11 Building Blocks to a High Performance Inbound Marketing Team Pt. 2

Many moons ago, when I was working as a gravedigger in London, I had the opportunity for a little promotion. The new job would have been that of a horse-drawn hearse driver. So, I enrolled in a driving course to get my driving licence for horse and cart.

In that course, among others, we learnt that the ideal number of horses needed to draw a cart is four.

Not 2, 8 or 16.

It turns out there is an exponential relationship between the number of horses (pulling power) and the effort to manage them.

My driving instructor explained this interesting phenomenon to me: that four horses give you the highest pulling power for the effort it takes to manage them.

With 2 horses, pulling power drops drastically, but the managing effort reduces only a little.

With 8 or 16 horses, pulling power increases quite a bit, but managing effort skyrockets. So, the pulling power increase becomes moot.

And this same applies to teams.

In economics, there is a concept called the economies of scale and diseconomies of scale. The essence is the there is an ideal number of staff members that can produce a product or render a service under the most cost-effective circumstances.

For instance, a surgeon all by himself is not very effective at performing life-saving surgeries. But with a team of other specialists, like an anesthesiologist and a couple of various specialized nurses, now he can do great and valuable work.

But effectiveness would be compromised if there were five anesthesiologists and a two dozens of nurses in the operating theater.

Production costs would skyrocket while the clinic’s productivity (revenue per employee or profit per employee) would nosedive.

In every industry, there is an optimum number of team members that can produce the highest value at the lowest operating cost.

For instance, Google’s 2015 revenue per employee was $1,205,892 with $250,367 (20.76%) profit per employee.

Yahoo’s revenue per employee was $449,818 with $54,182 (12.05%) profit per employee.

Granted, there are many factors responsible for the difference, but one is optimum staffing.

But just as horses are hard the manage, human teams are even harder. One of the reasons is that while teams of horses can be managed, teams of humans must be led.

There is an exponential relationship between the number of team members and the effort of managing them.

The number of connections between team members represent the complexity of leading them and coordinating their work.

Total number of connections = (N * (N-1)) / 2      N is the number of team members

For 4: (4 * 3) / 2 = 6

For 8: (8 * 7) / 2 = 28

A 100% increase in the size of the team (from 4 to 8) and a 366% increase in effort to lead the team.

It means that when you double your team, that new team had better generate at least 366% more profit than the original team. Otherwise the whole exercise is as pointless as bald men fighting over a comb.

So, now, after this vital introduction, we can take a closer look at…

The Key Roles In A High Performing Inbound Marketing Team

Here we outline a few roles that you’re likely to find at larger companies, and for smaller firms; some roles are missing as their operations are flatter.

1. Senior Inbound Marketing Leader

In smaller companies, it’s the CEO or the owner of the business. In larger companies this person usually is the Marketing Manager or Director of Marketing.

This person has an excellent strategic understanding of business and marketing and thinks in terms of bottom line results, after all he or she is the guardian of ROI, measuring the return on inbound marketing.

Ideally, this person has subject matter expertise and industrial experience in the target market the business markets and sells to.

Also, this person needs a good understanding of finances, for he of she determines, assigns and monitors the company’s inbound marketing budget.

For instance, if you sell to the military, ideally this person is a military vet with an honorable discharge.

If you sell to manufacturing companies, ideally this person is a former manufacturing operations manager who understands both the strategic (big picture) and the tactical (details).

Also, this person, aided and supported by HR specialists, is the recruiter for the rest of the team. If you want to build a committee of bureaucrats or an efficient work group of merely competent clones, then dump the role on HR and you get what you wish for.

You’ll get a bunch of appropriately schooled posers who are utterly useless in the real world.

We’re talking about marketing here. You need people who understand and appreciate profits.

And where do you find profit-oriented people?

Instead of a straight answer, here is something for you to chew on…

In 2002, American Enterprise Magazine in Washington, D.C., examined the political orientation of college professors in 20 colleges and universities.

