As the pandemic hit nearly every industry hard in 2020 and early 2021, many businesses did whatever they could to reduce expenses. Considering the sting of government shut-downs, operational restrictions, and lagging sales numbers, it’s no wonder that companies cut their marketing budgets! In one study, 72 percent of marketers said their budgets were either reduced or cut entirely.
With companies spending less on marketing, more responsibilities naturally have fallen on in-house teams. Now that the economy is starting to rebound and life (and work) are returning to some degree of “normal,” entrepreneurs may be wondering if they should continue to handle their marketing efforts.
Does your internal team have what it takes to move your small business forward, or is it time to hire more staff or outsource marketing tasks? Let’s find out!
5 Characteristics of a Capable Small Business Marketing Team
1. Content Writing Skills
Never underestimate the power of words! Well-written content is a foundational necessity for successful marketing efforts.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a flair for writing well. I know many brilliant people who just don't have the knack for communicating clearly or in a way that resonates with readers. Marketing content requires concise writing that demonstrates intent and evokes the right feelings and emotions in its audience. Writing should move readers to take action (whether compelling them to learn more, contact the company, or make a purchase).
If an in-house team doesn't have a strong writer, some tools can help strengthen anyone's writing chops. Here are a few to consider:
However, realize that tools like these cannot completely transform a poor writer into a stellar one.
2. Design Capabilities
Visual aspects can make a tremendous difference in whether marketing content grabs attention or gets passed by. From blog graphics to images and videos for social media posts, it's essential to have someone with an eye for creating visual assets that look great and support written content in a meaningful way.
It's also critical that the persons responsible for design tasks understand the importance of consistency. Use of colors and elements in a business’s marketing assets plays a vital role in branding efforts. When individual marketing pieces look vastly different from the business's other assets, it makes it more difficult for prospects to recognize—and more importantly, REMEMBER—a brand.
While having someone on board with professional graphic design experience is beneficial, there are tools to help novice designers create images, graphics, presentations, and even videos. Several that you might want to explore include:
3. Basic SEO Knowledge
People often cringe when they hear “SEO.” They think of it as a four-letter word rather than a three-letter acronym! But, knowing at least some basics about search engine optimization is essential for every small business that engages in digital marketing.
What should your team have a handle on?
- Conducting keyword research to help ensure your content includes keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for online. Be careful not to overload content with keywords, though. That can prevent your website and blog pages from ranking higher on search results pages!
- Using an SEO-friendly structure (headings, bullet points, numbered lists, etc.) that establishes a good on-page flow of information that Google AND readers will understand.
- Writing meta descriptions that capture searchers’ attention and interest.
- Crafting content that genuinely relates to the keywords you're using in your content and provides value to your readers. Google's algorithm has become sophisticated over the years. It detects whether content is thin and meaningless vs. substantive and meaningful. Write to satisfy your readers, and you'll have a better chance at ranking well in search results.
Keep in mind that SEO is a very complex and evolving area. Depending on your business’s needs and goals, you may need to enlist the help of a professional with in-depth knowledge of SEO’s technical aspects.
4. Access to (and Proficiency in) Using Marketing Tools
Many tools exist to help marketing teams manage their companies’ online presence. To do that effectively, marketers must know how to use the features and functions of platforms such as blog content management systems (e.g., WordPress), social media scheduling tools (e.g., Hootsuite, Loomly, Buffer, SproutSocial), and email marketing platforms (e.g., Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber). Employees’ comfort levels when working with these types of technology tools vary from one person to the next. It’s critical to assess that before assigning responsibilities.
Marketing activities require not only fundamental knowledge and skills but also TIME. So, if your small business's employees are already overwhelmed with performing other job functions, it's a tall order to expect them to handle marketing tasks as well. You won't be doing your company any favors if you overextend your team. If everyone in-house is at capacity with their workload, it may be time to outsource some aspects of marketing or hire additional staff.
It Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing
Depending on the size of your business and the demands on your team, you may be able to successfully manage some marketing activities internally but not others. Gauge your team’s capabilities and their capacity to handle the additional workload on an ongoing basis as you decide what marketing responsibilities to maintain in-house and those to assign to external resources.