Marketing departments are undergoing a strange shift in some niches, reducing or eliminating the collaborative power of an entire team in favor of individuals — such as entrepreneurs or seasoned marketing professionals — who oversee campaigns by themselves. In reality, teams are far more efficient due to their collaborative nature, but too many businesses have been sucked into the idea that the human element is less important these days.
The illusion of individual marketing “teams”
As we see it, the root of the problem lies in the vast diversity of different tools and technologies available to the modern marketer. Market research tools make gathering data a snap, automation tools help you crank out tedious tasks in record time, and even most forms of modern communications technology — like email and social media — happen instantly. This has led many companies to the false assumption that a single individual can manage an entire campaign. Unless you’re a startup just building a foundation, it’s far better to have a team of people working together.
The importance of teamwork
Teamwork comes with its own challenges, but the benefits far outweigh those temporary hurdles:
1. Creative brainstorming. Team-based brainstorming doesn’t always go smoothly; some people won’t stop talking and others won’t speak up. Still, the best and most creative ideas aren’t spontaneously created from one person’s mind; instead, they’re kicked around by a group of people, gradually tinkered with and improved until they resemble something the group finds admirable. Adding more creative people to your team, in ongoing forms of collaboration, is going to help you come up with more creative campaign ideas, which will put you ahead of the competition.
2. Establishing clear responsibilities. Your team can also do a better job of segmenting different marketing responsibilities, assigning them to different team members. This is going to accomplish two significant tasks. First, you’ll avoid crossing wires, and your team will be able to work more efficiently in an assembly line style. Second, you’re going to allow different members of your team to develop niche roles and niche forms of expertise. As a general rule in marketing, it’s better to have a group of specialists working together than a group of generalists.
3. Sharing knowledge between departments. Remember that your marketing team is only one part of your overall team; tie your marketing department into your other departments to share knowledge for a better-informed and more efficient organization. For example, few departments know your customers better than the customer service department. Enabling your customer service team to talk with your online marketers (and vice versa) can lead to a much better mutual understanding of how best to target and serve your customers. This helps both marketing and customer service teams do their jobs better.
4. Compensating for tunnel vision. One person will always have forms of “tunnel vision” that will interfere with his/her ability to plan or execute a successful marketing campaign. These might be limitations in experience, biases that aren’t recognized or misallocated priorities that neglect certain fundamentals. When you have a team, each individual will have different experiences, biases, and priorities that complement one another. You’ll essentially compensate for this natural tunnel vision and wind up with a more complete campaign.
5. Team-based problem solving. Occasionally, you’ll run into issues and challenges in your marketing campaign. It’s natural, but how you respond to these problems can make or break your campaign. You need to respond quickly, and often in creative ways. By working with a team, you’ll come up with a more diverse range of options for execution, new ways to solve old problems, and perhaps most importantly, a way to divvy up the work so it gets done faster.
6. Rebalancing workloads. Different phases of your campaign are going to put heavier demands on certain roles within your team. Your writers might be overwhelmed one day, while your analysts are overwhelmed the next. Working together as a team can give you an opportunity to help rebalance these workloads, preserving worker efficiency and morale at the same time. Since you’ll be developing individual specialists on your team, you may not always get to smoothly redistribute assignments, but you’ll be able to delegate or share at least some tasks to make workloads more reasonable all around.
Once you adopt a mentality that prioritizes teamwork in your marketing department, you’ll start seeing the benefits of collaboration almost immediately. Your team will remain in tighter communication, you’ll produce better ideas, you’ll clear hurdles faster and more efficiently, and you’ll even get to know your customers better.
If you can’t afford to hire a full-time team of marketers, don’t worry. There are alternative ways to achieve the “team” dynamic here. For example, you could pull in your creative team to be a part of the brainstorming process, or hire a consultant or freelancer to sub in for particularly complex problems. There are always workarounds — but you need more minds working for you if you want to succeed.
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