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Seven Tips for the Care and Nurturing of Great Marketing Teams

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Marketing teams need to be innovative, quick-thinking, service-oriented, and committed to the company brand. That's a tall order for anyone, but the reality is that marketers must be on their toes all the time.

As a marketing manager, how do you keep the company's most creative team performing at their best?

Here are a few tips from years of experience making marketing departments hum.

1. A Solid Marketing Plan

Early in the fiscal year, develop a marketing plan that is tied to the strategic plan, and ensure that every team member understands his or her responsibilities for helping to complete the marketing plan.

Use your plan as a road map to prioritize projects and make sure that your team is not frequently sidetracked by out-of-the-blue assignments that don't link to core strategies.

2. Brainstorming Sessions

Naming a product? Need to come up with a new theme for the gala? Stuck on how to please a client? Call together a department-wide brainstorming session where everyone—from the vice-president to the admin assistant—participates.

The rules are simple: The person with the marketing challenge explains the situation; all ideas go up on a whiteboard; naysaying is frowned upon, but it's OK to discuss which ideas the team likes best.

Put a time limit on your session. At the end, the person with the challenge takes back all the ideas generated. It's not necessary to commit to any particular idea after the session. What's necessary is to have tapped the team's creativity.

3. Project Tracking

With many projects underway, project tracking is one of the most difficult things to do, but it's critical for a busy marketing department.

Visually tracking projects on a whiteboard works for some teams. Others rely on a project management program. Find the system that works best for your team and make sure everyone sticks to it.

As everyone knows, dropped projects or overloaded team members make for mass dissatisfaction. You've got to keep your team creative but also focused.

4. Personal Goals

There's always something new to learn in marketing. At the beginning of the year, add a personal growth component to your employees' list of annual goals.

That goal does not have to be directly related to the work that team members do; it can be a skill that they would like to learn for professional growth. For example, a copywriter may want to learn video, or a graphic artist may want to learn business strategy.

Find an appropriate mentor to help the employee reach that goal and make sure you determine how attainment of the goal can be demonstrated—either through an education session for the team or completion of a special project.

Adding a personal goal shows that you are interested in your team's long-term success in the field of marketing.

5. Client Satisfaction Surveys

Treat every project as a learning opportunity. At a project's completion, ask your team to send a survey to internal and external clients. Ask for honest feedback, and review the survey with your team members once it is completed.

Don't make it a competition for the best client satisfaction scores, but do make sure that areas of client dissatisfaction are addressed. And encourage your team members to learn from the comments they receive.

6. Weekly Huddles

With so many projects underway, team members can easily hunker down into their own work and forget to communicate with others. Make sure that everyone is well-informed about all the work being done by holding 30-minutes huddles once a week

These sessions are for sharing information on projects, clarifying priorities and goals, and helping one another solve problems. The secret to great huddles is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak, and those who need assistance receive it.

Keep topics short and at the end of the huddle provide an opportunity for team members to offer thanks or kudos to others.

7. Goodwill Days

Marketers tend to take a global view of their world and want to make a difference in it. Help nurture that sense of social responsibility by taking one day each quarter to volunteer as a group. It's great for making work more purposeful as well as bonding with your team.

Some very satisfying conversations can be had chopping onions while preparing a meal at a homeless shelter. Equally important, you may inspire team members to continue getting involved in their community.

* * *

Remember, these are just tips. Every team is different, and every team also changes as you welcome or say good-bye to members. Above all, honor your team members for their contributions and their creativity.

The more you nurture great marketers, the better our profession becomes.

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Susan Solomon is a healthcare marketing vice-president in Southern California and a marketing instructor at four universities. She was a Fulbright scholar and she has written extensively on marketing, branding, and social media for more than a decade.

LinkedIn: Susan Solomon

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  • by Jennifer Thornberry Tue Jan 13, 2015 via web

    This is a great list! I particularly like tip #2. When you tap into the creativity of your whole team, even those who don't have a direct "marketing" role, you expand the number of options and ideas you can create.

  • by Julie Wilharm Clark Tue Jan 13, 2015 via web

    Susan~ great article. I would like to add something to the list~ "Yeah Day." Since marketing teams often work untraditional hours (at events, tradeshows, launches), it is the day or hours off that you give to an individual or a team. "Yeah, I get the day off!"

  • by Susan Solomon Wed Jan 14, 2015 via web

    Julie, Yeah Day is such a great idea. Going to add that to my list!

  • by John Wed Jan 14, 2015 via web

    I really appreciate this list, thanks Susan. A quick chime in on point 2 and 6. On point 6, "The Huddle", we've found the weekly huddle necessary to keep the team on track and to give everyone a voice; we follow an agenda, but we still manage to keep them informal and laid back. On point 2, we use that two different ways. First, in person as you noted. Second, we've also found virtual brainstorming to helpful. In that, one person puts together key points (text, graphics, even a quick video) they need input on and we start an email thread that might last a day or longer, this helps when some team members are on a hot deadline and really can't break focus but still need to be part of the conversation.

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