7 Tips on How to Manage a Marketing Team

If you want to strengthen your marketing team but don't know where to start, start here. We've got seven tips to help you manage a marketing team.
Manage a Marketing Team
By Caitlin Wittlif Feb 10, 2021
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If you’re a marketing manager, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You need to make sure projects are completed in a high-quality way and on time. You need to verify your clients’ needs are being met. You likely have to report regularly on your team to your own leadership. And most importantly, you need to help your team grow individually and as a whole. Marketing, as an industry, is growing faster than average — it’s projected to grow 6% by 2029 — so to ensure that you’ve got the best talent clamoring to join your team, how can you make sure you’re a standout manager? Read on for seven tips on how to manage a marketing team for a high ROI.

Hire Well

The first step towards building an incredible marketing team is taken before your employees join their first team meeting. To set your business, your team, and yourself up for success, you need to take great care in hiring the right people for your team. First, define the non-negotiable skills you’re looking for in the hiring process. This will differ based on the roles you’re hiring for, your company’s culture, and what skills are already represented on your team. As a general rule of thumb, you should look for candidates who will be a good personality fit, who are looking to grow their career at your agency, and who will bring new and diverse ideas to your team. In fact, diversity is critically important to your bottom line — companies with above-average diversity produce a greater proportion of revenue from innovation than their less-diverse competitors.

Once you know who you’re looking for, you need to be prepared to ask the right questions. To formulate these questions, you might try working backwards — identify what it is you’d like to discover about a potential candidate in order to assess their fit for your team, and build a question that will require the candidate to provide that answer. Most importantly, be genuine during the interview process. If you’re able to be direct with potential candidates, this will put them at ease and give you a better idea of who they really are, and how they really feel about your company and job role.

Don’t forget that the interview process is a two-way street. Top candidates will want to understand if your company is going to be a good cultural and career-oriented fit for them, too, so think about the profile of your most-wanted candidates, and what perks will attract them to you. If you’re looking to increase the number of Millennials and Gen Z’ers on your team, make sure you have service-oriented opportunities. If you are hiring for experience, be prepared to compensate it properly. Research the hiring market, and understand what’s important to your candidates so you ensure you’re receiving applications from the cream of the crop.

Onboard Right

Once you’ve hired the right people, you need to make sure their first experience as your employee is a good one. First impressions matter, and you’ll have a higher likelihood of employee longevity if you set out on the right foot. One of the most basic onboarding tasks to get right is all of the administrative needs your new employee will have. Are there accounts they need set up? Tools they need access to? Will they be given a work computer? Having a standard process for setting up these items will ensure that your team member won’t be slowed down by elementary errors, and that they’ll be given the immediate impression that your team is organized.

In addition to the basics, onboarding for new team members should include introductions to important colleagues. Are there teammates new employees will be working closest with? Help introduce them and assign your employees to set up an informational session to get to know each other. If you have members of leadership who you’d like to meet your new employees, help organize more brief introductory meetings so your new employees can be better aligned with your agency’s vision and high-level strategy.

Training is another helpful addition to a new employee’s onboarding. This could include training for software your team or business uses, training on specific processes and procedures you implement, or even company culture training that goes into the history of your agency. Training can help your new employee feel more confident as they move forward in their role.

If you find that your company has moved to a hybrid or remote-only work environment, onboarding can be an even bigger challenge. But there are ways to excel at remote onboarding — with some additional preparation and care, you can still provide new employees with a great experience.

Build Rapport & Credibility

One of the most important things a manager can do at the beginning of their relationship with a new team member is to take the time to build rapport and credibility. Because these are intangible attributes that are subjective, there’s no set timeframe to achieve them — and, they can be easily lost. To start, build rapport by simply meeting regularly with new employees and getting to know them on a personal level. This doesn’t mean you are required to be every team member’s best friend — in fact, it’s important to maintain professionalism with your employees in order to maintain their respect. But when you take an interest in employees’ personal interests and lives, you can put potential conflicts and mistakes into context, you can show employees that you care by inquiring about personal life events, and you can bond over shared interests. This can also help in the case that you have a project come to your team that you know a particular employee would love to tackle.

