6 Rules for a Highly Effective Marketing Team

Building a highly effective marketing team means creating the right structure with the right roles, and then finding the right people to fill those roles. In doing this, here are six rules to follow as you build your team:

1) Think competencies, not skills.

When looking to fill open positions, many organizations look for an exact match in skills and experience. This often limits opportunities for internal career advancement, since existing employees are unlikely to have an exact match in experience, particularly if the position is new. Companies that are committed to talent development focus on the competencies required to be effective in the job (for instance, communication skills, team orientation, problem-solving ability) and assume that smart employees can learn new skills. 

2) Take calculated risks.

Relatedly, a commitment to talent development means sometimes taking risks on people who may not be quite ready for the role. For instance, junior staff members may not have had experience managing people. Retaining and developing talented employees means sometimes taking risks on smart, motivated, committed employees and helping them to develop the skills they need to succeed.

3) Keep it short.

Higher ed job descriptions frequently list 20 or more “main” responsibilities. It’s impossible for an individual to focus on this many priorities. For each role, identify the five most important things you need the person in this role to accomplish.

4) Put content first.

Move away from having “web writers” vs. “magazine writers” vs. “prospective student materials” writers. Consolidate the responsibility for content development with one group to help to ensure that you're thinking first about identifying the stories that best represent your brand, and then figuring out what audiences to communicate them to in what vehicle. This ensures you're making the best use of the content we have, and not duplicating efforts.

5) It’s about the experience.

One of my mantras is that effective branding is 10% what you say and 90% what you do. The experiences that people have with your brand are way more important than your ad campaign ever will be. For this reason, the role of User Experience Manager is vitally important. This person’s job is to focus on the experiences that people have across platforms and over time. Understanding the perspective of your customers and representing their voices in your conversations is a critical part of your Marketing efforts.

6) Identify one person.

Assign every department an account manager whose job it is to understand the client’s marketing and communication needs. This simplifies the process for the clients, who don’t have to keep track of whom to go to for a press release and whom to go to for a website update. But more importantly, it will help you be more consultative vs. order-taking. The goal is to help internal clients figure out what they need to do to achieve their goals vs. simply giving them what they ask for.