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November 11, 2021

How to build a versatile marketing team

Every business needs some level of marketing support. From start-ups that need to introduce a new brand to large corporations that are navigating growth, the role of marketing is critical and ever-evolving. 

As your marketing, communications and advertising needs become more complex, so do the roles of an effective marketing department. How do you right-size a marketing team that’s versatile and able to implement your big-picture strategy? 

First, evaluate why you’re hiring marketers. If your organization is small but growing and needs to gain brand recognition to support sales, yet you’ve never hired a pro for marketing support, there are many factors to consider. Or if your current in-house team lacks certain skills or simply needs more support, these are reasons to grow the marketing team. 

head shot of woman with dark hair
Courtesy / Fluent IMC
Marnie Grumbach is the founder of Fluent IMC.

Building a versatile and effective marketing team begins by evaluating: 

The range of skills. Often, the marketing function is seen as a creative role, yet today’s marketers handle data, analysis of digital campaign metrics and adoption of marketing and sales technology. If your expectation is someone trained and ready to deliver senior-level strategic thinking, budgeting, copywriting, fundraising, design, web skills, PPC, social media, email marketing, digital marketing, PR, and any other marketing need that might arise, you’re searching for what we call a “unicorn” of marketing. It’s very rare to find one professional with the ability (or willingness) to fulfill such a varied job description. 

In-house or external talent. Many business leaders prefer to hire a full-time marketer often because they want that person to be fully immersed in their culture. Others feel that a full-time hire is more accessible and can produce more in 40 hours per week.

An external marketing partner might be a fractional marketer or an agency partner that brings a broad diversity and depth of skills to your business. A fractional marketing director is just that: a senior-level marketing pro hired to plan, oversee and manage your marketing program for a fraction of time. In this scenario, you’re looking for a seasoned marketer who brings the right skills and is able to manage other team members and/or vendors with the skills needed to round out the entire team. 

Gaps in skill sets. Before launching a search for a mythical creature, think about the skill set you’ll realistically need based on your overarching strategy. For example: 

  • If you’re looking to develop a robust brand awareness campaign, you might be focused on an advertising program, so graphic design, copywriting, and media buying skills will be necessary. 
  • If your brand is well established and you’re looking to further your reputation, a thought leadership campaign executed by a pro with public relations, earned media, pitching and writing skills is a must. 
  • If your current team is great at managing your social media channels but you’re ready to broaden your reach with digital advertising, a marketer would need hands-on experience within digital ad platforms. 

Consider the areas that make the most sense for your specific marketing needs, and use these as a starting point to determine how to fill in any gaps in your existing team. Some of these skills are a better fit for an in-house role where others are more specialized. 

Ask these questions internally before deciding on full-time or fractional marketing: 

  • What path does your strategic overview outline for your marketing department over the next year?
  • Are you looking for a team that’s already fluent in marketing implementation or are you building a program from the ground up?
  • Are there specific skill sets your current team is lacking? In what areas do they excel?
  • Does your current budget support the addition of a full-time position (with benefits)?
  • Do you lack marketing bandwidth or does a one-man department need support? 
  • Is a current marketer leaving, or leaving temporarily, and you need an interim replacement? 

It might seem logical that with a myriad of marketing needs, you should be looking to hire a full-time marketing director to cover all your bases. In many cases, versatility comes from a hybrid of in-house marketing talent partnered with seasoned, trusted external partners.

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