A focus on teamwork will pay off

The team is an important aspect of marketing that is often overlooked, while getting teams to work well together will also bring benefits for firms, says Jeff Knight, managing director of Tonic Marketing Solutions

Jeff Knight
Jeff Knight

The other day I read an amusing review of a television programme which I’m glad to say I did not watch. I forget the name of the show but essentially it involved someone claiming he could generate great teamworking in a company through his unusual approach.

And his approach is indeed unusual. He encourages everyone to come to work on one day naked, claiming this breaks down barriers.
One of the things I do is provide coaching and development for marketing teams, and this is an approach I have never thought of – thank goodness, as it is utter nonsense.

Teamwork is something that is often talked about but how much attention is given to enhancing it?

But it is essential for firms because to deliver greater profits they need powerful teams, within as well as across departments.
In my experience, teamwork can be enhanced by having greater self-awareness, more awareness of others, more motivation and more effective communication skills.

Alongside this, individuals need self-regulation, which is why feedback and regular one-to-ones are vital.

Good teamwork will be delivered through effective training and development, helping individuals know more about themselves and others, and building on strengths.

Common issues
Before I set up my own business I did a fair bit of research. This took me outside the mortgage market into fast-moving consumer goods and other service areas, but I was amazed to find common issues among marketeers.

Bearing in mind that my research was undertaken in the depth of a recession I found that the key issues were that marketeers did not think they got on well enough with their team members and the sales department, neither did they feel that firms were investing enough in their career development.

I heard comments such as “I don’t get on with my team – they just want to do their own thing” and “Our product team never tells us when we are about to launch new products until the last minute”.

I also heard “Our sales force never gets behind our campaigns” and “The market is changing but I’m losing out because I’m not learning new skills”.
It was hearing such comments that inspired me to do what I do now – I wanted to sort out these team issues.

Strength from within
It amazes me how quickly companies forget how important their employees are. Every business wants their marketing to deliver better results on smaller budgets but they miss the obvious point – to do this, they have to invest more in their teams.

Marketing is not delivered by robots but by people, and if people develop their skills it will benefit the company.

The sales department is invaluable to marketeers when it comes to product design and finding out what the competition is up to. Working with sales is not about compromise, it’s about synergy

Continuous personal development is one of the key components of effective marketing. Personal development is an inner strength while differentiation is an outer strength, so companies must invest in this area. It’s easy to slash training budgets in a downturn but it’s not smart.

Personal development can take many guises. Intellectual development involves enhancing what you do – developing marketing and business skills.

But emotional development is about enhancing how you do things. This starts with knowing and understanding your strengths and building a development programme around these.

The more you know about yourself and each other, the more productive teamwork will be. You can also enhance your communication skills and build stronger relationships.

One of my favourite training sessions is where people learn about their natural talents through a Strengths Finder assessment. It is through their natural talents that people have the greatest opportunity for growth, and when this is combined with skills and knowledge they have real power.

But this is not only about individuals. People also learn about others. The net result is that individuals and the group become more motivated and profitable. People work better together, are more efficient and deliver better marketing.

I’ve been on a huge number of team building events and undertaken many psychometric tests and I can safely say that the Strengths Finder approach is by far the best tool for developing a powerful team.

Bring teams together
Don’t restrict this approach to your marketing team. Use the same principle to bring your sales and marketing teams closer together. It’s funny how so many companies lump sales and marketing together.

The truth is that if sales and marketing teams do not work effectively together the result is lost business and higher costs. Bringing them closer delivers real benefits.

Marketing teams cannot develop new products and campaigns in an ivory tower. They must build relationships with their sales counterparts. Of course, the sales department is at the sharp end of the business, and the team here can deliver insight into the needs of customers.

It should be obvious that sales people are invaluable to marketers when it comes to product design and finding out what the competition is up to. Working with sales is not about compromise, it’s about synergy.

Bringing teams closer is vital in a difficult market. Good teamwork will lead to more effective and efficient marketing and sales efforts.

It doesn’t matter how good your team is, it can and must always get better. And the sharper and fitter your people are, the more productive your marketing will be.