How to build a fearless marketing team
As a CMO or marketing leader, you can't go it alone. Contributor Matt Zilli explains the characteristics you should seek out when building a team.
Last month in this space, I wrote that fearlessness is the only recourse for marketers in today’s digital world. My point was that fearless marketers are those who aren’t afraid to take difficult actions — from embracing AI and large-scale personalization to aggressively proving marketing’s value — to continually increase engagement with customers.
This month, I want to focus on another way to be fearless. As a CMO or marketing leader, you can’t go it alone. We need to build fearless marketing organizations populated by a mix of people eager to contribute bold ideas, unafraid of dirtying their hands with new technologies and proficient at striking partnerships across the enterprise so that marketing truly owns the customer experience end-to-end.
How does one go about building such an organization? Do you cultivate existing employees, or do you recruit from outside? As usual, it’s probably going to be a combination of both, although it is generally desirable to lean towards encouraging people already on the payroll to extend themselves in new ways. Regardless of whether you develop from within or hire from without, it’s leadership at the top that is most vital to creating an environment that encourages, directs and rewards boldness.
Seen through the lens of where marketing is heading today, here are some things you need to think about when creating that fearless marketing team.
Mix of talents and expertise
Just a few years ago, we didn’t know we’d need the talents required for marketing today. Here are some of the key talents you will absolutely need to have in your team’s talent pool to bolster your organizational intrepidness:
- Marketing technologists. The ideal people for this role are those who can tackle new technologies, understand how to bring them into an organization and think like entrepreneurs, knowing the difference between “trying something new” and “doing something at scale.”
- Analytics expertise. Analytics has become a pillar of modern marketing and will stay that way as it assumes ever greater importance in marketing attribution and in improving overall marketing effectiveness. Analytics won marketing its spot in the C-suite. Now it is essential to proving the case for increased marketing budgets and engaging in bold marketing initiatives.
- Digital storytellers. The need for creativity in marketing is far from dead. Digital technologies and channels have opened vast new opportunities for capitalizing on creative content that boldly engages prospects and customers. To do that, digital marketers need to have storytelling skills to capsulize the essence of the story so that customers want to digest it. We all know that storytellers have made the best marketers since the beginning of time. The difference now is the where the story is told.
Mix of temperaments
Just as important as having a mix of talents, abilities and expertise at your disposal is having a mix of temperaments. The classic “Thinker, Feeler, Doer” trio for building a balanced organization is eminently applicable to building fearless marketing teams.
- Thinkers. Thinkers dive into challenges, analyze situations and enjoy finding new solutions. They provide a solid, quantitative foundation for fearless marketing, whether marketing externally to customers or internally to top management.
- Feelers. Feelers fit most people’s image of a marketer. They are empathetic. They know what makes people tick. And they are intuitive about what works. Feelers like people, and people like them. In marketing, they are very good at understanding what will drive customers to engage, buy and stick around.
- Doers. Fearlessness seems to come naturally to people with this temperament, making them excellent point persons for driving bold marketing projects. Give them the tools, and they will quickly know what to do with them. Like “Energizer bunnies,” they keep on ticking and striving until the job is complete.
A fearless marketing organization needs a mix of people with all three of these basic temperaments. But there is one more personality trait that is important to fearless marketing today and going forward: the “heart of a teacher.”
Heart of a teacher
There is so much marketing today, it’s hard to break through the noise and actually connect with customers. Having the “heart of a teacher” means you provide value to your customers, helping them to learn something new, create something new or do something new. It’s more about the pull than the push. Marketers who understand how to engage and persuade in a concise and compelling fashion have a leg up on those who only know how to shout.
Teaching can also mean you are fearless at sharing facts about your company — its beliefs, values and products — which can lead a prospect closer to purchasing or to becoming a brand advocate.
How would you rate your marketing organization’s intrepidness? What war stories would you like to share concerning fearless marketing? I would love to hear what’s working and your boldest stories.