Is a marketing team different than any other workgroup? Sort of.
Marketing is one of those disciplines that can look easier than it is. Those who are great at it are constantly updating their tactics to stay fresh and continually grab attention. They stay on top of breaking news; customer feedback; new technologies and media; and the vast amount of first-, second- and third-party data. The best marketers then consolidate all the ingredients into integrated, immersive programs to achieve the company’s goals.
Because marketing teams do not produce traditional widgets, a truly great marketing team will be extremely diverse. Ideally, marketing teams leverage data to come up with concepts that deliver results — revenue, users, subscribers, customer experience and more. They use words and visuals in select mediums to encourage desired actions. This requires that the team have strengths in analytics, creative design, content development, project management, marketing communications, product development and cross-functional leadership. The one skill that cut across all functions is creativity. (Yes, data scientists and project managers are just as creative as designers and writers.)
Managing such a diverse team can be a challenge, but surprisingly, it is not too different than managing other groups of people. According to R. Keith Sawyer, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, anyone can learn to be creative, and good creativity is further stimulated by working with other people. But for businesses trying to create a dynamic, productive atmosphere for their creative teams, here’s how to start:
- Build a genuine culture. Whether your whole team is on site or some members are remote, you need to find ways to make the real and virtual environments positive, stimulating and organized. All three of these are easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere. Kevin Barber, author of “How to Build a High Performance Marketing Team”on HubSpot, said the ideal team culture contains a blend of integrity, character, love and loyalty. This helps create the foundation, but the shape of the building is up to everyone on the team.
- Track whenever and wherever possible. If you do not measure something, you can’t understand it. If you don’t understand something, you can’t improve it. Set goals and measure the drivers and achievement against those goals. Armed with this data, you and the team can take the proper tactics to achieve them. These could be broad conceptual goals, such as “increase revenue,” or specific goals, such as “grow social media presence by X amount in a certain time period.”
- Evaluate at your team. You may need to adjust your team and add more members as people move on or more resources become available or are needed. I agree with Joanna Lord, a contributor to Entrepreneur, who suggests that someone’s “fit” in the culture should be more of a consideration than professional skill sets. Not everyone will have the interest or aptitude to continue based on the teams goals. Stack rank your team by aptitude, interest and skill level. Always share feedback and put performance plans in place to help everyone adjust to the new standards.
- Look for gaps. Where is your team’s performance falling short? Do you have enough resources to achieve those goals? Which skills does your team lacking? Do your internal partners share your goals? Do your processes support or hinder achieving your goals? Team members should be tasked with projects that overcome the roadblocks identified in this exercise should be prioritized with run-the-business activities.
- Create a roadmap. Having different broad and specific goals established provides the team with a “destination.” Moreover, putting programs in place to engage everyone provides the team a sense of a bigger picture and how they personally help the team achieve its goals.
- Make Progress. Team members should be tasked with strategic projects that overcome the gaps identified in the exercise above. Set deliverables and timelines with each project lead and share them with the entire team. Strategic projects should be prioritized and tracked alongside run-the-business activities. Remember to report progress of projects and acknowledge each person for their roles in making something good happen, which also helps foster camaraderie
Overall, optimizing a marketing team’s performance can be tricky. Good managers can find a way to do so, such as how people rank individually and collectively on department goals. Better managers will find ways to not only quantify everyone’s efforts but foster a dynamic culture — it’s going to take time and buy-in, but the results can create a solid, efficient team.