Building Your Marketing Team
No matter your business goals, a strong marketing team is critical to help drive more sales and attract and retain customers.
By Elsbeth Russell
While marketing may be crucial to the foundation of a successful business, it can often be difficult for owners to justify the investment of building out a team. When she was the sole marketing employee for central Ohio's Moo Moo Express Car Wash, Beth Martin found herself in this tricky position.
Are You Ready for a Team?
“Sometimes in this industry we've got owner-operators who are used to doing it all,” Martin said. “They're used to doing the marketing and the operations and the finance, so to go to the owner and say, ‘I need a team of people,’ the concept was met with some hesitation at first.
“I went from being just a solo marketing consultant to starting to build out the team and it took time,” said Martin, who now leads a marketing team of six at Express Wash Concepts, the parent company of five car wash brands with about 75 locations, including Moo Moo Express. “It takes time to really discover what your particular needs are.”
For teams who are ready to grow but hesitant to invest in a full marketing team, Martin said having the data to back up the investment is key.
“The bread and butter of our business is our Unlimited Wash Club and we've been able to prove through the years that a lot of that is built through marketing's efforts to get the people on site,” Martin said. “I think that we've just been fortunate to have the numbers that justify bringing on the additional bodies.
“It's just kind of putting in your time, understanding, being responsible with your budget and then presenting the case that this is what I need for us to continue to be successful,” she said.
Building Your Team Structure
When you’re ready to hire a marketing department it can be overwhelming to consider the different roles you need on your team.
HubSpot, an industry leading marketing, sales, and customer service platform, advises that small- to medium-sized businesses (between 5-100 employees) would benefit from the following team members in the following roles:
- Social Media
Skills needed: Content creation, graphic design, basic SEO knowledge, social media management, project management.
- Search Engine Optimization
Skills needed: Writing, editing, problem-solving, experience with programming and technical thinking, analytics, spreadsheets, drive, the ability to adapt.
Skills needed: Customer service, excellent written and verbal communication, customer-obsession, solution-driven mindset, collaborative and approachable spirit, attention to detail.
- Content Creation
Skills needed: Writing, editing, organization, creative problem-solving, multimedia production, photography, graphic design, spirit of collaboration.
- Web Design
Skills needed: Programming, Creative Suite programs, interpersonal communication, website and email design, user-experience orientation, content management software, understanding of web standards and best practices, SEO skills.
While this is a common and recommended structure, your team needs to reflect the roles needed to reach your marketing goals. And in many cases, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of having a position inhouse vs. outsourcing. For example, with SEO, it may make sense to work with specialized agencies to help fill this need.
At Express Wash Concepts the marketing team includes Martin, a digital marketing director, a digital marketing coordinator, a senior creative manager, a marketing specialist, and a grand opening marketing coordinator.
“I love the structure in that they all kind of have their own little niches, but then we're very collaborative as a team,” Martin said.
While Martin said she has long envisioned this structure for her team, she’s quick to point out the importance of considering all of the different options.
“There are extremely talented freelancers and agencies out there, you just have to decide what the best strategy is for you,” Martin said. “It may not be a full time person. It may be someone on a contract basis. So don't be afraid to look at all the options that are out there.”
When it comes to agency work in the car wash industry, Mike Berlin, the GM & VP of sales for SLAM CarWash Marketing, is a veteran. The full-service marketing agency has deep roots in the car wash industry and was acquired by Sonny’s The Car Wash Factory in 2019.
For those who are unsure about hiring an outside agency to do marketing work, Berlin said, it's almost like hiring someone to clean your house.
“You could totally do it, but if you hire somebody they’ll probably be a little more efficient because they do it every day,” he said.
Berlin said that customers often contract with SLAM to help with more highly-specialized focuses like branding, website creation or establishing an online presence. Berlin said in most cases it doesn’t make sense to bring in full time staff for those types of duties but once a brand is established he recommends hiring a dedicated social media manager.
