Empowering marketing teams

Kate Elizabeth — 21st March 2019

Marketing teams within an enterprise are a powerful mix of skills, experience and perspective. Your job as a leader is to empower them as a team and individually and to build the understanding of, and respect for, the marketing team within the broader organisation.

1. Understand and match skills to business needs

Marketing teams need incredibly diverse skills required to deliver brand and marketing success for the business. Data experts and business analysts, internal communications experts, designers, animators, content producers, marketing and brand managers, creative directors, marketing automation experts, media relations, digital marketing and search expertise ... this list could continue for a page.

A strong leader also surmises what isn't said about marketing capability and capacity throughout the business. They know, for example, at bare minimum marketing need to execute lead-generating campaigns. Strong marketing leaders also know that to achieve the aggressive growth targets set by the business they will need to open up new channels and new markets, and they need to hire different skills to accomplish this goal. Strong marketing leaders look at ways to be more efficient in marketing production.

When you understand the business needs and hire or upskill to match the requirements, your team are empowered. They aren't forced to work outside their core skillsets; they don't need to pull excessive hours to cover the workloads; they don't feel like they have to say no because the skill required to execute a project doesn't sit within the marketing team.

2. Target chasing

Empowering marketing teams in this era of data, transparency and visibility means ensuring your team are comfortable with sales, lead, revenue and retention targets and are capable of influencing and achieving these. They aren't the sole responsibility of sales - marketing is responsible for opening up the pipeline and directly influencing the movement of potential customers to customers and beyond. Work with your teams to build their accountability for these targets and their comfort with moving the levers to achieve these. Dashboards, reporting, sales and marketing meetings, one-on-one coaching, cross-functional collaboration and demonstrating your commitment to the target will help empower your teams.

3. Internal communications and advocacy

Everyone is a marketing expert, particularly those who don't work in marketing. We've all felt like this at some stage of our careers, and it can be tough for a marketing team to deal with the constant feedback and critique that comes with the marketing territory.

Your job as a leader is to keep the lines of internal communication open and advocate on behalf of your team. Educating the broader business about the remit of marketing, the true cost and effort of campaigns and that (sadly) marketing is not a silver bullet, will demonstrate to your team you have their backs and will empower them to keep chasing those big targets, even against internal headwinds.

4. Campaigns and outcomes

Linked to both target chasing and internal communications and advocacy are the critical areas of marketing - campaigns and outcomes. Empowering your teams with the right resources to build powerful and impactful campaigns is one of your key functions. Those resources are everything from above the line spend, available channels, creative capacity, clear targets and robust attribution models to clear timeframes, personas, ideal customers, innovation budgets and a robust martech stack.

Empower your teams to build brand awareness campaigns and niche acquisition campaigns to drive outcomes across the full portfolio - don't shoehorn their work into one or the other - by negotiating a budget and resource pool to support a holistic campaign approach.

5. Creative and process balance

Marketing teams - because of the space we work in and the work we deliver - have a lot of creative emphases. A successful marketing team, however, can't just have total creative freedom. Marketing teams need to be a balance between creativity and process, between form and function, between art and workflow. Your role in empowering your marketing team is to ensure collectively the team has the right balance; that disciplines within the broader team have balance and that individually your people have a balance that works for them and the role they perform. It is tricky to find this balance, and it needs to be adjusted each time new people join the team, or the work you do changes to meet the needs of the business.

6. A seat at the table

One of the best ways to empower your marketing team, and build a succession plan (so often missing within marketing functions) is to have a seat at the table, to be part of the executive team or c-suite. Slowly organisations are recognising that marketing can contribute very meaningfully to the business and customer vision, and are bringing them directly into senior conversations, rather than have them reporting through sales or operations into this space. If your team see you have a voice within the executive team, they know you are representing their needs and influencing the broader business strategy.

7. Listen

However, the most critical thing you can do as a leader to empower your marketing team is to listen.

Listen to your team.

Listen to business stakeholders.

Listen to the customer.

As marketers, we do a lot of outbound messaging. As a leader, you need to flip this ration to listen more to adjust strategy, relationships, expenditure, communication styles and channels to empower your team.

They've got this, and so do you.

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