Building a team is hard — just ask any coach in history. A team must be a collection of individual talents that gels into a sum greater than its parts. Choosing the constituent members is difficult enough. Getting them to communicate and collaborate seamlessly is even harder.
Companies need great teams across the enterprise, but especially in marketing. The professionals who craft the company’s public image have a big impact on propelling its success. Marketing works to make companies attractive, relevant, and appealing so that consumers will try their product or service once — and keep coming back. Even if a company is firing on all cylinders, it won’t realize its full potential without a great marketing team.
Unfortunately, making a team “great” is tricky when it comes to something like marketing. Much of the work is creative, and a lot of the outcomes are uncertain. Furthermore, martech has added to the list of things marketers need to know. The large amount of data now available has made the job of your marketing team members more complex as they seek to determine how to use your digital spend to better identify consumer preferences.
But while building a great marketing team is hard, it’s not hopeless. With the aid of selected technologies, it’s possible to create a stellar group from the ground up. Here’s where you can start:
Make the Team Feel Like Family
The best teams work quickly and capably together. When circumstances change, they know each member’s strengths and weaknesses well enough to adapt instead of stumble. This is especially important on marketing teams, where adaptation is a daily imperative. As Sarah Fruy, director of online marketing at Pantheon, notes, “You need a tight-knit agile digital marketing team with members who feel like they can rely on one another when the pressure builds.”
Creating this tight-knit group requires team members to talk to each other. Consider using an internal messaging system to encourage frequent, organic communication among your marketing team. For instance, Liberty Mutual uses Slack for everything from community problem-solving to workload management to gaining quick insights from the company’s experts. And don’t forget that the family that plays together stays together: When Slacked birthday greetings are accompanied by funny GIFs and company shout-outs are met with custom emojis, the resulting camaraderie binds your team members even more closely.
Hire Specialists Before Generalists
Building a team entirely of “jack-of-all-trades” professionals is tempting. When everyone is good at everything, it seems logical that the team would excel. But in reality, you need a few specialists on your team to make it a dynamic entity that can do what other marketing teams can’t. Having an SEO specialist, for example, ensures the team doesn’t struggle to get the search engine rankings it wants. CAD software startup Onshape took this approach, hiring its specialists first and later adding a marketing generalist to its roster. This worked for the company because its specialists were also expected to be cross-disciplined.
Specialists can be harder to find and more difficult to attract, which is why recruiters are turning to AI. Consider using chatbots to conduct initial candidate screenings, answer routine questions, and schedule interviews. This gives recruiters more time to focus on the interviews themselves. When the marketing team needs to add someone very specific to its ranks, AI can help recruiters find the best fit. For instance, consider utilizing tools like Interseller, which can help you ferret out passive job seekers (often some of the top talent out there), or ClearFit, which finds and ranks candidates for you based on how well the applicants fits your needs.
Obsess Over the Customer
Marketing teams have to understand whom they’re speaking to. This doesn’t mean just consumers’ demographics or buying patterns, but their end-to-end experience with a brand. According to Michelle Huff, CMO of UserTesting, “It’s crucial for businesses to understand typical customers’ pain points, preferences, needs, and how they search for solutions so they can deliver a relevant and resonant message at each stage of the decision-making process.”
Companies are turning to machine learning to understand customers on a deeper level. The technology can observe consumer behaviors, learn from them, and then predict what, when, and how a person will purchase next. It’s a way of tapping into the consumer psyche without the expense and uncertainty of focus groups. Machine learning enables marketing teams to keep pace with consumers instead of constantly catching up because of its ability to make informed predictions based on consumer behavior.
There’s no magic formula for building a great marketing team. There’s not a perfect tech solution, either. But if you address these three areas, you’ll likely be on the right track to building the team your company needs.
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.