4 Tips for Inspiring Your Marketing Teams

On LinkedIn, workers regularly gripe about management techniques that crush their spirits and demotivate them. Why do managers sometimes miss the mark? Their interests are aligned. Inspired workers create better work. A marketing campaign is positively impacted when the right creative minds are energized, synergized, and brimming with ideas.

But it doesn’t always happen. There is a fine line between pushing employees to their maximum potential and overworking them to the point of burnout, or micromanaging their efforts. Additionally, compulsory meetings with scattershot agendas can act as a distraction for self-driven, skilled workers. Ultimately, these factors impact employee retention. According to a recent study, the number of self-employed Americans could triple by 2020. Millennial workers, in particular, seem to value their independence.

But corporate hierarchies don’t necessarily have to look like the Death Star. We reached out to top marketers to find out how they inspire their teams. This is their guidance.

1. The Single Greatest Virtue in a Leader Is Humility

“I believe the single greatest virtue in a leader is humility. It’s different from self-depreciation and a far cry from insecurity. In fact, it’s the opposite, because I don’t think you can truly be humble until you’re confident enough to recognize you don’t know it all. And you don’t have to. Isn’t it inspiring when you see a leader openly acknowledge when he or she doesn’t know the answer and seeks input from someone else? 

Or when the most senior member of the team sits down and asks the one who came up with the idea to stand up? Leading with humility is particularly difficult in creative businesses like marketing and communications… where we often only feel as strong as our last moment of creative inspiration, and it’s a race to the boss or clients’ office to deliver the big idea.

But that’s why humility can be even more powerful in our business because maybe if we stop loudly talking about how great we think our idea is, we will clear the air for the quiet genius among us.”

— Mike Doyle, Partner & Regional President, North America, Ketchum

2. Recognize Each Team Member as a Unique Individual

“Managers should always recognize that each team member is motivated by a different reward, whether that be money, recognition/attention, or more opportunities for self-development. Too often, we see that managers tend to group their members into an undifferentiated clump, where each member is rewarded in the exact same way. However, it is vital to get to know each person as a unique individual.

For example, scheduling one-on-one meetings each week to discuss how each team member feels they are performing and progressing in their position, along with what their manager can do to help support, would be extremely helpful and insightful. 

When each member is personally accounted for, this will help to inspire more creativity and productivity in a marketing team.”

— Tracy Julien, VP of Marketing, GuidedChoice 

3.     Clearly Understand the Mission and the Team as a Whole

“Inspiration is rarely a pre-packaged sentiment. Inspiration requires a deep understanding of a problem and presents an attainable solution expressed with absolute sincerity. In marketing, inspiration can be derived from management’s implicit faith that each individual marketer can have a real impact on what the team or company is collectively trying to achieve. 

Instead of saying, ‘You need to do this,’ managers should approach a situation with the mentality of ‘This is what we are trying to achieve together, and I believe that your unique abilities are absolutely critical to the success of this initiative.’

True inspiration for marketing comes from individuals understanding their role within a team and how they are necessary for everyone’s success. ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’”

— Sam Feldotto, a B2B consultant helping companies align their sales and marketing teams

4.     Earn Their Trust by Providing Value on an Individual Level

“I once assumed a new role that found me leading many more people at a more senior level than I’d experienced before. As I focused on, and often struggled to, earn the full group’s trust, I received some terrific advice from a mentor of mine. 

He said, ‘Dig deep with them and uncover one problem each of them is grappling with. What’s that one issue that you could uniquely help them solve? And help them solve it. Don’t solve it for them, but clear the way for it to be done. But here’s the trick – do it quietly. 

Earn their trust individually by helping them with something they’d value. They’ll never forget it.’ I’ve lived by that guidance in every new role or team dynamic and it works.”

— Mike Doyle, Partner & Regional President, North America, Ketchum

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