A star baseball player does not make a winning team. (Arguably, this is not the case with football. I’m looking at you, Tom Brady.) With baseball, it’s the collective skills of the team members that agglomerate to make a championship franchise.
Marketing operates the same way. You can’t have just one standout colleague and expect your department to produce its best work. In an age where terms like “integrated,” “multichannel” and “omnichannel” ubiquitously precede the word “marketing,” running a siloed operation is going to result in costly inefficiencies and disjointed campaigns, which ultimately means diminished returns on your firm’s investment.
What does a winning marketing team look like? Just like in baseball, the roles are not interchangeable. You need a team with different skills for different areas. Marketing departments come in all sizes, and small departments or solo marketers can build a winning roster by taking on a key role: team manager.
Solo Marketer? Be the Coach
Many law firms operate with a solo marketer running the firm’s entire marketing initiative. This can work if that marketer is less a player and more a manager. There are just too many tasks under the marketing umbrella for a department of one to be the only on-the-ground talent. Their success is contingent on scouting for talent and then encouraging them to produce their best work.
If you’re a solo marketer, or even a scrappy, understaffed marketing department, building out your team doesn’t necessarily mean hiring full-time employees. For many solo marketers, working with outside vendors — whether agencies or freelancers — is a resource-effective way to beef up and cut back on the ebb and flow of marketing work.
Of course, convincing those who control the budget to invest in new talent or outside partnerships can be a challenge. But that’s a skill all its own and a post for another day.
Building Your Team
Who should be on your marketing team? What skills do you need at your disposal to be successful in the competitive, and often cutthroat, business world of today?
Here’s the roster of talent I recommend you scout for.
- A digital generalist: If you can’t afford a bunch of specialists, then invest in a digital generalist. That’s a term I just made up to describe a digital marketer with familiarity in a number of digital marketing tactics, including websites, social media, email, search and display advertising. This person might not know all there is to know about running a paid LinkedIn campaign, but they have enough knowledge and the vocabulary to work with someone who does.
- Graphic designers: Canva can only get you so far. If you want professional-quality visuals, you’re going to need a graphic designer. You don’t necessarily have to rely on the same one for every project, since different projects may each require their own unique esthetics. But definitely amass a bullpen of talent you can call on when needed.
- Writers: Similar to graphic designers (but often less-appreciated because everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word but not everyone knows Adobe InDesign), writers are important talent to have on standby. Not every writer is a good fit for every project, so maintain a pool of candidates you can tap into depending on a project’s parameters.
- A social media manager: You might not think maintaining a handful of social media accounts requires a dedicated individual, but doing social media the right way is not a passive task. You need someone with community management skills, a knack for pithy writing and some technical knowledge who isn’t going to accidentally mix up their personal account with your firm’s.
- A web developer: While many marketers have the technical prowess to make adjustments to a website’s content using a user-friendly content management system (CMS), not everyone is going to have the technical chops to review and fiddle with code and actually upgrade or change the structure of a website. For this, you’re going to want a dedicated web developer you can call on to make site updates on an as-needed basis. Ideally, this will be the entity you used to create the website in the first place.
Where’s the Talent?
Finding qualified outside contractors and vendors is not always easy. RFPs can help with the process. This competitive process can help you price-shop and get a sense of the quality of work a candidate is able to produce — but it doesn’t necessarily give you a great sense of personality, which is critical to the team dynamic.
I find referrals to be one of the best ways to find a professional I like working with. If I like and respect someone’s work and they have someone they like and respect, odds are that I will like and respect the person they are referring. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s better than posting an ad on Craigslist and crossing your fingers.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention agencies like Jaffe. We’re the kind of multi-service outsider that plays well with small in-house marketing teams. If you’re looking for a variety of talent all in one place, going with an outside agency like ours can be a wise logistical decision.
Do you have questions about what talent a legal marketing team needs to be successful? Contact me, Keith Ecker, at firstname.lastname@example.org.