Foolproof Hacks for Small Marketing Teams, Part 1

Foolproof Hacks for Small Marketing Teams, Part 15 Simple solutions for managers who haven’t got time for the pain

At the risk of stating the obvious, when retailers first launch, they’re usually not able to expand their marketing team at the rate that they might like. In the meantime, they assess their team and resources and try to figure out how to fill the gaps. I’ve worked with marketing teams as large as 50 and as small as two, and have learned that running a department efficiently comes down to a simple set of best practices.

  1. Be transparent. Create a list of both short-term and long-term goals and share them frequently with your department, sales team, and executive management. Set the parameters of the terms and make sure your goals are in alignment with the company and all relevant departments. This sets both individual and company-wide expectations, gets everyone on the same page, and confirms that your group is moving in the right direction.In setting goals it’s important to know your perspective relative to the size of your company, whether you’re just one person or a team of five or 10. Seeing your team in this context will help you prioritize, keep a realistic balance of tasks that are both easily achievable and professionally challenging, and adjust the lists as tasks are completed, lagging behind schedule, or no longer feasible. This ensures that everyone stays busy but no one becomes overwhelmed, and if a team member does become overwhelmed, you’ll have the freedom and visibility to adjust resources and goals accordingly. Maintain a “no surprises” policy by keeping open and friendly dialogue about team and individual goals at your regular meetings.Foolproof Hacks for Small #Marketing Teams: 5 Simple solutions for managers who haven’t got time for… Click To Tweet
  1. Plan, plan, plan. At minimum, develop an annual plan and check in on it on a rolling basis for flexibility and frequent evaluation. Whether your plan is monthly, quarterly, or annual, make sure it’s achievable and matches your goals. So if you’re planning on a quarterly basis, don’t just look at Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, but also review it in three-month increments. This rolling scheduling will keep you set up for success and help you pivot if you need to. Set a cadence according to what you’re trying to achieve, what makes the most sense for your company’s sales cycle, and what type of marketing you do.
  1. Go with a theme. Work out a theme for a certain period or project and stick to it. This will unify the messaging across all programs. Schedule overarching themes and programs depending on your needs. So if you’re in e-commerce and holidays are big, then October through December might be good time to roll out a marketing theme for all major campaigns and communications. Similarly, if your company attends trade shows or conferences throughout the year, create a general event theme that includes different components that can be added or subtracted as needed. Adding a theme to your plan will help you prepare all assets ahead of time, which is both a good way to save money and stay sane.Once you have that theme, stick to it. It’s important to present consistent branding, graphics, advertising, and messaging in the marketplace. Keep a running list of theme ideas to tap into in the future so you’re not tempted every time a team member comes up with a good idea.
  1. Cross-train and collaborate. Sharing skills and responsibility prevents chaos and dependence on one person in the case of an absence or departure.Cross-training is really important. If you have a small team and one person is out—whether it’s a planned time away or whether they get sick—you need to have coverage or at least a backup. Every task should have two team members that can take care of it in case something absolutely must get done. It’s worth noting backup is also needed for jobs handled by contractors.Managers can often step in because they have long-time experience with several necessary skills, processes, and tools. This also rings true across departments, for example a sales director may be able to step into a webinar or networking event for a marketing director, or vice versa. And speaking of cross-team collaboration, if every department head is aware of what your team is working on, they should be able to step in and advise on an ad hoc basis. Introducing a fresh perspective on a project can often make for very effective marketing.When hiring for your team, think of the complementary skillsets that candidates will need. Sometimes it’s best to hire a generalist for a short period of time until you need them to focus on a specific area. Think about where a new hire is going to fit in short term and long term in order for them to be successful and grow within that role.
  1. Leverage partnerships. Find people and companies within your industry that are complementary to you and your business and make friends. It’s okay to let them do some of the heavy lifting.It goes without saying, networking is an important part of life if you want to be successful in your current job and in your career. Look for people and businesses that complement your skillset. For example, I’m no design expert, so I try to network and collaborate with people who can contribute in that way and even teach me a few things while they’re at it. Similarly, think of what your company needs on a larger scale, and look for partners who can step in and fill gaps. On the flip side of that, know how to sell your company’s strengths to those who may need them and learn how to trade tasks, tools, and resources so everyone can get more done.

Follow these suggestions and you’ll soon see signs that your small marketing department is running effectively. How will you know?You and your team will enjoy increased confidence from executive management, more meaningful collaboration with the sales team, and happier well-adjusted team members. You’ll also sleep better at night.