Marketing teams are the growth engines for companies.
They’re responsible for building brand awareness, attracting new clients, and a whole host of other responsibilities that keep companies moving forward.
But what makes a marketing team truly great? Are there any specific factors that set them apart from good or average teams?
The answer is yes. In fact, there are seven key points that make a great marketing team different from any other.
1. Skill diversity
One of the most important factors in any marketing team is a varied skillset.
Diversity is important because even though everyone on your team is a marketer, they might be predisposed to one kind of marketing over another.
For example, your local creative-type might like content marketing a lot more than PPC. Likewise, your data-head will be all over analytics, but they might not be interested in creating social media posts.
Your first impression may be to create a team of people who can perform all of those tasks on their own, also known as “generalists.” And that may work for a time, but you could run into a wall when you want to progress.
Alternatively, you have specialists.
Specialists are important because they give your marketing team a deep breadth of skills that benefit your company. Unfortunately, specialists are typically valued less than generalists even though they have exceptional potential in the workplace.
That’s not to say generalists are bad, but they lack the depth and laser focus of a specialist. Generalists can hold down the fort in case someone is on vacation — but they may not have enough information or practice to take your marketing initiatives to the next level.
That means a strong marketing team is made up of all (or mostly) specialists who move your team forward by playing to each individual’s strengths. By extension, those strengths also help cover up any weaknesses your team has.
So if your content marketer isn’t good with numbers, but your data analyst has a degree in statistics, they can work together to create a visually impressive and mathematically sensible piece on your site. Whether it’s an infographic, longform, download, or something else entirely, this team-up allows your content marketer to do the writing they love while the analyst double-checks all the numbers.
In other words, it’s a win-win.
And that’s not the only possible outcome your team can have. Your analytics guru and social media manager could get together to determine what kind of posts on Facebook help you achieve your goals. Or your team developer could meet with your content marketer to talk about a new page format.
Regardless, the strengths that specialists exhibit are consistently helpful to your company as a whole. With a diverse team of highly-skilled individuals, you can get more accomplished than you ever could with a group of generalists who only know the basics.
As Steve Jobs said:
“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of all parts.”
2. Clear communication
Clear communication is important for any team, but it’s critical for marketing teams. Long emails, convoluted examples, and conversational tangents make it difficult for anyone to create and execute a strategy.
In marketing, the results of unclear communication are lost time and money, two resources that your marketing team can’t waste. This is especially true if you work for a smaller company that has a tight marketing budget.
So if you want to make the most of your marketing budget and your team’s time, you need to communicate effectively.
Famously, there are seven factors of good communication, also called the “7 C’s.”
Clear refers to what you say. Did you say the main point of your message right away?
Concise refers to how you say it. Did you use long, confusing paragraphs or short, direct sentences?
Concrete refers to what you’re communicating. Do you present a way for how someone can do something, or is your message abstract?
Correct refers to what you’re communicating as well. Is your information factual?
Coherent again refers to how you state your message. Does it make sense?
Courteous refers to how you treat the listener. Are you showing them respect?
Complete refers to your message in general. Did you say everything they need to know?
With these seven factors in mind, you should be able to communicate your ideas clearly to your team, and they should be able to communicate clearly among themselves.
And if you can’t keep the “7 C’s” on hand all the time, it’s easier to remember “clear,” “concise,” and “coherent.”
3. Decisive leadership
As the leader of a marketing team, your decisions guide the behavior of your team members and the future income of your company.
That’s a lot to place on one person’s shoulders, but in order to do it successfully, you need to be decisive.
That doesn’t just mean making a decision, either. It means making a series of decisions that establish a predictable status quo that your marketing team can follow.
Without that predictability, your decisions may appear random, unreasonable, or baseless, which can undermine your authority as the leader of a team.
But when you show a consistent decision-making process, your team can understand what you want from them better. They can also bring stronger suggestions to the table for other ways to improve your company’s marketing overall.
Aside from predictability, it’s also important that your decisions reflect concrete courses of action. That ensures that any time you make a call — even if it’s unpopular — your team will still be able to leap into action and complete a task.
4. Sharing credit
Many traditional businesses rely on negative reinforcement in order to motivate team members and get things done. It’s sometimes effective, but positive reinforcement actually does more for individual motivation and success.
One of the best ways you can positively motivate your team members is by giving them due credit.
If someone played any part in the completion of an important project, make sure others in your company know about their role. This is especially important for CMOs to recognize, and even CEOs (depending on how your company is laid out).
Giving credit to your team members both privately and publicly ensures they get the recognition that they’ve earned for their hard work. It also gives you a way to keep an eye on the rising stars of your marketing team.
But best of all, it instills a sense of pride in your team members. That pride goes a long way in terms of employee satisfaction, and proud employees work harder than those who don’t feel the impact of their work.
In other words, celebrating the work of your team members makes them better.
5. Conflict resolution
Conflict is inevitable in any workplace. Even if you have the most agreeable team of marketers in the world, you will encounter a conflict at some point.
Most of those conflicts are ideological, and many of them will come back to you to make a final decision.
This point overlaps slightly with decisiveness, but conflict resolution takes that principle in a new direction. You’re not just making a decision — you’re also making sure all parties involved are somewhat satisfied with a resolution.
Average marketing teams view conflicts as simple me vs. them situations with a win-lose or win-win outcome.
But there’s another potential outcome that great marketing teams try — improvement.
That’s because great marketing teams view conflicts as opportunities, instead of roadblocks. They’re able to take a step back from the conflict itself, view it from different angles, and identify the positive elements of both ideas.
Then, they can figure out what they want to take from both sides and how they want to implement it.
And just like that, you can create a new idea that’s better than either previous one.
Granted, this option doesn’t always work. But it’s the initial reaction that great marketing teams — and great marketing team leaders — show when they encounter ideological conflict.
Accountability is the idea that you can rely on your team members to carry out any task that they say they’ll do.
It also incorporates elements of trust and responsibility, which all boil down to one question:
Can we depend on you?
Average or good marketing teams may have a majority of dependable people around them with a few weak links in the mix.
But great marketing teams are sure that every person around them is accountable for their work — especially the marketing manager.
For some marketing teams, this may require availability during non-work hours or longer work days. That’s not to say every member of your marketing team has to work overtime — just that if a project needs to be completed by a certain date, it will be.
7. Goal-oriented progress
When your marketing team is working on a project, it’s important that they know that they’re progressing toward a specific goal.
Goals are critical for any marketing team that wants to make definitive forward progress. Goals are also helpful for reinforcing a sense of pride in your team members.
Your team’s goals can be based on analytical KPIs, budgetary limits, social media metrics, new links, and just about any other quantifiable measurement of your marketing.
But the key is that it’s quantifiable.
In other words, you can’t pick a factor out of thin air for your marketing team — it has to have a data-backed history so you can acquire data-backed results and compare the two.
With goals, you can be sure your marketing team is constantly on task and improving your company.
Is your marketing team good or great?
Does your marketing team show signs of these factors? Do you think they help make your team truly great? Let me know in the comments!