By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services at Heinz Marketing

When you search for marketing management you get all sorts of information about what marketers do – the theories, tools, and frameworks used that make up the field of marketing.  It’s nearly impossible to find information about managing the marketing process or leading the people that actually do the marketing.

Case in point from Learn.org:

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

As a marketing manager, you would supervise the promotion and sales of products, services, or ideas offered by a business. It would be your job to increase the profits of your business by analyzing marketing data and using your findings to decide on optimal prices for your product. Working with sales, public relations, and product development staff, you would strive to create the most appealing campaigns possible for your product or service based on trends in the marketplace.

Not once do they mention the people that marketing managers need to corral to get this work done.  Even the Hubspot blog, which is widely considered to be one of the best resources for marketers of all levels and skill sets, doesn’t have much to say about leading and managing the people who do the marketing.

So much emphasis is on the “what” of marketing and not the “who” – the people who make marketing happen.  Why is this?  Maybe it’s hard to feel like you are managing “right”, or to point to specific metrics of success.  Unlike conversion rates and sales pipeline velocity, metrics on managing people are kind of fluffy.  There are satisfaction scores and turnover stats — but these don’t tie to specific management actions.

 

Leading Marketing Teams

There’s no one way to go about managing people who do marketing.  But here are eight management tips that might help new and experienced marketing managers alike.

  1. As a manager of people, you better like working with people. Sounds obvious, but I’ve personally experienced a lot of managers who like the title and the extra pay that comes with management responsibility — they just don’t really like dealing with people.
  2. Recognize your role as a manager of the team, and be comfortable with it. Your role is not to write the best blog posts, come up with the best ideas or create the most successful campaigns.  It’s to enable your people to do these things successfully.
  3. Behave consistently with your organization’s values. Like it or not, as a manager you are a role model.  Your direct reports will follow your lead.  If they see you treat others with patience and respect, they will do the same.  Sadly, the converse it true as well and can create a miserable work environment.
  4. Create an organizational chart and make sure everyone on the team knows where they are on the chart. This sounds like an HR function, but it’s not.  It’s a leadership responsibility.
  5. Be clear about how the team will communicate with each other and with clients. Define which channels are used, who to cc on emails, how you use messaging platforms, who you keep the rest of the team in the loop, etc.
  6. Outline the basic processes that make the work flow. This isn’t about lead flow.  Instead, this is about creating a predictable pattern and common understanding about how to get high-quality work done , so that your people can operate independently and your business can scale.  Because marketing is a dynamic business, your work flow must be flexible enough to withstand changes while maintaining quality.
  7. Recognize the effort your people put into their work. Thank them for it.  Sure, they get a pay check either way.  Recognizing how hard your people had to work to get something done is motivation to improve next time.
  8. Make it safe to fail. Marketing is fraught with risk.  In order to continually drive results and revenue, your marketing efforts have to be fresh and new.  And for some people, this isn’t a comfortable space in which to operate.  Give your people some guardrails, check in with them often, praise publicly and critique privately.  At the end of a new task or project, conduct a private post-mortem to discuss what went well and what could have worked better.  Together, develop some specific actions your team member can take next time to improve.

As a people manager, if you are doing things right, you are also making your job harder.  Success for a people manager ranges from watching a junior team member nail a client presentation or master a new task, to promoting them to a new role, or even, saying good-bye and wishing them well as they embark on a new job somewhere else.  In any case, you are continually teaching new skills, coaching and role-modeling new behaviors so that your people and your company succeeds.

Do you manage marketers?  If so, what have you found to be effective?  How do you measure your success at managing people?