“That's a very easy thing to take on because it's localized and it's done really well if you've got somebody on the ground there locally,” he said. “They can go out and gather real content.”
Martin is also a proponent of investing in a boots-on-the-ground team member who can connect with the community.
“I've always been of the opinion that we need the bodies to do more of the grassroot stuff because it's more impactful than anything that you could pay to get,” she said. “We've always focused on more grassroots in relationship marketing as opposed to allocating huge amounts of spend for print ad or digital ad campaigns.”
Finding the Right People
When you’re building your team you’re likely limited to just one or two new employees at a time. At the same time, there are likely myriad roles you may want to fill, from content creation to graphic design to digital marketing and social media.
In this case, Berlin suggests starting with a generalist in the beginning.
“You want to hire somebody that's sort of a Swiss Army knife,” he said. “I'd go after an extrovert that is really connected with the community. Someone who's got a brand new iPhone and a big personality. You want somebody who will know and understand the car wash brand and be playful. Who’ll go take cool pictures and celebrate the crew on social media and those kinds of things.”
At Express Wash Concepts, Martin chose employees who had specialized experience in certain areas, while also looking for team players who could help pitch in wherever help was needed.
“As you go through your career, you learn that you can't do it all and you learn how to identify the people who are going to come in and take your department to the next level,” she said. “My goal has always been to hire people smarter than me and I'm not afraid to say that. I know what my strengths are. I know what my team's strengths are and I want people that are smarter than me.”
While you may need to look outside your organization to fill these types of specialized roles, Martin also said you shouldn’t overlook current employees who may have interest or skill in the areas where you need help.
“Don't be afraid to ask for help and also look to the field because more than likely you've got some pretty digitally savvy people that are on your team who may really want the opportunity,” Martin said. “Always keep your eye out for people on your teams that you can leverage.”
Whether you’re looking for a specialized role or a generalist, Martin said hiring a team player who can pitch in where help is needed is key.
“I've been very cognizant of hiring people who have specific strengths in specific areas,” Martin said. “You want people who are more specialized in their field, but then also have the capability, you know, to step in and do other things.”
While you may hire with a specific purpose in mind, it’s important to remember that much of marketing is about learning about an audience and testing different strategies to find what works for your business.
“So much of marketing is not an exact science,” Martin said. “It's just giving yourself the grace to try different tactics and really see what works for you, and then understand that what works today probably may shift – probably will likely shift – tomorrow, next month or next year.”
Looking for a new marketing hire? These titles were included on a list published by The American Marketing Association. Compiled by ZipRecruiter, the list includes the top marketing jobs ranked by job volume on its website, from January through April 2021.
Entry Level Sales Marketing
Entry Level Marketing Assistant
Digital Marketing Manager
Junior Marketing Associate
Sales and Marketing Representative
Entry Level Marketing Representative
Product Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Specialist
Sales and Marketing Associate
Marketing Sales Representative
Director of Marketing
When it does come time to interview team members for marketing roles, LinkedIn recommends several specific interview questions to help you make sure you’ve found the right employee.
What’s your understanding of our target audience and how we help them?
“Effective marketing is about understanding and meeting customer needs. You want to know that your candidate has taken the time to research your company and familiarize themselves with the people you serve. That genuine curiosity and empathy is the foundation of marketing success — if they don’t have it, why would they want to market on behalf of your organization?”
Tell me about a product that you successfully marketed. What was your strategy and who was your audience? What channels did you use and how did you measure the impact?
“One of the best ways to predict how well a candidate would run your marketing campaigns is to learn how they handled a previous one. You want to know that they can plan, launch, and measure a campaign, overseeing the efforts of their team and making strategic adjustments along the way to optimize the outcome."
Describe a situation when you had to work with a highly creative group of people with differing opinions. How did you handle the situation to keep the project on track?
“This question is designed to screen for collaboration skills. Marketing managers need to be team players, but they also need to be capable of steering the team toward a common goal. Since people won’t always agree, this may require making tough decisions. Top marketing managers always put the needs of the project first, while still making everyone feel heard.”