This is not another post about keeping your marketing team engaged while working remotely. It’s deeper than that. This isn’t about the superficial, band-aid type opportunities to drive disingenuous happiness among your colleagues. This is about the structural foundation our organizations and leaders are responsible for in order to incite motivation and productivity.
These are the tenets for closing deals, building relationships, and driving MRR. ? If you’re looking to inspire and motivate your marketing team next year, we have six ways to help you succeed.
? Align Company Objectives to the Marketing Team
Use a documented system that promotes visibility of objectives and goals across the entire organization. This could be as formal as an OKR software platform like Weekdone, or as simple as a notion page or google sheet. The executive team produces the business objectives, and the marketing leader is responsible for taking those objectives and creating a marketing strategy that aligns to them.
It’s imperative here that all cross-functional leaders align on the translation of those high level objectives. If marketing is off running campaigns with the intent of generating a certain number of ICP customers and then passing them to sales, but the sales team isn’t in agreement on the definition of those ICP leads, then these campaigns will never drive outcomes that further those business objectives.
The system you choose isn’t as important as it’s accessibility. Transparency breeds alignment. Further, ensuring your marketing team has visibility of the high level objectives and understands how they roll down to their specific responsibilities will help them feel more accountable for their work.
This simultaneously keeps them focused on the right activities and deepens their connection to their colleagues and organization. In Measure What Matters, author John Doerr writes,
“Transparency seeds collaboration. Say Employee A is struggling to reach a quarterly objective. Because she has publicly tracked her progress, colleagues can see she needs help. They jump in, posting comments and offering support. The work improves. Equally important, work relationships are deepened, even transformed.”
Equally important to documenting and aligning the initial objectives/goals is taking time at the end of the measured duration to reflect. Get the team together for a meeting dedicated to looking back at your metrics and asking, “Did we hit our goals? Why or why not?” and “How will this inform our next ones?”
? Set Clear Expectations With Your Marketing Team
Once your objectives, goals, and campaigns are set, clarify expectations with your team on how their work should be executed. Talk about deadlines, communication styles, roles and responsibilities, and more. Use the new year as an opportunity to reset; reflect on what worked last year, and what needs to be improved.
Teams that are clear on expectations waste less time searching for clarity and alignment, and instead spend their resources executing the right strategy. This is especially important in small businesses and start-ups whose culture thrives on moving fast. The ability to move quickly is directly dependent upon the team’s understanding of what needs to be done, what the timeline is for each milestone, and who the stakeholders and contributors are.
Set up a marketing team meeting at the top of the year to discuss your strategy and goals and add this conversation to the agenda.
? Create a Knowledge Hub for Your Marketing Team
Again, this doesn’t have to be expensive or intricate. At Demio, we’re big fans of Notion, due to its ability for customization and project management (and emojis ?). The point here is to design a location that promotes visibility and transparency across the organization.
Once it’s established, make sure you introduce it as part of your key processes (otherwise you’ll never use it). Create a dedicated marketing section that houses everything from your marketing editorial calendar to value propositions, branding guidelines, and more, and make sure all approvals, edits, reviews, and updates happen in your system. Assign owners so it’s clear who is responsible for updating what.
With everything in one place, your team will never again have to ask, “Wait….where do I find our objection responses?” and will ensure they all use the same content to make their decisions (no more miscommunications or working off of different drafts or revision copies).
? Have Hard Conversations With Your Marketing Team Members
As Brené Brown notes, “Clear is kind.” Her research highlights that when leaders were not courageous enough to have tough conversations with their team, the consequences ranged from elevated distrust and diminished engagement to poor performance.
Use the new year as an opportunity to evaluate performances across the board (team members, partners, etc.), and take the initiative to schedule formal opportunities for discussion. Use these hard conversations as an opening into problem solving. Only by addressing problems head on do you have an opportunity to solve them. Lean into the conversation, listen intently, and create a plan for next steps.
? Create an Efficient Feedback Loop for Your Marketing Team
Let’s check back in with Brené. Clear is kind. Got it? Your job as a leader is a complicated role: you are responsible for goals, campaigns, numbers, and revenue, but you’re also responsible to people — your marketing team.
Don’t force your team members to guess or insinuate assumptions about their performance or contribution to the company objectives. At the top of the year, schedule quarterly feedback sessions. (Literally, look at your beautiful 2021 calendar, pick an open hour each quarter, and hit that invite button.) Then, schedule prep time.
Don’t skip this step.
Your team, your company, and you as a marketing leader deserve the time it takes to write down your thoughts, needs, and conversation drivers for this discussion. Don’t risk letting this feedback opportunity crumble immediately due to lack of preparation — it will look poorly on you and dissolve the trust among your team. Also, remember, this opportunity is as much for you as it is for them.
Encourage your team members to come to this meeting with their own feedback and ideas for improvement. This can’t be overstated: setting up clear communication pathways and opportunities for feedback across all levels greatly increases the potential for the entire marketing department to succeed.
With that said, providing feedback in the moment is the most powerful way to create alignment in real time. I once had a boss who, at my yearly review in December, offered me feedback on an email I sent to a partner…in March. By the time we discussed it, I was so far removed from the event that not only was it a fairly ineffective way for me to improve, I literally didn’t even remember the email.
Immediate feedback plants the seed for growth by elevating understanding. Offering it to your employees is a channel of empowerment. In order to set them up for success, offer both immediate and scheduled feedback.
? Set Aside Budget for Professional Growth and Development in Q1
If you aren’t actively spending time dedicated to your marketing team members’ growth, 2021 is your year to change that. Ask them about their career goals, and lean into their interests. It’s a no-brainer that team members who are enthusiastic about their work will perform better, and part of that is the maturity that comes with their own career development.
Set aside a budget at the beginning of the year to encourage growth and expansion. Don’t have a ton of cash on hand? No problem. It doesn’t have to be as large as reimbursing tuition; start small.
At Demio, we have a rousing monthly book club ? where we talk about topics ranging from philosophy to astrophysics, vulnerability to meditation, and more — and the company reimburses us for the books.
Smart on Demio’s part, because not only will the skills acquired be poured back into the company, but the gesture of investing in employees drives a culture that promotes and inspires growth, curiosity, risk taking, and big ideas. Demio encourages its team members to think outside the box, and through this program, it has easily found a way to inspire its employees to do so.
? A Gift From Demio
2020 may have been a year of chaos, but there’s no need to carry that baggage into the new year. Set the stage for 2021: inspire your marketing team towards the results your company needs, and the professional growth and support they’ve all been seeking.
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