Whether you work for a large company or a small company, whether you work for an agency or an internal marketing department, you likely interact with others as you develop your marketing campaigns (unless you are self-employed). Working with others on marketing strategy and tactics can be tough, in part because so much in marketing is subjective and is based on creativity. The friction between “creatives” and the account team has become almost legendary in some circles. A key to helping smooth over the tasks in front of the marketing team is to make sure the team has a strong leader at the helm. What exactly does that mean, though? And if you have been chosen to lead the marketing efforts for your company, how can you best lead your team so that your efforts will be successful?
We have three tips for you today based on our experience working externally with companies as their agency along with observing company marketing teams over the years. We hope this helps!
1. Organization is essential
If you are leading a marketing team, you don’t have much room for error. Marketing requires a lot of coordination not just amongst your team members but between your team and other departments, between your team and industry publications, between your team and your vendors, and more. In addition to coordinating people, there are always deadlines that not only need to be met, but also clearly communicated to everyone involved. You need to make sure you are proofing work against the latest version of the project and that the proper materials are sent to vendors for output. All of this means that you cannot have a willy-nilly system of doing your job.
At our agency, we have a rule that we like to call the “In case you get hit by a bus” rule. The general idea is that your work area and all of your records should be so organized that if you got hit by a bus (or any other vehicle for that matter), someone else at the company would still have a relatively easy time figuring out how to step in and work within your system (of course while grieving for your loss). If you are the leader of your marketing team this is all the more essential. A leader needs the flexibility to take time off for vacation or illness, but the rest of the team should still be able to function even if that chief person is not present.
2. Communicate with others as you’d have them communicate with you
A common problem on marketing teams is the “bottleneck” effect. If you are the leader of a marketing team and you are the one interfacing with the other departments in your company and outside vendors, it can be easy for you to retain all of that information without passing it on to your staff. This can not only result in problems developing, but it can also create a fair amount of resentment, especially if someone on your team gets penalized for not being on top of or aware of an issue. It is far better, as a leader to err on the side of too much communicating. People will let you know if you’re coming on too strong, but there is no way to alert you if you are not communicating enough. People can’t know what they don’t know.
3. Be flexible but decisive
Finally, as the leader of a marketing team, it is important for you to be both flexible and decisive. Flexibility is important especially in the planning and creative processes. Too much loyalty to your own ideas and concepts or shooting down thoughts that differ from your own won’t win you any points as a leader and it won’t help you create a strong team. Be willing to stray a little from your original plan or your original vision.
On the other hand, decisiveness is also key for the leader of a marketing team. Nothing ruffles feathers more than changing the direction on a project at the last minute. Once you give the okay on a project, whatever it might be, do your very best to stick with that path. It can be very difficult for people to pivot once they are well underway, and if you do not clearly communicate why the shift needs to happen, you will again run the risk of creating resentment.
What would you add to this list? Whether you are a marketing team leader or whether you work for/with one, what do you look for in the chief of a marketing department, and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts!