Want an In-House Marketing Team? 7 Steps to Take First
If you want to take control of your marketing strategy, and you have the resources to do it, you may want to hire an in-house team. But because marketing roles demand such a unique combination of experience, knowledge, and creativity, and because there are so many niche specialists to choose from, the process can feel overwhelming.
Before you dig too deep into the details, there are a handful of preparatory steps you’ll need to take.
What to Do First
Start with these steps if you want to build a better foundation for your team:
- Understand your campaign goals. There are many ways to approach your marketing strategy, and the same generic team may not be able to handle all of them. Before you even start looking for qualified candidates, you need to understand and document your overarching goals. Are you hoping to focus on one or two strategies? Do you have a direction in mind or will you be looking for recommendations? How quickly do you need to get off the ground? Having a firm understanding will help you sort out your candidates during the interview process and ensure you get started in the right direction.
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an in-house team. An in-house team isn’t your only option. You could also enlist the help of an agency with a monthly retainer, or work with a network of independent contractors to handle the execution of your work. Each option has strengths and weaknesses, which you should understand fully before finalizing your decision. An in-house marketing team will likely be more expensive than the other two options, but will afford you more control and transparency in your campaign.
- Prepare your budget. You should know going in that the average salary for each marketing team member may cumulatively put strain on your marketing budget. You may only have money for one or two people, so it pays to prepare your budget in advance. If you spend too little on your staff, you may be left with underqualified candidates, but if you spend too much, you won’t have enough people to execute the work you need. Sketch out a budget in advance so you can find the balance.
- Recruit the team leader. Everything will start with your team leader, so work on recruiting them first. Look for someone with experience in a variety of different fields, and preferably experience in management. Alternatively, you could attempt to serve as the marketing team leader in your own right, and skip to the next step—but only pursue this option if you have marketing experience of your own.
- Prepare a list of agencies and independent contractors for overflow. No matter how good your team is, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some overflow—additional tasks that need to be accomplished, or directives that your teammates just can’t handle. It’s in your best interest to come up with a list of marketing agencies and independent contractors to have in your rolodex, should such an occasion arise. That way, you won’t have to scramble to find a pinch hitter when the pressure is on.
- Expand with specialists. Once your team lead is in place, you can start focusing on hiring specialists to expand your team. While it’s tempting to add more well-rounded generalists to your team, specialists tend to work more efficiently. For example, you might hire someone who specializes in building links, or someone with extensive experience in PPC ad campaign management. If your marketing campaign leans toward one strategy more than the others, consider it your area of expertise, and hire someone who has mastered that art.
- Establish a culture. As you start recruiting more people for your marketing team, it’s going to be increasingly important that you have a brand culture in place. This is the collection of values, beliefs, and attitudes that defines what your brand is—and what will keep your team members loyal and working consistently for the advancement of your business. Brand culture is unique to every business, so take the time to develop yours and make sure your employees are an active part of it.
Nurturing Your Team
From there, it’s on you to nurture that team, so you can maximize your employee retention (and improve morale at the same time).
These are the most helpful strategies for this process:
- Reward your top performers. Go out of your way to publicly recognize your best team performers, for individual accomplishments and for helping to achieve team goals. It will keep morale high and show how much you appreciate solid work.
- Offer regular teambuilding exercises. Marketing teams work best when your employees collaborate and work creatively together; accordingly, it’s in your best interest to offer regular teambuilding exercises, which gives your employees the chance to bond with one another and work more collaboratively and productively together. You can also create a more team-centered environment with a more open office layout.
- Focus on quality hires. If and when there’s a void on your team, it’s tempting to fill it as quickly as possible so you can resume work. However, it’s better to wait until you find a qualified, well-fitted candidate, even if it means waiting. You can always rely on contractors in the meantime.
In-house marketing teams aren’t ideal for every business, but they can be enormously beneficial if created and managed under the right circumstances. As long as you’re prepared for the strengths and weaknesses of the approach going in, and you spend the time necessary to build a strong foundation, you can reap the benefits of a talented, dedicated workforce in your marketing department.