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Your Marketing Team Is Struggling, Here’s How to Empower Them

There’s been some chatter recently about marketing technology budgets shrinking (and the associated implication that marketers’ roles are diminishing), but none of this is exactly what it seems. In fact, your marketing team is more important than ever and so is the technology they’re using.

You might be familiar with the 10/90 rule (created by Avinash Kaushik) that set the guideline for $90 to be spent on people for every $10 spent on technology. With more and more technology being adopted, it’s important to make sure it’s optimized—starting with the team members handling it.

The fact is, the vast majority of marketers simply “ended up” in marketing. Academia either didn’t offer marketing degrees or didn’t know what it had evolved into, therefore most of today’s marketers discovered the profession in the workplace. They sniffed it out, they fell in love, and they pushed their way in. Great. But now what? Suddenly the age of marketing technology is upon us and there are more tools available than ever before, and with them, lofty expectations of the results they should yield. But who educates the marketer on how to leverage these tools? Where do you even begin in determining your team’s gaps so you can help fill them?

And that’s where people-centric audits come. No, an audit isn’t an inherently sexy idea. It sounds more like heaps of paperwork and loads of criticism—or worse, a thinly veiled sales tool. But if you want to run an efficient business, you need to conduct regular marketing audits of your team and then take a thoughtful approach in responding to their findings.

Here’s why I’m insistent on this, and how you can get started:

No Matter How Your Team Is Performing, You Need an Audit

There’s a major misconception that audits are only needed when things are going terribly wrong. That’s false. There’s also a misconception that an audit is best used to merely gauge whether or not your technology is being used or not used. This is also a lame reason for an audit, and won’t give you anything valuable to work with.

The truth is that you need an audit, about once per year, in order to understand your team’s proficiency with your marketing technology, get a handle on your skills gaps and figure out a plan to move forward and fix the issues you’ve identified.

Of course, when you mention the term “audit” to your marketing team, there’s a high likelihood they’ll look at you like you’ve entered the room carrying torches emblazoned with the words “you’re fired” on them. So, before you ever mention audits, it’s up to you to create an environment in which you speak candidly with your team. Empathize with them and let them know you’re aware that they’re likely overwhelmed. Reassure them that you understand you’ve been asking them to do things that they never learned how to do in formal or informal education. You’ve been stretching them, and you know it’s hard work.

Then, take time to communicate the vast amount of resources and labor you’re putting into your marketing tech stack (and the department overall). Your team should feel comfortable knowing that you want them to feel supported and perform at their peak. This conversation can then lead into the fact that you’re going to engage a third-party provider to conduct an audit of their proficiency, which will help you understand how to help the team. If you give the proper context, and frame the idea through a lens of support, your employees won’t feel like they have a target on their backs and be queasy about what’s to come.

Don’t Freak out If You Find a Lack of Knowledge and Experience

So you bring in an organization to do your audit…. and the findings aren’t pretty. Maybe they’re downright hellish. What do you do—lose it on your staff and curse the whole martech universe in the process? Might be tempting, but don’t do it. Take a breath, and think about this through a different perspective.

There are experts in marketing technology, and most likely, they’re not your employees. These experts probably worked at Marketo or somewhere similar for years and have seen hundreds of thousands of instances during their careers. Meanwhile, your marketing department is probably staffed with people who have had small doses of experience with marketing automation to date and are trying their best to do what you’ve asked without ample training to know how. In other words, your people might be causing a lot of the problems in your marketing, but their lack of training is more your problem.

Your employees can’t possibly have had enough runtime, exposure or history with technology-based marketing to be real experts. So that means they’re going to need more training and support in order to become more advanced and perform at a higher level. So what do you do next after you get the results of your audit, and how do you translate it into action?

Invest in the Biggest Gaps That Will Yield the Biggest Returns

All of us in the marketing world understand all too well the crushing weight of our budgets. Maybe your audit identified six key areas of your marketing operations that are failing you, but you can’t possibly tackle them all right away due to time and monetary constraints. This is where you get to be scrappy and strategic. Consider what your biggest gaps are in your system, like training for your people or a lack of repeatable processes. Then think through which could give you the most upside if it’s invested in heavily.

My gut—and years of experience—tell me that investing in training your people is one of the highest-yielding investments you can make. Once your team is proficient with your technology, they can more effectively do what you’ve ask them to do with it (like advanced reporting, which is key to running a successful marketing department). If you can equip them with knowledge of the sales process, the marketing process and how to make both work together alongside your tech systems, you’ve done yourself a lot of favors in the long run. Even if your team is already top-notch, an audit will help to push them beyond their comfort zones and into more sophisticated uses of your technology, like account-based marketing, engagement modules and advanced segmentation. Either way, your marketing department stands to be improved greatly.

Audits of your marketing team are a crucial part of learning more about your technology and your people, where each stands and how you can invest in them for maximum results across the board. If you’d like help running an audit like this, we can perform one for you. Depending on what we find, we also can offer your team training through our platform Six Bricks and help you with hiring and onboarding too. Your people can make all the difference in your success, and an audit is one of the only ways to figure out how to optimize them.

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