How well are you set up for marketing mckinseys 7s model insights marketing article

How Well Are You Set Up For Marketing? McKinsey 7S Model

It’s essential to make space regularly to assess how well you and your organisation are set up to plan and then deliver effective marketing.

Let’s make that space today to do that Internal Marketing Audit using the 7S from McKinsey.

[tiny note: the 7Ss usually are presented with an apostrophe – 7S’s. I hate this as it’s grammatically incorrect, but the lovely Google search bots look for this, so… hey ho!]

The 7Ss – what are they good for?

McKinsey’s 7S model is beneficial to review all the available marketing resources in your organisation.

Once you have done a 7S Analysis, you can then organise them into Strengths and Weaknesses, which form a crucial part of your organisation’s SWOT analysis.

McKinsey 7S model example

McKinseys 7S model framework marketing spaces insights

As you can see, this is a comprehensive model with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors.

Hard factors: Strategy, Structure, Systems

These are the things that can be written down and your organisation can directly influence.

Soft factors: Style, Skills, Staff, Shared Values

These S’s can be harder to describe because they are less tangible. Typically, your organisation’s culture influences them. 

7S: Strategy

Take some time to assess your strategy for building and maintaining a competitive advantage. Put simply: why should people choose your organisation? 


  • What is your strategy to ensure that they want to choose you? 
  • Is it a Known Expert strategy? 
  • Is it a Content Marketing Strategy?
  • A Digital Marketing Strategy?
  • Is it a market leader or market follower strategy? 
  • Are you choosing any of the Ansoff strategies? 
  • Is it a combination of some of the above?
  • How strong is it? Are you sure it allows you to have a strong position in your marketplace?

7S: Structure

Let’s consider now hour your organisation arranges its people resources internally. 

  • What structure do you have? 
  • Are there Departments, Groups, Teams? 
  • Do you have a Board to answer to? Significant interested parties? 
  • If you are a solopreneur or micro business, who are the people involved in your marketing? How easy is it to pull them together? 

Now you have some notes on your ‘structure’, consider these four questions:

  1. How easy is it for you to create marketing plans?
  2. How quick is it for you to make marketing plans?
  3. How easy is it for you to implement marketing plans?
  4. How fast is it for you to implement marketing plans?

We find it helpful to mark each on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being ‘not at all’, 5 being ‘very’.

Are you satisfied with this score? What would it take to improve it by 1 mark in each area?

7S: Systems

Every business, large or small, has processes and systems. These should make your life easier. We suggest you take some time to write out all the systems and processes you have in your business that directly impact you and your ability to deliver marketing. 

These could be:

  • Marketing automation systems
  • Website Content Management Systems
  • Marketing campaign tracking processes
  • Systems to schedule marketing activity, e.g. social media posts.

We also like to include the processes for onboarding new customers and getting payment from them (!). 

Again, you may find it helpful to mark each on a scale of 1 to 5, answering the question: How efficient are these systems? 1 being ‘not at all’, 5 being ‘very’. 

What would it take to improve this score by ‘1’ mark in some of these areas?

7S: Style

We now move into the ‘Soft’ factors, and we like to start by thinking about the leadership style that your organisation has. 

  • Who are the leaders?
  • What role do they play when it comes to marketing?
  • If you’re the marketer in your organisation, what are you like as a leader?
  • Are you willing to delegate and share? Or do you hang on to tasks you could pass on? 

Your question to consider here is: Does your organisation’s leadership style help or hinder marketing? Slow it down or allow it to flourish and flow?

7S: Skills

This is an area that most businesses hone in on first when doing an Internal Marketing Audit. It is utterly crucial that you have the right capabilities amongst the right people to complete all the different marketing activities, from strategic thinking to tactical planning to implementing marketing to measuring and monitoring it.

However, we place it second because we want to understand why you do or don’t have the right capabilities in place and leadership style often lies at the heart of that answer.

So, do make space to consider the skills you need to plan, deliver and monitor effective marketing, and then whether your organisation has them.

To start, a table can be helpful: column 1 = the Skills needed, column 2 = the current abilities internally for each skill.

Then, see where the gaps are. Which holes are crucial to fill? Which will make the most significant difference immediately? How can you fill them? What will happen if you don’t?

7S: Staff

Rapidly following from Skills, we now turn our attention to the ‘staff’ you have for marketing.

  • Who is in your ‘Marketing’ Team? Internal and outsourced.
  • What are their roles?
  • What do they do?
  • Are they at full capacity, or can they develop some of the skills you know you have a gap for?
  • How invested are they in your organisation? Is that enough to help them be a great contributor to your Marketing? How could you improve that investment if you need to?

If you’re in the position to recruit and retain marketing staff, then use this as an opportunity to review how effective your marketing recruitment is. For example, do you get the right people in, the first time? How much does your marketing recruitment cost? Do they stay? What could you do to improve recruitment and retention?

7S: Shared Values

The culture and values (stated and actually lived) should and could affect marketing. We need to assess if they affect it positively or negatively.

For example, if you are operating in a traditional, risk-averse culture, does that help or hinder when it comes to your marketing? It can help because it means you don’t make costly or publicly embarrassing mistakes, but it can hinder you because you don’t try anything new.

If your company’s values are ‘respect’, ‘caring’, ‘environmentally friendly’, how does that impact the type of marketing you can do?

Does it mean you need to avoid certain marketing practices that are exploitative or manipulative? Perhaps not use certain platforms or tools for your marketing? 

Your organisation’s values need to run through everything you do, internally and externally, for them to really mean anything.

To wrap the 7S up

Like many marketing frameworks, the McKinsey 7S are a great way to ensure that you systematically assess and improve your approach to marketing.

We like this comprehensive approach to analysing your internal marketing capabilities and capacities as it can be done ‘jotting down notes’ or more formally in workshops, with research and reports produced.

Once you have worked your way through each S, you can then go back and assess where your ‘Strengths’ and ‘Weaknesses’ are. This can then be used to prioritise an Action Plan.

If you can use it in conjunction with your External Marketing Audit and the Opportunities and Threats, this is even more powerful.


  1. What are your vital 7S areas of Strength? How can you leverage these to get the most from any identified Opportunities?
  2. What are your critical 7S areas of weakness? Does this leave you dangerously exposed to any key, identified threats? If so, these are your priority to address.

Enjoy the clarity this process brings and thank you for making space for marketing. 

Reference: McKinsey’s 7 S’s framework (Waterman, 1980, cited in Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019).

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