Building a skilled marketing team isn’t easy. If it were, every business small and large would be doing it. The difficulty of it is why Niamh’s (Digital 24’s founder & MD) inbox is constantly filled with questions around hiring in digital marketing. Why’s it hard? Digital marketing is a unique area in which skillsets are incredibly varied and wide-ranging and so hiring can either go really wrong or really right. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve made our fair share of mistakes when it comes to hiring and managing marketing teams. But, from our mistakes, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. So if you want to avoid pitfalls, here are the dos and don’ts of building a successful marketing team from hiring to nurturing.
DO: Hire people who are smarter than you.
You’re not the smartest person in the room. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. In fact, you shouldn’t be. You should be hiring people who are smarter than you.
I should mention, when it comes to digital marketing, “smart” can mean a number of things. I find you can be “creative” smart, “data” smart and “strategy” smart (just to name a few). Whatever type of smart they are, people who bring different perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table can add immense value. That’s how you build a well-rounded team that can tackle any challenge; complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
This diversity leads to more creative and innovative ideas, which can give your business a competitive edge. Hiring smarter people can also help you learn and grow as a leader, as you’re exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking.
DON’T: Focus only on past experience.
One of the sayings I learned from many years of working in hospitality was “you can train someone to make a coffee, but you can’t train them to be dead on”. I still think about that saying, and I truly believe this applies to building digital marketing teams in that you can train someone to run ads or create a post schedule, but you can’t train them to have a strategic mindset and an eagerness to learn.
This is probably one of our biggest learnings here at Digital 24 as we built out our team. Many of the team members we have hired that end up becoming the most driven, intelligent and strategic digital marketers are those who came in without a lot of prior experience. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, there’s no “bad habits” to undo. Secondly, when you hire someone who’s got the right attitude, resilience, and a willingness to learn, they have the potential to grow into their role at an incredible rate and surpass those who simply had the right opportunities in no time. It’s a matter of spotting the right people, not the right experience.
We highly recommend giving someone who has the right attitude the opportunity to grow into a role – given that you offer the resources for training these individuals.
DO: Invest in training and development.
As per the previous point, the significance of training and upskilling is something that can’t be brushed over. Your team’s success is your success. And if you want them to succeed, you need to invest in their training and development. That means providing opportunities for them to learn new skills, attend conferences, and take courses. Sometimes these opportunities may cost the business, however, it should be seen as an investment because not only will this make them better at their jobs (which will pay off for you!), but it will also make them feel valued and appreciated.
When we hire a new member to the Performance Marketing team here at Digital 24, I personally take around 16 hours plus out of my week each week for the first 3 months, dedicated fully to delivering detailed training in Digital Marketing and allowing shadowing of my day-to-day also. This intensive training has resulted in a pretty high success rate when it comes to building out a team of skilled digital marketers!
DON’T: Micromanage your team.
I know it’s hard to let go of control. But if you’re micromanaging your team, you’re not giving them the chance to shine. You hired them for a reason. Trust that they know what they’re doing and give them the space to do it. That’s how they’ll grow and how your team will succeed.
In digital marketing, micromanaging can be particularly damaging as it can lead to low morale and stifled creativity. Marketers are professionals who require autonomy and flexibility in their work to deliver the best results. By micromanaging their work, you are depriving them of the freedom to develop their own strategies, make independent decisions, and implement their creative ideas. This can lead to a sense of disempowerment and demotivation, which ultimately hampers their ability to perform at their best.
Further to this, micromanagement sends a message to your team that you don’t trust them to do their jobs effectively. It can also lead to resentment and conflict, as micromanagement can be seen as a lack of respect for their skills and expertise. In contrast, giving your team the freedom to take ownership of their work and make decisions in line with the overall goals of the project or campaign can lead to a greater sense of trust, confidence, and collaboration.
Understand that marketing technique and thought-processes are unique from one individual to another and empowering your team to find their own methods can help them become independent workers which, in turn, will help you focus on other areas (and potentially growing your team even further!)
DO: Foster a culture of collaboration and communication.
Marketing is a team sport. And if your team isn’t communicating and collaborating effectively, you’re not going to get very far. That’s why it’s important to foster a culture of collaboration and communication.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create an environment that fosters open communication and collaboration among team members. Encouraging your team to work together, share ideas, and provide feedback not only leads to better decision-making, but also helps to build a stronger sense of trust and camaraderie among team members.
In addition to fostering a culture of collaboration and communication, it’s important to ensure that your team has the right tools and resources to work effectively together. This may include implementing project management software, communication tools, and other technologies that facilitate collaboration and streamline workflows. By providing your team with the right tools, you can help to eliminate communication barriers and create a more efficient and productive work environment.
DON’T: Tolerate toxic behaviour.
Toxic behaviour has no place on your marketing team. Whether it’s gossip, negativity, or bullying, you need to nip it in the bud. Not only is it detrimental to your team’s morale and productivity, but it can also be contagious. So if you notice any toxic behaviour, address it immediately.
Ultimately, creating a positive and healthy work environment is key to attracting and retaining top talent in the competitive field of digital marketing. By demonstrating a commitment to fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and positivity, you can create a team that is not only highly skilled and productive, but also engaged and motivated to achieve their goals.
Building a successful marketing team takes time, effort, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes. But if you follow these dos and don’ts, you’ll be on the right track. Remember to hire smart, invest in your team’s development, foster a culture of collaboration and communication, and never tolerate toxic behaviour. Remember, if you need any help with upskilling your team, feel free to reach out and find out how we can help. Good luck!