Building your marketing team for the future

The Intercept Group's Andrew Au outlines five things senior marketers can do to lead successful teams through digital disruption.

Team Building

By Andrew Au

The pace of change in our industry is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Digital innovation has outpaced the evolution of business processes, leaving us feeling constantly behind the eight ball.

At the same time, marketing leaders have been presented with new goalposts; the discipline has evolved from a cost-centre to one of profit. Every marketing dollar is expected to drive measurable revenue impact and teams are suddenly expected to operate with a high degree of digital acumen while receiving minimal formalized training (if any).

Today, we are forced to prepare for a future that we cannot visualize, nor necessarily understand. But one thing is clear — change is well underway and we cannot afford to be standing still. With that in mind, here are five things every marketing leader should remember when building a digital team for the future.

Successful transformation requires rigour

The “objectives and key results” (OKR) model – as described by John Doerr in his book Measure What Matters and embraced by companies like Accenture, Amazon and Google – provides a disciplined goal setting framework which can be used as a springboard. In implementing the OKR model, set clear digital “objectives” that your team can rally behind and which outline specific in-house expertise, capabilities and functions.

Use “key results” to keep you and your team honest about achieving the objectives.

There are three mission-critical tools to consider for customer engagement

A customer data platform to streamline all of your customer data sets, a marketing automation platform like Marketo or Eloqua that enable personalized nurture streams, and marketing performance management software such as Allocadia to metricize the impact of each execution, from digital to live events.

Building a digital team for the future also means investing in tools that allow your team to get more done, on-the-go and securely. Platforms like Office 365 or G-Suite offer robust digital workspaces that include real-time collaboration, instant messaging and productivity analytics that can transform your workflows.

As leaders, we must focus on people, not jobs

The required roles of tomorrow may not exist today. While we cannot protect jobs from being automated, we can and should protect our people who show a commitment to our organization’s mission and values. For these folks, focus on up-skilling and nurturing agility. Develop personalized learning paths that raise their digital acumen and data proficiency. There are a number of free and paid learning resources available through massive open online courses like Coursera and platforms such as LinkedIn Learning.

After internal up-skilling, identify core skills gaps relative to the desired in-house digital expertise, capabilities and function identified within your OKR

Don’t box yourself into evaluating traditional marketing roles and look beyond internal silos. You may determine that a dedicated machine learning engineer or data scientist should be your next hire to expand your team’s brain trust.

Digital acumen cannot be the corner of your team’s desk

It needs to become the desk. If your team cannot allocate the time for new learning, your transformation will fall flat. Kill legacy tasks and workflows that offer little-to-no value for the organization in favour of new learning, re-skilling and rapid prototyping.

AndrewAu2Andrew Au is the co-founder of Intercept Group, a marketing consultancy with offices in Toronto and Boston.