The skinny of the study is that the majority of professors (86% of non-business professors and 52% business professors) are self-proclaimed Marxists, embracing socialism, the welfare state, big government, strong unions and big regulation, while resenting free market, profits, individuality and entrepreneurism.

The results were reinforced in an article by George F. Will in the 28 Nov 2004 issue of the Washington Post: Academia, Stuck To the Left.

So, what do you expect of graduates after four or more years of brainwashing? Yes, sheepskin and lots of entitlement.

I know there are exceptions, but let’s get real. As the saying goes, one swallow doesn’t make summer.

Under the “Inbound Marketing Team” we’re going to write about what credentials to respect and what to laugh at when you’re assembling your inbound marketing team.

One piece of mandatory reading I would suggest to the Inbound Marketing Leader is Scientific Advertising (1923) by Claude Hopkins and by Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963) and Ogilvy on Advertising (1983) by David Ogilvy.

Granted these books are old classics, but since they are based on never-changing principles, so they never age. And when you look at your competitors who are ahead of you, their marketers are more than likely very familiar with these books.

2. Inbound Marketing Strategist

This person is in charge of the big picture. He keeps one finger on the pulse of the market (news, fads and trends) and the other on the pulse of the campaign results (dashboards).

The role is in a way similar to the Inbound Marketing Leader, but the strategist also has a strong understanding of the technology used in inbound marketing and actively engages in tactical work to support a larger strategy.

No, I’m not saying he or she must be a power user of each tool. Richard Branson is the heart and soul of Virgin Air, but as far as I know, he’s not a licensed commercial pilot. But he knows enough about the industry and about flying that he knows what’s possible.

The other difference is that while the Senior Inbound Marketing Leader defines what the company wants to accomplish with its inbound digital marketing effort, the Strategist determines how to pull it off – managing resources, expectations and timelines – leads the charge to make a plan and implement it.

In this role, experience plays a huge role. You want to have someone who is already very far from his first campaign, and the lessons he’s learnt over the years are all piled up in this subconscious mind.

Someone who both knows the rules and when and how much to bend them.

This person is also in charge of checking inbound marketing dashboards and interpreting their numbers to the boardroom dwellers. Additionally, they are largely in charge of implementing marketing automation workflows, lead scoring, email marketing and a whole host of tactics designed to support the inbound strategy.

3. Project Manager

The project manager is in charge of the implementation process.

Ideally, this person has leadership skills to lead a small team of subject matter experts, solid entrepreneurial (vs. corporate) marketing skills and a fair understanding of the technical details.

Let’s stop for a moment and review the difference between entrepreneurial and corporate marketing.

I’m not saying one approach is better than the other. They’re different. Corporate marketing is for big-budget, big-headcount corporations that sell mass-produced and undifferentiated low-priced commodities.

Entrepreneurial marketing is for small-budget, small-headcount SMEs that sell custom-made and highly differentiated high-priced products and services.

Now let’s continue…

Project management regulated and certified by the Project Management Institute, but good project management is more about character than crammed information.

As for technical skills, a good project manager can recognize when something is wrong with a landing page, but may not know how to correct it at the HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP level.

It’s like seeing your child choke, but not knowing how to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre to save him.

Project managers don’t make high level business decisions, but are involved in the decision-making process and their suggestions are considered.

4. Paid Search Marketer

This person manages your paid search campaigns, and typically works within your marketing team, coordinating with writers and coordinators.

And since pay-per-click traffic can generate a huge amount of data in a pretty short space of time, this person has to be on his toes to handle drinking from the proverbial data fire hose without drowning.

What makes this job so complex is that this person has to monitor small, and sometimes infinitesimally tiny changes in huge number of data pieces. And that makes it a very number-driven position.

Many companies make the mistake of asking the PPC marketer to write the PPC ads. It’s a huge mistake. It’s a different skillset.

Writing is writing is writing, but still can’t expect a very good academic writer to write kick-butt marketing copy fresh out of the gate.

When you need writing, ask a writer to do it.

Looking for more insight on inbound marketing teams? Follow our series to Inbound Marketing Teams, Part 2