Take it from me: the marketing team you want to build right now needs to move with the manic speed and precision of a pit crew. Think about how fast the industry has changed in just the last year. I mean, before November, Schwab and TD Ameritrade were two competing brokerages. Before October, most major brokerages still charged for fee transactions. Before August, Apple wasn’t in the credit card business. Before June, opening new accounts with Schwab could take days of juggling paper forms. It feels like not a day goes by without some new development that completely changes the way we work.
You’d better believe we have to move fast when this kind of news drops. We don’t have the luxury of shrugging because some unforeseen innovation or regulatory tangle was not accounted for in an annual marketing plan. (Who even makes those any more?) And while we’re keeping up with disruptive masterminds, it’s on us to disrupt ourselves, too. In this environment, you have to test, rework, and optimize everything you do to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders.
A marketing team with the right stuff needs this kind of adaptability on top of lightning reflexes and industry savvy. And in this environment, you need these virtues all in one place, in a hurry. That’s a tall order. So how do you pull it off?
If you’re trying to tell the story of a company in growth mode, or one that is constantly disrupting and redefining itself, you don’t have time to build a team person by person. The reality is you’ll be hiring in batches to get a running start. To move and grow as fast as possible, you can’t wait and see how the team dynamic gradually comes into focus.
When you’re hiring an ensemble cast like this, you have to ask the right questions to build a team that can go the distance.
Here are the table stakes. You need outstanding writers and storytellers, and you need people with product knowledge to quickly build an understanding of why a software update, a new service or pricing structure might resonate with your target market. Don’t limit yourself to hires from the marketing world. Seek out industry hires who can give you more in-depth context for your work. Finally, whoever you work with needs to be willing to take on work that might lie outside of their expertise, especially when you’re just getting started. Your digital strategist might have to do some event planning on the fly. Your industry expert might have to learn about acoustics and audio equipment to launch a podcast. Find people who won’t back down from a challenge!
After you establish your core team, develop your processes and build momentum—it’s time to go granular. Hire that event planner. Find the people who know their craft inside and out and understand how their work fits into the big picture. Once you have all of this in place, then congratulations . . . you’ve reached the starting line. To get to the next level in building a real marketing engine you need people who thrive on controlled chaos. You need people with grit.
With apologies to the Philadelphia Flyers (whose popular mascot is named “Gritty”), Angela Duckworth’s “Grit” is the last word in explaining these virtues. In short, “grit” means having a passion for your work and the persistence to see it through no matter what comes your way. It means understanding that what worked yesterday may not work today. The goalposts will move, and the KPIs will change. Something is going to happen that will demand a new approach from you and your team.
This is the kind of work environment that quickens the pulse of a team with grit and resilience. They get creative, adapt to the next challenge and savor the long-term victory that comes with the ability to embrace change and keep hustling. You absolutely, absolutely need a team willing to start every day fresh. The world isn’t going to wait for you to catch up.
These are exciting times for our industry. You can immerse yourself in the financial services landscape and still be surprised. A team with grit will make sure the surprises don’t catch you flat-footed.