At a recent Renewd virtual roundtable discussion that I was privileged to chair, we heard from our hugely impressive and inspiring guest speaker Monique Ruff-Bell of TED Conferences. The overall round-table discussion theme was “Leadership challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world”, and during this very dynamic session the following key points really stood out for me: How important it is for business leaders to really understand the perspectives of those ‘further down’ in the hierarchy of an organisation, especially in roles they themselves have not worked in. Only by trying to put ourselves in their shoes, can we see the value they can offer and how to help them grow and reach their full potential. How we need to embrace diversity in all its forms if we are to build better businesses, including diversity in ethnicity, religion, gender, personality, and also importantly – how people think, and therefore, communicate. This got me thinking about a key marketing problem in nearly every business I have encountered over the past 10+ years of consulting and running an agency. And this may well be the biggest thing holding your business back – especially if you are looking to scale profitably. And here it is… Many business leaders, most of whom have never held a marketing role, expect the impossible from their marketers. They have never walked in their shoes, or even tried to. One person is expected to have strong competencies in a wide range of areas that vary greatly and require completely different skill sets and natural strengths. Businesses often expect the same marketing person to be great at copywriting AND tech implementations, or database development AND design, etc. Businesses often hire junior, inexperienced people as marketers (because they’re cheap and available), and then don’t provide the support and training these people need to succeed. Sometimes they hire more senior and experienced marketers, and because they’re paying them more, expect them to deliver a depth and breadth of tasks simply impossible for one person to handle. They want strategically strong people to also be very good on all things ‘hands on’. This results in frustration (for all parties) at best, and failure of a marketing function at worst. To counteract this issue, it is important to recognise the five marketing skill sets that every business needs (see our blog from December 2020), and accept a diverse team of marketing ‘thinkers and doers’ will be needed to deliver all the skills you need. Some of these marketing skill sets can sometimes be combined into one role – if the person in the role has the experience, aptitude and interest in the relevant areas. And it is important to recognise that certain elements of marketing, particularly the very technical aspects, are often better outsourced – for three reasons: Certain types of marketing specialists are scarce to the extreme (especially in data, martech and analytics), so are difficult to hire and retain. An ‘all in-house’ marketing function that includes all resources and skill sets you need, full time, can become expensive and difficult to manage. Some specialist skill sets and flexible resources needed may best sit externally – to compliment what you have inhouse. There are some marketing specialists you may not need full time, all year-round. Often to be most effective, a marketing specialist’s work is best focused on specific projects that are time-bound, and with set deliverables. Unless they have a pretty full quota of ‘business as usual’ tasks to work on a daily basis, then project based resourcing, using consultancies, agencies and/or freelancers, may be a better option. The most successful marketing functions we have seen over the past ten years have found ways of working in a highly collaborative and integrated way with strong external partners – over a long period of time. This has enabled them to easily outsource elements of their marketing as and when needed, and thereby always have access to the best skill sets and a good amount of flex in a stable and scalable hybrid marketing team. Circling back to the Renewd discussion, it is important for business leaders and marketing leaders to take full responsibility for building diverse and fit-for-purpose marketing teams. They need to walk in their shoes, and see their perspectives when it comes to working out how best to build a strong marketing function. This includes supporting them in working out what needs to be done inhouse and what should be done by external partners, and then ensuring the right level of executive sponsorship is in place to support the marketing function to succeed. Want to know more about Renewd and the online round-tables you could join? Find out more at https://renewd.net/. Join the community with a free basic membership here.