The demand on digital skills has never been stronger. It is becoming clear that all marketing teams need to adapt to the changes, or risk missing opportunities to grow their business. So, how do you build a digital marketing team?
 
Lara Lee recently caught up with Matt Marlow, who we recently placed as Digital Director at an award winning online travel retailer, with a view to pick his brains on his thoughts on the best way to grow the digital capability in your marketing team.  
 
What would you say to someone considering growing an in-house digital team?

It’s a no-brainer, the way that every industry is progressing is more towards digital. There is an old saying that half of your marketing activity works but you don’t know which half.  When it comes to digital, that’s changed. Everything can be fully tracked (or can be if you set it up correctly!). So, you can have your finger on the pulse of the business, and you are able to track everything that’s working.

For those that haven’t fully made the step, perhaps still analysing and trying to make the business case… you just have to do it. At some point everything we do is going to have a digital dimension to it. The quicker you start to learn what works for your business … quicker you can scale up and make the technology work for you.

Where would you start with a digital strategy?

Everything must be tailored towards the objectives of the business and the appetite to constantly review and change their models. The most important thing is flexibility and bringing the right people in at the start who can grow and can change as the nature and requirements of the business change.

There is not one solution that fits everyone. It is important to understand the dynamics of the business and the triggers that are going to move you forward and constantly playing to those triggers. Make sure that you have a talent progression process in place, that takes your people with you on the journey.

Many clients outsource digital skills to agencies, what is your opinion on this?

The best solution is a hybrid model, so you have the skillset in house and you really develop the team. They are the ones who are closest to the business, that are going to understand the impact of what they are doing and will be the first to see how things are working.

I think it is also important to have an Agency partner because they are external facing, they have a better view of what’s happening in the industry. If you focus them on strategic activity you can future proof the business and push into new opportunities.

What core skills should an outstanding digital marketing manager have?

Everything comes down to relationships and how you build relationships with people in the business. It is more on the softer skills level, even when you are working with some of your technical partners it’s about how to inspire them to deliver against your deadlines, how you motivate them to keep pushing the boundaries of what they can do to help you and how they can go the extra mile.

The marketing function is not an island, it has to be integral to the rest of the business. For us as a service business, every contact we have with a customer is a form of marketing and it’s all about building this experience from the inside outwards. It is critical for your team members to look for opportunities to bring you closer to the business, making sure the whole organisation is delivering impactful marketing.

You have to be open to change, the whole digital industry is changing at a phenomenal pace. You look around and whole business models are being completely changed overnight. The way that business typically ran yesterday is very different to how they are running now, so whoever is in your digital team they have to be constantly looking at that landscape and what they can learn from what the new breed of business are doing and how they can bring some of that learning in house. 
 
If you considering your growth plans for 2020, get in contact with your blueskies consultant for market specific advice. 

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