Wearing many different hats is a part of any small business, but as you expand and grow, allowing members of your team to take on additional tasks can help free up time for work only you can do. As you become more aware of the value of your own time, you’ll want to hand off some activities to motivated and capable employees; and marketing—a time-consuming but essential activity that always benefits from diverse personalities and perspectives—may well be at the top the list. You may well have a marketing star hidden in your organization: here are a few tips for uncovering him or her and bringing out their natural Mad Man.
Experiment by spreading marketing responsibility around
“You just have to give everyone the opportunity,” explains Stella Fayman, CEO and co-founder of Matchist, a startup that connects freelance web and mobile developers with companies looking for talent. By having everyone in her organization working on a wide variety of projects, she’s better able to analyze people’s motivation and ability in many different tasks.
“When we started blogging, we created a Google doc that listed the topics for each blog post, who would write each one, the date it published, and then a checklist of places to do outreach,” Fayman recalls. Her entire staff had to blog at least once a week, and they’d compete to see whose post got the most traffic.
Remember that marketing reaches across your business and talent pool. It isn’t just about writing content or promoting products on social media. It includes marketing research, public relations, advertising and graphic design. Knowing the specific strengths of each of your employees can help you determine where they can best plug into your overall marketing strategy. Let each person take a crack at writing content, pitching in on various social media platforms, speaking with clients, organizing events, and/or giving suggestions for your overall marketing strategy, and keep track of the results.
Create a process
“When your team experiments with writing blog posts or different types of tweets, you should track what works and make a process document out of it. Then you can delegate more easily to your employees, because you have a process written out,” Fayman says.
A process document improves efficiency and eliminates the need to constantly teach new employees the same thing over and over. It also speeds up the learning curve, getting employees up to speed on what’s working across the company and making it easier for them to dip a toe in the marketing field.
Whether one of your employees can pitch in on marketing activities isn’t strictly about talent, but also about how invested they are in those specific projects. “You can tell if it’s something they really enjoy doing,” Fayman said, so even if one of your employees is fairly good at content marketing or speaking with clients, for example, they may not be the best person to work on it if the interest isn’t there. “It’s not worth it to try to force them to do something,” she explains.
Conversely, if someone is very motivated and enjoys marketing, you can work with them to get their skills up to par, either by providing a mentor and additional resources, or by offering feedback and helping your employee set goals to work towards.
Just don’t try to do everything yourself. It can be tempting to redo work you’ve assigned that’s not up to par, but defeats the purpose of delegating activities. Instead, allow people a second chance to improve upon their work by explaining specifically what needs improvement. This helps them develop and grow, as well as improve upon a valuable skill that you can then rely on them to provide for your business with more precision the next time.
Before throwing an employee into the deep end, give them the opportunity to hone and refine their skills by working on tasks that are relatively low-risk. This will help them build confidence and improve their performance, preparing them for increasingly challenging marketing activities where the stakes are higher.
Balance individual voices and brand consistency
“I think a mistake a lot of small businesses make is to look at what competitors are doing, instead of finding their own unique voice,” Fayman says. Instead of having employees read big brand blogs in your industry and try to emulate their style, encourage employees to find their own individual voice.
Allowing for individuality, however, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t stay consistent with what your company as a whole is doing, so it’s important to set parameters and clear expectations. Do you expect your content marketing to be conversational and casual, or a bit more formal? Are you looking for data-driven posts, or for opinions? Letting your team know what the non-negotiables are and where there’s room for individual flair is key.
“When you’re delegating, you have to allow people to take ownership of the project. Allowing them to have some creativity makes it feel like it’s their own, which makes the project more pleasant, fun and motivating,” Fayman says.
She encouraged each of her employees to maintain their distinct voice, so long as the content was valuable to readers, honest and transparent, and included links to good sources. “Some of our team members had more of a sense of humor,” she said, such as Rishi Kumar’s post on why investors care about the most useless slide in your pitch deck. Other posts included more technical information, such as Tim Jahn’s post on the difference between a domain name and hosting. These posts were radically different but were both acceptable, since they met the criteria described above.
We mentioned gauging employee’s motivation and engagement in different marketing activities as a key indicator of who should continue working in this department. Setting clear expectations and goals and analyzing customer engagement, conversion and sales will help the hidden marketers in your company rise to the top.
This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.
© 2013 – 2014, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.