Building a marketing team: The power of people plus purpose

27 October 2021| by Paul Avery

Building a marketing team

Effective marketing leadership requires leaders to provide their team with a combination of governance, guidance and autonomy. While marketing directors are ultimately accountable for their team’s performance, each member of the team must contribute in their own unique way to help the organisation deliver on its goals. Thus, the job of the marketing director is to establish the ideal setting and provide the right resources that allow for individuals to do their best work.

Building a successful marketing team begins with having a clearly defined purpose and making sure you have the right people on your team who are aligned with and living that purpose every day.

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Driving performance through team engagement

Every person, like every organisation, is driven by a unique purpose — their reason for getting out of bed in the morning, going to work and giving it their all. Yet, too often, this isn’t what is happening for most employees.

Instead of waking up, motivated to do their best and contribute to their company’s vision, many team members lack true engagement in their work (i.e., they do the bare minimum that’s required of them and leave at 5 o’clock sharp). With little to no sense of purpose, these individuals are motivated by a desire to simply get the job done rather than contribute to something greater than themselves. In fact, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 15 percent of employees report being engaged at work, so this issue is likely to be widespread.

Engagement on an individual level is important. Every person and department plays a critical role in moving the company forward toward achieving its goals and purpose. Without engaged team members, your department could be resigned to mediocre performance and a revolving door of employees.

Having an engaged team is no less critical to the marketing department, which is tasked with defining a company’s target customers and markets, aligning products or services to best meet market needs and shaping all communications to influence your target’s behaviour. As such, it plays an outsized role in helping the company achieve its vision. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your team is not only aware of the company’s purpose and accompanying core values but is also aligned with them, living and breathing them every day.


The importance of why

Each person brings his or her own unique set of values and ambitions to an organisation and role — whether that’s a desire to make the world a better place or something more foundational around their day-to-day needs. The key to inspiring employees to do their best work, however, is finding a way to align your company’s purpose with their own. This begins with having a clearly defined purpose that each person understands and believes in. This approach has even greater power if each person is able to see how their individual success is dependent on — and magnified by — the success of the team.

This type of transparency will help you both attract the right people to your team and gain buy-in from those already on it. With a shared mission, you can feel confident that you are all moving in the right direction.

Having a clear purpose is one thing, but making sure that purpose is woven into all aspects of your business — and that you are engaging employees around it — is another. Yet the importance of doing so cannot be understated. One study, conducted in the U.S. and published by The Conference Board, revealed that disengaged employees cost organisations approximately $450 to $550 billion each year.

Ultimately, giving your team “a reason why” is essential to ensuring that they are engaged and that the marketing department is best positioned to help the company achieve its purpose. Without it, your company’s product or service won’t be able to have the impact on the world that it can and should. In the world of life science, this means robbing scientists, doctors and other life science professionals of the tools and knowledge they need to make the world a better, healthier and safer place for everyone.


Creating a team of like-minded people

Aligning your team around a common purpose is made easier if your team is built up of “the right people”. These are people who not only possess the technical skills to excel in their role (i.e., their role/responsibilities align with their abilities and talents) but their individual core values overlap with the company’s culture. The importance of cultural fit cannot be understated, and assessing for this is best accomplished using your company’s core values as a gauge.

Core values reinforce a company’s shared behavioural principles. Although it’s not usually the job of the marketing director to establish these, it is essential that you make sure everyone on your team is living and breathing the company’s values, letting them inform and guide their actions and work, as they will ideally serve as your department’s north star with regard to decision making.

Your values are also an important part of managing people and should be used as a guide for making choices around hiring, removing and rewarding employees. In practice, core values have an elegant simplicity in that they tend to either resonate with people or they don’t.


Using your core values to build an effective team

It is important to be cognisant of where current members of your team are. One way to do this is to engage in quarterly catch-ups with employees that include discussion of the organisation’s core values. These conversations serve as a great way to measure people and their commitment to the company’s values over time, as people can slip through the cracks or see their dedication wane. (Sooner or later, those who are not a good fit for the organisation usually become clear — both to themselves and their manager — which often leads these individuals to seek a better fit elsewhere.)

In addition to using your company’s core values to manage your team, they can also be utilised to develop and ask questions of prospective employees to determine whether or not an individual would be a good fit for your company and culture. Be sure to look for reinforcing examples in their previous behaviour, as well as any warning signs highlighted by conflicting patterns.


People + Purpose = Progress

Ultimately, for the marketing department to perform at its best, you need to have the right people (those who fit the culture) in the right roles (whose role aligns with their capabilities) all moving in the same direction (toward achieving the company’s purpose). Without this combination, your department risks sabotaging its own progress on the path toward achieving your goals.

However, with the right people on your team working toward a collective purpose, your goal of building a successful marketing team is well within reach, with each team member empowered to do their best work.

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