Credibility is an even less tangible attribute to build, but it’s critical for fostering trust with your team. Credibility comes down to doing what you say you’re going to do consistently over time, so you’ll need to be patient while you demonstrate this to your team. Some specific ways to put this into practice are to meet any deadlines you promise to hit with your employees, to follow up on goals you set, to give credit to employees doing great work, and to be as transparent as you can when it comes to business decisions. When employees know they can trust you to follow through, they will also trust your coaching.

Rapport and credibility aren’t just important between you and your employees. You need to foster it between among your team members, as well. Make time in team meetings for a little personal conversation — by organizing this regularly at the top or bottom of meetings, you’ll ensure it doesn’t get out of hand and derail your agenda, but that you also are able to help your employees get to know each other better.

Finally, if you find yourself working with a remote team, these tips become even more critical. Take care to follow through on meetings with remote employees, and spend a little extra time with team building activities.

Set Goals

When you’ve garnered trust with your team, it’s time to get them focused on what matters most. This comes in the form of goal-setting. For a marketing team, it may seem like goals should be as straightforward as turning in work on time. While this is a critical task, it doesn’t help your team members grow and improve over time. To do that, you should work with team members to understand their long-term goals, and build smaller goals to help them get there. Whether it’s gaining more management experience, working more closely with clients, or improving design strategy, you can help your employees get there with SMART goals. SMART is an acronym used to build the most effective goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By building goals inside of these parameters, you’ll make sure you’re holding employees accountable to them, and that they’re very clear on expectations.

Goals for individual employees are critical for agency progress, but so are team goals. If you have stated revenue goals for a month or quarter, you can build goals for your team that can help get them there. If you’re trying to win a new client, team goals can help everyone get focused and put in their best effort to do so. Team goals should also be SMART, because this will help each individual better understand the part they play in achieving your goals.

Maintain Communication

In addition to regular coaching sessions with your team, fostering daily communication will also help you maintain rapport, stay on the same page, and achieve common goals faster. Communication breakdown is one of the biggest influencers on employee dissatisfaction, so optimizing channels for communication will benefit you long-term.

Some of the biggest challenges when it comes to team communication involve too many meetings, or not enough. Hitting the right balance of meeting regularity can feel difficult, but you don’t have to figure it out alone. Involve your team in decisions around when and how often to meet. If you bring an agenda to meetings, you’ll stay organized, cover all the topics you need to cover, and prevent meeting burnout.

To keep communication organized, clearly define what types of communication are most appropriate via certain channels. You should let your team know how to reach you in an emergency, provide them with a place to talk through projects off and on throughout the day, and identify where assets should be stored. Our next tip can help you get organized even faster.

Use Your Tools

Whether you’re coaching an in-person team or a remote team, software abounds that can help you communicate, get organized, and foster collaboration. There are lots of features you should consider when picking a productivity application for your team, but some basic essentials include a tool where tasks can be assigned and tracked, where feedback can be provided and enacted upon, and where your team can track their time. 

CROOW is a project management software built to support creative collaboration, and could be a great centerpiece for your team. By storing all client assets in CROOW, you ensure that no matter where your team members are, they can access files from a shared database. Project templates allow you to help organize your team’s workflow around shared procedures, and requests reduce unnecessary emails by allowing your clients to submit work requests directly in-app.

Another great tool for marketing teams is Slack. This chat-based communication tool can help your team stay on the same page, share feedback and ideas, and build rapport throughout the day. It can also help you keep a record of what you discuss, so if you want to try to remember a great idea someone had, you can refer back to your Slack channel.

Put Your Values Where Your Work Is

When your team is working harmoniously together toward shared goals, communicating regularly, and using tools in an organized workflow, the only thing left is to inspire your team to do great work. This is something you can do, in part, via company values. When your agency defines its values, it should be something you throw up on a website or print out on a document and check “done” on the to-do list. Values need to be lived out in the way your agency operates on a day-to-day basis. This is particularly important for younger employees, who are driven to find work that is not just lucrative, but meaningful. 

When you’ve defined values that matter most to your company, make sure these inform your individual and team goals, as well as the work they put out. When your employees see that leadership at their agency embraces and lives by company values, you’ll build a stronger company culture, and increase employee satisfaction and career longevity.