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How to build an all-star marketing team

Marketing strategies today have been revved up to warp speed thanks, in large part, to ever-changing technologies and bigger staffs. In this hyperkinetic world, marketers can either fight, change, or embrace it. Or, to put it another way, they can either play offense like World Series champions or defense like the Bad News Bears. The question is, how do they master the new rules of the marketing game?

To borrow a page from the playbook of a struggling sports team, the first thing marketers should do is shake up their lineup. This means recruiting fresh talent, re-invigorating old talent and introducing new skills while maintaining the team's core strengths. As with most hiring practices these days, successful marketers will value eager learners over the know-it-alls -- what these braggarts know today could be irrelevant tomorrow. Adaptation is key, both for fresh-faced new hires to old-school veterans.

Here's what an all-star marketing team could -- and should -- look like. It's not an exhaustive list, but it highlights the key skills and personalities needed to hit home runs in the world of marketing.

Core captains

A solid foundation of talent and leadership is key for any strategy to work now or in the future. It gives the team the experience and direction it needs to build -- and allows rookies to shine.

  • Chief Marketing Officer/VP of Marketing: Your CMO is essentially the coach. Marketers typically have outgoing, type-A personalities, so a CMO needs to understand how to work with a group of egos -- without letting his own get in the way. He should also know the product, and, more importantly, the customer. He drives the company's marketing plan and excels at managing moving parts, from market research and analysis of the competition to product development and business growth.
  • Social Media/Community Manager: She's the CMO's assistant coach and the team's part-time mascot. She's vital to the team's operations because she can see in real-time, thanks to Facebook and other social media outlets, how customers are reacting to your products. To succeed, she needs to know how to engage customers effectively. She's also tasked with building communities where the company's products and brand can thrive. She needs to stay one step ahead of the social media curve, engage as a proper representative of the brand, think fast on her feet, and delegate. The candidate who has 20 Tumblr's and posts pictures of her every meal on Instagram isn't necessarily the best fit for this role.
  • Email Marketer: He's been around for a while, but the email marketer is still your Most Valuable Player. He knows the ins and outs of digital marketing, which means he's best-suited to guide brand messages as rookies bring fresh ideas and new skills to the team. As email marketing evolves, he must have some tricks up his sleeve while mentoring those in other content-based roles like community managers and bloggers.

Out with the old?

Marketers don't need to cut anyone from the team, but they should be aware that some positions are becoming less relevant. This may mean they assign new roles and responsibilities within the team -- all with the idea to get everyone involved at a deeper level to create a buzz around every project. Here are two examples of how that might work:

  • Director of Analytics: This isn't to say analytics aren't important; it's to say that everyone on the team should be taking responsibility for them - not just one member. Certain metrics pertain specifically to different parts of the team - email marketing teams will be responsible for open rates while community teams could be responsible for conversion rates via Facebook or Twitter. As more marketing programs go cross-channel, team members must understand how these metrics can come together and define the success of the overall program.
  • Customer Relationship Manager: As we enter the Relationship Era of marketing, managing customer relationships needs to be a team effort. This means each team player knows every customer -- from the most loyal buyers to first-time shoppers. Fostering these relationships are imperative to company growth, so this task shouldn't be passed on for employees to say "not my job." Customer relations should be at the top of everyone's mind.

In with the new

Today's on-the-go society means marketing messages must constantly be re-imagined. Customers don't want to hear that a brand will do better next time, nor do they have the bandwidth to figure out why their cousin is complaining about the same brand on Facebook. Bottom line: customers will either like your new marketing campaign or they won't. Here are a few positions that can help companies adapt quickly to these ever-changing dynamics:

  • Lead Generator: According to the 2012 State of Digital Marketing Report released by Webmarketing123, lead generation is the top priority for business-to-business (B2B) marketing teams and among the top three considerations for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers. As a result, it's important that your group has a member dedicated solely to this cause. This person works closely with the sales team to drive conversions and help the marketing team better understand specific targets for certain campaigns.
  • Graphic Designer: Visual content is going to drive any successful marketing campaign. You need someone who can turn words into visually engaging messages for the customers. People are presented with hundreds of images and articles daily -- they aren't going to spend time on a message unless they are drawn to it and the pull usually begins with the visuals.
  • SEO Specialist: This person is the company's optimization specialist. She knows the ins and outs of the web and can provide the insights necessary to get the traffic that can then generate leads.

The game of digital marketing today has many innings. To win, marketers should think hard about the composition of their teams. Without the right mix of players, they just might strike out.

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