Among the many things business leaders need to do such as developing revenue pipelines and ensuring the future of the operations, perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle could be developing a marketing team that will continue to be engaged and productive.
Finding this great talent could possibly be one of the hardest things to do, particularly if you’re a smaller and/or growing business. According to Wasp Barcode Technologies, 50 percent of small business owners point to the hiring of new employees as their top challenge in 2017, and 29 percent say hiring new employees is a top strategy for revenue growth.
Yet, when we look at additional research by the Creative Group, only 12 percent of marketing and advertising executives plan to add new positions; and 20 percent do not plan to fill vacated positions. It’s the perfect storm of needing the staff, but being constrained in the ability to fill those roles. Therefore, it makes sense to conclude that you must hire the right person and invest in their ability if you are to grow your business.
There is absolutely no question that as leaders we want to hire the best team possible, and it’s not always a matter of offering the best salary. There are many things that go into developing a great marketing team.
Understand what you need in terms of where your strategy is leading you. One of the smartest things you can do when building a marketing team is to understand your business strategy and goals. This will allow you to be focused and lean. Concentrate on what skills you need on your team to reach your goals. The other skills become “nice to have” and should not be the key to making a hiring decision. If your target customers aren’t using social media, why hire a social media expert when you really need a database person? If you have to make a splash, then finding someone who can manage your advertising and media is key. Once you know what you need, you can identify who you need.
Don’t assume specific experience is a must have. It’s easy to assume you need every person on the team to have X number of years of experience in marketing, but when you’re building a team it’s good to mix in some inexperienced yet bright people. I am proud to say I’ve hired a couple of brand and advertising managers who came from backgrounds that were not specific to the role I was filling. Both candidates were bright, eager and smart. They actually questioned me as to why I was considering them. I knew they had the ability to apply their talents to these new challenges and make them their own. I could teach them, but I needed to have staff that could then take the tasks and run with them.
A former boss who once worked for a trendy, successful hotel impresario once told me he used to hire front desk staff to give a certain look to the brand because he believed he could train for skill, but look and brand were not trainable. My advice is to be open to candidates who may not look and act the way you hoped they might when you started the process.
Marketing doesn’t live in a bubble. In my time at Isle of Capri Casinos, one of the more important mantras we lived by was, “marketing is responsible for revenue.” We had it up on our walls and made sure all of our properties did as well. When you put it that way, you realize how important it is that you hire well and execute even better.
Marketing must be integrated into all parts of the organization. When you treat marketing as if it exists outside of the operations of your organization, you end up with mixed messages, promises not delivered or worse… a product or offering that doesn’t speak to the needs and desires of your target customers.
The other side of this coin is that marketing must be able to speak the language of the organization. This means your marketers must understand finance, slots, tables and food and beverage in terms of market changes, trends and challenges.
Analytics and testing are no longer exclusive to database marketing. In a field like marketing, where new platforms pop up on practically a monthly basis and algorithms are constantly shifting, it has become a standard for marketers to have a grasp of data and analytics. Modern marketers must clarify what investments lead to—which produce results and which do not—so that they can pay attention to the touchpoints that matter. I’m not just talking about the marketing analyst in the finance department; I’m talking about the marketing team, even if they’re just responsible for advertising or promotions.
We are all data analysts. “The modern marketer absolutely cannot ignore data’s contribution to their success,” said Trent Dang, industry specialist practice director for VizExplorer. “Even in historically ‘right brained’ departments, leaders must know the impact promotional cannibalization and layering while advertising leaders must consider such things as Net Promoter Score and cost per acquisition. It’s simply no longer good enough to only be able to throw a fun event or create a catchy ad campaign.”
From my own perspective, if I could go back in time and spend more time with the P&A team, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
A roadmap to success. A critical moment in the life of an employee is the point where you sit down with them to discuss interests and career goals. This will help you identify the activities they should be undertaking as well as identifying where that person could fit in the organization going forward. The development plan should be a roadmap to those goals and should conform to the SMART principle: It should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
Continuous training is continuous growth. There is no question that training and development will continue to pay dividends. Industries are the technologies that impact our business and our customers are constantly changing. It’s critical to keep up. If you’re left behind, it will be that much harder to recoup your market losses. Standing still could kill your business. Ongoing training will also allow you to identify gaps that can be filled. In addition, businesses with ongoing development tend to have higher retention rates, making subsequent hiring of talent easier and more successful as you will attract better talent.
Let your marketers spread their wings. You’ve hired your best talent. You’ve provided them with a roadmap to success and continuous training. Now you must allow them to act like the marketers you need. Often some of the biggest roadblocks to effective marketing are burdensome approval processes. In the worst cases, there can also be undue influence from those who would like to think they might be better marketers. Heed my advice. Let your marketers do the marketing. Let them draw the lines between effort and result. They will test and adjust as necessary to reach the goals. I’ve seen marketing teams thwarted by the influence of multiple departments and I’ve seen marketing departments really produce when they are well integrated with the operations. You want the latter, not the former.
Find your inner marketer. My last piece of advice is to encourage your non-marketing teams to learn a little more about marketing. Encourage them to attend a marketing session or two during their next conference. Share a blog post on a weekly basis that will open their minds to modern marketing or forward that newsletter that popped in your inbox today. The number of podcasts they can listen to on the way to work grows each day and there certainly is no lack for marketing education on the Internet.
I look forward to seeing you and your team at the next marketing session.