It’s finally here! Today is the day your new marketing hire starts. You’re finally going to have someone on staff that is dedicated to your company’s marketing efforts. Or maybe you just signed a contract with a marketing firm to help support your initiatives. Are you nervous? You shouldn’t be! We’re here to remind you that as long as the marketing team (whether internal, external, or both) maintains strong communication throughout each engagement, projects will go smoothly and produce great ROI. We promise, marketers aren’t that scary!
Here are five tips to help you work effectively with a marketing team:
1. Collaborate from the very beginning
This may seem obvious, but it’s vital to collaborate with your marketing team on every aspect of your project, including the goal setting. Rather than handing out a firm directive of what to execute, include your team in the strategy. As marketers, our executions are always more impactful when we understand or help form the strategy behind them. Whether in-house or an agency, marketers like to dig deep and become a unified team (see above, we aren’t scary!).
For example, instead of asking your marketing team to execute a list of changes to your presentation deck, discuss what you’re hoping to achieve. Not only will it provide a deeper context and meaning for the work they’re doing, but they may have additional recommendations to propel your ideas forward. As you discuss the project and come to an agreement on the end result, set clear expectations for what you expect to receive along the way (file formats, number of concepts and revisions, etc.). Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference, especially when working against tight deadlines!
2. Give feedback frequently
Feedback early and often – that’s our motto! Remember that your marketing team wants to execute something that you’re proud of and excited to use. If you feel like something isn’t right in the beginning drafts, don’t wait to share your thoughts until the final round of edits – that’s just a waste of everyone’s time and money. It can be hard to verbalize what isn’t working (especially when you don’t necessarily have a solution to offer) but try! It’s easier for your team to make adjustments as they go, rather than realizing in the end that you’re unhappy.
If you feel stuck when it comes to communicating your feedback, just go for it. A good team will ask clarifying questions and test out other options to see what speaks best to you. No matter what, don’t just say “I don’t like it”. Be specific! Is it the colors? Word choice? Photo selections? Not bold enough? While it might feel frustrating to talk through it, you’re ultimately fostering collaboration and helping produce a better end-product.
One more thing to note: it’s our practice as a marketing firm to fight for our best recommendation. So don’t be surprised if your marketing team pushes back on your input – that’s a good thing! It means they’re passionate and invested in the work. Our approach is that we fight for it once, and then it’s up to the client to make the final decision. But while you always have final say, don’t forget to trust the experts that you hired!
3. Share inspirations
Sharing other organizations’ marketing can help put clarity around what you are picturing in your brain – and make sure it matches what is in your marketers’ brains. What websites have you come across lately that inspired you? What brands in your industry do you admire? Are there any words or phrases that excite you? Whenever you come across something that aligns with your vision and aspirations, share it with your marketing team. It will help them have a visual and verbal representation of what you’re looking to achieve. Keep in mind that it’s best to share inspirations as early in the process as possible so the team is on the right path from the start.
That’s why we incorporate this practice into our branding engagements. We want to encourage our clients to find their why, live their brand consistently and eliminate “B2B beige” language from their marketing. This is often helped and made easier by sharing inspirations and pushing creative boundaries. We often show brand inspirations from others as “spirits” to help make a brand voice or visual more concrete. The important thing to remember in this process is not to get carried away and compare yourself to big brands like Apple and Google. Yes, we all want to be them someday but it’s vital to keep expectations realistic and goals attainable (especially keeping a focus within your own industry).
4. Set mutual deadlines
The keyword here is mutual. Everyone wants a project to be completed on time and on budget, so try and follow a project timeline as much as possible. And when it comes to deadlines, it’s important to recognize the difference between urgent and important. There are urgent deadlines like tradeshow booths and advertisements that have to get done by their due date. But then there are deadlines for projects that aren’t time bound, but are important, such as launching a new website or researching your industry and buyers.
It’s hard to prioritize the important deadlines when the urgent ones are looming. That’s why we recommend utilizing a project manager (whether internal or external) to keep things moving. A good project manager will be able to keep your urgent and important projects on track. For larger projects, weekly or bi-weekly status calls or meetings avoid a large amount of back-and-forth emails. Sometimes our clients are resistant to regularly scheduled status calls because it’s hard to block out time in their calendar. But status calls are always worth it! Even if a project seems simple, there are many moving parts and it’s helpful to have consistent check-ins to stay on the same page. (Calls can always be cancelled if they aren’t needed!)
5. Clarify lingo
Marketers and designers can sometimes use lingo that is unfamiliar to others (anyone in any industry is guilty of this!). With all the different marketing platforms, trends, concepts, and ideologies out there, it’s bound to happen. If you’re ever talking to your team and they’re using technical words that you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
Also make sure that everyone has the same definition of commonly used words. For example, we typically make cheat sheets for each of our clients with what we define as a “Lead” vs. “Marketing Qualified Lead” vs. “Sales Qualified Lead”. If we all think we are talking the same talk but we’re walking different walks, it’s bound to cause chaos and confusion eventually!
So as you welcome that new hire or new firm, feel confident and ready to collaborate, give feedback and push creatively. And remember to have fun doing it! Click here to read our “5 Tips for Effectively Working with Creatives”.