Forget about your customers — really, because the key to growth may not be what you think it is.
In today’s environment, most companies have a singular and relentless focus on growth. And often, growth at all costs. However, we haven’t stopped to think about what really drives growth.
What is the key to growth? What is the biggest factor in whether or not we hit our targets and achieve our goals? And, most importantly, what if we had it all backward?
Marketing has always been about people. You’ve heard the phrase, “the customer is always right.” But we seem to have forgotten that there’s another critical group of people — our marketing team. We’ll go to any length to attract, engage and capture customers, but we invest little time and effort into building and improving our teams.
Why are marketing teams seemingly an afterthought?
Perhaps it’s because marketers face countless priorities and unrealistic expectations and have too few resources or time to focus on building a high-performance marketing team. But that’s no excuse.
In reality, your marketing team is the biggest predictor of your success. An ineffective marketing team will be unable to achieve even the most modest goals. And it creates more chaos and stress than you need (and already have to deal with).
As marketers, we must think differently about our priorities and stop putting the cart before the horse. The safety demonstration on an airplane informs you that it’s important to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. That may seem selfish, but it’s not. It’s to prevent you from becoming incapacitated so that you can help others. If you ignore your needs before trying to help others, you’ll end up serving neither.
Most marketing teams have become so fixated on growth at all costs that they’ve forgotten to put their own oxygen mask on first. It’s time we turn our marketing inside out.
Marketing inside out
If your marketing organization was a tree, you would want it to grow fast, continue growing non-stop and become the biggest tree in your area. That’s the typical focus on growth: fast, constant and dominant.
However, when we think about growth, we often only think about what’s visible, not the invisible. How deep the roots are determines how big or how quickly a tree can grow. Without the proper foundation, structure and support, any tree can get blown over at the first storm, especially if it’s grown too quickly.
Unfortunately, this happens all of the time with marketing organizations. With a relentless focus on growth and no solid foundation, marketing teams are burnt out, CMOs are traded out and the company has to start from the ground up.
If you want massive growth, it needs to be sustainable. And to reach new heights, you first need to grow deep roots.
It’s not about customers, KPIs or revenue. It’s about people. That’s marketing inside out.
The success of your marketing depends on your people. You need the right people with the right skills to collaborate and communicate effectively.
To build a powerful marketing team, the first step is to figure out which stage of development your marketing team is in.
3 stages of a marketing team
There are three stages of marketing team development. Before you start focusing on improving your team, it helps to understand their stage so you can plan appropriately.
Every marketing team starts in this stage and many stay here for quite some time. In this stage, your team is defining the goals, figuring out roles and working to understand how to collaborate and communicate effectively.
There’s lots of passion and opinions but not much structure. Chaotic but exciting, the goal at this stage is to survive, start installing boundaries and bring order to the chaos.
Your team has built a solid foundation and can now focus on finding opportunities to improve and grow. Challenges and bottlenecks still limit performance, but the team is at least aware that they exist. At this stage, your team should be focused on building systems and formalizing their operations.
Your team consists of the right people who clearly understand the goals and are making tangible progress on them every day. They can now spend time testing, learning and improving the process and their performance. At this stage, you can help the team maximize their efforts, share their insights and solidify their success.
Evaluate your team to understand which stage you’re in. Then, you can meet them where they are and build a plan to help them build a solid foundation and grow from there.
We often like to believe that our team is more advanced, more capable and more skilled than they actually are. You might be right — but it helps to step back and check before you embark on an uphill journey.
How to level up your team
Marketing inside out requires you to think differently about how you approach your marketing. It’s the realization that another tool, a new channel or the tactic du jour isn’t going to help you achieve your goals.
By focusing inward on your team, you can have a profound and dramatic impact and reach your goals faster than you ever thought possible.
If you’re ready to think differently about how you approach your marketing, then follow these four steps:
- Assess and evaluate your team to understand your starting point.
- Make the space and time to invest in building and growing your team.
- Create a 90-day plan that outlines where your team can grow.
- Take action, check in regularly and keep the team on track.
Rethinking marketing, growth and goals
Marketers will always have aggressive goals, unrealistic targets and limited resources to achieve them. Let’s admit that the way we’re working isn’t working. That the current marketing approach isn’t sensible or sustainable. And instead, let’s approach it from the inside out.
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