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How To Build An Insanely Effective Marketing Team

This may not come as a surprise to some of you, but many CEOs think marketers are too “fluffy,” “artsy,” and generally lack business credibility. In fact, according to a new survey from The Fournaise Marketing Group CEOs think marketers:

  • Often ask for bigger budgets, but can’t justify the increased spend by demonstrating how much additional business will be generated (72%).
  • Concentrate too much on branding parameters (77%).
  • Tend to increase ROI by scaling back on third-party/agency costs rather than focusing on increasing top-line growth (70%).

Ouch.

The beautiful thing about marketing and advertising is that at its pinnacle its equal parts art and science. Marketing can’t be effective without big, “head in the clouds” ideas, but without an equal focus on execution and bottom-line impact there will always be a disconnect between marketers and those with P&L responsibility.

So what’s the solution? Well, whether you’re building a robust internal marketing department or looking to work with a killer third-party organization (*cough* *cough* call us *cough* *cough*) I believe four core characteristics are needed to build a world-class marketing organization:

#1 – A Hunger for Accountability

I firmly believe that every dollar spent on marketing needs to have a measurable result. I’ve built Method Savvy around this idea but I believe the same ethos ring true for all effective marketing organizations. Not fearing accountability simply isn’t enough. Great marketing teams have a hunger for it; a desire to understand what works and what doesn’t so that the organization can invest more time and resources into what’s generating real revenue and/or reducing costs. A culture of accountability gives your marketing team equal ownership in the success of your business. Why wouldn’t you want that?

#2 – An Understanding of How To Use (and Not Use) Data

There’s no accountability without measurement, and no measurement without data. A modern marketing organization needs to understand not only how to effectively capture the right data, but also how to parse all of that information so that it can be turned into actionable insights. When hiring your team or third-party agency/consultancy make it a point to understand how they intend to manage your marketing data, filter out the noise and distill insights.

#3 – Big Thinkers & Bigger Dreams

The best marketing tells a story that connects on an emotional level with customers. It doesn’t begin with web analytics click-stream data, sentiment surveys or a lifetime value of a customer equation. Rather it starts by asking what’s the story you’re going to tell and how will you tell it? Despite some CEOs’ complaints that marketers are too “fluffy” and “artsy”, its that slightly tilted worldview that gives great advertising and marketing its spark. The team you build to drive your marketing organization will need to be unsatisfied with the status-quo, willing to take reasonable chances and see opportunities that others don’t. While I firmly believe that accountability and data provide the orientation of a modern marketing team, they should inform the creative process not stifle it. You still need a team that can dream big.

#4 – Not Afraid To Pivot

I’ll be the first to admit that its often difficult to tell your team, boss or client that you’re wrong. However I believe that the best marketing organizations are those that are not only willing to quickly admit mistakes, but embrace failure as an essential part of the marketing process. I don’t care how experienced your team is, how many awards they’ve won or the quality creative ideas they pump out – many times customers will not respond the way you expect them to. When building or expanding your marketing organization its critical that you establish a culture that is accepting of “fast failure.” At Method Savvy we’ve canonized this idea in our approach to iterative marketing experimentation, but the methodology isn’t as important as the underlying values. Fast failure and the accompanying shift in strategy and tactics are really about applied learning. If your marketing team can do this well it’ll help you more quickly ring the cash register.

What’s at the top of your “must have” list of your marketing team?

Posted in Advertising, Business, Marketing
  • Brandon Moser

    I generally agree but I struggle with taking too hard of a line on #1, especially as it relates to brand awareness campaigns.  Not all have the luxury of doing pre & post surveys as part of the campaigns.  Although I’m a fan of measuring direct response, I struggle with organizations who have to put a dollar value on brand awareness.

    • Thanks for your comment, Brandon. I agree that not all companies can do pre/post surveys but there are a lot of ways to ingrain accountability into a marketing team other than surveys. In my opinion, brand awareness is only a key performance indicator and shouldn’t be viewed as an overall business objective. The better question is ask is what does strong brand awareness get a business (more revenue, greater market share?) and how can you accurately measure that?