5 Tips for Leading the Ultimate Marketing Team
A lot is expected out of today’s marketing teams. They have to plan like statisticians, perform like entertainers, think like psychologists, create like artists and execute like technicians. While it’s nearly impossible to hire one person who possesses all of these skills, it is vitally important that marketing managers know how to build a team that balances the right characteristics.
Here are five tips on how to build and manage the ultimate marketing team today.
1. Hire Very Different People
Too often, marketing leaders hire staff members who embody their beliefs, experience and style. Whether you’re a creative director, agency owner or CMO, it is essential that you hire people (and partners) who make you uncomfortable — people who think differently, have a different background, different experiences, different training and a different approach. And, just as importantly, when you hire them, don’t try to get them to bend to your ways. Encourage them to challenge you and to debate with you.
If you want groundbreaking work, work that resonates with your customers, you need to embrace different perspectives.
I have seen, both internally and externally, the power of getting people with very different perspectives working together. I was just at dinner last week with a client who was telling me her closest partner in her company was someone she hated on her first day. But, her CEO put them together for a key project and they learned to appreciate their differences and learn from each other — now they’re joined at the hip.
Diverse teams create plans that are vetted from more angles, and have to pass a more well-rounded sense of scrutiny.
2. Create an Open Culture of Collaboration and Debate
The right hiring approach is a great first step, but the culture you create is just as important. Marketing leaders today need to make sure they foster a collaborative environment.
Too many times, both junior and senior employees think they have to have all the answers. They direct their team and their agency without room for discussion and, therefore, lose out on valuable insights. This fosters an environment full of order-takers, rather than partners and collaborators.
Encourage staff to learn from each other and to work as a team. Foster and encourage open discussion, brainstorming and debate, both internally and externally with agency partners. And when I say debate, I mean debate. Those rigorous and intense discussions are most often where true insights and ground-breaking ideas are formed.
For my staff today, we don’t just encourage collaboration and strategic thinking, we demand it. As an entrepreneurial company, we establish processes, but encourage people to work out of that and really think and challenge problems.
Today, when I interview and hire new employees, I sit with them personally and explain what it means to search for disruption. We want them to challenge the norms, and encourage debate and discussion with their teams, with other departments, and even with clients.
3. Break Up the Silos
Customers see a brand as a single entity, but companies and their agencies are most often broken up into silos. Many clients today have some combination of direct, digital, brand, media and content agencies. In the few cases where there is a central agency, the agencies themselves have silos. While there is an operational reason for these divisions, it must be the role of senior leadership to make sure those silos don’t compete, rather ensure they collaborate and even learn from each other.
You can see the trend to shift away from silos by the holding companies building their own custom, brand-based teams and standalone agencies. You also see many examples of brands forcing their agencies to work together. I have clients today who bring their agencies together for status meetings, to present new creative, KPIs and learnings, and “brand summit” meetings to think and brainstorm together.
4. Think Outside of Traditional Marketing
Restructuring and team collaboration is just the beginning. We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that our industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years.
As leaders, we need to encourage established employees to reinvent themselves. They need to take their experience and learn how to leverage it in today’s marketing landscape.