by Erin Masercola, PhD.
When I was in grad school at the University of North Carolina, a few women decided to launch an intramural basketball team. Some had played competitively in high school and college, so they went looking for gals who’d played in the past. When the team roster came up very short, they recruited generally athletic women. Around the time their recruiting strategy had sunk to “people we see sometimes in the gym,” they asked me to join the team.
“I’m not fast and coordinated like y’all,” I protested. “I’m just not the basketball kind.”
“That’s okay,” our point guard retorted. “You’re the perfect candidate for our clumsy, lumbering Euro big man: we’ll teach you how to screen.” With that, she began to school me the fundamentals of being a Defensive Stopper, sports-speak for someone who pesters the opposing team’s offense.
Our team–Grendel’s Mother–went on to win the intramural championship that year. Fun fact for any Beowulf enthusiasts here: Our team cheer was “We ain’t your sister. We ain’t your brother. Look out for us: We’re Grendel’s Mother.” For more than 20 years, I’ve kept our t-shirt, designed by teammate Julia Bryan and pictured above, to remind me of our miraculous winning season and the lessons I learned.
The most important takeaway from that semester? You have a good basketball team only if you have a wide variety of different skills, and you never find all the skills and abilities you need in any one person. Some are playmakers, some are wily and difficult to guard, some have the strength and power necessary to claim rebounds, and some, like me, simply have sufficient aerobic capacity to exhaust the opposing team’s offense. It takes all kinds of folks working together to achieve success.
The same is true for other kinds of teams, and nowhere is this more true than marketing teams. Small business owners or sales people will often say to me, “I need to hire a marketer and I can afford only one person right now. What should I look for?” They mistakenly believe they can find one “marketer” who has all the skills and expertise they need, but they are looking for a unicorn.
“You can’t find all that you need in one person because no one has everything you need to build a successful marketing program,” I always explain. Hire the best combination of skills you need in-house, but make sure you support that person’s success by allocating money to shore up any inevitable weaknesses, provide coaching, or provide specialized services.
People are adaptable, and many can wear several hats at once, but no one can wear all of them well. Here’s just a short, nowhere-near-complete list of the kinds of people you need to create a winning marketing team:
The psychologist taps into your target buyer’s innermost fears and desires. The psychologist can attend a conference in your market and emerge knowing your customers better than they know themselves.
The nerd dives into the all the details of the products and services your sell and masters them. Their subject expertise earns your customers’ trust.
The thought leader sees an almost utopian vision of what your marketing program and your company can be and devises the strategies to get there.
The conductor relishes marketing’s operational tactics. They love logistics, and they’re the people who ensure your customers are blissfully happy at live events.
The quant discerns patterns and meaning amidst mounds of data, devises A/B splits to test assumptions, and drives actions that yield higher ROI for your marketing program.
The technical wizard delves down into the guts of your website, marketing automation, CRM, and other technology to solve problems you never knew you had.
The artist intuitively knows what looks good to your customers and what looks terrible. Their eyes forecast what your customers want to see and they can say volumes with one simple image.
The writer wrangles words to express exactly what you want to say–whether it be a direct mail piece, web site copy, public relations materials, social media content, and more.
The broadcaster creates compelling audio content that your target audience can engage with while they’re on the go.
The videographer tells your brand story in yet another medium, augmenting both SEO and engagement.
The diplomat expresses what must be expressed in the kindest, least arguable way possible.
The provocateur is exactly the opposite and creates the firebrand content that inspires passion and action in your customers.
If you’re lucky, you have some of these folks on your marketing team already. But if you’re like most companies, you could use some outside perspectives and skills now and then. That’s where The Content Crew can help. Our staff has deep, diverse skills and experiences, and we supplement our team with skilled, knowledgeable freelancers whom we’ve worked with for years. Best of all, we know small business because we’ve helped so many small businesses discover and execute the marketing improvements they needed to propel sales and success.