Centralized, Decentralized, or Hybrid: Which Marketing Structure Is Best for Your Business?

This marketing structure is too constricting. … This structure is too flexible. This one is juuuuuuuust right!

Determining how you’d like to structure your marketing team and department so it operates efficiently is a challenge for any business. … And just like Goldie Locks, it may take some trial and error to determine which structure is “just right” for you. 

The structure you choose establishes a hierarchy of responsibilities, roles, and rules. It also determines how the company and its employees communicate, delegate, and strategize. How you decide to assign tasks and responsibilities influences how (and if) your business will meet its marketing goals. 

Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of structure: centralized, decentralized, or hybrid. Which one you choose can be determined by the size of your company and your overall needs, and you might have to try a couple before you find the one that works.

The Centralized Team Structure (or “it’s all you”)

A centralized marketing structure is where decision-making is delegated to a single person or team at one location. With this top-down model, the individual or group oversees and controls the company’s marketing functions, strategies, and overall execution. This structure is typical amongst startups and small businesses. 

A 2020 survey found that a growing number of companies opt for a centralized approach––almost two-thirds of marketing teams are entirely or primarily centralized. 


  • Easier decision-making: Since decision-making is designated to one person or team, procedures are well-organized, enabling them to run smoothly with fewer roadblocks. Those in charge can take greater ownership of marketing initiatives without getting buy-in or collaborating with several people or departments. Overall this allows for a unified approach to marketing efforts. 
  • Consistency: With a central team or person in place and fewer parties involved, marketing efforts, strategies, and branding can be more consistent. 
  • Streamlined systems and workflows: Centralization allows marketing departments to implement and simplify systems and processes across the team. This includes marketing technology, procedures, and distribution of resources.


  • Less collaboration: Employees outside of those in charge have a limited impact on decision-making. Unfortunately, they have fewer chances to contribute their ideas, feedback, and strategies to marketing planning and operations. 
  • More challenging to scale: Since centralization is more common amongst startups and small businesses, this approach is more difficult to scale as a company grows. Having one person in charge of a larger operation is less effective. More growth requires more support.  
  • Can be overwhelming to those in charge: This business model can leave a lot of responsibility on the decision-maker’s plate, putting a strain on their performance and execution.

Decentralized team structure (the “team of specialists”)

A decentralized marketing team disperses authority and decision-making across multiple employees and groups within the department. This option works well for enterprise-level companies that require more employee assistance and contribution. 

For example, a decentralized marketing team might consist of a content team, social team, product marketing, and acquisition team. With this structure, lower-level individuals may make and approve decisions and are then required to report them to upper management. 


  • Greater collaboration: With more people involved in marketing efforts, employees feel more empowered to share their ideas and strategies with those in charge. 
  • More growth opportunities: Decentralization creates a more extensive and diverse team structure. In addition, more departments within marketing allow employees more career growth opportunities to pursue other interests and roles within the overall department. 
  • Localized teams: Larger companies often have several audiences they sell and market to. Multiple teams allow for more targeted or localized marketing campaigns for specific products, verticals, or geographic areas.


  • Less standardization: Since decentralization allows operations to spread across teams, this creates several strategies, campaigns, procedures, and marketing systems. This can impact the overall workflow, marketing budget, and brand.  
  • Less coordination: The saying, “Too many hands in the pot will spoil the whole sauce,” can apply to a decentralized marketing team. With more people and teams involved, the possibility of duplicated efforts and differing messaging may occur because everyone is less likely to be on the same page.

Hybrid marketing structure (the “marketing partnership”)

A hybrid marketing structure offers the best of both worlds. It splits marketing duties between an in-house team and an outsourced agency, such as Liger Partners. 

With this option, your company can assign someone to be the point of contact for all marketing questions and decision-making. Still, an agency is responsible for creating and executing well-crafted marketing strategies, including content creation, social media management, and paid advertising. In addition, by outsourcing this function, your company may be able to reduce costs associated with recruiting and training in-house employees. 


  • Expertise: Hiring a marketing firm means you get access to experts in all areas of marketing. While you may not be able to hire experts in design, social media, SEO, paid media, etc., so it’s a way of having those experts on your team for one price.
  • Scalability: As your company grows, you can request more services from your marketing firm, without having to grow through the process of hiring another person. 
  • Less stress: Outsourcing a hefty amount of marketing tasks means your team doesn’t have to worry about doing them, freeing you up to focus on strategy. 


  • Harder to control the brand: When you have people outside of your organization working on messaging and design assets, you have to constantly monitor what they create in order to make sure it’s on brand. 
  • Communication: You may have an in-person meeting with reps from your firm once a week, and the rest of your communication may be over email or Slack. You have to learn how to use these channels efficiently so things don’t get lost in translation.
  • More time: Because you’re with an outside team that also has other clients, it takes them time to complete tasks. Because it may be challenging to have them do rush jobs, you may need to have a backup plan in case your team isn’t able to deliver on urgent tasks. 

What’s the best marketing structure for your organization?

Before deciding on an approach for your business, consider your needs, how big your business is, what your future growth may look like, and more. Then, think about which structure is just right based on the pros and cons. 

Our team at Liger works with businesses as arms of their decentralized teams or supporting their hybrid structures. We even consult with heads of marketing to guide them in figuring out what structure works best for them. Contact us if you need guidance or a complimentary audit.