Monday, December 7, 2009

Building Your Marketing Tool Kit

By Emily Jasper

I may not be able to speak for most marketing executives, but in my experience, there are some attributes your team needs to have to be successful. Some of these may be no brainers, but you should always be looking at your team to determine if it’s the best it can be. For example, it probably makes sense for your team to have these qualities distributed across the group instead of all in one person. It’s the same idea as not to leave all of your eggs in one basket. Your golden boy could leave and you’re left with a low-performing team.

Innovation: I want to point out that innovation and creativity can be treated differently. Creative people can take something and give it a fabulous new look or use. Innovative people help make that something to begin with. If your group has been tasked with lots of new development, you really need innovative people to keep you going. Having at least one person who wants to build from beginning-to-end gives your creative team something to gnaw on.

Organization: At least one person should get excited about spreadsheets and project plans. Someone who likes structured boundaries will help keep the group on task. Being an Organizing nut also means challenging the group, playing devil’s advocate and making the group think beyond the boundaries. As I always tell my colleagues, I can think outside the box, but I need a box to begin with.

Youth: Including a young twenty-something on your team can keep you in tune to a part of the world you aren’t used to. Trust me, there are still many marketing professionals who have no idea how to leverage Twitter. If you say Interweb, there’s a small panic that goes through the room. Young employees not only bring some background understanding of the new Web, but also another challenging mind. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t good enough for this generation (and the ones to come).

Speed: If you ask someone in the world what they think of when you say Marketing Department, you’ll get an answer similar to this, “Those flashy New York people running the halls in stilettos and wearing expensive suits.” Sure, there are those who may have personal experience with their own organization’s department and have quite a different opinion, but the media world presents marketing departments in companies just like the large Marketing firms. Which means your company expects you to be like those high-profile New York firms. You should have speed and a pulse on what’s going on in the world. Part of your speed should also include agility: being able to shift priorities and resources on a dime.

Patience: Since your company expects agility, you also need patience for numerous and insane requests. Even if you try to manage expectations, there’s always someone mad because you made it difficult to carry out their last minute request. Patience and grace will keep your team functioning well with each other, and with the rest of the organization.

While many more attributes could be added to this list, these can help you build a tool kit for a successful team. You know how hard it is to hang a picture with a hammer and no nails. At the end of the day, you care about the tool kit, but your organization cares about getting that picture hung up.

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. Currently, she writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Vanessa Bright said...

Great points! I particularly loved the expression: "I can think outside the box, but I need a box to begin with. "
However, I disagree with the role of young people in the group. I think that we are quick to fall in the stereotype that young people understand modern technologies. Not always.
Our personal experiences can prove the point. Is it the 20 something who is an Excel expert in the office? Probably not, probably it is a 50 something quiet person from Finance who has always been in love with spreadsheets. Twitter is not different, it is the most familiar to those who actually use it, and young people are not the core demographic for some social networks (including Twitter).
As a person who encountered a 20 something VP with little understanding of interactive marketing and followed much older CMO on Twitter who was an encyclopedia of new technologies... I learned my lessons. ;-)
Yes, absolutely, we need different perspective and different demographics on the team, but we should try to avoid cultural and age stereotypes that can guarantee different people at the table, but not always different perspectives. We do need to have somebody understanding new technologies, whatever the age of the person is.

Emily Jasper said...

Thank you Vanessa. That may hold true with some office standards, especially excel. On the other hand, someone who is just finishing degrees specializing in graphic and web design or who was a freelancer may have had access to the newest versions of programs than your company can't afford. As you can understand, I've seen many organizations who had to stop upgrading programs a couple years back. So even the newest version of PowerPoint may be foreign in your organization. It could be that new talent of any age would bring in this expertise as well, one would just assume, however, that those coming from recent education would have had access to what is most up-to-date. Again, it may be wrong to make assumptions and vast generalizations, but my experience points me in the direction that other than a demographic of a select few, those who have had the most recent training will have more information about technology. They just tend to be younger. Thank you for your comment!

Anonymous said...

I also held this opinion for some time and was even somewhat afraid to come to Social Media Breakfast at first (about a year ago). Social Media? This is new - this is for the kids! But I was curious, and thought that even if I might look as somebody's mom, I would see what was going on... To my surprise, I was probably in the middle of the age spectrum, and the organization's founder in Minnesota was exactly my age. I met many very knowledgeable people who were older, and a few times were very disappointed by total lack of understanding of modern technologies by young people... who sometimes used it. I do agree, if your target demographic is young - absolutely - a young person would be beneficial. Otherwise - the most knowledgeable person would be more helpful, disregarding of age.

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