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Building and Leading a High-Performance Marketing Team

The digital age continues to transform the way people consume information and make buying decisions. The traditional way of structuring and leading marketing teams isn’t compatible with this transformation. Organization, staff competencies and project collaboration must evolve to maximize performance and efficiency. In the first half of a two-part series, we will look at how to structure a marketing team for success. In the second half, we will cover how leadership can set expectations and support team members.


Structuring for success.

It starts with structure. A lot of marketing teams today are structured around specific channels. For example, you might have someone who is dedicated to PR, another person dedicated to digital or email and third who only works on social. This leads to a lot of silos where team members run into each other rather than working alongside each other to accomplish department goals.


Today’s omnichannel buyer journey requires organization around marketing process. For example, the creation of core pillars for demand generation (revenue-focused messaging; marketing operations, including execution and technology management; and customer experience, including post-sale onboarding, adoption and retention efforts) is a process-driven approach to team organization. Each team is responsible for a part of the marketing process to engage prospective buyers, operationalize messaging across channels to those buyers, and ensure adoption and retention post-sale. All team members can focus but also have insight into the bigger picture. This ensures the team is taking an audience-centric approach so that each initiative is effective at achieving core objectives.


Developing competency.  

Once you’ve got the right structure, it’s important to place people in the right roles that will allow them to strengthen their core competency while growing them in new areas. Each person should be evaluated to determine their strengths as well as areas for potential growth and those where they would never fit. Then it’s important to move those team members into roles that complement their mix of skills.


For example, on a demand generation team, you might have someone skilled in campaign development who is tasked with leading promotional campaigns. However, that person might also work with other members of the team on core content and sales collateral so they can develop further in those areas. Another team member might come from sales and thus be able to offer valuable insights for developing effective sales collateral. However, that person could also contribute to campaign development, ensuring that the campaign strategy and core messaging will be effective in the early stages of the buyer journey and better align marketing with sales.


Organization and project management.

One mistake that’s easy to make when structuring around marketing process is not having someone own the holistic view of each initiative. Often, your marketing team will be the intersection of the company. You’ll work across your own team and also be involved with many different groups, such as operations, sales, training, service and IT teams.


It’s important that every member of the team own their deliverables and their steps within the process, but there needs to be an owner of each overall initiative. That’s where it’s valuable to have a marketing project manager who is responsible for developing the project plans, driving them to completion, and providing a holistic view to the department and other leaders in the company.


Effective project managers facilitate regular scrums, which give the teams an opportunity to share their blockers and risks. This helps the team gain input from others or ask for help. It also helps further ensure that team members are not doing duplicative work. Everyone should have full transparency into what each person is working on and how they're contributing to the overall team as well as the company.


Additionally, all project plans should be visible to everyone, including leadership, so everyone is aware of what’s happening and who is responsible for each deliverable.


Transparency and accountability.

The benefit of project planning is that it delivers transparency and accountability, which are both crucial components of becoming a performance-driven team. When each member of the team sees what their colleagues are doing on a day-to-day basis and how they’re contributing value, it helps develop a culture of trust and respect. It also empowers accountability.


If someone isn’t delivering, it should be impossible for that person to hide. Visibility into resource allocation and performance helps the entire team remain focused and hold each other accountable. Team players may grow frustrated if they see a counterpart doing the bare minimum and not being held accountable.


Similarly, if a leader isn’t willing to terminate staff members that don’t consistently perform, they aren’t holding the team accountable. This will ultimately devour the morale of the team, crushing strong performance.


So what can leadership do to help keep morale up and engage team members? We’ll take a look at this in the second part of this two-part series, “Setting Expectations and Supporting Your Marketing Team for Success.”

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