Think of a strong marketing team. Are you imagining a huge budget and a team full of qualified marketers? Well, for many businesses, that's no longer necessarily the case.
The strongest marketing teams consist of marketers who know how to allocate their time and resources in the smartest way. With a poor strategy, even teams with enormous budgets can squander their resources and get lower results than a smart, small, and nimble marketing team.
It's about doing more with less.
In the words of Paul Jarvis in Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business:
"Smart small businesses question their systems, processes and structure to become more efficient and to achieve more with the same number of employees and fewer hours of work."
With a focused marketing strategy, it's never been easier for small businesses to access the best marketing results — no huge ad spend or manpower required.
8 Steps to Building a Strong Marketing Team
From refining your focus to understanding your audience, here's how to build the strongest small marketing team without increasing your budget or workload.
1. Understand your customers and what matters to them.
Effective marketing starts with a 360-degree understanding of your leads and customers and how you can give them the most value.
Remember that the most important people to your business are those who are already giving you money — your current customers. When they are happy, you have a tribe of people who will promote your business for you at every opportunity.
A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit, according to Bain & Company.
By understanding your current customers, you can also understand the types of people you want to attract. Use a tool like the Value Proposition Canvas to define your core customer profiles and visualize the value you create. Then you can pivot your marketing and product to relieve pain and create gains for even more customers.
2. Focus on the 20% of the work that brings 80% of the results.
Where do your current marketing leads come from? Which marketing leads convert to customers? And which marketing channels are your happiest and highest-paying customers using?
It's time to get crystal clear on where your marketing spend has the highest ROI. These are the channels, tactics, and strategies that are worth the most to your small marketing team.
By following the Pareto principle, your team should focus on the 20% of your marketing efforts that bring in 80% of the impact.
The marketing strategy with the highest ROI tends to be email, as explained in Campaign Monitor's The New Rules of Email Marketing:
However, keep in mind that every single business and customer base is different. What marketing strategies can you prove work for you? Answer this to find the most valuable use for your restricted marketing budget.
3. Share value and offer solutions.
In her book Chillpreneur, entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas summarizes her wisdom on marketing for small businesses in just a few words: "Share and make offers."
"Share your knowledge, expertise, advice, tips, experience, horror stories, mistakes, and successes with people. And then, offer a solution."
Although you can (and should) offer a lot of wide-reaching value with an inbound marketing approach — such as valuable blog posts and resources — the solution you offer to the right people can ultimately be your product or service.
After a personalized and carefully curated lead nurturing process, your "buy now" button is the end destination at the bottom of your marketing funnel.
4. List and audit all of your marketing projects.
Strong small marketing teams know that they can't do everything. It's impossible to follow every trend and best practice, especially when you're marketing on a budget.
To understand where you can free up your marketing team's time to focus on what's most valuable, first identify what your team is currently working on.
What projects are running? What tasks do you and your fellow marketers have on your to-do lists?
With a project management tool, you can increase the visibility of what's going on in your marketing team. This makes it much easier to assess what's worth continuing to spend time on and what isn't a priority for your team right now.
As an example, this Trello template offers a handy company overview that quickly shows everything going on from a high-level perspective:
5. Routinely question how you do things.
One piece of advice in Paul Jarvis's book Company of One is to routinely check your small business processes and look for areas to optimize and ideally automate. He encourages business owners to ask:
"Is this process efficient enough? What steps can be removed and the end result will be the same or better? Is this rule helping or hindering our business?"
The end goal here is simplicity, Paul explains. "Having too many products or services, too many layers of management, and/or too many rules and processes for completing tasks leads to atrophy. Simplicity has to be a mandate."
How can you simplify processes and introduce more automation? As an easy first step, look at marketing automation tools to streamline workflows and integration tools for automatic data syncing between apps. These are two of the best ways to improve results in your small business with less effort.
6. Check your marketing tech stack.
What marketing tools is your small business using right now? To build the strongest small marketing team, you need a strong marketing stack — or a selection of tools you use to power your marketing.
Most marketing teams see the best results when they put their CRM tool at the center of their operations. This centralizes data and gives an easy view of all of the contacts, leads, and customers in your sales and marketing pipelines.
With an all-in-one CRM and marketing tool like HubSpot, you can carry out tasks like email sending, marketing automation, and content management in one place.
Otherwise, your small business can use standalone tools and sync them with your CRM for seamless data flows.
7. Integrate your business tools.
One of the biggest advantages of integrating your apps is that it helps you do more with less — less time, less budget, and less people. A two-way data syncing solution can connect contact data between all of your business tools — in your marketing team and beyond.
Not only does this streamline your processes, but it also solves the time-consuming problems of data silos and messy CSV imports and exports. It's an easy solution for your marketing team to...
- Leverage all available customer data for marketing campaigns;
- Automate data management
- Segment email lists based on the latest data in all apps
- Immediately update opt-ins and opt-outs across all tools
8. Follow a business-wide philosophy of doing more with less.
Doing more with less doesn't just apply to your marketing team. You can build a small and mighty sales team or customer support team by refining your focus on where the results come from and creating super-streamlined processes.
What other processes can you streamline, automate and spend more or less time on across your small business?