman stating what the function of a marketing department actually is. It’s quite concise, yet […]

  33. pratishtha on August 31, 2015 at 9:37 am

    can u plz tell me that what the company does after taking feedback from the customers. tell me the process in which the company works for modifying the same product. what is the role of marketing department in this

  34. Liu Jessie on November 3, 2015 at 1:04 am

    It works for me to think in a better way.

About The Author

Rob Engelman, President of Engelman Management Group, is a seasoned executive with more than 17 years of consumer and business-to-business experience. He has a proven track record in leading projects and teams to achieve significant business results, particularly in the areas of customer lifecycle management and new product introductions. Prior to forming Engelman Management Group, Rob was Vice President of Marketing for Citicorp Diners Club as well as at an Internet start-up organization. He can be contacted at 847-945-7573, or [email protected], or at www.engelmanmanagement.com.