Building the modern marketing team: balancing technology trends with core competencies

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Tara Burns

“A company’s employees are its greatest asset and your people are your product”- Sir Richard Branson 

In the marketing profession, the words of Sir Richard Branson ring loud and true - our people are our power. But, building the modern marketing team is no easy feat. With a rapidly changing media landscape, increasingly complex technologies, and growing demand for ideas-led, high content fuelled campaigns, the breadth of marketing skills needed is vast and expanding.

There is no doubt that digital innovations - Google analytics and marketing automation systems - are fuelling this skills revolution, so we asked our B2B experts at Man Bites Dog’s Big Bite event to share their tips for ensuring they have the latest tech know-how on hand:  

Bernard O’Brien, Director, Marketing Operations, Consulting at Deloitte: “Before marketing automation, the marketing people could manage the customer journey themselves. Now we need more technically minded and analytics focused people – so we hired them. The extra challenge on the creative side is reducing weighty content into digestible content for a mobile audience.”

Tim Stone, VP Marketing EMEA at Polycom: “We’ve brought the expertise in-house and have coding skills within our team. With two experts we can now support all of the regions with any event or campaign they want to run. We also have creative people in the team and they work off each other.”

Julie Parsons, Global Marketing Communications Director at White & Case: “Our partners tend to be considerably older than some of the prospects coming through who are digital natives that want bite-sized information… We need to work out how to make this shift from the old ways that our partners are comfortable with to selling in the future.”

A lego hand typing on a lego keyboard

Technical skills are vital in any marketing team, but are we becoming so distracted by the latest tech trends that we risk overlooking some of marketing’s core competencies?

Here’s my starter for ten…

Purpose triumphs popularity: Digital tools can be a real distraction when it comes to recruitment and training. It can be easy to convince yourself you need an analytics army when one or two skilled individuals will do a sterling job. So, stay true to the real purpose of your marketing campaign and decide on the skills you need to provoke a response.

Relationships aren’t measurable: Our campaigns always focus on the three R’s (Relationships, Revenues and Reputation). While it’s possible to remotely measure the latter, when it comes relationships you need individuals that have an innate ability to build a rapport with prospects, as well as internal stakeholders (notably sales).

No one-size-fits-all: When hiring new recruits or upskilling your team, think about your buyer first - you need the skills that can create campaigns that will resonate with your audience. Every buyer is unique - different types of content and communication mediums will connect with different prospects - there is no one size fits all approach..

Ideation ranks high: To engage at a c-suite level, campaigns need to deliver genuinely new and business relevant insights. Having a team with strong capabilities in intelligence and ideation is crucial if you are going to develop truly original thought leadership that gets your audience thinking and helps to drive a sale.

Learn from each other: Everyone in your team has skills and knowledge to share, so encourage collaborative working across all levels of your organisation. Whether it's learning how to use a new CRM system, how to sell in a ‘challenging’ PR story, or how the business is redefining its strategic vision, knowledge empowers people.

Maximise digital early: Technology can promise a lot but deliver very little if it is not used correctly. Analytics and automation systems are great resources and often used to monitor campaigns and measure results, but they can also steer great ideas by providing intelligence early on - ensure you have people in place to analyse data before ideation.

We’re all integrated consultants: Every marketing team will have someone that is savvy with social media or specifically trained in Google analytics, but as marketers we are all integrated consultants. Everyone needs a basic understanding of how the marketing mix fits together, even if our practical skills are limited - be eager to learn.

Get comfortable with change: Marketing is evolving rapidly - as quickly as one trend hits the industry, a new one is knocking at the door. While it's important not to jump on every new movement, recruiting a team with adaptable skills enables you to pilot an idea or slowly develop new skills in house without significant recruitment costs.

Promote your strategic vision: Don’t overlook the strategic role that marketing plays within your organisation. Your vision may be clearly evident with your executive or senior management team, but it is vital that everyone understands your core objectives - even at a very junior level, employees should be onboard and excited by your strategy.

Words of wisdom: Early on in my career I was told ‘hire attitude and train skills’ and these words couldn’t be more true today. If a candidate has an inquisitive mind, the ability to understand the big picture, and knows how to diagnose a business problem then you’re almost there - everything else you can teach in house.


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