How to build an effective marketing team

How to build an effective marketing team

The power of human connections can only be unleashed when you have a team with complementary skills, good morale and a culture that brings out their best. Here, industry experts reveal how they do it.

1. Invest in and train the ‘T’-shaped marketer

“I look for core strengths in one or two areas (the vertical) that are complemented by a broader marketing knowledge (the horizontal),” says Nial Toner, digital director of web and app development agency The Tomorrow Lab. “We’re a small team, so it’s essential that everyone understands the business from a wider perspective outside of their own specialism, and we invest in training to help our people do this. Ideally, 10% of our time each week is spent on learning and development – we don’t let it slip because of the huge benefits it brings to our clients and us as an agency. We make sure we send our people to the right industry events, so that when they come back they can cascade down that knowledge; it’s amazing to see how quickly confidence builds after you’ve presented to 60-70 people a couple of times. As our staff grow, so the agency grows.”

2. Let passion drive your business

“As well as being focused on career progression – each member of staff has a personal development plan that enables them to work towards their next pay rise and promotion – we recognise that passion is everything,” says Matt Fielding, head of organic marketing at digital marketing agency Bring Digital. “For instance, we have a wallpaper client, so we make sure our team member with an interior design blog works on that account. If you have a personal connection to what you do at work, it’s ultimately more fulfilling.”

 3. Go old-school

“For all that we need specific, modern skill sets, a well-functioning team still needs to be bound by old-school values – a willingness to learn and work hard, tenacity and the ability to take ownership,” says Lizzie Benton, content marketing manager at digital marketing agency Datify. “In a world of digital and data, what we do still has to be about people – the people we employ and the people we aim to reach. Recognise your talent and then make a skill set work for both of you – there’s no point stifling a big personality in a behind-the-scenes role, for instance.”

 4. Think personality first

“The first thing I’m looking to explore with anyone I interview is their personality; what traits do they have that I find compelling and how are they different or challenging?” says CJ Morley, global director for talent and development at digital marketing agency iProspect. “I’m always keen to encounter an appetite to learn new things and take on new challenges. I can teach skills and knowledge; attitude and chutzpah have to be there first.”

 5. Go on more than a gut feeling

“For me, ‘gut’ has a very small part to play – I like to get into the detail pretty quickly and use experiential questions, personality profiling and, if applicable, skills testing to really help inform my decision,” says Morley. “It’s a mix that’s helped me make the right decisions in the past and it also helps me explain to candidates who weren’t successful why that was.”

 6. Look for excellence outside of work

“It’s an important cultural fit for us that our employees have drive and stamina,” says Heidi Myers, marketing director for EMEA at media intelligence company Meltwater. “We want employees to be able to work together towards a common goal, and those who’ve have excelled at something outside of work, either academically or in their leisure time, through arts or sports, are personality types to which this comes naturally.”

 7. Prepare, prepare, prepare

“A thoughtful and well-prepared roadmap of where you want to go makes an interview more interesting and fruitful for the interviewer and also lets the interviewee express much more of themselves as a person,’ says Morley. “I always get concerned when I hear interviewers say that all interviewees start to sound the same. I think this speaks volumes about the interviewer and their approach to managing people. There’s a saying that ‘managers get the team they deserve’ – and, in my experience, that’s true.”

 8. Let the culture grow organically

“Cultures come from what your people say and do – in their own words and actions,” says Morley. “Like most aspects of any business, this filters down from the top and an organisation with a great culture generally has one because senior management has modelled it; ping pong tables in communal spaces are rarely put there by employees. A diverse range of different personality types will complement each other on a team and produce the best results; boundless optimism is always a desirable character trait but it pays to have someone who can call out ideas that are unrealistic.

Looking to enhance your marketing team's development? In the last three years alone, our In-Company Training has helped more than 300 organisations, training more than 8,500 marketers on five continents and across more than 40 sectors. Find out more about what we can do for your marketing capability.

Claire Lavelle Journalist CPL
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