Confused? Excellent. Truthfully, my rather silly title is really about a very simple concept: planning for the future.
I’m talking scalability here. But that’s a big, fat word packed with meaning. Let’s unpack it a bit. Marketing is within your realm of control. You can’t really help what the rest of the company does, but you can affect change in your little corner of it. The earlier you start planning for the future, the easier it becomes to make it a habit.
A lot of companies take a narrow view on what scalability means. Some think of it in terms of resources, space, systems or culture. Notice the “or” in there. To really make the future a great time for your department, you have to take a look at all of those things. Now and in the future, because what you do today influences tomorrow. Got it?
Okay, okay. If you’re lucky, you work for a company that shares this view from the top down, which makes it a bit easier for you to scale marketing. If not, think of your department as your own little company, and start treating it that way.
Process, Program & Structure
Our CEO Justin Gray believes a lot in these three. This is the operational side of scalability. And the sooner you put them in place, the easier they become to manage as you grow. Clear, manageable processes and structure make everyone’s life easier, even if they hate them at first, especially as new staff join and marketing teams start multiplying. However you can’t just implement them based on your current staff and company situation. What good are structures, programs and processes if you need to change them drastically in a year?
Think ahead, and plan for a future where you have 9000 people instead of just 72. Ask if your current processes will work smoothly if your department suddenly tripled in size. Ask if your development programs could be adopted across a large group, or if everyone would need to create separate programs that eventually turned into silos. Don’t be surprised if you see trouble ahead – that’s why you’re thinking about this now. By stepping back and building elasticity into your processes, structures and programs, you’ll create a more efficient and profitable path to the future.
Communication, Alignment & Transparency
Let me make something clear here: scaling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There’s no isolated “scaling committee” that sits down, plots out the company’s growth trajectory and decides the best way to expand. On the contrary – communication and alignment are key. These especially speak to both the business and cultural side of things, which helps ensure you scale evenly and productively.
Here’s what I mean. A lot of companies hold things like financials, department goals and other “business-y” stuff close at hand, only sharing with executives and managers. But why shouldn’t the rest of your employees know some of this stuff? Remember, getting people invested in what you’re doing makes them feel like they are a valuable part of the company – that they play an active role in its success.
So bring your team in on your marketing secrets. Share the top down goals, and align everyone around them. Gradually this becomes built into your culture—the idea that everyone matters to the company. And because everyone’s communicating about their marketing roles and priorities, your scaling endeavors will become that much more accurate. Instead of having a lopsided look at the future, the leadership team will see past their vantage point and understand exactly how things get done and what’s truly required to expand.
Yes, I know scaling isn’t the kind of thing I usually write about. But I was just thinking about how lucky I am to love my job and the people I work with. Sometimes building the right foundation in a company pays dividends years down the line in ways you can’t imagine at the time. Set yourself up for success now and in a few years, your coworkers will thank you.