5 Ways To Fix A 'Broken' Marketing Team

A friend of mine was once “allergic” to marketers. She hired the best of them, let them loose on the marketing, then panicked when she didn’t see the expected results. As CEO of a large healthcare entity, she inadvertently created a revolving door of talented marketers and agencies over the years.

“Why won’t marketing work?” she asked time and again. In the end, she discovered the problem wasn’t her people.

Here are five ways to use strategies and processes to fix the seemingly broken marketing team at last:

1. Listen to your marketers.

Get everyone together in front of a blank SWOT matrix: “Strengths” at the top of the upper left quadrant, “Weaknesses” on the upper right, “Opportunities” on the lower left and “Threats” at the lower right.

Ask the team to call out collective strengths, and list them on the matrix. This aligns the team in positive thinking. Next, ask: “What are the sharks closest to our team’s boat? What’s killing us the fastest?” List all their answers — which may include “overwhelm” or communications breakdowns — under weaknesses. Third, ask what outside forces negatively impact their work, like competition or the inability to get timely approvals, and list them under threats. Last, discuss with them how to write the positive opposite of each weakness and threat most in their control to improve. Add these under opportunities. Prioritize and execute initiatives under opportunities. Simply by giving the marketing team a voice, you can uncover new perspectives and invite buy-in into lasting solutions.

2. Draw a road map.

Ask the team to agree on one quantifiable goal, such as: “We will increase revenue generated through marketing fr om X monthly to XY monthly by this date.”

The executive team might inform this high-level goal, too. From there, ask the marketing team to set three destinations they will need to reach to achieve the goal. These should be places the team has never gone. Examples include: “We are a best place to work,” “We have a world-class sales and marketing team” and “We are the experts in our industry.” Ladder up all marketing strategies and tactics to these destinations. If a strategy isn’t a priority in getting you all to a destination, table it or scratch it.

3. Agree on one process.

Marketing teams have processes, whether they agree or not. Ask the collective team to describe the process — from step A to step Z — for launching a campaign or any other major marketing function. Add each step inside its own box, adding an arrow leading from box to box, until you all have articulated in writing one clear process.

The question then becomes: Wh ere are the gaps in the process? Star each box for which a team member flags up a gap. Under that box, write one issue in the form of a question that, when solved, will help close the gap. For example, “Who is the one person in charge of approvals at this phase?” or “How do we make deadlines crystal clear?” In regular team meetings, prioritize discussing and solving these issues.

4. Sing from the same song sheet.

Every marketer knows that clear brand guidelines and strategic marketing planning go a long way in the efficiency and effectiveness of our work. And yet, we go off script all the time, sabotaging success.

As a team, revisit messaging, mood boards, standards and marketing plans at least once quarterly, asking: “Are these still relevant to our goal and destinations?” and “Is everyone able to accurately speak to these?”

A quick trivia session will do the trick: “Who can recite our three differentiators?” or “Who can describe our logo and identity colors?” Marketers who can speak to these standards should actively write, design and develop to best represent them.

5. Direct traffic.

Most marketing teams don’t have a project manager since this is seen as a non-billable, or non-profitable, position. The opposite couldn’t be truer. More than ensuring everything runs on time and on budget, a great project manager masters talent utilization, which directly impacts an organization’s bottom line.

Firms that have project managers should absolutely bill for their time at a blended rate. Internal teams adding a project manager can sway executive approval of the role and budget approval of its related tools by demonstrating that the end game is increased profitability.

In the end, my friend used approaches like this to retain her marketing experts and improve marketing outcomes. She stopped spinning her wheels and set her organization on a clear course. Most importantly, she developed a new rapport of mutual respect with her marketing team.

May you, too, make the most of the experts who surround you.

The article by Wendy O’Donovan Phillips, Forbes Councils Member and CEO of Big Buzz marketing agency. Forbes

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