So you want to build a killer marketing team? Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re starting from the beginning or looking to reinvent your current team setup, we have what you need to build a winning combination of people, culture and strategy.
But before we dive into our handy checklist, we need to share an important disclaimer. This advice is not a strict checklist with boxes you absolutely need to fill to succeed. Rather, it’s a framework to get you thinking about different facets of building your marketing team, because there’s no one-size-fits-all here. What works for one company doesn’t necessarily work for the next, so be sure to use this insight as a springboard, not a be all end all.
Now that we’ve gotten that off our chests, let’s dive into the good stuff…
People, Culture, Strategy & Beyond: The Ingredients of Team Success
When you hear the word “team,” your mind immediately jumps to people. And that’s a good thing, as people are without a doubt the most important part of any team. But they’re not the only thing that contributes to a team’s success. To build a truly solid foundation, you also need to consider factors like culture and strategy. Think of it like making a cake where the people are your ingredients and everything else is the recipe — as critical as it is to have the right ingredients, what you do with those ingredients and how you put them together also impacts the end result.
Based on that line of thinking, here are the four categories to which you must pay attention while building your team:
First, you need to fill your team with the right people. In this sense, we’re looking at skills and roles within the team (the cultural fit of the people you choose will come later on — first you have to know what you’re hiring for!). Within the people category, you need to consider four key checkpoints:
- Generalists vs. specialists: One of the first questions people ask is whether to hire generalists or specialists. The short answer is that you need both, and the mix between the two will depend on where you land on some of the following factors.
- In house vs. outsourced: Determining which skills you need in house and which you will outsource (e.g. through “Do It For Me” managed services or freelancers) is one of the biggest factors that will impact your hiring of generalists vs. specialists. Typically, generalists will remain in house, but deciding which specialist skills to outsource is a bit more complicated. A good way to approach the decision is to consider the regularity of your needs, as consistent high volume needs are a good case to hire in house, while more erratic and/or low volume needs are a good case to outsource. Finally, this isn’t an either/or scenario, as you can both hire in house and outsource for the same skills in order to lighten workloads as needed and tap very specialized expertise.
- Veterans vs. newcomers: When it comes to veterans vs. newcomers, the knee-jerk reaction is the more veterans the better, but it’s actually a bit more nuanced than that. Of course you want people who have experience navigating the waters and have honed their skills over the years, but newcomers can also add significant value. For example, they bring a fresh set of eyes and offer ideas that are not biased by or limited to what’s been done time and again. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to bring in some novices — the results might surprise you.
- Technicals vs. creatives: Depending on who you ask, you might hear that marketing today is all about being technical and data-driven or that it’s all about being creative when engaging with customers. Both answers are right, and that’s why you need a mix of both technical and creative minds to balance out your team.
Second, you need to consider culture, and the implications of this one are often bigger than they seem. Culture not only dictates how you surface new ideas and bring them to life, but it also helps you attract and retain the best people. With that in mind, you need to think about:
- Working culture: By working culture, we mean how your team works together to accomplish goals. For example, do you have a culture that encourages collaboration and experimentation? Does the intern feel comfortable presenting ideas to the team leader? How you ask people to interact with one another, offer ideas and complete tasks makes a big difference in how the team gets work done.
- Social culture: You can have all the right roles in place and a fantastic working culture, but if the people who fill the ranks of your team don’t mesh socially, your results will be lackluster. Social fit among team members might seem like a trivial point, but it matters quite a lot. You want people who want to work together, because that’s when the magic really happens.
Next, you need a strategy that will serve as a map to guide your team’s efforts toward achieving goals. This strategy should be:
- Well-documented: No one wants to feel like they’re running around in circles without an end goal in mind. As a result, it’s important to have a clear, well-documented strategy that outlines specific goals for your team.
- Scalable and forward-thinking: As the business grows, your team and your strategy need to grow along with it. One of the most important pieces of this scalability is not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Tactics change and people leave, and you need to be able to execute on your strategy regardless of what changes like these might occur.
- Realistic: We all want to achieve a moonshot, but we also need to be realistic. People get discouraged when they’re working toward a goal that they can’t realistically achieve, so while it’s okay to set ambitious goals in your strategy, it’s important to make sure they’re still attainable.
The Great Beyond
Finally, we have one of the most overlooked factors — what happens beyond marketing. Your marketing team is only one component of the entire organization, and you need to think about how your team will interact with and support other teams. While there are a lot of inter-team relationships to consider, there’s one in particular that stands out:
- Bridging the sales-marketing divide: It’s no secret that sales and marketing typically don’t get along. But in order to build a truly successful marketing team, you need to ease this friction. One of the best ways to close the gap between the two teams is to integrate a marketing automation platform with your CRM system and develop a sales and marketing SLA that outlines what each team will deliver to the other.
Let’s Get Down to Business
Now that you have our complete checklist for what it takes to build a successful marketing team, there’s really nothing else left to do but start filling in the ranks of your own team so that you can get down to business and see the fruits of your labor for yourself.