You can come up with all sorts of marketing strategies that would impress the most discriminating of C-suites; but, if you don't have the right people in place to execute those strategies, all your hard work will have been for naught.

So how do you attract great marketers, keep them happy and productive, and help them reach their full potential? A people strategy.

Effective people strategies are critical to attract, interview, assess, hire, onboard, keep, and promote talented people who can take your organization to the next level.

People strategies also give you the insight you need to choose the right people, identify and capitalize on their skills and talents, and keep them motivated to do great work.

Successful people-strategies capitalize on three winning characteristics: being purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principle-led.

Here is your seven-step people strategy for an unbeatable marketing team.

1. Plan

You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint; the same goes for a people strategy.

If your organization's people strategy isn't carefully and methodically built to endure, it's only a matter of time before the big bad wolf huffs, puffs, and blows your department down.

Ensure that the teams in place have a healthy balance of six essential skills: leadership, creativity, communication, technical savviness, analytical mindset, and social understanding.

Develop a plan to fill any skills gaps with organizational restructuring or, if necessary, new hires. And that takes us to step 2.

2. Attract

The foundation of any people strategy worth its salt lies in attracting the best talent. If your current team has any gaps in skills or knowledge, first consider upskilling, or it might be time for some good old-fashioned employer marketing and heavy recruiting.

Candidates for new positions may be sourced from internal or external sources, but we recommend posting internally first. Ideally, after internal and external outreach, you'll end up with a pile of resumes that you'd eventually weed down to a small group of super-qualified candidates vying for a chance to work for you.

To attract the right people, your employer brand must be on-point. What's attractive to top marketers? Well, the same things that are attractive to everyone: health, wealth, and happiness! But, recently, organizations have adjusted their recruiting strategies to attract more purpose-oriented job seekers.

Your company likely has a mission, purpose, and core values. Organizations today are rife with mission statements and values that might leave you thinking the CEO might be Gandhi himself. But if you want to attract the best people, one of the most important things is for your company to be truly and totally purpose-driven. Your company needs to live and breathe its stated values with every fiber of its being.

If you work for a company with altruistic, "people-first" stated values and principles, those principles will need to be clear through things like mentoring programs, a focus on learning and development, and even paid time off for volunteering.

Other than knowing our work is making a difference in the lives of others, marketers obviously need to make money. Your company's compensation structure will go a long way toward attracting the right people who can help your company grow.

Consider a profitable bonus plan (if Mary's marketing project saves the company $5k, she gets a $2k bonus, for example) or variable pay to ensure that your employee's motivations align with your organization's growth goals.

3. Assess

It's time to assess your team—searching for gaps in skills, passion, or abilities that might ultimately be hindering your company's growth goals.

The key here is to build and support teams that have a healthy balance of these six essential marketing skills: leadership, creativity, communication, technical savviness, analytical mindset, and social understanding.

  • Leadership. All teams need a leader. However, leadership qualities will rarely be confined to just one team member. "Natural" leaders are great listeners, innovative thinkers, problem-solvers, and critical thinkers. They inspire others by simply being themselves and they are the type of people we'd consider role models.
  • Creativity. This is what most people think of when they think of marketers. But creativity doesn't only apply to being "artsy" and good at design or writing. Your team also needs creative thinkers who can come up with new ways to appeal to your audience and creative ways of testing campaigns and analyzing data to make informed decisions and optimize strategies.
  • Communication. The words "marketing" and "communication" can almost be used interchangeably, since communication is at the core of everything marketers do. Look for characteristics of good communicators such as eloquence, brevity, effectiveness, clarity, and persuasiveness (verbal and written).
  • Technical savvy. Your team needs someone who sees mastering new technologies as a labor of love. It's imperative that they consider technology a passion to be explored and not an insurmountable heap of gibberish to be decrypted. They don't need to be a master coder, they just need to have passion. Because where there's passion, there's the ability to learn and grow.
  • Analytical mindset. You can create content all day, but if it's not converting, what's the point? Your team needs someone who is data driven, focused on facts and numbers, and who makes logical, informed decisions. If you can't measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, you won't be able to make changes based on what has been proven to work, and you will be doomed to uncertainty and hasty decision making.
  • Social understanding. This is the "people person" metric. Your team needs an emotionally intelligent, charismatic, friendly person who is extremely relatable. That person will have the ability to tune into your audience to see how your campaign will play out into your market as a whole, and give invaluable insights into the best ways to engage prospects and customers. Bonus, these people will oftentimes be experts in all things social media.

Those skills could, theoretically, reside in only one or two people; but for any marketing team to be successful, the team must ultimately have them all.

4. Hire or restructure

If assessing your team brought any skills gaps to the surface, it's time for organizational restructuring or possibly searching for new talent.

Organizational restructuring could mean employees' switching up roles, or even departments, to make sure you can get the most out of your employees. Ask your employees to reflect on their passions and abilities; you may find that you have all the talent you need in your existing team.

If you must bring on external talent, what does your recruiting strategy look like? As with building buyer personas and catering messaging to the buyer's journey, you need to meet your ideal candidates where they're at: What do they care about? Where do they eat, sleep, and work? What websites do they visit? And what social platforms do they use?

Your potential candidates will only be as good as your recruiting strategy, so consider outsourcing recruitment if resources are scarce.

5. Onboard

Once you decide on the perfect candidate and give them an offer they can't refuse, the process of onboarding begins. For the first week or so, daily check-ins are ideal. After the first couple weeks, check ins should still occur early and often. Even post-onboarding, it's best to have a weekly one-on-one with each team member.

You should have an onboarding path outlined for at least the first 90 days or so, with goals and metrics in place to measure progress: What do they need to accomplish in the first 30 days? 60? 90?

Although encouragement is necessary when warranted, also provide constructive feedback to help your employees flourish.

6. Retain

We marketers are innovative and creative, and we love a challenge. Continually challenge your employees and give them room to grow, improve, and build on their personal brand. What kinds of experiences and hands-on knowledge are you offering them that no one else can?

Your compensation strategy should also go a long way toward motivate, encourage, and retain your team members. Performance-based compensation plans that take into account the performance of the company as a whole are best. Consider bonus plans, variable pay, and incentives that will not only attract the best employees but also keep them in it for the long haul.

Company culture is important for employee retention. If you offer great pay and benefits, but your company is a dreadful, soul-sucking place to work, you will inevitably experience high turnover and poor productivity. Foster a team culture of growth, learning, and upward mobility.

Offsite meetings and events, parties, retreats, and team-building activities will go a long way toward building lasting interpersonal relationships among teammates. Those long-term, meaningful relationships will have a massive positive impact on culture, morale, as well as retention rates.

7. Promote

Be on the lookout for the leaders of tomorrow. Characteristics of potential leaders include being unafraid to speak their mind, being happy and eager to help their peers, and being willing to share credit and authority when appropriate.

Leaders are believers and should show enthusiastic buy-in to your company's core purpose. They must understand the values and goals of the organization and have the soft skills needed to coach and build up others. Leaders should have a service mentality, being completely focused on the team and how they can help people achieve their goals.

To ensure you gain insight and knowledge from all perspectives, practice a healthy balance of external hiring and internal promoting. When you do decide to promote from within, you will motivate your current team; the newly promoted leader will serve as a role model and inspire others at your company to work hard to get ahead.

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How to Build an Outstanding Marketing Team: A Seven-Step 'People Strategy'

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image of Charlotte Willenzik

Charlotte Willenzik is an account based marketing leader, human-to-human content creator, and fierce advocate of second-chance hiring.

LinkedIn: Charlotte Willenzik