Marketing is a highly collaborative discipline. It requires a team dedicated to its brand and expert knowledge in many different areas. Being the leader of such a team requires that you keep both internal and external lines of communication open, and given the remote nature of the current workforce, that task is now more important, and more difficult, than ever.
In the advertising and marketing world, communicating creative ideas remotely has become a science. Knowing how to read beyond the silence on the other end of the line, interpreting revisions from multiple people, and keeping a project from getting out of control are all part of having a better understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of managing and/or working on a remote marketing team.
The following five tips will help you create the foundation upon which you can build and manage your remote marketing team and assets. These tips come from decades-worth of experience working with clients and team members throughout the world. Although many may sound like common sense, the reality is that implementing your plan can be as tricky as herding cats. The “new normal” trend for the rest of 2020 and beyond might just be the continued growth of remote work arrangements; especially in marketing departments. It’s time to pivot and put your credit union and your team on the forefront of marketing responsiveness.
These tips will be important for credit union employees throughout your organization, but considering your marketing team is supposed to be the most well-versed in your culture and values, you’ll want to go the extra mile with them.
1. Reevaluating your team and setting expectations
As you know, managing a remote marketing team isn’t without its unique challenges. While some team members rise to the occasion, others fall short. Someone may have been a star at the office but is now struggling to manage their duties. Some of the challenges your team might be facing include self-management, communication skills, organization skills, and time-management skills, as well as the ability to work autonomously and make decisions independently. Understanding that your overall team’s strengths and weaknesses have changed is the first step to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your team.
Identifying talent that prospers remotely and those that might be struggling will help you know where to focus your attention. It will not only help you get up-to-speed quicker but it will also help you avoid barriers that can lead to miscommunications, errors, and delays.
Left unchecked, frustrated teammates can also affect corporate culture. Talk with your team, and share your plan with them. Encourage them as they begin to find a rhythm and provide resources to help them improve their new work environment. Set expectations so that they understand the mission and make sure to let them know how they are doing - good or bad. You are not in the room to provide them with any non-verbal encouragement as they pass you in the hall so it’s up to you to let them know.
2. Reinforcing your credit union’s vision and values
Your team is no longer surrounded by your credit union’s brand or, even more importantly, its culture. The feeling of being disconnected from your credit union’s brand can be a threat when asking your team to be creative. Take the initiative to remind them what your organization is all about. Throw a virtual pep rally to get them excited and to let them know that the team is still the same team they know and love. Be sure to include your outside advertising agency and any other critical marketing partners. This is especially important for remote marketing team members as they are in charge of communicating your brand and that can be difficult if they aren’t physically immersed in your culture every day.
This ultimately is what will shape your brand’s identity, your future marketing and, in turn, your brand’s culture. If your team doesn’t understand or is not aligned on where they want to be, you’re more likely to end up clashing or miscommunicating.
3. Establishing processes and providing guidance
In order for your remote marketing team to work independently and effectively, they need to understand internal workflows, communication protocols, and other operational procedures. Since marketing teams often require close collaboration between team members in order to execute on a campaign, streamlined processes and clear expectations enable your team to function efficiently while ensuring consistent quality in their work. To accomplish this with remote marketing team members, there need to be processes in place to ensure the work adheres to your organization's standards and timelines. Processes can also help avoid miscommunication, bottlenecks, and delays, which are common pitfalls when team members aren’t working in the same office.
4. Using cloud-based collaboration tools
There are a myriad of online project management and collaboration tools available, many for free. These are especially important for remote marketing team members who may be given a set of tasks that are critical to have completed in a specific timeline so that other team members can start or conclude their work.
ActiveCollab (The Pod's project management tool), Wrike, and Asana, for example, give project managers the ability to assign and set clear deadlines for each team member’s tasks and, once completed, the assets and subsequent tasks are assigned to the next team member who is handling them.
Some additional cloud-based applications you should consider implementing include a document-sharing platform (like Dropbox or Google Drive) and a password-management application (like LastPass or PassPack).
In addition to project and asset management tools, there are also chat tools to keep your team connected. Find one that allows you to create chat groups that are specific to a project. Chat tools can also be used to build team camaraderie which naturally happens in a traditional work environment where employees gather to discuss current events, latest TV shows, etc but it can be quickly missed when remote. If you are using a company-wide chat tool, like Google Hangouts, create a specific channel just for these types of interactions. Having an informal open communication channel helps remote team members feel connected to the company culture and can be another opportunity to reaffirm the organization’s values.
Before any decision are made on the above mentioned tools, you'll want to be sure to consult your IT team. They will be able to perform security analysis to determine the security viability of each service as it relates to your credit unions protocols. In general, it's a good practice to avoid including sensitive member data on these platforms.
My advice is to keep it simple. Do your research and find the ones that best fit your workflow: many applications offer a trial period for free to ensure it’s a good match. Take advantage of those opportunities proactively before making any financial investment.
5. Measuring success and improving
Lastly, you will need to track the performance of your remote marketing team. This helps establish a common ground for supervisors and employees to evaluate performance objectively so team members can get the appropriate support and resources to do their jobs well. It is the only way to know definitively if your team is accomplishing the goals you need them to.
For your remote marketing team, identify the right key performance indicators to measure productivity and results (i.e. website traffic, leads, etc.)