The 21st Century offers unprecedented opportunity for companies to grow and expand. It also offers unprecedented difficulty. For example, a marketing team just twenty years ago had to market to customers within walking or driving distance. Their only major competitors were within walking or driving distance with the exception of one big box store. If you were, for example, selling running shoes in Birmingham, AL, you only needed to market to central Alabama. Now, if you’re selling shoes in Birmingham, Alabama, you need to compete online with shoe sellers in Brisbane, British Columbia, and Birmingham, England. That poses unique problems. Fortunately, the interconnectedness works both ways. You just need to build a smart marketing team. Here’s how you do that.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Status
The first thing you need to do to build an effective organization is to assess what building blocks you already have. If you don’t have a marketing team at all, you can evaluate the marketing you’ve been doing yourself; many small businesses have marketing done by employees who have other tasks as well. If you haven’t been doing any marketing or if you plan to start over from scratch, you can jump to step two. For those on step one, you need to figure out where you are.
You should start by evaluating each team member. The simplest option is to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. What do they do well, and what do they need work to improve? When you go more in depth with your analysis, you’ll want to look at years of experience, areas of expertise, and their passion for your organization. You should also make sure you decide which of those is most important for you. For some companies, years of experience is most important; that helps foster a continuity of corporate culture. For new start-ups, passion and expertise are more important.
Once you’ve evaluated your team, you need to evaluate the marketing itself. How much time and money have you spent on your marketing in a given period? During that time, what improvements have you seen in sales or reach? These parallel analyses will probably give you an indication of where you’d like to go.
Step 2: Set Goals
Once you’ve figured out what you have as far as personnel and a present marketing scheme, you should set goals for the future. If you’ve been reaching 1,000 potential new customers each quarter, you might set a goal to reach 2,000 by the same point next year. You might set goals based on sales instead. Setting a goal based on sales will obviously put more money in your company’s bottom line but it includes many factors that aren’t marketing, such as your website design and your product quality.
If you want to stay hyper-focused on marketing, you could just measure reach to potential customers as well as amount of time they spend on your site. There are other ways to measure interest as well.
Part of identifying the goals is also identifying how you think you can achieve them. One way to do that is a simple brainstorming session. The session can be a singular session with your present marketing team or an ongoing process any time someone thinks of a good idea. Dedicating office space to marketing ideas is a great way to keep your team motivated and thinking up new ideas. You should consider dry erase paint on a wall somewhere in the office. That will allow your team to jot down ideas whenever they come.
Step 3: Build Your Team
Once you have identified the elements that make up your team and the goals you have in mind, you’ll be able to see where there might be gaps in your team. This is when the true team-building begins. You’ll know what skills you need and who can bring them. You can then recruit new employees for your marketing team or even promote from within. There are benefits to each approach.
Promoting from within encourages loyalty to your company and ensures that the new person will fit your workplace culture. Hiring from without will bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives. It’s likely best that you do both.
Step 4: Test Your Ideas
Once you have built your team, the only thing left to do is to get to work. There should be a dry erase wall covered in ideas and spreadsheets with all of the information you need. Now, you need to put your team on the field and see what they can do. The best way to do that is by picking something concrete and, ideally, limited in time. A specific project will be the easiest to evaluate.
Run your marketing ideas and then evaluate them the same way you evaluated in step one. Even the best organized team is going to have some gaps. Gaps are areas where you are lacking knowledge or skills needed to remove blocks from your path. For example, your marketing might be weak in Ireland. That could be because you don’t have anyone on your team who understands the subtleties of how Irish people make purchasing decisions. That would qualify as a gap.
Step 5: Plug the Gaps
There are two ways to plug the gaps because there are two types of gaps. There are systemic and specific gaps. A specific gap would be something like a product not playing well in Ireland. A line of air conditioners, for example, might not be very marketable in Ireland. That’s a specific gap. A systemic gap would be none of your products selling well in Ireland.
If you’re trying to plug a specific gap, you might need to hire a contractor or a freelancer to help you. Contractors or freelancers are great ways to plug short-term gaps; you just need to make sure you hire them for what they do best. Many of them have myriad skills; pay for their main skill.
If you have a systemic gap, you’ll likely need to make a more long-term hiring decision. You could also create a subscription model with a contractor. Either way, that part of your team will need to be knowledgeable in this specific gap and how to close it.
When taken all together, these five steps will help you evaluate your current team and build a more successful marketing team. Before long, you’ll be marketing in Hampshire, New Hampshire, and Hamburg.