March 15th, 2023

How Leaders Can Support Their Marketing Team

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

You’ve given your marketing team the green light. Is that all you need to do?

We’ve talked a lot lately about the importance of breaking down departmental silos and establishing buy-in with your team. But once you’ve done that, what’s next? As any experienced leader knows, “support” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Fortunately, when it comes to your marketing team, there’s no reason to be vague.

The following are four actions leaders can take to help their marketing teams thrive.

1. Align with your team about expectations and goals.

You might think giving your team carte blanche is “supportive,” but more often than not you’re just giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. The reality is that you have expectations for your marketing department, and voicing them is important—otherwise, your team will feel the pressure of being measured against an invisible yardstick.

Your marketing team can also provide needed perspective if your goals and expectations are unrealistic. As an example, if you give your team a broad mandate to do whatever is necessary, but don’t tell them your secret expectation that you’ll soon rank #1 on Google for all your top keywords, then your marketing team may spend the next several months working toward different goals.

On the other hand, if you do voice this expectation to your team, you might quickly learn that it’s not an achievable goal given your company size and the competitiveness of your key terms. Instead, you can come to an agreement about a more comprehensive strategy that will help you gain visibility and grow organic traffic for a range of terms, even if you never make that #1 spot for the term you thought you wanted.

2. Give your marketing team your attention.

Some leaders, having given the marketing team their blessing, then expect to step away and let the results roll in. And to be sure, as marketers, it is our goal to take a lot of tasks off leadership’s plate. But that doesn’t mean leadership never needs to think about it again. We’re not a Crockpot—you can’t just “set it and forget it.”

The reality is that your insight is essential for ensuring that our work supports your vision. Some guidance can only come from leadership, and given that marketing is the first touchpoint customers have with a brand, it’s important for leadership to have a finger on the pulse to be sure that the messaging is in line with their goals. So, while you don’t need to be in the trenches, you shouldn’t be disengaged either.

Here’s what we would recommend:

  • Make time in your schedule for marketing meetings. The cadence will vary depending on your company size and whether you’re in the middle of a major marketing push, but don’t let yourself become too busy to check in. As a general rule of thumb, if your marketing team is asking for a meeting, make the time for it!
  • Come engaged and ready to share your perspective. We have had many great marketing meetings where leadership’s feedback is simply “everything looks great, carry on.” But what we truly love is when the feedback is “everything looks great, and also here are a bunch of ideas I had.” Collaboration is a wonderful way to show appreciation.
  • Offer feedback and validate your team’s efforts. Finally, let your team know what is and isn’t working—with an emphasis on what’s going well. Marketing work is iterative, and will improve in the direction you want it to with a little positive reinforcement.

3. Lead communication with other departments.

Winning over other departments isn’t always the same as making sure those departments are ready to work with marketing when asked. Those departments have other priorities, and it’s easy to view marketing’s work as vital (of course!) but not as urgent as whatever they’re working on right now. If those departments are out of the loop, they may also be confused when marketing reaches out for support, and can put a response off till later.

On the other hand, if you make the introduction and communicate the priority of the marketing work, it’s much more likely to facilitate cooperation. And if you make that introduction first, it will head off any awkwardness before marketing has to pull you in later to support their request.

4. Build external relationships.

Too often, companies forget to gather important marketing materials—such as customer testimonials, marketing metrics, or KPIs—until they’re writing a case study or putting together a brochure, and by then it’s usually too late. Maybe the deadline is too tight, or their previous point of contact has moved on and the new person doesn’t know your work history. Oftentimes, it may be that the person on the marketing team asking for the testimonial doesn’t have the right relationship with the client.

As an organizational leader, you have that relationship. You’re also the person best suited to broach the subject of a case study with your client, and to make the right introductions between that external partner and your marketing team so that the project moves forward.

Thinking about external relationships in another direction, you can also support your marketing team’s networking efforts—and make introductions where relevant. From professional trade shows to industry conferences, these events can go a long way toward building your team’s skills while also expanding the reach of your marketing campaigns.

Trust the process.

Marketing often feels like a leap of faith. You can put a lot of work into creating materials, developing messaging, and establishing a professional visual identity, and the results can be hard to trace. Even leaders who are used to tracking more easily measured statistics can recognize the futility of trying to attach an exact ROI to a brochure passed out at a conference.

But the results are there. We’ve seen the difference time and again between companies before and after they’ve invested in their marketing materials: sales pick up, customer service calls go down, client feedback improves. That’s why we encourage leaders to be more active in their marketing efforts. When you become invested in the process, the work makes more sense, the results seem less mystical, and the logic clicks into place.

Seeing is believing, so come see for yourself.

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